“I alone was responsible for sending the emails from two email accounts using fictitious names in May and June this year,” South Pasadena City Councilwoman Dr. Marina Khubesrian admitted in a statement sent Saturday. “As part of my acceptance of responsibility and apology, I will resign my office for the remainder of the term.”
The full statement is below.
The emails, one threatening fellow Councilmember Michael Cacciotti and others attacking city critics Chris Bray and former city finance director Josh Betta, were referred Monday by the South Pasadena Police Department to the Los Angeles District Attorney, which is reviewing them for a possible criminal investigation.
“I’m glad to see Marina Khubesrian take responsibility for her actions,” Bray told the South Pasadenan News. “Now we need to work on building a local public sphere in which people speak and debate openly and without fear of personal attack.”
“While this happened during a time of great personal stress and when I was facing a serious health issue, there is absolutely no excuse for my conduct,” Khubesrian wrote. The Councilmember, a medical doctor, also said she’d had “serious reactions to a medication I was taking.
“One of the stressors that led to my irrational and wrong actions was that since 2018 I’d been receiving a series of anonymous emails which were threatening in tone and very critical of city employees without providing real facts,” she wrote, attaching examples of the emails to her statement.
During its regular session Wednesday, Khubesrian then said she was withdrawing from her recently declared bid for a third term on the council due to “relentless cyber bullying.”
While saying “the hardest regret I live with is the knowledge that what I’ve done caused or could have caused someone any harm, worry, concern or emotional upset,” her resignation statement did not address the contrast of complaining about receiving threatening emails on the one hand while using threatening emails to attack her critics on the other.
Below is her statement and letter. More on this issue as details unfold. Stay tuned.
“Dear Neighbors and/or Friends,
I want to apologize personally to you for my recent conduct and how it may have impacted you. I have attached a detailed statement that includes an apology to you even though you are not directly named.
Although I’m sending this out as a single statement and an apology covering many people, that should not take away my heartfelt sincerity and deep regret.
At some point, I would like to apologize directly to you if that would be acceptable to you.
Marina Khubesrian’s Resignation Letter:
I was recently accused of creating two email accounts and sending emails from those accounts using fictitious names. I originally declined comment on the grounds that the accusations should not be adjudicated in the press and I did not want to influence, or create the appearance of influencing, the investigation. Thus, it is not the media’s or community’s fault that they did not know what to infer by me declining to comment. But, clearly, I cannot continue to stay silent and wait until the investigation is concluded even while I am cooperating fully.
I want to share important information that will give transparency to this disturbing matter: I alone was responsible for sending the emails from two email accounts using fictitious names in May and June this year. While this happened during a time of great personal stress and when I was facing a serious health issue, there is absolutely no excuse for my conduct. I also had some serious reactions to a medication I was taking and had a lot of increased anxiety that was exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Frankly, I am extremely remorseful, embarrassed and mortified by my actions.
Therefore, I want to convey a deep and sincere apology to all in the City of South Pasadena, especially to those who received or reviewed the emails. I will reach out and individually apologize to the individuals who received emails or were mentioned in the emails especially since the hardest regret I live with is the knowledge that what I’ve done caused or could have caused someone any harm, worry, concern or emotional upset.
I further apologize to the people who I work with and have worked with in the City and City Council whose professional and personal lives may have been impacted by this – none of whom were aware that I had sent these emails. Another deep regret I have is that some members of the community, who know and trust me, defended my reputation without knowing all the facts. I further apologize to all who have supported me in the past and present as well as my neighbors, friends, acquaintances and family.
While I believe this conduct was quite out of character for me, I bear ultimate responsibility for ensuring that my personal life comports with the standards expected from a member of the City Council. I’ve reflected on my wrongful and impulsive acts and take responsibility for what I’ve done. Obviously, this influenced my decision to not run for an additional 4-year term on the City Council as I realized I’d been burning the candle at both ends, was overly stressed, had trouble sleeping, and was taking political disputes far too personally. I was also taken aback by harsh criticism of and attacks on hard- working City employees who I thought were doing a good job. I’ve been successfully addressing the stressors and personal health issues that came to a head in May and June.
As background, one of the stressors that led to my irrational and wrong actions was that since 2018 I’d been receiving a series of anonymous emails which were threatening in tone and very critical of City employees without providing real facts. I reported these emails to the City at the time. I’ve attached some examples so that others understand what I meant at the last City Council meeting when I addressed cyber bullying and my family’s concerns about my safety and mental health.
I’ve been a dedicated physician as well as a committed public servant who has gratefully volunteered and served the City of South Pasadena since 2011. As part of my acceptance of responsibility and apology, I will resign my office for the remainder of the term effective at 8:00 a.m. on August 18, 2020. I have provided this date so the City and the City Council have at least a full business day to consider the steps needed to replace me and any other steps needed for my resignation. I will not be voting on any matters nor doing any work on behalf of the City from now until my resignation is effective. I am confident that the Mayor and City Council members will be focused on the important work before the City in the next four months.
I am proud of the work I’ve done for South Pasadena since 2011 and I remain grateful for the support I have received from those who continue to respect me and value my public service.
I carefully read through the emails that Ms Khubesrian attached with her letter. [edit: emails available click here] The emails that Khubesrian claims are threatening and bullying are anything but. There were no personal attacks against Khubesrian, zero threats against (or even mention) of her family, and no name-calling. The emails sent to Khubesrian were, however, highly critical of the qualifications and competence of DeWolfe and Aceves, as well as reminding Khubesrian that she is responsible for her own actions (which may prove to be misguided). I do not see any threats or cyber-bullying in the emails Khubesrian received.
In both her rambling 8-minute statement on August 5th and the vast majority of her resignation letter from yesterday, Khubesrian continues to make excuses and offer rationalizations to somehow justify her actions. She also tried to claim that this all began either during the last year or during the pandemic. I have seen, however, recordings of older city council meetings where she also disregards/belittles citizen concerns and refused to listen to criticism or dissent. This is NOT new behavior for Khubesrian.
We do not need any more POLITICAL ACTIVISTS like Khubesrian in City Hall. She was so intent on forcing through her own agenda, her own appointees and managers, and her own spending priorities….all without understanding that her role is not to transform South Pasadena according to her own vision and agenda, but rather to represent ALL the citizens of SoPas and do what’s best for the city. Unfortunately, Khubesrian chose to pursue her activist agenda to the detriment of our city’s finances, personnel, and reputation.
Winners are non-existent in what has become South Pasadena’s version of political theatre. Let us hope that those involved can move on in a positive and non-controversial manner.
Personally, I wish to thank Marina for the letter accepting responsibility for her actions. But more importantly, it is my hope she is able to regain her health. After all, one’s health and a family’s health is of upmost importance.
The South Pasadena City Council must now determine the best path for the remaining months of Councilmember Khubesrian’s term. Since Jack Donovan is the only candidate running in next November’s District Two election it seems logical he be immediately appointed to the office. This assumes it is legally permissible to do so.
Whatever the decision…..May your heart always be light and your spirit free.