Screenshots of Mayor Marina Khubesrian’s original Facebook comments … and her edited version, following criticism of her use of the word “mob.”

In an email to a community member that she later posted to a private Facebook group for residents on Oct. 24, Mayor Marina Khubesrian addressed current tensions in the community — at one point labeling hostile social-media posts aimed at herself and other city officials as a “rising mob mentality.”

But after hearing criticism of her comments, Khubesrian toned down her own original take on matters — editing the phrase to “group mentality.’’

“As your mayor and Councilmember, I work hard to make sure that we base our council decisions on facts and not emotions and to keep a civil and respectful tone toward one another,” Khubesrian wrote originally on the Facebook group “91030.”

“I am however becoming concerned about the rising mob mentality of looking for a scapegoat to blame when emotions and fears are stirred up. This type of discourse is dangerous and impacts the morale of city employees.”

The mayor’s comments led to several residents expressing gratitude and support, while others expressed disappointment or even outright anger at being referred to as a “mob.”

“I’m disappointed but not surprised that we appear to be a ‘mob,’ ’’ one respondent replied. “People do not respond well to information vacuums. They don’t respond any better to abuse, insults or condescension.’’

Numerous other residents shared a similar sense of outrage over the mayor’s comments — which came after an upswell of concern about the code-compliance inspection of Alison Smith’s Hanscom Drive property Oct. 18 possibly being retaliatory, a charge the city vehemently denies.

Smith had spoken to City Council in August asking for help on what she said was a city-owned pipe that clogged and spilled sewage in her backyard in 2018. She has filed suit against the city and has said the city’s inspection of her property was in retaliation for the suit.

As of Oct. 31, Khubesrian had edited her original post and changed “mob mentality” to “group mentality,” according to screenshots taken by the Review.

In a request by the Review for clarity on her comments, Khubesrian emailed back:

“In hindsight, ‘mob mentality’ was a poor choice of words on my part given the current ‘call out’ commentary culture. I was frustrated by escalating attacks and unkind comments on social media by some members of the community. I recognize and appreciate that differences of opinion are a healthy part of democracy; however I hope that moving forward those discussions can be conducted in a civil manner that focuses on the policies at hand, as opposed to personal and hurtful attacks. We’re all flawed and we’re all in this together. A little kindness goes a long way and it doesn’t cost a thing.”

In the Facebook posting, Khubesrian went on to note that “some members of the community have inappropriately lashed out when they don’t get special treatment or disagree with decisions,” and that city leadership was working hard to have the city government work for all. She shared concerns that the discourse would lead to instability at City Hall, with employees leaving for other jobs within a tight labor market.

“We can’t afford to and should not overwork or harass our staff in this environment or anytime really,” Khubesrian wrote. “I’m all for debates and questioning and pointing out mistakes because that’s how we learn and make better decisions. However, Democracy is based on ongoing dialogue and civility, especially at the local level. Our discourse deteriorates when people who lose the debate resort to personal attacks, insults, threats, conspiracy theories, and dismiss facts when it doesn’t suit their narrative. We need to position ourselves as a city and community that works together in good faith to take advantage of economic development opportunities that are ripe for the picking.”

Skye Hannah, Senior Reporter
Author

Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, government, sports, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer for five years for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. You can contact Skye with news tips and feedback at shannah@gavilanmedia.com / Twitter @SkyeHannahCA

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    We are voting on Measure A this week to provide additional revenue to the City. I want the Mayor to explain how the City justifies the rather extravagant display of force (several city staff, police officers, consultant) when investigating this one purported code-compliance issue. The City needs to set its priorities. I’d rather see the outsize resources and money spent on this code compliance issue go to repair of our streets. With these kind of incidents and the overall lack of focus provided by City government on real day-to-day issues, I am still debating whether to vote YES on Measure A.

  2. Avatar
    Ron Rosen

    The mayor can play with words all day long, but that doesn’t change the sentiment of what she wrote and how she feels. “Inappropriately lashed out when they don’t get special treatment.” What is she talking about? Alison Smith? She’s hardly getting special treatment and to refer to what she’s done as “lashing out” is ridiculous. If she’s talking about someone other than Alison Smith, let’s hear it. The notion that a public outcry against city management will affect the morale of city employees is totally backwards. It’s the management at city hall that leads to public outcry. So many of us are disillusioned with the mayor, and this message is just an example. I don’t buy for one minute that the raid on Alison Smith’s house was just a coincidence. How could it be? And if it was, anyone with half a brain would not have gone forward with it. People are up in arms and rightly so. The mayor and her “Squad” are running the city in a way that is causing the reaction they’re getting. Frankly, telling people how to act when they are protesting your behavior is offensive. It’s just a way of avoiding looking at the real problem. The mayor forgets that she wouldn’t be on the City Council if it were for people who are willing to speak very loudly when things go wrong. She’s the beneficiary of a very angry mob. And yes, back then they told us to shut up too. The mayor needs to face reality and help fix the city’s problem rather than focusing on those who are pointing it out.