Compared to last week’s council meeting, which lasted more than 4 hours, and drew sports fans and news media all over Southern California to witness the historic decision to build a sports stadium in Inglewood, Tuesday’s session drew mostly local folks centered around Inglewood business.
Mayor James Butts opened with a special presentation honoring the Albert Monroe Middle School chapter of the National Junior Honor Society. Forty Monroe students were recognized for maintaining a grade point average of 3.5 or better. Besides academic recognition, the Honor Society offers scholarships and programs that build character.
“We celebrate your commitment to excellence in the areas of scholarships, leadership and service,” Butts said before posing for photos with students and members of the Inglewood City Council. IUSD trustee Dr. Don Brann added, “I want to congratulate all of you students. Well deserved.”
A proclamation was also presented, proclaiming March 2015 as Red Cross Month, and “recognizing the importance of volunteering time and donating blood.”
Inglewood Chief Financial Officer David Esparza presented the City’s financial report for the first quarter (October 1 through December 31, 2014). According to Esparza, property, sales, and user taxes are up. Building permit fees are down and so is unemployment. Hollywood Park revenue was stable through the first quarter. City expenditures are below expectation. On Oct. 1, 2014, Inglewood had $79.8 million in revenues and expenditures of $89.2—a shortfall of more than $9 million. However, the City is expected to end the year slightly above projected revenues. It had collected 23% of its projected revenues by December 31, 2014.
City Manager Artie Fields reported that the new senior center is scheduled to start construction this month. The new community center on La Cienega is on track to begin construction in July 2015. Street improvement along Century Blvd. is also scheduled to begin in July.
City Treasurer Wanda Brown reminded the public that her free income tax program for seniors filing W-2 or 1099 returns is still going. The last day to take advantage of the program is April 3. For an appointment, call (310) 412-5642. .
There was some discussion about misinformation and negative reaction to last week’s stadium approval. Stuart Bailey addressed a news report in which an AEG stakeholder warned that building a stadium in Inglewood would make the city a target for a terrorist attack similar to 9/11 due to the city’s close proximity to LAX. “I want to talk about the AEG findings that we should not build a stadium, and that they (terrorists) will steal an airplane at LAX…They (critics) say we’re just a minority town and they think we don’t know anything. Well, this whole United States was built on minorities. So go ahead and build it, and I will deal with L.A. for you guys.”
“Well, there you go,” Butts said.
Ethel Austin came to Mayor Butts’ defense against a man who accused him of pushing the Rams down the throats of Inglewood voters. “He (Butts) never said the Rams are coming. The Rams people (fans) did that on their own. All you guys (council) agreed to was a stadium.”
Councilman Alex Padilla commented, “People are saying they didn’t hear about any (stadium initiative meetings). I held a meeting, everyone (council members) had a meeting, it was in the local newspaper, Inglewood Today. We did stuff on our end. As far as approving the stadium, everywhere I go, people are stopping me and thanking us for moving the stadium forward and not wasting tax payer money (on an election).
In other matters, the council approved the addition of the artistic mural “Inglewood Stories” to the public art collection at the Inglewood Public Library lobby. A budget amendment was approved to purchase dispatch and records management equipment for the Inglewood Police Department. Public Works got the green light to hire a street contractor for the La Cienega Blvd. and Fairview Blvd. Improvement Project. A second contract was approved for work on the La Brea Ave. Traffic Light Synchronization Project.
In closing remarks, Councilman George Dotson thanked those who attended his shredding event, and reminded constituents to register for the upcoming Relay for Life event. “(It) is coming up on June 6 and 7. I am asking people in District 1 to join Team Dotson and help us raise money for the Cancer Society. Call my office at (310) 412-8602.
Padilla thanked fellow Councilman Ralph Franklin for organizing the presentation for Albert Monroe Middle School’s honor society students. His District 2 shredding event will take place on April 18 at 10am at the District 2 I-COP Center, at La Brea and Centinela. Street resurfacing in District 2 will begin in the next 4 to 6 weeks and should be completed around July 1.
Councilman Eloy Morales had more to say about the stadium initiative: “We could have just left it on the table and put it on the ballot. In Carson, if they had this on the table, what would they have done? They would have taken it in a heartbeat. And if we don’t make those decisions, they leave us…I am proud to be part of that council that made that decision.”
“Why did we vote to move the initiative forward? Understand there is nothing guaranteed in life. There is no guarantee there won’t be a massive recession and they’ll have to hold off on the stadium…But to have 22,000 signatures—more people who have ever voted for anything in this city—and say, ‘Now, we need to have an election too,’ and slow ourselves down, to me, is just crazy. If we would have to vote (in an election) on everything, you wouldn’t need a council. You hire people to look after your interest, and have the common sense to know when it’s time to take action.”