By Veronica Mackey
Tuesday’s council meeting was a breath of fresh air for the small crowd of people in attendance. No shouting, name calling or personal attacks—just the people bringing their grievances to local leaders
After awarding certificates to participants of the recent American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life walk/run event, Mayor James Butts and council members got an earful from their constituents.
Inglewood is too dirty and more needs be done about hate crime, residents say. One by one, speakers made their way to the podium to express their concerns:
Pat Thompson, a 28-year Inglewood resident, is a homeowner and unemployed single mom whose home is falling apart. She needs help. “The structure is too weak. I have no coverage. I gave them (Public Works Dept.) the engineering report, but nothing was done. Do we have grants available for those who need help getting their homes together? We need (programs) that address safety issues and help people regardless of age.”
“Market Street is atrocious. I’ve walked from Big 5 all the way to CVS. The potted plants, mayor, are dying. Nobody is watering them and the street needs to be steam cleaned. Our city should be clean. The people are defecating on the street and the smell is horrible,” one woman said.
“As far as Market Street, I did not have the impression it was quite that bad,” Mayor Butts said, taking notes.
Stuart Bailey agreed that downtown really is that bad: “Are we going to sacrifice money over people? Without people, there is no money. You have to reach out your hand and say ‘how can we help you as leaders in the community?’”
“It really needs attention. We really need those streets steam-cleaned out there,” Parks and Recreation Commissioner Willie Agee said.
Councilman George Dotson, whose District 1 houses Market Street, said he has spent the last 2 Saturdays there. “There is a Market Street Business Club. I will be working with them, we will meet on July 10. Meanwhile, I will be talking to Louis (Atwell, Public Works Director) about cleaning up the street. If you have any concerns, email me at gdotson@cityof inglewood.org, and I will do everything I can to take care of those problems.”
A long time Inglewood resident wants the City to do more to curb “hate crime” in Inglewood. “I think we’ve neglected those who may need help. My grandson was murdered May 8. He was not a gang-banger. A lot of people are not aware—other than numbers on homicide (reports)—as to what is going on in the city. We have no community advisory. We have nothing here to assist us,” she said.
The woman said young people are afraid to walk the street, and that the gang task force are arresting the wrong people.
“Our hearts go out to you for the loss of your grandson. Over the last 3 years, there have been 13-14 homicides and that’s 14 way too many. But that’s coming from just three years ago when we had 32-33 homicides. It’s the lowest consecutive (decline) since we began keeping track in 1978,” Mayor Butts said.
Bailey said Compton had a wave of hate crimes and suggested Inglewood officials talk to their officials to see how they solved the problems.
Diane Sombrano made two points. She wants more effort and attention from officials to try and keep long standing Inglewood businesses in the city. She complained that a lumber company that has been in Inglewood since 1949 recently left. She also wants the City to work out a plan to let people know what nonprofits are benefitting from the sale of legal fireworks. “Next year, I hope there can be signs at the fireworks stands that say ‘Benefits from this fireworks stand go to XYZ...’”she said.
Another woman complained about the shopping center at 112th and Crenshaw being overrun with unlicensed vendors, selling items from the parking lot. She wanted to know why Inglewood code enforcement officers were not around.
“We don’t want our city to become a swap meet so people can just set up a stand and start selling. We live here and we want to keep our community clean,” she said.
Councilmen Alex Padilla and Eloy Morales attended a conference in San Diego recently, aimed at empowering Latinos to participate in civic affairs. They are on a mission to increase voter registration in Inglewood.
The council approved Padilla’s request for a city sponsored District 2 event to be held Saturday, August 9, from 10am-4pm at True Vine Church, 1437 Centinela Avenue. The District Two Experience will feature a car show, entertainment, and raffles. For details, contact Ramon at 310-412-8601.
Padilla gave some love to a new restaurant in town—the Madmen Deli on La Brea and Fairview. “They have cold cut sandwiches. They’re really tasty, and the price is right,” he said.
Councilmembers Dotson and Padilla have been Inglewood councilmembers for one year. Councilman Eloy Morales commented: “This is a role you don’t do as good as they’ve done it, unless you really care.”
Morales showed support of Sombrano’s suggestion about identifying nonprofits supported by city-approved fireworks vendors. He asked Artie Fields, Inglewood City Manager, to have his office coordinate getting the information out to the public for next year’s fireworks sales. “Parents (with children) in a local sports group want to support that sports group,” Morales said.
The mayor multi-tasked, listening to resident complaints and ordering staff members (via texts) to address situations at the same time. By the end of the meeting, actions had already begun. “We have Public Works going to look at Market Street,” he said.
He then addressed the comment made about businesses leaving Inglewood:
“The reason we don’t know (about the lumber company going out of business) is that no one told us. We’re not going to know every time a business leaves. [But] 16 new businesses did come to the city since January. That’s something to celebrate.”
“This is what we really want,” Butts said in his closing remarks. “This is what council meetings are supposed to be about. I want to thank people who brought specific problems that we can work with. Some people just complain every week. When you complain over and over again about the past, that’s really nothing we can do anything about.”