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By Veronica Mackey

 

Tuesday’s council meeting began with two public hearings.  The first hearing outlined new penalties and administrative fines for fireworks violations in the City of Inglewood. The Inglewood Municipal Code has been amended to provide stricter guidelines (including the criminal penalty and fines) for dealing with unlawful use or possession of illegal fireworks.  

 

Basically, the City only allows the use of Safe and Sane Fireworks, which are the only fireworks sold legally in the city.  Illegal fireworks include those that fly in the air, move or explode.  Violators can expect a fine of up to $500 for using illegal fireworks; for allowing children under the age of 18 to handle any fireworks unsupervised by adults; and for use of fireworks on public property without city approval. Fireworks enforcement is in effect from 5pm until 8am.  New guidelines have been published in English and Spanish, and will be distributed to schools, block captains, and the Inglewood libraries.

 

Resident Ray Davis noted the huge problem with litter after using fireworks.  “People leave trash in the middle of the street. It’s something that needs to be addressed,” he said.

 

The second hearing dealt with the regulation and control of backflow and cross connection in the City’s water system.  Public Works Director Louis Atwell introduced an ordinance to get more businesses in compliance with backflow prevention.  According to Atwell, only 10 percent are in compliance.  Restaurants and medical facilities are the main businesses that will be affected by the ordinance.

 

Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer David Esparza began the presentation on the City’s Mid Year Finance Report for Fiscal Year 2016-17.  Details in the report were given by a staff member.

 

Here is how the City of Inglewood is looking fiscally in its first 6 months from October 2016 through March 2017:

 

•Building permit fees are down 24 percent

• Utility user tax are down 6 percent 

•Sales tax are up by $1.2 million or 19 percent

•Property tax are up by 7 percent

•Other local taxes (including license fees and franchise tax) are up $2.3 million.  The reopening of Hollywood Park Casino in 2016 is partly responsible for the increase.

•General Fund expenditures so far this fiscal year are $122 million.  About 47 percent of the budget has been spent.

 

“The City is on track for revenue at this point,” the staffer said. 

 

Councilman Eloy Morales noted that Inglewood was able to restore prior levels of park and library services which had been cut. “A couple years ago, we didn’t have any budget.  We talked about bringing library and parks back to where it was before, in terms of hours.  In public works, we added services. 

 

“The important thing is that we have increased service levels, but still we are below the (budget) mid-point for this year,” Mayor James Butts said.

 

City Treasurer Wanda Brown shared a story about the ever-rising value of homes in Inglewood.  A developer bought a home for $350,000. The plan is to remodel it into a 5-bedroom residence.  “It was quite dilapidated,” Brown said.  “But when done, it will probably sell for something like $800,000.”

 

Councilman George Dotson shared his excitement at attending the recent Junior ROTC graduation, and the unveiling of the new state-of-the-art baseball and softball field at Darby Park. “They put on (baseball) clinics for the kids. I hope your kids were able to come out and participate,” Dotson said.  He also announced the upcoming Family Day in the Park, on July 15, at Edward Vincent Park—a community family picnic which will include a health fair as well. 

 

Councilman Alex Padilla announced that new plants were added to North Park last weekend, thanks to volunteers from a local sorority.  The District 2 Councilman also reminded everyone about the annual Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans this Monday, May 29 at 11am on the North Lawn of City Hall. 

 

Council members approved payment to Kane Ballmer & Berkman for legal advice, guidance and representation, and with Buchalter, also for legal services.  The council agreed to a two-year blanket purchase order (with the option to extend for one additional year) with P&R Paper Supply Company for the purchase of various janitorial supplies for all City facilities; payment for tree maintenance, printing, and additional appraisal services.

 

An agreement will be amended between the City of Inglewood, Inglewood Housing Authority, and PATH Inglewood Pacific Associates for an affordable senior housing development project, located at 502 through 508 S. Eucalyptus Avenue, Inglewood, California 90301. The amendment will provide for certain financial assistance for up to $5,500,000.

 

Mr. Jim Vaughan and Charles Braggs were honored for their outstanding service with the Inglewood Junior ROTC. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Good with Stadium Delay

Thursday, May 25, 2017

NFL team owners and officials, and developers of the NFL stadium in Inglewood are looking up, despite an announcement last week that the planned $2.6 billion stadium would be delayed by one year.  

 

In a statement, the Rams said, “This new target gives us flexibility to accommodate any additional delays that may arise while still delivering an unparalleled experience upon opening.”

 

According to the developer, LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park,  “Southern California experienced record-setting rain this winter. Despite bringing drought relief to the region, the rain fell during the mass excavation period of construction when no other work could proceed in wet conditions. As a result, we experienced significant delays and lost the better part of two months from early January into the beginning of March.” 

 

Workers described the site as looking like a lake, with water standing 12 to 15 feet deep. After the downpours, the excavated area had to be drained before work could resume. To date, the stadium bowl is 90-feet deep and fully excavated, with six million cubic yards of dirt removed across the site.  

 

The stadium needed to be built deep into the earth to avoid radar issues with airplanes flying into nearby Los Angeles International Airport.  Developers originally planned for 30 days of rain delays.  But weather had already delayed the project by 60 days within the first few months of construction.

 

NFL owners unanimously voted last week to push back the opening of the stadium until 2020 and the Los Angeles Super Bowl until February 2022.  The stadium will house both the Rams and the Chargers.  Owners also ratified the Raiders’ lease with Las Vegas, allowing that franchise to move ahead with its stadium financing plan.

 

The Las Vegas stadium is projected to cost $1.9 billion, and will consist of a 65,000-seat domed stadium with a natural grass field. The stadium in Las Vegas, like the one in Inglewood, is scheduled to open in 2020.

 

“We wanted to make sure we do everything right, 100%,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said. “It’s a big deal for L.A. We have a Super Bowl, and that’s the important part.”

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell praised Kroenke’s leadership.  “Bottom line is, Stan was incredibly cooperative on this.  He wants to do what’s right for the NFL. His No. 1 objective is creating a quality stadium for the long term for the fans in Los Angeles. His commitment has not wavered on that.”

 

“Our focus is always on the fan experience," said Chargers president of business operations A.G. Spanos. "Our future home will be the best stadium in the NFL and deliver a transformational experience for Chargers fans. If getting it right means pushing back the completion date, then I think the extra year is well worth it."

 

In a statement on the 2022 Super Bowl, Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff said: 

 

“In the past week, we have worked with the NFL on the resolution that was presented today and are supportive of the NFL Owners’ decision to play Super Bowl LV in Tampa and to have Los Angeles host Super Bowl LVI in 2022.  Over the next 90 days, we will continue to work with our partners across the Los Angeles region, including the Chargers, to deliver the elements promised in the bid that was approved last year.”

 

The Case for Due Process

Thursday, May 18, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

At Tuesday’s council meeting, activists who expressed frustration over the pace of  investigations into the shooting deaths of  Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin by police were given advice by others in the audience.  The couple was killed 15 months ago.  Investigations by the police department and L.A. County District Attorney’s Office are currently being conducted. 

 

A woman brought a bouquet of pink flowers to illustrate that Michael’s children couldn’t give flowers to her on Mother’s Day.  Monica Walker, however, is “in support of the Inglewood Police Dept. and their handling of matters with the City.  They will investigate and handle it accordingly,” she said.  Mayor James Butts interjected, “The only thing you will ever know (from Inglewood Council members) is if the police are still on the payroll.  There will never be a discussion of this event and I’ve said that three times now.”

 

Ray Davis explained why it is important to respect the police officers’ right to due process: “We’ve been down this path before…When politicians and elected officials fail to do their duties. In the Donovan Jackson case, the police had their civil rights taken. Maxine Waters came in here grandstanding—her, Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson.  We had a weak mayor and the city was sued for $5 million, because their (police officers) civil rights were violated. That’s why we’re doing it by the book.” 

 

Erick Holly, president of the Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, said “You guys are attacking the wrong forum.  If you want to be on somebody’s doorstep, you need to go to the D.A.’s Office. That’s where it needs to be, not here.” 

 

Frederick Shaw, 1st Vice President of the NAACP, came to the meeting to “create awareness about a major problem in the field of mental health.  They want to use electric shock machines on children. Under Medicaid, they have been shocking children in the last 4 years from 0-5 years of age.”

 

A man asked the council to make more money and resources available to help keep Inglewood clean.  He told the audience, “If you see someone drive around and put garbage on the street, say something.”

 

The council approved an agreement with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission for a Community Impact Arts Grant in the amount of $10,200.  The Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget will be amended to reflect the receipt of $91,300 in grant funds from Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation and Los Angeles Lakers, Inc., and previously authorized reserve funds in the amount of $54,350 for repairs to the Rogers Park and Darby Park basketball courts.

 

During closing remarks, Councilman George Dotson announced that Inglewood will again participate in the American Cancer Society’s Annual Relay for Life fundraiser.  “It’s coming up on June 10, and I’m asking all of you to join Team Dotson.  You can volunteer and join my team.”  Dotson also congratulated Mayor Butts for receiving an award from Ability First, a nonprofit that serves people with special needs.

 

Councilman Alex Padilla also commented on Relay for Life.  “It’s about bringing awareness,” he said. “You walk around the track and you walk in memory of loved ones who are either fighting cancer or who have lost the battle.   It will kick off here at Crozier Middle School at 9am.” 

 

Councilman Ralph Franklin acknowledged the recent passing of Lorraine Shaw, a 52-year Inglewood resident.  “She will be missed, along with her husband Dr. Ernest Shaw, who served on the Inglewood School Board.  May they both rest in peace.”   Franklin also thanked people who came to his District 4 Town Hall meeting last week.  “We talked about Alzheimer’s, and veteran’s care.  Everyone appreciated the information covered at that meeting.”

 

“Ernest Shaw helped my (family) start a soccer league in Inglewood in the 80s when there was a small Latino population. They helped make the City of Inglewood an example for the rest of the world, to see how well different cultures get along,” Councilman Eloy Morales said.  

 

Morales nominated and Butts appointed Josie Perez to the Inglewood Library Commission.  

 

Butts took the final minutes of the meeting to address a woman who criticized him for allowing someone to speak beyond the one-minute time limit. 

 

“No one in here is superior, you have no right to sit in the audience and interrupt anyone.  I’m going to warn you in advance, don’t talk out ... If it is disruptive, we will close the meeting and we will leave.” 

 

Regarding the Michael-Sandlin case, the mayor reiterated:

 

“A police officer’s personal records are privileged by state law. What we can talk about is whether or not someone is on the payroll.  These officers (involved in the Michael-

Sandlin shootings) are on the payroll.”

 

Butts closed the meeting in honor of the late Lorraine Shaw as well as Erin Cooley and Sonia Lee, who recently passed on. Before the meeting was adjourned, Inglewood High School senior Beverly  Vezile  was recognized for her outstanding academic achievement. Vezile ranks number one out of 211students in her graduating class, with a GPA of 4.5.  She is headed for UCLA.

 

Sexual assault trial begins next month.

 

Jury selection will begin next week in Philadelphia in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial.  The defamed comedian and actor said he won’t testify, but had plenty to say to Michael Smerconish on Sirius XM.  

 

Commenting on the more than 50 women who have come forth, charging him with drugging, sexual assault and rape as far back as the 1970s, Cosby suggested that many of the allegations are based on racism.  

 

The case that will be heard beginning next month involves Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who claimed Cosby drugged and molested her in 2004.  It is the only criminal case that has resulted in a trial. The statute of limitation has run out for dozens of other accusers.  Cosby said his encounter with Constand was consensual, and has sued some of the other women for defamation.

 

In an interview with Smerconish that aired Tuesday, Cosby said: "I just truly believe that some of it may very well be that (racism)." It is the first recorded interview since he was charged in December 2015. 

 

The sitcom star spoke in vague, general terms, referring to his accusers as “individuals” and “some people.”

 

In regards to the racism claim, Smerconish pointed out that Cosby's accusers are both black and white. But Cosby insisted that some were motivated by racism and were out to get revenge:

 

"When you look at the power structure, and when you look at individuals, there are some people who can very well be motivated by whether or not they're going to work. Or whether or not they might be able to get back at someone," Cosby said.

 

He added:  "So if it's in terms of whatever the choice is, I think that you can also examine individuals and situations and they will come out differently. So it's not all, it's not every, but I do think that there's some."

 

Last month, Cosby spoke with a consortium of black-owned newspapers.   However, despite claims of racism, very few blacks outside Cosby’s circle of family and friends have come to his defense. Many in the black community were offended when the comedian harshly criticized poor black kids for wearing sagging pants and not speaking “proper English.”  

 

The majority of women who accused Cosby of assaulting them decades ago maintain they didn’t come forward earlier because he was such a powerful figure in Hollywood.  They felt no one would have taken them seriously.  

 

The 79-year old comic faces 10 years in prison if convicted on felony sex assault charges.  The trial begins on June 5.

  

 

The killer of slain Inglewood policeman, Sgt. George Aguilar, is set to be released from prison, despite efforts from family members to keep him behind bars. 

 

Aguilar was gunned down while chasing several robbery suspects in March 1988. Joevone Elster, the mastermind behind the crime, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Four suspects were arrested and charged with murder.

 

Aguilar was immortalized when he became the first Inglewood police officer to die in the line of duty.  The Inglewood City Council declared an official day of mourning, flags flew at half-staff and a trust fund was established for the officer’s 3-year-old son.

 

Now, family members are in a state of shock at even the thought of Elster walking after 29 years behind bars.

 

“I never thought we'd be here trying to fight for him to stay in prison. What kind of justice system would release a cop killer?" son George Aguilar Jr. said.  The family has had little time to digest the news, learning Tuesday that Elster will be released on Friday.

 

Elster was previously granted parole.  That sentence was overturned by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Then, Los Angeles Superior Court overturned Brown’s reversal, allowing the original parole grant to be reinstated.  The Governor’s Office is not likely to try and reverse the reversal  because such actions almost always prove unsuccessful.

 

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Aguilar was raised in the Latino Boyle Heights area. In Inglewood, the father of four served as a role model for groups of Latino school children he counseled.

 

Daughter Camille Zamorano said her father “absolutely loved his job. He gave his life for it, and now our justice system is going to allow the person responsible for his murder to walk the streets.” 

 

“My dad lost his life when he was 46 years old. Now, here we are, the man responsible for my dad's death—his is about to begin at just about the same age. Where is the fairness in that?" Aguilar Jr. said.

 

Brother Larry Aguilar said the ordeal has been a “nightmare” for the entire family, which never ended.  “There should be a law that anybody that kills a police officer should never see the outside of prison walls," he said.

 

With time running out, Aguilar's family is again pleading for the governor's help and asking the public to speak out. Aguilar was well-known in the law enforcement community, and his murder was even turned into a docudrama with Danny Trejo playing the veteran officer.

 

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