The $18 Million Inaccuracy

Thursday, April 24, 2014 Written by 
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By Veronica Mackey


Mayor James Butts and the Inglewood City Council voted unanimously in favor of several items on the consent calendar Tuesday night.  With the exception of an amendment increasing costs to run the Summer Food Service Program (which was pulled), the council took the following actions: 


•Various agreements to retain legal counsel on behalf of the City 

•Fencing material and installation services for various City-owned properties 

•A three-year blanket purchase order for printed envelopes for City staff

•Termination of an agreement with a contractor for the La Cienega Boulevard Improvement Project and authorization to re-advertise construction bids

•Payment for legal services incurred by the West Basin Water Assn. on behalf of the City

•A contract award for the La Brea Realignment Project 

•Program management services for the Residential Sound Insulation program

•Architectural and design services for the Residential Sound Insulation program.


The council also approved a resolution to amend the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget to allocate $2,051,644 to fund Locust Street Senior Center development activities.  The funds are allocated through a HUD grant.  Bergman, Dacey, Goldsmith will contract with the City to provide legal counsel for the senior center’s design/build project.


Leroy Fisher objects to Madison Square Garden allowing Faithful Central Bible Church to host Easter services because, in his opinion, it does not serve the entire community. “One church should not be given preference,” he said, questioning whether the service was part of the agreement the Forum made with the City to allow community events to be held there.


“That was not a community event that the people in the City of Inglewood paid for,” said Mayor Butts, who attended the worship service.  “Faithful Central was responsible for the cost of that service.”  


Stuart Bailey also attended:  “It was sponsored by Faithful Central, and it was well attended.  From what I saw and heard, it was 18,000 strong.  Anytime you can go to church to thank the Lord for what you have is always a good thing.”


Throughout the meeting, public comments were made about the City of Inglewood giving Madison Square Garden $18 million to build the Forum.  Once again, Mayor Butts tried to put to rest inaccurate statements about the money: 


“Ms. (Diane) Sombrano, when someone like yourself purports to run a multi-million dollar business, people might think you know what you’re talking about.  Redevelopment (Agency) was a vehicle to help cities (initiate projects to boost revenue) so you would have investment capital.  Also, you would leverage that investment.”


He addressed Sombrano’s remark about the money, which is a forgivable loan, not being called a “gift.”


“No one ever said it ($18 million) was not a grant.  What we said was it was a wise investment.  It will generate more than $18 million over the next 25 to 30 years for the General Fund.  They are not an entity to the City, but they are an economic partner.  They were the first big domino to fall to bring us back.  “There is a publication that said the church stole $18 million.  It (money) did not go to Faithful Central Church.    It never went to the church.  If you’re wrong that’s okay, but it’s also okay for us to tell you.  We owe it to the City to tell the truth.  We take the time because it’s worth it.” 


The money came from the California Redevelopment Agency to help stimulate economic growth in Inglewood.  Had the city not used the $18 million, the funds would have been lost.  The CRA no longer exists.


Councilman George Dotson talked about the Earth Day event last weekend.  “Lots of good information and they gave out a lot of good stuff.  If you missed it, go next year. You’ll enjoy yourself and you’ll learn a lot too.”  Dotson is hosting 2 town hall meetings—Saturday, April 26, from 10am to noon at First Church of God and Saturday, May 10, from 10am to noon at Maranantha Community Church.  


Councilman Alex Padilla reminded the public that District 2 will also host a town hall meeting on Thursday, May 8th from 6:30pm to 9:00pm at City Hall in the community room. Public Works Director Louis Atwell, Inglewood School District Administrator Dr. Don Brann, Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta and Gerard McCallum of the Hollywood Park Tomorrow project will give presentations.


Councilman Ralph Franklin told audience members who complained about the $18 million forgivable loan to do the math, to understand how the Madison Square Garden deal has “boosted the City with  permanent job opportunities, with tax revenue streams that we do not have to give back.”


Council members are forming teams in their respective districts to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, a 24-hour marathon to raise money and awareness of cancer.  It will be held June7-8 at Crozier Middle School.


City Treasurer Wanda Brown informed the public about general economic trends.  The Federal Reserve Bank will not buy as many bonds this year as projected.  There has also been a big drop in U.S. imports in recent years.  Starting in 2018, automobiles will come equipped with cameras.  She also addressed a comment made last week regarding Inglewood’s housing market.  After reporting that some homes in Inglewood are selling for upwards of $400,000, a woman commented that homes in more affluent areas are selling for much more.   


“I wasn’t comparing Inglewood to other cities,” Brown said.  “Naturally, anything in Beverly H ills is going to sell over a million dollars.  I was comparing apples to apples, not apples to grapefruits.” 


Michael Benbow asked that the meeting be closed in honor of Dr. James Hall, who ran a women’s clinic in Inglewood for several years.  The meeting was also closed in the names of Inglewood students Denise Gonzales and Ismael Jimenez, who died in a tragic bus crash two weeks ago.  Padilla thanked the community for supporting the car wash which raised money for funeral costs.



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