INSIDE INGLEWOOD - In a curious series of similar statements in no fewer than two allegedly separate South LA newspapers, unsigned articles have made remarkable comments that could point to complicity in the wake of a break-in of an Inglewood newspaper publisher's house.
The Morningside Park Chronicle, a five-month-old Inglewood newspaper, is published by Teka-Lark Fleming. (Full disclosure: this writer is married to the publisher and is the paper's editor-in-chief.) The paper appears to have sparked undue interest in the publisher's means, activities and intentions.
"For some reason, local newspapers as well as the Mayor of Inglewood seem unusually interested in how I finance my newspaper. The people who broke into my house were also interested in that information, it seems, because they went through a box of tax receipts but left everything else alone," said Mrs. Fleming.
The break-in occurred on January 23. During the investigation of the crime scene, David Villamil, a police officer from the Inglewood Police Department (IPD), noted that the act "appeared to have been politically motivated." The four suspects were caught on video entering and exiting the house. While inside, the only items of interest to the burglars were the file cabinets. No items of material possession were taken during the break-in.
In the two weeks following the break-in, Inglewood Today and the Sentinel have been responsible for stories that commented on the Chronicle's fiscal means.
According to the Inglewood city charter, Inglewood Today, owned by Willie Brown, is the "official newspaper of Inglewood." Brown's financial means are handled by Inglewood City Clerk Yvonne Horton, by way of the many weekly city notices that the paper prints. Horton is also prominently featured in each weekly edition and without disclosure. Horton's husband, Jerome Horton, has a by-line in the Sentinel and is also the chairman of the California State Board of Equalization.
Inglewood Today was charged with similar violations in 2003 and was fined $50k by the California State Fair Political Practices Commission. The illegal conflict-of-interest relationship between Inglewood Today and Yvonne Horton has been brought to the attention of the L.A. County D.A.
The Sentinel owns the LA Watts Times. Both papers can be found in Inglewood city clerk Yvonne Horton's office, where her staff has been observed personally managing the distribution. No contract has yet been created for the public employees to manage the distribution of the two privately owned papers. Other newspapers which have requested similar treatment have been summarily denied.
On the website Inglewoodblockclub, which shares articles that are published in Brown's paper and which shares the same Canadian IP address as Inglewood Today's former website, it was noted in a February 1 article that "InglewoodBlockClub.Com is investigating new charges that Stevens and Dunlap are bankrolling a local upstart newspaper."
Brown meets with Inglewood mayor James T. Butts several times a week in city hall to discuss what is to go in Inglewood Today and on its websites. There is no by-line to the article.
In a February 7 article in the LA Watts Times Weekender, a person named "Derek" wrote a rambling screed about the Chronicle. Amid the many libelous and false accusations that had been previously voiced by Mayor Butts and Inglewood Today staff, "Derek" claims that "a source…suggested that the Chronicle was created by [a council person] and her longtime campaign staffer."
Most of the LA Watts Times' articles under the by-line of "Derek" are misappropriated from writers whose by-lines are not recognized in the on-line version's table of contents.
Calls and e-mails to Willie Brown, Yvonne Horton, Mayor Butts, Sentinel assistant managing editor Brandon I. Brooks and other Inglewood city hall staff mentioned in the Watts Times' rant were unanswered by press time.
Criminal attempts to shut down other small newspapers that seek to expose corruption in southland cities appears to be an emergent pattern in the greater South LA region.
In January of 2010 a fire of mysterious origin occurred at the Compton Bulletin's office. The Bulletin had upset certain politicians and appointees in Compton, one of whom implied that the act was indeed arson and that "they need to do it again." The comment was made at a Compton city council meeting a few months after the incident.
(Randall Fleming is a veteran journalist and magazine publisher. He has worked at and for the New York Post, the Brooklyn Spectator and the Los Feliz Ledger. He is currently editor-in-chief at the Morningside Park Chronicle, a monthly newspaper based in Inglewood, CA and on-line at www.MorningsideParkChronicle.com)
Tags: Randall Fleming, South LA, Inglewood, Mayor Butts, Inglewood Today, Morningside Park Chronicle, Sentinel, Willie Brown
Vol 11 Issue 13
Pub: Feb 12, 2013