Inglewood City Attorney Politicizes Election

INSIDE INGLEWOOD - Inglewood city attorney Cal P. Saunders has apparently made politics his ambition.

A city attorney, by law, is supposed to represent the city in which he works—which includes the taxpayers who pay his salary. (According to the City of Inglewood's website, Cal Saunders is paid $264,935 annually.)

According to CA State Elections Code 9203, "the city attorney shall provide and return to the city elections official a ballot title for and summary of [a] proposed measure." Saunders did no such "summary" for Measures P and W that were on the April municipal ballot in Inglewood.

In past elections, Saunders has always provided such summaries as mandated by law.

Measures P and W would infuse an Inglewood paper owned by Willie Brown with significant revenue from the city's General Fund. Brown's paper is the "official" paper of Inglewood. According to campaign financial disclosures filed with the city clerk, Brown is a paid political consultant to the mayor, James T. Butts. As the city clerk, Yvonne Horton is essentially the check-signer for funds paid to Brown for public notices in his paper. His paper also regularly features Horton on the same page as Brown's editorial.

Measures P and W were remarkable in that Horton unilaterally proposed the measures. As a result, Horton's actions were in direct violation of CA Elections Code Section 9255-9269, which mandates that "[a] charter or charter amendment proposed by a charter commission, whether elected or appointed by a governing body, for a city or city and county shall be submitted to the voters at an established statewide general, statewide primary, or regularly scheduled municipal election date pursuant to Section 1200, 1201, or 1301, provided that there are at least 95 days before the election. A charter commission may also submit a charter pursuant to Section 34455 of the Government Code.”

Horton proffered no petition nor was there a charter commission.

In late March, Saunders was presented with a two-page letter regarding Horton's misdemeanor. The letter was accompanied by e-mails from Horton and a video of Horton's city council statements—all of which testified to Horton's crime. Saunders has refused to investigate the matter.

Saunders has instead elected to pursue false claims made in early May by Inglewood city employees close to Horton and the mayor regarding a council member who has long been an opponent of the corruption for which Horton and Butts may well be responsible.

The Sentinel, a paper owned by a real estate developer responsible for building schools for Inglewood Unified School District, has published a story based on the false claims that Saunders has helped to foster. Saunders is a close friend to Sentinel owner Danny Bakewell. Horton and her husband, California Board of Equalization chairman Jerome Horton, are also good friends with Bakewell. Jerome Horton is regularly featured in The Sentinel as a contributor.

Phone calls for comment were not returned by Bakewell, Saunders or Yvonne Horton.

(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) 





Vol 11 Issue 38

Pub: May 10, 2013