Mon, Jul

City of Inglewood: A Democracy Interrupted

SOUTH OF THE 10 - The United States Supreme Court is preparing to issue a ruling on women’s reproductive rights by removing federal intervention and returning the rights back to the state to decide. 

The leaked opinion says we live in a democracy and the people have a right to cast votes in support of candidates who share the same values as them.  The problem with a democracy is when money dictates the outcome of our elections.

The Inglewood mayor came into office under cloudy suspicions he demonstrated during the nomination process.  His residency came into question and when the city clerk asked him to sign an affidavit to corroborate the date he said he moved into the City, he declined.  

That was the first indication he wasn’t striving to become mayor for pure reasons.  He lied to voters from the beginning but because residents were eager to “restore integrity” to the mayor’s office, they elected a former cop over true Inglewoodians. 

Since being elected he continues to tarnish the office with his deception surrounding the city’s finances, reckless spending on extraordinary legal fees for multiple lawsuits tied to his personal behavior, and his failure to pass a key tax ballot measure shows the mayor is at his weakest point in his 12-year tenure, and concerned about running for a fourth term.

The data shows the mayor is driving more people to the polls, against him, and thus he heavily relies on developers and billionaires to fund his campaigns. 

In 2014, the mayor’s bid for a second term, resulted in his receiving 83% of the vote. 

Total votes cast for the mayor was 13,193 and his three challengers recorded 2,638.

Between his 2nd and third terms, he became the bell of the ball with developers continuing to pour money into the mayor, who then poured money into the campaigns for seats in District 1 and 2 in order to remove the thorns in his side.

Months after securing his second term, all hell broke loose.  The City announced a petition would be circulating to put an NFL stadium on the ballot.  The second lie the mayor told us. 

The LA Times have run multiple stories on how developers dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Inglewood candidates in order to “fast track” their project.  Mission accomplished.

What followed?

The announcement of Steve Ballmer’s plans to move the NBA Clippers across the street from the world’s most expensive football stadium.

Voters were still hypnotized by the swell in equity in their homes as the housing market took off.  Simultaneously, Metro extended the rail along the very train tracks residents had shut down due to complaints about noise and traffic delays. 

By the time voters went to the polls in November 2018 the mayor drew more votes against him. 

He tallied 19,817 to capture 61% of the vote, however, the numbers against him swelled.  Four challengers drew 12,186 votes. 

Over 9,500 people turned out from the previous year to vote against him, while the mayor only added 6,600 votes.   

But the mayor wasn’t done.

The stadium opens, a global pandemic hits, and for the first time we see that the current administration has not improved the City’s financial position.

The mayor was elected shortly after the City declared a fiscal emergency in 2009-2010 and a decade later, they did it again.

The 2021 fiscal emergency triggered a special election to increase certain taxes in the City.  One of which relied heavily on the voter’s trust in what the administration was telling us.

Do we listen to their words or pay attention to what they’re doing?

Measure H was presented to increase transient occupancy taxes from 14% to 15.5% which voters overwhelmingly supported since it wasn’t coming out of their pocket.

But Measure I, the real estate transfer tax, designed to “gift” the City additional money as a sort of “thank you” for getting my property value this high was narrowly defeated.

The final vote count was 4.736 for and 5,232 against.  Now do you understand why the City is back throwing parties?  They have to get out there and gauge what the voter is thinking.

The Inglewood Police Officers Association got the bright idea to publicly endorse the District 2 councilman and the nomination period hasn’t officially opened so what is the endorsement for?  And why was it only announced for District 2, when the District 1 and mayor’s seat will be on the same ballot?

The mayor is rightfully concerned that he can’t win in November.

His credibility is in the toilet with his attacks on the City’s treasurer who has nothing to gain from telling the truth about the City’s finances.  She isn’t too far off if the City declared a fiscal emergency and presented a mid-year budget showing a $22 million deficit.

The District 1 and 2 councilmen are just as shaky as the mayor because they have co-signed on all of what is transpiring with lawsuits, outstanding legal fees, their silence on matters negatively impacting taxpayers, and basically removing the residents from participating in the democratic process.

We can no longer voice our concerns considering the council has commandeered all of the City’s commissions, cancelling meetings for years, and denying us entry into council chambers to attend council meetings.

Add in the chaos of the citywide permit parking program, that carefully carved out the District 2 councilman’s area, compounded with threats to have tenants withhold rent if the property owner doesn’t pay registration fees to the City creates a hodgepodge of reasons for the voter to send all three incumbents from the dais.

Will more finance cash pour in related to the construction of the Inglewood Transit Connector to fend off voters who want to restore integrity to the mayor’s office?

Last week was the 50th Anniversary of the Watergate scandal. OJ Simpson provided commentary that “although Nixon was a better president, Jimmy Carter helped restore integrity to the White House”.

When will democracy and integrity be restored in Inglewood?

If the Supreme Court actually believes the voters control elections then their opinions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

(2UrbanGirls has been cited in Daily Breeze, Daily News, Inglewood Today, Intersections South LA, KCRW, KPCC, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Wave, LA Weekly, LA Watts Times, Mercury News, New York Times, Orange County Register, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic, and Washington Post. 2UrbanGirls has a recurring column, South of the 10, on CityWatchLA.)