Afternoon Council Meetings May Become the Norm

Thursday, November 05, 2015 Written by 
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Commentators at the Inglewood City Council meeting spoke out against a proposed workforce reduction plan and changes to council meeting hours.

 

A woman in jeopardy of losing her job and a union representative commented on proposed layoffs .  The union rep complained that there was no opportunity to meet and confer on the matter before it was presented to City Council.  He added that future meetings are planned with the City’s Human Resources staff.  There are 10 positions involved in the Sanitation Dept.  Unless changes are made, the City would have to use up reserve funds from the General Fund.

 

Mayor James Butts explained why the cuts are necessary: “We have to keep certain funds aside should there be an earthquake or in case we might not have access to cash. We have responsibilities to grow new revenues and streamline our budget.  He added that no final decision has been made about the layoffs.

 

“The City’s past policy is to immediately notify employees and immediately set up meetings…The council could refuse to approve it.  There is no need to meet and confer because you don’t know what the ultimate decision will be.  We don’t meet and confer until there is actually something to meet and confer about,” Butts said.

 

“We are bound to keep the City solvent without dipping into reserves. With the Sanitation Fund, we need to remain solvent with that particular fund,” Councilman Ralph Franklin said.

 

“It’s never a pleasant thing to let people go, it’s hard.  We have to look at our fiscal responsibility, not today or tomorrow but five, ten or twenty years from now.  It’s not popular but it’s something that needs to be done,” said Councilman Alex Padilla.

 

Councilman George Dotson commented: “These are things you don’t want to do, but our decision here is that the City comes first. . .We’re going to do the right thing.”

 

An ordinance was introduced to move all open weekly council meetings to 2pm.  Currently, meetings are held every first and third Tuesday at 2pm, and every second, fourth and fifth Tuesday at 7pm.  A continuous complaint by some is that not enough people attend the afternoon sessions to justify the meeting time.  Ironically, critics want all meetings to be held at 7pm, although the afternoon session on Tuesday was filled to near capacity.   

 

A lady showed up with letters of residents who are opposed to eliminating night meetings.  “It was hard for me to get here.  I didn’t think I was going to make it,” she said.

 

Inglewood Parks and Recreation Commissioner Willie Agee remembers the old days when 7 o’clock meetings lasted until the wee hours of the morning. “Well, I’ve been here for 18 years, I’ve been at meetings that went until one in the morning and nothing got done,” Agee said. 

 

Councilman Eloy Morales, who is the longest sitting member, agreed: “Ninety percent of the meetings were night time meetings.  We were going to two in the morning and very little was being done.” 

 

According to the report, management and administrative staff are required to stay over and caucus in the conference room during evening meetings in the event they are called to give an oral report.  They are allowed to adjust their schedule the next day to compensate for additional hours, causing lost staff time. The report also notes that changing meeting times each week has been confusing for the public.  The new schedule allows for public hearings to be held during evening hours if necessary, with routine business handled at 2pm every week.

 

The council approved a Funding Agreement for community engagement activities related to the Countywide Parks Needs Assessment; and a contract for the Vincent Park Turf Replacement Project.

 

An agreement was also approved with Civil Source to provide design and engineering services for North La Brea Avenue Improvements. 

 

Three amendments were made to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.  All will extend the fund lapse date to June 30, 2016 for street construction projects pertaining to La Brea Avenue, Florence Avenue and Century Blvd. 

 

The council also gave the green light Pinner Construction Co. to allow for early work on the new Senior Center, to be located at 111 North Locust Street.

 

Construction of the senior center remains on schedule; completion and grand opening is expected in the Fall of 2017. The approval will allow contractors to change the sequence of design services so that certain aspects of the project can be completed early.  This will result in a revised project schedule.  Based on current estimates, the anticipated construction budget has now increased from $19,152,00 to an estimated $23,000,000.

 

The council also approved a billboard lease agreement with WOW Media Inc. and housing assistance for veterans.

 

A student from El Camino College wants the City to upgrade its website. Inglewood needs to have updated videos on Youtube and get on Twitter and Instagram, he said.

 

A resident said Councilman George Dotson is not doing enough for his constituents.  Councilman Alex Padilla came to his colleague’s defense:  “When I look at who used to sit in that seat and who is sitting there now, hands down I’m taking George Dotson any day.”  He also defended Dotson’s involvement in community outreach.

 

Addressing the man who made the comment about Dotson’s alleged lack of community involvement, Mayor Butts said, “I was stunned when you said he missed meetings.  Every time I (attend an event) Mr. Dotson is there.  Last weekend when I could not make a water board meeting, I called Mr. Dotson.”

 

Councilman Franklin commented on the importance of having council members who work together.  Recalling when the former council was on opposing sides of the Forum being rebuilt, Franklin said, “There were three of us who were on this council who needed to make critical decisions developing the city.   We could not get that in the (former) council member in District 1.  Now that we have a new councilman  (Dotson), he is a welcome addition to this council.”

 

Morales piggy-backed on Franklin’s comments about the Forum vote: “That vote went down 3 to 2.  It is one of the best decisions in the last 20 years.  It was a turning point in the City of Inglewood.”

 

Dotson said he was proud of his record as a council member and as a planning commissioner.

 

 

Kudos to the Rotary Club in Inglewood for providing 200 free eye exams for children at Centinela School.  

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