Willie Agee Takes the Spotlight

Thursday, June 23, 2016 Written by 
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If you’ve seen any televised meetings of the Inglewood City Council, you have, no doubt, seen Willie Agee, a spry 80-something resident who begins his weekly public comments by saying, “My name is Willie Agee, and I live in the beautiful city of Inglewood.”


This month, Agee, who chairs the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission, was honored by having the Inglewood Playhouse at Edward Vincent Jr. Park renamed in his honor. On Tuesday, the council approved Mayor James Butts’ initiative to adopt a resolution formally renaming the Inglewood Playhouse the Willie Agee Playhouse pursuant to Ordinance No. 16-04. 


Not everyone, however, saw the renaming as something positive.


A few residents objected to Willie Agee’s name being on the newly renovated building.  They said there should have been a “process” in place to rename the playhouse before the council made it official.  Others disagreed.


Long time resident Ray Davis remained neutral on the matter, saying: “There are going to be a lot of buildings built in this town, and opportunities to put names on them. Daniel Freeman’s (founder of Inglewood) name should be on something.”  


Butts chimed in:  “The naming of facilities is a very serious statement about someone’s contribution to their community.  The council adopted an ordinance on May 19.  Mr. Agee is a 40-year veteran of Inglewood and has more than 15 years on the Parks and Recreation Commission in addition to serving in the Korean War. . .I want to officially rename the playhouse the Willie Agee Playhouse.”


“It couldn’t have been named after anyone else,” Councilman George Dotson said.  “It’s not because he comes up here and praises us.  It’s because of the work he puts in before he comes up to praise us.  So I am proud to be one of the (council members) to name the playhouse after Mr. Agee.”


Councilman Alex Padilla congratulated Agee on the renaming and also received his own kudos for opening the new Community Center in District 2.  Treasurer Wanda Brown commended Padilla on the community center.  “It was a long time coming,” she said. 


Councilman Eloy Morales praised Padilla’s efforts on the new community center, and congratulated Agee.  Recalling disagreements between himself and Agee years ago before Inglewood’s transformation, Morales said: “When I first got elected, we would go at it, but it was in a respectful way. . .but you were just saying things you feel.  When Inglewood started to change, you started to change and that’s the sign of a real sincere person.” 


“I want to thank the council and staff and everyone involved in renaming the playhouse.  I just love this city and love the people who’s running this city.   Now the kids have a future.  Thank you very much,” Agee said.


Councilman Ralph Franklin commented that Agee was “a man with the right spirit and the right heart.”   He also asked the council to close the meeting in the name of former Inglewood Councilmember Virgle Benson, who served in the 1990s.


Butts used his closing comments to address a complaint about bathroom doors that needed repairs at one of the city parks:


 “When I got on the council, things were not pleasant at all because of all the problems in the city.   Ms. (Felicia) Ford had cynical things to say, and she was right.  We got a new council, and the council showed the will to bring things around, and there are people that still talk about bathroom doors that were fixed five years ago.  We may have the Raiders or maybe the Chargers coming here.  We’re working on having a Final Four held in Inglewood, and we have people talking about things that were fixed five years ago as if that is validation for being cynical.”


The council approved a number of items, including:


•An agreement between the City of Inglewood and Training Research Foundation for the operation of the Head Start/State Preschool Child Development Program at Rogers Park  


•Payment of invoices for Quest Diagnostics


•The acceptance of State Citizens Option for Public Safety grant funds and adoption of a resolution amending the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget to include funds in the amount of $175,587


•Expenditure recommendations by the chief of police  

•Issuance of a purchase order to Galls Uniforms for the purchase of police body armor 


•A resolution amending the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget  


•An agreement with the County of Los Angeles for supplemental law enforcement services 


•Acceptance of fiscal year 2016 Justice Assistance Grant Funds 


•Recommendation by the chief of police pertaining to the expenditure of FY 2016 JAG funds


•Authorization of the expenditure of FY 2016 JAG funds in the amount of $61,413 and direction that funds be included in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget 


•A staff report recommending rejection of the bid received on May 24, 2016 and rebidding for the Emergency Water Main Replacement Project.  Award of a contract for the street and alleys rehabilitation project for Fiscal Year 2016  


A revised salary ordinance for Fiscal Year 2015-16 was introduced.


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