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IUSD Has A New Trustee

Thursday, July 27, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has announced the appointment of a new trustee for the Inglewood Unified School District—Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, current head of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of Educational Services. 


Melendez de Santa Ana replaces former trustee Dr. Vincent Matthews, who left Inglewood for a school superintendent position in San Francisco.  She will become IUSDs fifth trustee in 5 years.  


In addition to her experience with LAUSD, Melendez de Santa Ana is also a trustee of the California State University, and the first Mexican American to head that school district in recent memory. 


Inglewood Unified schools have been under state receivership since 2012, when a combination of mismanagement and declining enrollment forced authorities to request a $55 million loan to avoid bankruptcy.  When the state took over, the Inglewood School Board and superintendent lost their decision-making power.  The state will control Inglewood schools until the loan is repaid.


Melendez de Santa Ana is well aware of the challenges she faces in turning the IUSD around.  According to the California Department of Education, the district has seen a 12% drop in student enrollment every year for the past 5 years—three times the L.A. county average.  Last year, the district lost nearly 600 students, which represents about $6 million in lost state funding.  The LACOE said last month, Inglewood schools face a $5 million deficit in the coming year.  


Inglewood Teachers Assn. President Kelly Iwamoto said:  “The next state administrator has to be somebody that is resilient, because you have to be here for the long haul.” 


Inglewood School Board Member D’Artagnan Scorza, told KPCC, “One of the assets that she brings is that she has a strong local network. She’s here in Los Angeles, she’s familiar with the communities.”  He predicts the school district can exit state takeover in three years.


The district has used $29 million out of the $55 million borrowed so far.  It is paying $1.8 million yearly to repay the loan. The state estimates those payments to go through 2033.



By Veronica Mackey


As the presidency of Donald Trump plays out daily, it’s evident that he’s on a mission to destroy and dismantle everything President Barack Obama has done.  The latest efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is just one of many attempts to erase Obama’s legacy.  


It has gotten to the point that it doesn’t even matter if Trump’s efforts hurt him or his party.  If Obama is for it, then he must be against it.  Take climate control, for example.  When Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, it weakened efforts to fight global warming.  Does he actually think he doesn’t breathe the same air as everyone else?  Global warming is a threat to everyone. But, this is the same man who called global warming a Chinese hoax. . .


There is no doubt that the mask of racism has been pulled off since Number 45 moved into the White House.  Trump’s dog whistles to his base—from his ban on Muslims, to that “beautiful” wall he said he’d build along the U.S. Southern border, to blatantly dismissing any concerns by the Congressional Black Caucus—have given White Supremacists a big thumbs up, that it’s okay now to come out of hiding.


A scathing piece in the Daily Kos ( by Denise Oliver Velez, dated July 23, 2017, examines Trump’s obsession with tearing down Obama, a condition she calls  “Obama Derangement Syndrome” or ODS.  She cautions that the malady applies to any black person who dares to be excellent at anything. 


Here are excerpts from Velez’s article, “Trump's Obama Derangement Syndrome isn't really about Obama,” one of the best explanations for Trump’s obsession that I have ever read: 


“Full-blown Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS), seen in the spew and spittle mouthed by the insecure and egomaniacal occupant of the White House, is not simply a Trumpian affliction. We watched Republicans dig in to subvert and block “the black guy” from the moment he took office. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” hurled at President Obama during a joint session of Congress, ditching decades of decorum, was more than a dog whistle: It was a signal to a significant number of Americans that a black man in the “white” house would not be accepted. That’s ironic given that this nation is now headed to hell in a hand basket, led by the most lying liar in our history.


ODS continued to play out during Obama’s presidential years, culminating in the blocking of Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court nominee. No longer in office, President Obama is now Trump’s excuse for whatever ills he and his crime-klan have brought upon themselves.


But frankly, it has less to do with Barack Obama himself (or his wife) than it does with what I’d call “uppity negro-itis." Had any other black person, male or female, been elected to the most powerful position in the world, their fate would have been the same.


Barack Obama is simply the most visible global symbol of black achievement, and from the point of view of those who hold onto white supremacist thinking, all black achievement must be stifled, smashed, trashed, and vilified.


Don’t buy the “economic anxiety” argument you read about daily in newspapers and hear about from pundits and bloggers. That just masks the deep-rooted fear and loathing of all things black that don’t stay where they are supposed to be. 


Trump and others in power know very well how to throw red meat to the salivating masses stewing in racial resentment. Sure, they have black people they embrace—“white seal of approval blacks” who know their place, the Clarence Thomases and Ben Carsons. Those black folks who dare to proudly be who they are become instant targets. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch is a recent example of the “blame-a-black” syndrome which is still being played out for all of us to see.


A cautionary note: Help stop the crap. As we gather our forces to head into the 2018 midterms and to the 2020 elections, pay attention to the “Obama-ing” of up-and-coming prospective Democratic candidates. Case in point is California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is being smeared by both extremes. 


In today’s world of politics and multiple media platforms, one thing has been made perfectly clear to those of us who support them:


Barack Obama is uppity.


Michelle Obama is uppity.


Eric Holder is uppity.


Maxine Waters is uppity.


John Lewis is uppity.


Loretta Lynch is uppity.


Kamala Harris is uppity.


Hell, Frederick Douglass—who the orange know-nothing in the White House thought was still among the living—was uppity.


So it’s not that Trump and company are simply deranged by Barack Hussein Obama. They are actually driven mad and made to froth by black superiority disproving their notions of black inferiority.


Even some “liberal” commentators fall into the type of patronizing and dismissive critiques of prominent black folks that are not applied to white folks of equal stature. But I look forward to supporting a whole new crop of up-and-coming, uppity young black folks, along with other young people of color.


And if I’m lucky, I may live long enough to see another one in the White House.”




Since the Fabulous Forum was reopened more than 3 years ago, Inglewood has been reinventing itself at a rapid pace.  Looking back, it’s amazing how far the city has come in such a short amount of time.  And when we look ahead, signs of success are all that can be seen.  


The sleepy community that folks drove through to get to the airport is fast becoming the destination city where people will want to come and shop, be entertained and just hang out.  


When I thought about other places where I’ve lived, I could think of no other city in America that has grown as fast and transformed so much as Inglewood.  Then I thought, a great city deserves a great promotion.  


Enter “Best of Inglewood,” an exciting new contest that will shine a light on the best of what this city has to offer.  From July 27 through August 28, 2017, Inglewood Today will offer prizes to readers and subscribers to participate by nominating and voting for the best businesses in the city.  


There will be dozens of categories and subcategories to choose from, like “best doctor” or “best botique.”  With the Rams, Chargers, and possibly the Clippers moving to Inglewood, local businesses will, no doubt, enjoy economic prosperity.  


But the push to shop in Inglewood is something that businesses can take advantage of now. Inglewood Today wants to position local mom-and-pop establishments, the bread-and-butter stake holders who have served this city day in and day out, for even greater success.  We want to help new businesses coming in get off to a great start.  


I believe the quality of goods and services here are competitve with other areas and deserve the attention and excitement that Best of Inglewood can bring.


It is my aim to give small business owners the opportunity to take part in the exciting growth that is happening in the city of Inglewood. This program will provide residents, businesses, and operators in Inglewood the opportunity to be recognized and for the community to showcase neighborhood pride and economic strength.


To nominate your favorite businesses, visit the Inglewood Today website at  Take a look at the “Best of Inglewood” cover story for details. 


By Veronica Mackey


A three-year exclusive negotiations deal between the City of Inglewood and the Los Angeles Clippers to eventually build a new basketball arena has been met by the Forum with a claim for damages. The claim, for an unspecified amount, was filed July 21. 


Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, and attorney for Madison Square Garden (MSG), which owns the Forum, said his client was tricked into giving up their lease on a parcel of City-owned property.  MSG later learned that land was offered in a deal between the City and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.  The proposed arena would be located on Century Blvd., across from the NFL stadium now under construction.


“It’s true,” Mayor James Butts told sports commentator Fred Roggin.  “We got a claim for damages, and for the moment, Madison Square Garden is a little unhappy with our plans to negotiate with the Clippers, to potentially develop a project.”  


Butts denies the City pulled any bait-and-switch maneuvers, as MSG has claimed.


“There is no bait-and-switch,” Butts said.  “This is City-owned land, and we have every right to develop it, and we aren’t doing anything to harm the Forum.  The Forum is our number one source of tax revenue.  Why would we want to harm them?”


The Daily Breeze reported that “The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” according to Putnam.  The damage claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.  There is no written proof of what was said.  However MSG contends that” its approved contract states the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.”


When Roggin said the Forum is concerned that having an arena in Inglewood could hurt business, the mayor dismissed the idea.


“First of all,” Butts said, “It’s a basketball arena.  They’re a concert arena.  The reality is there are ways they can work in a reciprocal fashion, where there would be no harm done.”


The mayor added, “It’s a false narrative to believe that the Staples Center, which is 20 minutes away, is no threat to them, but a basketball arena a mile and a quarter away is.


“Are you saying they don’t have the legal grounds?” Roggin asked.


“If you have a cause for action…you don’t send stuff to the newspapers.  You talk to your partner.  We have been a partner.


“We still cherish our relationship. It’s (Forum) still the number one concert venue in Southern California.  We’re having a little disagreement now with regard to the City’s right to self-determination, which we maintain.  We will always have our right to self-determination.”


In 2014, the Forum re-opened under new ownership and with a $100 million investment.  By June 2016, the Forum had twice as many bookings as Staples.  With regard to the Clippers, Butts said the City is being vetted to confirm that it owns the land.  Once legal ownership is confirmed and no contamination is found, environmental reviews will be conducted.  Then, the City of Inglewood will enter into a development agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers.  The Clippers’ lease with Staples Center will be up in 2024.


Last week, the Inglewood City Council, City Successor Agency and the Inglewood Parking Authority reaffirmed the decision to enter into an Exclusive Negotiations Agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers.  All bodes are comprised of the Mayor and Council members.



By Veronica Mackey


Local businessman Frank Denkins has been in the office furniture business for more than 2 decades, supplying much needed furniture as well as jobs within L.A.’s black community.  I worked for him in 1994, when I was pregnant with my second child, now 22.  


He was around 60 then, and one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met.  He was proud of his business and the people he was blessed to help, and it showed.   It was there that I learned the difference between mahogany, walnut and cherry wood. 


That was at his old location on La Cienega, where he spent 14 years, running his shop with wife Rosemary. 


Recently Denkins announced he would be retiring and closing the doors at L.A. Office Furniture on Crenshaw, just north of Inglewood, by mid July.  He told the Sentinel he is saying good bye after enduring a bad economy, leasing issues and multiple location changes.  


If Denkins is anything, he’s a survivor.  As the only known black owner of an office furniture store in L.A. he’s also a history maker.  


Denkins was a real life “George Jefferson” in the 1970s and 1980s—having owned 12 dry cleaners, including one in Inglewood at Manchesteer and 5th Avenue. 


At 82 years young, the serial entrepreneur says he plans to devote leisure with his wife and teach others how to succeed in business.  Having a strong work ethic and realizing there are no shortcuts is the message he wants to share—especially to black entrepreneurs.  


Passing on his years of wisdom seems the most natural step to take after a near lifetime of entrepreneurship.  Best wishes on your retirement, Frank.  And thanks for never giving up!




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