Mayor James Butts dropped a major bombshell during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. From now on, public remarks made at the end of the meeting will be limited to one minute.
Groans were heard from the audience and two men walked out. The mayor was called everything but a child of God, even compared to Hitler and Mussolini.
“This is a new low for the city. It’s a veiled attempt to silence the people,” Gil Mathieu said.
“I am sure you have your reasons, but I’ll let you speak for yourself. You’re men. Other (city council) meetings give you cards so you can fill them out to make sure you have something to say. You’re not just having your own bully pulpit,” said long time resident Ray Davis.
“You can say whatever you want but we talk too much,” Butts said to his critics. “The public has 4 minutes now. They have 3 minutes before and 1 minute after. Let’s be big people and be concise.” In regard to references of him acting like Hitler, the mayor responded: “To say that, you don’t really know what the Jews suffered.”
Inglewood Recreation and Parks Commissioner Willie Agee joked that he didn’t know what he would do with his extra time.
Other than the change in public comments, audience members commented on various aspects of the Hollywood Park project. There is some resistance to the massive mixed-use project being built in Inglewood.
“Hollywood Park has been a consummate partner. They could have bankrupted their LLC, like a lot of other companies did, when the recession hit. But they hung in there. As a result, they have built a quality project that is going to employ thousands of people,” Butts said.
“Before they even came to us, they spent about 3 years talking to the community. It’s amazing the time they’ve put in, so no one is giving them anything,” Councilman Eloy Morales said.
Council members agreed to accept a $245,000 grant to improve traffic safety; awarded $582,267 to a contractor for a storm drain improvement project; up to $1,337,452 for an extended architectural and engineering design contract related to residential sound insulation; and a second RSI engineering and design agreement for $569,495.
The council also approved two ordinances—one related to the Hollywood Park Specific Plan guidelines, and another to expand zoning boundaries related to the relocation of Hollywood Park Casino and surrounding areas.
City Clerk Yvonne Horton reminded everyone that October 20th is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4th General Election. You need to register if you have moved, changed your name or turned 18 since the last election. The City Clerk’s Office will hold a registration drive during the District 2 Picnic this Sunday, Sept. 28th at North Park.
City Treasurer Wanda Brown is flying high from another successful community financial workshop. The well attended workshop covered a number of topics of interest to residents at all stages of life—banking, credit, insurance, reverse mortgages, saving for retirement, and more.
Homeowners, Brown said, should be aware that “a new wave of foreclosures is coming. Loan modifications are beginning to adjust and will continue for the next 4 to 5 years”
Butts introduced an initiative to lower the income threshold for seniors to receive discounts and tax refunds from public utilities. “We had seniors (whose) cost of living made them ineligible. Now you can make more money and still qualify,” Butts said.
“We wanted to make sure people who really need this program will qualify,” Morales added.
Speaking of money, two residents had this to say:
“I am voting for this man,” said Ethel Austin, pointing to Butts, “because he kept us alive. You all (council) kept us above water.”
“You took a different path. It was painful. You annoyed people, but we have not gone into bankruptcy and I thank you for that,” Davis said.
Councilman George Dotson responded to an inquiry about the now closed Warren Lane School and trees being removed to make way for the Hollywood Park project. “They are working on the school right now. A lot of the trees in Hollywood Park are being saved.” Dotson reminded the public to mark their calendars for his District 1 Document Shredding event, this Saturday, September 27th, from 9am to noon at the Police Community Center, Beat 3, 2901 W. Manchester Ave.
Councilman Ralph Franklin said more about the new public comment rule: “As the chair, he (mayor) has the ability to grant people more time. We ask that you address the matter that you would want addressed versus the issue of the timeline. Also our offices are open if you want to speak more about the matters.”
Mike Benbow commented on the great time he had at the concert featuring Frankie Beverly and Maze and Patti Labelle at the Fabulous Forum. “That music was all about love.” He thanked the council (by way of working out a deal to bring back the Forum under new ownership) for bringing the concert to Inglewood.
Butts commented on the concert goers, who were solidly middle-aged: “There was not a lot of standing and there was not a lot of marijuana smoking.”