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Angelica

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Wright is Out, Bradford and Hall Are In

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No sooner had the ink dried on convicted State Senator Rod Wright’s resignation letter, than Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) and Assemblyman Isadore Hall, III (D-Compton) filed papers to take his place.  The new candidates will make a run for the 35th District Senate, which is overwhelmingly Democratic.  About 14% of registered voters are Republican.

 

Wright announced on Monday that he will resign effective Sept. 22, 2014, following sentencing last week to 90 days in jail, 1,500 hours of community service and three years of probation.

 

The 62 year-old lawmaker was convicted on five counts of fraudulent voting, two counts of perjury by declaration and one count of filing a false declaration of candidacy. A jury believed Wright lied about living in Inglewood—where he was elected to represent—but actually resided outside the district in Baldwin Hills.  The conviction makes him ineligible to hold public office in the State of California.

 

Wright’s resignation culminates a 2010 indictment, which subsequently led to him being suspended on March 28 by the State Senate.  He is the first state legislator to resign over a criminal conviction in 20 years.

 

Gov. Jerry Brown has 14 days from Wright’s official resignation to call a special election to fill the remaining two years of Wright’s term. The special election will be held between 126 and 140 days from the governor’s proclamation, and nine or 10 Tuesdays before the special election runoff.

 

It will be at least 6 months before the new 35th District senator is known, but Bradford and Hall wasted no time making their intentions known. 

 

Bradford, a former Gardena City Councilman, who was elected to the 62nd Assembly District in 2009, touted his “seventeen years of a solid track record of public service.”  Hall, who promised to “create more good paying jobs, and to bolster our K-12 and higher education systems,” was elected to the 64th Assembly District in 2008.

 

Wright originally planned to step down on Oct. 31.  However, pressure from Senate Democrats to expel him if he did not step down sooner forced the earlier announcement.  The Dems lost their supermajority earlier this year with suspensions of other senators in their party—Leland Yee of San Francisco and Ronald S. Calderon of Montebello. Yee and Calderon face federal corruption charges and allegations they accepted money in exchange for favors. Both have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

 

 

“Building A Bridge To The Future”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The community and elected officials came out for a packed Town Hall Meeting on September 13, held by Mayor James Butts at The Living Room, Faithful Central Bible Church, in Inglewood. There was definitely a buzz of excitement among Inglewood residents, many of whom arrived early and started filling the room well before the event began.  As Councilman Alex Padilla stated, “This is a chance to hear about all the positive things happening in Inglewood.”

 

The agenda was pretty ambitious—City finances, public safety, education, residential sound insulation, street construction, and a myriad of development projects, including Hollywood Park, a new community center, a 340-unit condominium project and renovation of the Inglewood Playhouse.  

 

Mayor Butts, City department heads, and community partners kept the audience engaged, and at hour three, with no air conditioning, the room was still full. Whether you came to hear the latest on all the City’s economic development projects, to see the people’s champion, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, or to find out if Inglewood is going to get an NFL team, Butts delivered. The meeting was covered by CBS News.

 

Mayor Butts opened the meeting with a reminder of how far the City has come in such a short period of time. “It was 1988. The Lakers were NBA world champions and that was the last time we were of international prominence in the City of Inglewood. The Lakers left in 1999 for the Staples Center and we have not been on the radar since.”

 

“But in the last three years, we’ve been on the international scene four times,” Butts continued, “When First Lady Michelle Obama came to Northgate Market (a place where residents can buy fresh produce and healthy food) in February of 2012. Next, Shuttle Endeavor came through our City (in October of 2012). The Dalai Lama came to town in February of this year and then last week, we had the VMAs (MTV Video Music Awards) at the Forum.”

 

He went on, with the help of his executive team, to fill in the gap between post-Lakers Inglewood and the vibrant, business-friendly Inglewood of today. “When I came to office on February 1, 2011, the City had an $18.4 million structural deficit. To put that in more basic terms, it was like spending $50,000 a day more than you took into revenues,” Butts explained.

 

To avert financial collapse by 2017, the Mayor and City Council took aggressive action to build up reserves and increase revenue. But the biggest savings to the City was a decrease of unfunded liabilities by almost half, thanks to an unprecedented deal. The Mayor and leadership were able to negotiate with all six unions to eliminate lifetime medical, uncapped benefits for all current employees.

 

“Revenue projections didn’t happen by just cutting expenses. Anybody that depends on cutting expenses only to balance a budget doesn’t plan on delivering a product. And our product is service: safety, sanitation, development. So you have to focus on the economic development side.”

 

The Mayor and his leadership team provided updates on several of the current and upcoming developments around the city:

  • Hollywood Park Project:

 

At 238 acres, this is the largest urban infill project in Los Angeles County. The first phase of this $2 billion investment will be in the Arbor Vitae area and consist of 146 homes and retail spaces. The development will also include a boutique and regular-sized hotel.

  • Centinela Hospital Reconstruction Project

 

Centinela has recently been named one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation.  The facility is undergoing a $30 million reconstruction. It is the only hospital in the immediate area for Inglewood residents and the surrounding communities.

  • Market Street Redevelopment Project

 

The mayor’s vision for this $100-$150 million redevelopment is a multi-layered, second-floor residential, first-floor retail and entertainment project. It will be a live/work/play type of development with an anchor of either a boutique hotel, condominiums or some type of mixed-use on the transit-oriented development side, across from the Metro link stop. The goal is to create a natural draw for people to cross the street into that sight, then transition on into Market Street, Inglewood’s version of Old Town Pasadena. This is a big change for the City of Inglewood to run a project of this size with no city subsidies.

  • Thrifty Gas Station-Community Center Project.

 

 

This is another public-private partnership and classic win-win for the community. The new community center will be a gathering space for civic members, police and the public. The City will receive an annual guaranteed minimum return from billboard proceeds for the next 22 years, be able to use the community center rent free and post public service announcements on the billboard at no charge!

  • Condominium Project – 333 North Prairie.

 

This project sits on 18 acres of land, and is the former site of Daniel Freeman Hospital. It is essentially a neighborhood that will consist of 340 two- and three-story townhomes with direct access garages for sale. Great care is being taken to develop around the large anchor trees and to design the dwellings with modern touches while preserving character. The walkable community will also have a recreation/fitness center.

 

“We’re very excited and impressed with the city, staff and mayor,” said  Ashish Khatana, EVP, Shopoff Group (developers).  “We work in a lot of cities. We’ve been based in Southern California for two decades and I wasn’t expecting to be this impressed, but we’ve been very impressed. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this city and were excited to be a part of the re-emergence and the next chapter in Inglewood.”

 

In addition to these new developments, additional renovations and upgrades are planned for the Inglewood Unified School District as well as improvements to the Departments of Public Works, Public Safety and Parks & Recreation.

 

The highlight of the morning was an appearance by Congresswoman Maxine Waters who was welcomed with a standing ovation and enthusiastically shared with the crowd, “I’m proud to announce that the City of Inglewood has just been awarded a new $10 million residential noise mitigation grant for the Sound Insulation Program!”

 

Waters went on to inform the audience of just how diligent their mayor has been since his first visit to Washington two years ago to get Federal funds for this program. With funds from Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) and the FAA, Mayor Butts’ challenge last year of 1,000 residential units complete was met and the current goal to complete 1,098 units by March, 2015 is on track. The program is scheduled to shut down at the end of 2015.

 

The Congresswoman went on to thank the audience for coming out to the Town hall and participating in this special part of our democracy. After a brief legislative update, Waters expressed how proud she is of Mayor Butts:

 

“I think that in the final analysis, this city and this mayor will be rewarded in so many ways for the leadership, for the economic development that is being done. So thank you Inglewood, you’re looking good!”

 

Congresswoman Waters is a hard act to follow, but Mayor Butts was able to keep the momentum going, as he closed out the Town Hall with straight talk on the question of the NFL in Inglewood:

 

Comparing Inglewood to other cities that have expressed interest in having a football team, Butts touted Inglewood’s merits: “We are at the center of four freeways, we’re about a mile and a half from Los Angeles International Airport, we have ocean climate and we have the largest single contiguous lot of open land in Southern California. That being said, Gerard (Hollywood Park) is already doing a project there. Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Rams has purchased 60 acres and he has interest in a development of some type…”

 

Butts continued, “Here’s what it’s going to take for football to come anywhere in Southern California: First, there has to be an owner who is capitalized enough to build a stadium. It costs about $1.6 billion to build a dome stadium. Then you need concurrence of 75% of the owners in the League to allow the team to move.

 

“So let’s look at the situation. We’re the only city that has an owner who owns their own land. Although, 60 acres is not enough for a football stadium but who knows, if they negotiate something with Hollywood Park Land Development, who knows what could happen. We are very well situated for that to happen if it would happen. With that said, there is no deal until there is a deal.”

 

Mayor Butts concluded by thanking everyone for coming out and shared his motto, “I am living the Nike slogan, ‘Just Do It.’ No excuses, just do it!”

 

 

Eye On the City

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tuesday’s council meeting was light, and focused mainly on Mayor James Butts’ recent town hall meeting, and improving public areas around town.

 

The Council approved a one-year contract with an accounting firm, a three-year contract for auditing services, and an increased subsidy for $7 to $10 to help seniors and disabled citizens to use Metro public transportation more affordably.

 

Leroy Fisher continued to speak out against Councilman George Dotson holding his town hall meetings at churches—a subject that he addressed last week.  “The church and state ought to be two separate entitles!” he said.  He suggested that the District 1 Town Hall meetings be held in City Hall.

 

“It’s a meeting place, it’s not a church service.  The churches are kind enough to let us use their facilities.  We don’t have that much space here,” Mayor Butts said. 

 

One man shared his ideas about how to make the Forum more user-friendly.  The venue’s circular shape, he said, makes it hard to tell where you are in relation to the outside:

 

 “When you go into the Forum, they need to put up signs—north, east, south and west—to get out of there faster.  They need a parking area where people can pick up passengers instead of having to drive around.  It wastes time and traffic, especially at night, and when it starts raining, it’s going to get worse.  Also, there needs to be phone chargers installed...They need to put cell chargers inside by the restrooms.”

 

A woman said she was ticketed and her vehicle wrongly towed.  Parking enforcement claimed she was blocking a driveway, and she does not agree. “They are telling me that when I park, I should take a picture of wherever I park.” 

 

“You don’t have to do that,” Butts said.  “We have an appeals process.  You can appeal it on the second floor [but] we cannot overrule a ticket once it has been issued.”  The woman gave her contact information to a police officer for follow up.

 

Ethel Austin reminded Butts of a promise he made to make free Internet service available to everyone in Inglewood.  “Remember you promised to try and get Internet for everyone like in L.A.  Are you still working on it?  “Yes, [but] it’s not going to come in everybody’s house. It’s going to be in public places like Starbucks.  We’re going to encourage everyone to spend their money [in those places].”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

One woman returned to the council to make another plea for steam cleaning Market Street. “I was here in July.  At that time I told you about Market Street. It is absolutely smelling by the CVS Pharmacy and over where the Sparkling Cleaners was.”

 

On September 13, Mayor Butts hosted a town hall meeting.  The agenda covered all the key points of interest to Inglewood—public safety, residential sound insulation, Hollywood Park, Market Street, a new condominium project, street repair, the school district, a new community center, the NFL, and more. 

 

 Inglewood heard from several city officials, representatives from Hollywood Park, SCE, Centinela Hospital, business developers and special guest, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters.

 

“It was great hearing that Congresswoman Maxine Waters is securing federal dollars for our city especially for residential sound insulation,” said Councilman Ralph Franklin.

 

“That meeting covered everything.  Anyone who showed up—when they walked out, they knew everything going on in the City of Inglewood—no doubt.  If you were not there, I strongly encourage you to watch the videotape,” Councilman Dotson said.  He also announced that his town hall meeting, scheduled for this Saturday, September 20th has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 11, at First Church of God, 9550 Crenshaw Blvd., from 10am to noon.

 

Councilman Alex Padilla thanked fellow council members for approving city sponsorship of his District 2 Annual Picnic, to be held Sunday, September 28, 2014, from noon to 4pm, at North Park, 625 E. Hargrave Avenue.  He invited the public to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by attending the Hispanic Heritage Festival this Saturday, September 20th, at Crozier Middle School, 120 W. Regent Street, from 11am to 4pm.

 

Televised news coverage of the Mayor’s Town Hall meeting is a sure sign that Inglewood is becoming a city with a regional impact, Councilman Eloy Morales said.  “Some of the issues the mayor mentioned are impacting the region, not just the city.  The NFL and development of 300-400 market rate homes—believe me—that’s a regional impact.”

 

“When is the last time you saw a city’s town hall meeting on the news?”  Butts asked. 

 

Get in the know!  Inglewood City Council meetings are held live every first and third Tuesday at 2pm and every second, fourth and fifth Tuesday at 7pm, on the 9th Floor of City Hall, One Manchester Blvd.  Meetings are broadcast on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7pm on Time Warner Cable Channel 35 and on YouTube (www.youtube.com).

 

Inglewood Free Day at LACMA

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On Sunday, September 21, from 10am-7pm, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is hosting a free day for Inglewood residents, as well as residents in South LA, Lennox, Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, Hawthorne, Willowbrook, Gardena, and surrounding areas.  No proof of residency is required, simply say, “I’m from Inglewood (or one of the communities noted above) and you and your group will be admitted free.

 

This is the culmination of the month long LACMA Art + Film event held in Inglewood this past July.  Inglewood was one of 10 communities to have the Art + Film event.  If you have never experienced LACMA, this is your chance to see a variety of world-class art.

 

In addition to the permanent galleries, we will be treated to exhibits such as: African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, the first major exhibition to explore the historical legacy of African cultural astronomy and its intersection with traditional and contemporary African arts; Edward Biberman, Abbot Kinney and the Story of Venice, this recently restored WPA mural and historical photographs and ephemera that trace the rich and colorful history of Venice, California; Fragmentary Tales, mysterious and tantalizingly incomplete segments of textiles from throughout history and from around the world, from Peru to Uzbekistan to China and representing a span of more than 2,000 years; and Sam Doyle: The Mind's Eye, works from a premier painter on Saint Helena Island, South Carolina, the center of the region's Gullah community, among others.

 

In addition to the galleries, these activities will be available: Hands-on arts activities for kids, youth, and families; Bilingual gallery tours; Video works by artist Nicole Miller, featuring Inglewood residents in the Bing Theatre; and FREE LACMA memberships for youth 17 years old and under.

 

There is also an art sculpture that you probably will want to see.  Remember the huge rock that was moved across LA in the middle of the night in February 2012?  It is the sculpture titled “Levitated Mass”, by Michael Heizer, also called the LACMA Rock.   The rock is a 340-ton hunk of granite, certainly the largest rock any of us have ever had the chance to view up close.  Don’t miss it while you are there on Sunday.

 

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, west of La Brea Avenue.   There is paid parking on both LACMA Way and Spaulding Avenue, as well as street metered parking. Additionally, we have some free parking on 6th Street, between Fairfax and S. Curson Avenue, just behind the museum.

 

Inglewood area residents can take the Metro 212 bus near the intersection of Manchester and La Brea and transfer to the 20, 28, 30, or 720 Metro Bus. Please visit metro.net to plan your trip.

 

I hope we, as a community, will come out and enjoy this wonderful gift of culture. 

 

 

And the Winners Are…

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Congratulations to Valerie Lodem, Nevelyn D. Williams, Hazel Jackson and Daniel Myatt. They just won tickets to see Frankie Beverly & Maze, Patti Labelle and Reuben Studdard live in concert, September 21st at the newly renovated Fabulous Forum!  The free tickets are part of an online promotion for InglewoodTodayNews.com  Inglewood Today is celebrating 20 years in business with a new logo, a new website, and most important…more chances for you to win prizes.  Visit the site today and sign up to have Inglewood’s official e-news delivered free to you.  Then, stay tuned for more exciting contests.

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