One on One with LA County Sheriff candidate Paul Tanaka – Part II

Paul TanakaPart 2 – Turning around the City of Gardena

The City of Gardena was created in 1930 and is under general law, not a city charter, and is governed under the laws of the State of California.  The state sets the stipend rate:  $600 for council members and $800 for the mayor.  Truly volunteer work.  The city had an annual budget of $45 million dollars and was running a 12% annual deficit.  The councils made many costly mistakes, during the 80s, which attributed to the deficit.

With two insurance brokers on the council, they attempted to self-insure, along with other local cities, which didn’t work.  A first time homebuyers program recorded a 95% default rate.  Crime was up due to a reduced police force and the city was heading downward facing dog.  Paul’s accounting degree played a huge role in him helping to turn the cities credit rating from junk in 2005, when he was elected mayor,  to an A rating in 2013.  It was no surprise he captured 92% of the vote in the 2009 election.

His main focus while on the council was to preserve the resident’s property values and home equity.  As the lone Republican on the council, it was no easy task.  Through his leadership and community policing approach, he was successful in uniting the council to get the city’s finances back on track.

City employees, including law enforcement, are now contributing towards their retirement plans which both unions were outright against.  Nevertheless, the concessions were made and the cities financial burdens were slowly decreasing.  The council made families more responsible for their children.  Imposing $25,000 sanctions on families, whose children are found to be defacing property with graffiti, has also reduced crime.  Graffiti hurts communities in several ways:  it scares people, decreases property value and invites additional crime.

Gardena currently haa no gang injunctions in place and in 2015 implemented the Juvenile Justice Intervention Program, which is available to Gardena residents, as a deterrent for their children, who may be headed down the wrong path.  As a former law enforcement officer, he understands how crucial these programs are.  A true progressive approach to reducing crime.

Being that the City of Gardena is only 5.5 square miles long, the council created “Adopt a Block”, which divides the city into 60 sectors and is composed of residential and business members who monitor graffiti, trash and unkempt yards.  This approach empowers residents to be more vigilant of activity in their immediate surroundings and creates a more cohesive community because they are working together.

As Paul continued to accumulate a $12 million dollar reserve and get the cities credit rating back on track, he was simultaneously moving up the ranks within the Sheriff’s department.  It was during this time that Paul’s life would forever be changed.

Tomorrow Part 3 – The Tattoo

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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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