1975 U.S. Mayors Conference

untitledThe U.S. Mayors Conference (USMC) is a non-partisan body that offers membership to city mayors with a population of more than 30,000 individuals.  USMC holds two annual meetings to discuss their unified mission of promoting the development of effective urban policy, strengthen the federal-city relationships and provide forums to share ideas and strengthen leadership and management tools.

The 70’s saw many blacks becoming elected officials.  In neighboring Compton, Douglas Dollarhide was elected the first black mayor, in California, in 1969.  Doris Davis followed Dollarhide as the first female black mayor, west of the Mississippi.  Merle Mergell, then mayor of Inglewood, began to fear that the blacks would soon be taking over Inglewood.  This issue would resonate during the annual U.S. Mayors Conference.

In 1975 Merle Mergell was re-elected mayor and headed off to the annual conference, which was held in Boston that year.  Mergell was concerned about the shift of demographics back home.  During the mid 70’s, African-American’s were coming home from the Vietnam War, with a G.I. bill in hand, and purchasing homes in Inglewood, CA.  A city who enjoyed the comfort of being predominantly white.

At the conference, the body passed a resolution, introduced by Mergell, that would support laws requiring banks to disclose their lending practices for prospective homebuyers.  The mayors were concerned about a bank practice called redlining.  Redlining was a practice used by banks to limit mortgages in older, racially mixed, urban areas.

Jay Cooper, former mayor of Pritchard, Alabama, came into office and found the employees pension fund was being used to assist homeowners buy homes.  As African-americans obtained more homes, thus making them more likely to elect blacks to office, Mergell was fearful that black mayors would divert funds back to his own city, where residents were having difficulty obtaining loans.  In the case of Inglewood, white flight was taking off.

What wasn’t widely known was back in 1973, Mergell was lobbying Los Angeles International Airport (LAWA) for noise mitigation funds.  The school district sits directly under the flight path.

In 1978 Edward Vincent Jr. was elected as an Inglewood School Board Trustee and served as its president from 1978-1979.  He would then go on to be elected to serve Inglewood residents in District 4 from 1979-1983.

As Vincent was headed towards becoming the cities first black mayor, it must have made Mergell livid, for his term was expiring in 1979.  Mergell would lose the election to Lee Weinstein (think of him as Jimmy Carter), while a landmark settlement was brewing over those LAWA noise mitigation funds. Vincent would become mayor in 1983.

Lennox School District would sign an agreement in 1980 taking a $2.5 million cash out, that excluded both Lennox School District (LSD) and Inglewood School District (IUSD) from future claims against LAWA.

Noise under the flight path has gotten worse, and in 2008, it took an act of Congress, at the urging of Jane Harman, to pass legislation setting aside the 1980 agreement and ordering LAWA to pay LSD their $110 million and IUSD their $118 million, over a ten-year span.

IUSD has still not received a dime of that money, although the district has spent Measure K funds to assess the work that needs to be done to address the noise issues.  It wasn’t until TELACU was brought on in October 2012, to replace BASE architecture, that the noise plan was FINALLY completed and submitted to LAWA for the PFC application.

The application was submitted to the FAA, on behalf of IUSD, by way of LAWA back in August 2013.  LAWA staff states that the FAA should make a decision on the PFC application within thirty days of receipt.

Yes, folks, IUSD is in debt for not only giving away our money, but also delaying the money by not having their shit together.  Would you trust the “advisory” board with another $200 million of taxpayers money?  I think not.

Merle Mergell helped setup the demise of minorities in Inglewood because he knew whites were losing their stronghold on Inglewood politics.  He didn’t want minorities to benefit from the money that was heading into the city.

Inglewood Unified School District STILL waits for the noise mitigation funds to be released from LAWA in spite of legislation instructing them to do so.  Lennox School District, on the other hand, has received $10 million.




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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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