Compton Elections: Transparency

The regular city council meeting held May 2nd was enlightening.  Residents heard two oral reports by the new Controller and City Attorney and also learned that Planning Commissioners are appointed at-large, not by district.  The oral reports don’t come with supporting documents in the council agenda packet, yet presentations were given that 2 Urban Girls has a few screenshots of.

Public comment started the meeting with strong community speech involving the election.  Residents came forward to discuss their challenges with polling locations not being open and not having enough provisional ballots.

One young man came forward to ask Mayor Aja Brown about allegations of her campaign workers showing up at polling locations wearing t-shirts emblazoned with her name.  She never addressed it but did comment on all of the other questions he asked of her.

City Attorney Craig Cornwell discussed the city’s request to have court intervention for a house located at 635 W. Tichenor.  The property is owned by a family, whose elderly patriarch lived in squalor.  Despite community clean up efforts, neighbors still inundated City Hall with concerns over the property and the city stepped in.

Apparently, the owner has adult children who have ignored the conditions their father/father  in law was living in.  The city helped the family secure a conservator who immediately boarded up the property, installed a fence and put in new windows.  According to Cornwell, the city has spent no money towards the rehabilitation of the house.  Councilwoman Janna Zurita inquired whether the property had any city liens on them.  Cornwell responded, “he wasn’t sure.”  Zurita further questioned how the city has been involved with the property, dating back to the 90’s, have used city resources to attend court hearings, yet found it puzzling the city attorney couldn’t answer this question.  2 Urban Girls does too.

Luckily, someone from the Bldg & Safety dept. happened to be in the audience and came forth and stated that their were liens on the home in 2015 and 2016 but were satisfied before the city stepped in to grant receivership.

If the property had no liens associated with the code violations, why did Craig Cornwell move forward with such an action?  Will more Compton residents fall victim to these tactics?  The mayor has asked him to look into 607 N. Grandee.  

Cornwell stated he expects the family on Tichenor to close on a loan shortly, which would remove the court appointed conservator.  Perhaps this is why councilwoman Zurita inquired who is paying for the 24 hour security, fencing and new windows on the home.

Compton’s City Controller, Nita McKay, cast further doubt on collusion between the controllers and treasurers office and Doug Sanders possible involvement in his departments losing $4 million of taxpayers money.

Council requested McKay audit the city’s American Express account.  The city currently has only one physical card that is kept in the city managers office.  It has a $50,000 credit limit and according to City Manager Cecil Rhambo, any purchases over $4,999 must be brought to the council for approval, despite the cards spending limit.

McKay explained that 86% of current purchases are for food for city council meetings, totaling nearly $4,000.  The remaining balance went towards Parks & Recreation.

McKay explained her department audited the card and found payments were made from prior month statements, not current ones.  Payments were made although 4 dozen receipts are missing.  Two statements are also missing.

Basic corrective action given by McKay include not paying off old statements and most importantly, ensuring receipts are provided for ALL transactions.

Residents can remember the previous fiasco with city cards, that resulted in Doug Sanders sending copies of credit card statements to the District Attorney’s office.

Despite the transparency Mayor Aja Brown is campaigning on, there is still one glaring piece of transparency missing.  A full warrant register on the council agenda, of all city money leaving 205 S. Willowbrook Ave.

This weeks agenda listed two payments. One of which could have been paid for on the city credit card, the other must come to council for approval due to dollar amount.

Mayor Brown has never publicly called for the disclosure of all checks issued for paying city bills to be included on the council agenda.

2 Urban Girls is in possession of three years of warrants written out of City Hall.  Where they pay for travel, water, food, utility bills, etc., yet the public isn’t privy to this information weekly on the council agenda.  You have to initiate a public records request to get it.  Imagine how hard that is with the turnover in the cntrollers office.

The meeting ended with more questions that need answering.  It is apparent, from residents speaking during public comment and the manner in which council responded, that the city is more divided than ever.

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One Response so far.

  1. Jo Morales says:

    All I want to say is don’t judge the family. I am in a similar situation with my 82 year old mother. I told her about Mr. James. She refuses to let us do this or that or come live with us let one of us move in with her. She becomes very agitated when we try to do things she doesn’t want done. Until you have had an aging parent, please don’t judge. I won’t call social services on my own mother, but I have explained to her other people can. She doesn’t believe me. Live and let live and please for the love of God don’t judge his family. Things become more difficult and complex than you can possibly imagine

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