INGLEWOOD – The Inglewood Library board has grave concerns surrounding the manner in which preferred consultants, with attachments to Mayor James T. Butts, continue receiving no bid contracts related to work in the City.
Minutes from the March 23, 2022 meeting include a robust discussion about how the City will be spending bond funds for the renovations to the Morningside Park Library, which was supposed to be funded in part by the Community Benefits Agreement with Murphy’s Bowl (Steve Ballmer / Intuit Dome).
Board member Minton read the Municipal Code, board duties and functions and complained that board is in general advisory capacity and want to understand how the board will be included in future matters regarding the Morningside Branch and the Main Library, because the planning was completed before the board was informed.
Board member Minton does not believe the services were adequate, doesn’t believe that community meetings were adequate and thinks we should have ongoing community meetings, should have at list one more community meeting with advance notice and would like to have a general timeline of the project. Ms. Minton also would like to know when the design was decided, how the process was conducted? Was there a competitive bid process for the project or any other architects considered? Was just presented to the city council? Was the city council involved and when?
Board member Minton mentioned that she didn’t want to bring up all this at the last meeting because the architect (Gwynne Pugh) was in the meeting and this is not his problem, the argument is not with him and he’s just doing his job. Is the architect hiring the contractor and will that be a competitive process?
Library Manager Kerri Arroyo answered that this project was designed back in 2017, 2018 and initially supposed to be a technology focused site. After having some discussions they decided to also bring early literacy to families and encompass as much as possible in that building. For the timeline first community meeting was held in January. The second two community meetings were additions at the request to the board, one with zoom and then the survey. So the meetings in all three different formats have spanned a timeframe of about a month and a week.
All construction, discussion and concept of design and the hiring questions will be differed to the Deputy to the City Manager Harjinder Singh.
Board member Minton said she believe this is a public project, its taxpayer’s money, it’s a public building that is going to be open to the public and it doesn’t sound correct that the city council is not involved and that is another reason why board is pushing for the director’s position because most likely a director would have been hired from outside. They would have had a lot of experience with this. They would have been looking at recommendations from the American Library Association. This is a big project and there are bits for buildings, there are bits for all kinds of things. City charter says that certain projects over a certain amount of money, have a competitive bid process.
Board member Minton said that board wants Harjinder Singh to be at the next meeting to answer all their questions and since the board members were not informed it’s not a good situation.
Library Manager Keri Arroyo mentioned that there is a bid solicitation and selection scheduled for the contractor. First bid solicitation is held for July 25th for the span of several months and then bid selection starts on September 5th and spans for few weeks.
Board Member Minton told Kerri that the same process should have been with the architect also. Ms. Minton asked if there were any small, similar libraries visited and was it considered a 20 year projection like ALA recommends, where the demographics considered for this project?
Library manager Kerri Arroyo said there were similar libraries visited but not as small as 2500 sq. Morningside is extremely unique with its size, situation, grant deed, with the community that surrounds it, plus being one of three sites. This will be a state of the art library that will meet as many possible needs that we can fit into that footprint and meaning high technology, literature, books, technology to serve any and all needs of every age demographic. The goal is to serve ages zero to hundred.
Board member Minton asked to see the grant deed of the Morningside Library.
Board members Minton also would like elaboration about the bond measure, why the Morningside Branch can’t be included in that bond measure to be expended and have a separate children’s section.
Board members Douglas and Cochran suggested to have a list of questions and present it beforehand to give Kerri and Harjinder an opportunity to answer all the questions.
Library Manager Kerri Arroyo told the board that will give them the document after the meeting. Also, the size of this library does not require a bond measure. We do have all the funds set up for this library and because of grant deed of that building there can be no change to the actual square footage.
Board member Sanders mentioned that not enough people attended the community meetings and not everyone received the survey and asked for the results of the survey.
Library Manager Kerri Arroyo told the board that she personally walked through the streets and handed as many as possible flyers for the first meeting to local housing apartments and houses in the local area of the Morningside library and had only 32 participants from 2 community meetings. The survey went out to 6500 library members and only 52 patrons submitted the survey. All that feedback from the meetings was applied to the design and the demographic that is surrounding that library with the space restrictions. The design that was presented by the architect seems the most accommodating space that has major flexibility and can provide services to everyone for generations.
Butts and Pugh have known each other since his days as chief of police in Santa Monica. Why is he the only vendor used on projects attached to bond money? If we allege its for a “kick back”, the mayor will say we’re lying.
You can read the full agenda by clicking here.