INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts campaigned for office in 2010 on a. platform of restoring fiscal solvency to the City. According to him, the city was “cash poor” and barely had enough money in the bank to make payroll. According to the City’s audited financial statements that wasn’t necessarily the truth.
Butts ran in a special election held in January 2011 against long-time resident Danny Tabor. Butts secured 55.6% of the vote after receiving the support of 3,776 voters. Tabor finished with 3,004.
Shortly after Butts took office he began dismantling the workforce and changing the pension structure for existing and new employees.
He outsourced parking and traffic enforcement, tree trimming, street sweeping, and City Hall remained closed on alternating Friday’s all in the name of saving money. He shared with this author that his vision was for the city to operate like Sandy Springs, Georgia, which had less than 5 permanent employees after the city was founded in 2005. They found that to be a grave mistake.
In 2011, the financial statements ending Sep. 30, 2011, showed the City with a positive net balance position. The City’s assets totaled $567,569,063 and liabilities of $353,685,792 leaving a net balance of $213,883,271.
In 2015, a short four years later, Butts was entering his second term with a negative net position which could explain why residents weren’t allowed to vote on the NFL stadium position because the City desperately needed the revenue attached to it.
The financial statements ending Sep. 30, 2015 showed the assets dropped in value to $357,760,859 and liabilities increased to $402,919,589 leaving a negative net position of ($62,611,431).
How did the City go upside down nearly $300 million in four years?
In 2016, the net position increased to negative ($68,007,809), in 2017, it dropped to negative ($54,289,761) then the City’s financial position swelled to massive levels in 2018 as Butts was up for reelection to his third term.
Financial statements ending Sep. 30, 2018, showed assets at $445,932,781, and liabilities at a whopping $605,188,540 leaving a negative net position of ($146,030,949).
How did the City go upside down $360 million after seven years of Butts in office?
In 2019, liabilities grew by nearly $7 million and the City’s net position was negative ($153,158,547).
Going into Butts’ historic reelection for a fourth term, he trimmed liabilities to $609,558,795 with a negative net position of ($96,067,643).
The City’s debt continues to fluctuate due to rising pension costs.
Each time an employee retirees, the City owes them 100% of their vacation and 50% of their sick time in their final paycheck.
Some will say that the mayor himself plays a huge role in the uptick in early retirements due to long-time employees being passed over for promotions, police personnel being asked to do what they perceive to be “unethical” tasks, and overall dissatisfaction with how employees are treated.
Butts has said numerous times that the debt is attached to pensions and is only an issue when theirs a mass exodus of employees, like in our police department and city hall.
Butts took, for all intents and purposes, a fiscally stable government into debt in order to justify bringing in the NFL and NBA into the City as a catalyst to gentrify it in coordination with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority in order to have revenue coming in to offset the high pension costs.
Add in the cost of lawyers defending Butts’ multiple lawsuits he’s entangled in, lawsuit settlements, and whatnot and you can see where taxpayers money is going and why we continue to be hit with new “fees” (rent control, parking permits, short-term rentals, etc.)
How are we paying for it? Through development and rail expansion.
The City’s partnership with Metro allows them to expedite the seizing of land, under the auspice of “public benefit” and wipe out small business owners and long-time families from the City they’ve called home for decades before Butts stepped in to “save” us.
Butts’ political and personal transgressions are ignored because he wields control over the distribution of land, previously owned by the Inglewood Redevelopment Agency, that he leverages for campaign contributions to avoid selling and returning to the state.
The upcoming runoff election between George Dotson and Gloria Gray is very important because we don’t know where Gray stands on any issues in the City.
Butts has assisted in funding many of her campaigns to the water board but was that intentional to keep her from running for the city council? Gray turned on the residents in Carson when she wrote a letter to the state asking them to support Inglewood getting the NFL over Carson which is a more ideal site when it comes to traffic management.
Gray is also close to a political class that aligns with “progressive” politics via their affiliation with the Bernie Sanders movement and could cause an uproar if she begins to publicly pontificate on the dais in the same vein as our sidelined treasurer Wanda Brown.
Yes, a LOT is riding on March 7, 2023, and if you live in Inglewood’s District 1 hopefully you are asking Gray the right questions.
The outcome of the runoff will carry over into the 2024 elections when residents are asked who they should vote for in District 3 (Eloy Morales), District 4 (Dionne Faulk), and even City Clerk (Aisha Thompson) who the council recently celebrated for getting her notary license which is significant as more redevelopment agency related land deals come up.
This facade that Mayor Butts single-handedly got the City’s finances back on track is a farce and in my opinion, is nothing more than material falsehoods of the truth being peddled to the public to keep him in office.
Stay alert Inglewood!