Inglewood Mayor James Butts can thank Clippers owner Steve Ballmer for saving him and the city from future embarrassment. An ongoing feud between the city, Ballmer and James Dolan has concluded with the finalized sale of the Forum to Ballmer from Dolan.
The three-way centered around allegations that Mayor Butts “tricked” Dolan out of a lucrative parking deal for vacant parcels located along Century Blvd. Dolan paid a quarterly $50,000 payment to the city’s finance department as part of the deal, in turn, the city was to prepare the land for development.
That deal fell through when Ballmer decided that Inglewood should be the location of his start of the art basketball arena and practice complex.
The legal entanglement also forced Butts’ not so private life to take center stage, as a long standing rumor of his being in a relationship with his subordinate came to light.
Butts and his former executive assistant, Melanie McDade, never publicly discussed their relationship, however, the “presumed” relationship became a major focal point of the lawsuit. Dolan’s attorney’s questioned both Butts and McDade during depositions, in relation to the ongoing lawsuit, in which they both refused to answer.
The city has spent no less than $1 million to dispute those facts, that McDade and City Manager Artie Fields publicly confirmed after McDade left her employment with the city.
Fields admitted to knowing about the relationship, as he made several recommendations for the city council’s approval, for McDade to receive bonuses and promotions, while in a relationship with her boss.
The sale of the Forum will squash several lawsuits related to the Century Blvd. parcels but does’t necessarily resolve employment claims that could come by this summer.
McDade has until June 30th to file a claim for damages against the city, for wrongful termination, but according to the city clerk’s office, no claim has surfaced. For now.
Terms of the deal have not been fully disclosed outside of the $400 million purchase price. It is unknown if Ballmer will return $18 million Dolan obtained from the city’s former redevelopment agency and what if any community benefits will the city’s residents receive, as the highly publicized “$100 million package” has yet to be finalized.
The city has yet to present mid-year budget presentations, nor fully disclosed the state of the city’s finances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. What we do know is it is now more crucial than ever to get the Clippers arena approved and with city elections taking place in November, we will no doubt see a flurry of cash penetrate the current council’s campaign coffers.