The Compton City Council convened on Tuesday, May 26th, to discuss a full council agenda. The meeting began with Sen. Holly Mitchell’s remarks regarding National Foster Care Month, which the council formally adopted. Other items addressed were the contracting out Human Resource functions, declaring a revenue shortfall to support massive layoffs in FY 2020-2021 and appointing members to the Emergency Standby Council.
Human Resources Director Kareemah Bradford has been on leave from her position for nearly four years. Bradford has won multiple lawsuits against the city, where she received compensation and the right to go back to work.
Bradford had a record of implementing the three-cart residential trash collection system and wrote the business plan to secure financing to procure equipment needed to clean up the city.
Bradford possesses both a bachelors and master’s degree and a certificate in Human Resources and is made to sit at home instead of performing her duties.
The city authorized a $42,000 contract to bring the city’s human resources department into the 21stCentury.
“I don’t believe the current staff has the ability to modernize the department,” said City Manager Craig Cornwell.
Due to COVID-19 the city is facing a nearly $10 million revenue shortfall that no one on the council had any ideas on how to fix other than declaring a revenue shortfall to support a workforce reduction.
Councilman Isaac Galvan remarked he would donate his salary to avoid layoffs, however, his colleagues verbally attacked him saying he was playing “politics” and had no real solution. Neither did they.
City of Inglewood is facing a nearly $20 million revenue shortfall but according to Mayor James Butts the city has a robust general fund reserve account in the amount of $54 million and will most likely ask all bargaining units to forgo raises, in their new contracts, to avoid layoffs.
Galvan asked the city manager if there is money in the general fund reserves to avoid the layoffs.
“We currently do not have any reserves,” said Cornwell. “But I am still working with various unions to preserve jobs.”
Galvan continued to speak up on the hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts awarded to city vendors and doesn’t support the layoffs.
The revelation the city didn’t have reserves confused some.
“I thought we had a “rainy day” fund but I guess that doesn’t cover payroll,” said Robert Ray.
His colleagues stated they would come back to the next council meeting with some ideas on how to plug the budget.
Finally, the city council appointed members to the Emergency Standby Council which is authorized under the city’s municipal code section 2-4.11.
The code states that the emergency standby council are appointed by the council members in January or soon thereafter. This body is made up of either residents or employees to serve in the event of a disaster such as a local or state emergency or during the existence of a state of war emergency.
The charter currently lists the order of succession as mayor pro-tem will serve if the mayor isn’t available and if neither the mayor nor mayor pro-tem the remaining council members step up in order of seniority.
In the event none of the aforementioned are available then the emergency appointments step in. They have full rights and knowledge of the city’s operations and finances while they are appointed.
Residents were outraged that Mayor Aja Brown chose her husband Van Brown.”I heard the strangest thing,” said longtime Compton activist Joyce Kelly. “Did they vote to make Van Brown emergency mayor?”
“I am astonished!!” said long-time resident William Kemp. “This council found a municipal code that two District Attorneys: one former and one present, who were also former mayors didn’t find?”
He is the same Van Brown the LA Times sought questions from surrounding their families non-profit benefitting from the 2015 State of the City address. Their nonprofit, the Urban Vision Community Development Corporation has been suspended by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to file taxes.
Other well known community members were also listed as board members of the corporation.
Brown’s former assistant Melissa Freeney, Compton school board candidate Greg Pitts and City of Inglewood HUD Grants Coordinator Damien Pipkins have all served on behalf of Van Brown since he incorporated back in November 2011.
It remains unclear how the nonprofit amassed over $80,000 in expenditures with no incoming contributions.
“Is it legal for her to have her spouse serve on the governing board and voting on city business?” questioned resident Willie Williams.
It is unclear why the Brown’s weren’t transparent with their businesses finances and further magnifies the community’s distrust in her administration as it pertains to the city’s finances and this revenue shortfall declaration.urban vision cdc