The city of Compton promotes “#TransparencyTuesday as a way to bring attention to the city council meetings taking place every Tuesday, in Compton City Hall. The residents have listened and have many questions about items, on the July 19 agenda, that reveal bonds are being refinanced, to pay for projects that Mayor Aja Brown said wouldn’t come from taxpayer dollars.
From the Concerned Citizens of Compton…
Dear Fellow Compton Family and Supporters:
Attention is being focused upon Compton City Council Agenda Item #18 and Public Finance Item #1 for the July 19th meetings being voted upon tomorrow commencing at 5:30 PM.
This item is intended to refinance bonds to save on interest which is commendable. However, there are concerns from citizens about the 176-page lengthy financially intricate document and what it reveals and is actually approving. For this reason, the public is asking for the agenda item to be table until a full vetting and understanding can be ascertained through a Q&A with questions submitted by the public.
To start the bond resolution reads: “WHEREAS, the City proposes to issue its Series 2016 Bonds in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $30,000,000, with an interest rate not to exceed four and on half percent (4.5%), and maximum annual debt service of $2,900,000.
These however are some of the many concerns. First, the paperwork mentions future funding for the Youth Performing Arts Center, for example, a project which the Mayor stated would not require public funding as she had supposedly acquired donations from Dr. Dre and other private donors. Now it appears the public will pay for the Center. The paperwork states: “The City can borrow for future projects like the Performing Arts Center after the restructuring transaction is completed.”
Second, there is concern about language in the offering which some interpret as opening the door to yet another or other bonds not related to the immediate refinancing. Therefore for clarity, the community demands to know specifically what if any and all other bonds that may be surreptitiously (secretly) included but not divulged yet approved by approval of this document, or by giving signature authority to the Mayor without bringing the matter before the council or public again for discussion and/or sanction. The language reads: “The Authority may in the future issue additional bonds under the Trust Agreement.”
Third, the Compton City Hall and the four Compton fire stations are to be used as collateral for the bonds and the city will lease back these facilities yet there is no rental amounts detailed in the agreement.
- City Hall and Council Chambers – 205 South Willowbrook Avenue – $44,000,000
- Fire Station No. 1 – 201 South Acacia Avenue – $4,900,000
- Fire Station No. 2 – 1320 East Palmer Street – $1,200,000
- Fire Station No. 3 – 1131West Rosecrans Avenue – $4,900,000
- Fire Station No. 4 – 950 West Walnut Street – $4,200,000 Total
All Facilities Total Worth $59,200,000
Fourth, two of Mayor Aja Brown’s “Yes on P” backers are listed as participants in this bond offering raising concerns about outside influences in the city, companies directly benefiting from the passage of Measure P, and the cost to the city and its citizens of the Mayor having to deliver on promises.she made, either through the use of contracts and other means. The contract reads: “Comer Capital Group, LLC were retained as bond Financial Advisor, and IFS Securities, Inc., as investment banker and bond underwriter, to assist the City in identifying options to reduce or avoid the higher annual bond payment.” IFS Securities, for example will receive a percentage on all bonds.
Fifth, the financial details and the limits of what is being approved are not readily understandable by the public. Education and explanation needs to take place on the meaning, process, and significance of the dollars from a citizen’s perspective. In other words, bring what’s hidden if not said into the light.
These two outside entities now doing business with the city contributed the following to the Mayor’s campaign:
International Financial Solutions Inc.
Full Service Public Finance Solutions/Municipal Offerings
Comer Capital Group LLC
Financial Bond Advisor
First, the City posts the agenda on Friday’s in advance of the Tuesday council and committee meetings. The time is sufficient on simple agenda items which are a quick study. However on more complex agenda items like the above, the discussion for the public is held too often literally in the chamber at the beginning of the vote, too late for even council to digest properly. However, it appears the Mayor has had plenty of advance notice.
Second, as a result, citizens assert council votes are being registered without the proper level of investigation as some items voted upon appear simple only later to discover their severe consequences.
Third, there is no cover one-page summary document simplifying the purpose and intent with pertinent bullet points of the key features of a complicated agenda to help residents follow and understand better. Residents are being forced to weed through a complicated morass to ascertain true meaning.
Fourth, there appears a concerted effort on the part of the Mayor Aja Brown and the administration to keep citizens in the dark about what is actually happening in the city. While no detail or knowledge of actual plans may have been sufficient for some voters, others would like to know the full scope in advance of what is planned and being implemented.
“Transparency” becomes only a word when no one knows or is privy to what is planned, yet the implementation has begun.
“Wake Up Everybody.”