Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts thinks the public is stupid. 2UrbanGirls is shocked by the lack of competence on the city’s payroll that has allowed an unchecked error to mysteriously go unnoticed. Somehow the Daily Breeze has managed to uncover an annual payment being bestowed to Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta, presumably at the mayor and City Manager Artie Fields direction. 2UrbanGirls would be remissed if we didn’t add Assistant City Manager David Esparza , HR Director Jose Cortes and Finance Manager Maria Heaney as willing accomplices in this theft of public money. Butts has appeared to assemble his own group of deplorables to do his dirty work.
It is no secret that Mayor Butts has inherited a mess once he became mayor. A mess he has used to his advantage.
Artie Fields came to the city of Inglewood after being the City Manager for the city of Salinas between 2008-2011. According to website thecalifornian.com Fields left his position after he was unable to payback a home loan the city gave him. It appears Fields recovered nicely and is the second highest paid employee in Inglewood. His revised employment agreement gives him an annual 5% salary increase while regular city employees don’t earn annual cost of living increases in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to adjust for inflation.
Assistant City Manager/CFO David Esparza had a history of misappropriating taxpayer money during his employment with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. SoCal Connected provided insight into his dubious behavior in a news piece titled Show Me the Money: Government Gone Wild. The piece centered around Esparza allowing unauthorized expenditures to be charged to federal grant money. He brought those same tactics to the city of Inglewood.
As the CFO he is directly responsible for the Inglewood Housing Authority and Finance Departments. He allowed federal housing money to co-mingle in the General Fund and the city was forced to pay back $700,000 as a direct result.
Esparaza’s Finance Manager, Maria Heaney, is responsible for revenue and the city’s payroll.
Heaney works hand in hand with the mayor’s executive assistant, Melanie McDade to ensure the mayor’s campaign donors are absolved of their debt owed for city taxes. Again, under the direction of Esparza.
At the direction of Heaney, finance employees send a peculiar bill to Madison Square Garden for city services, that includes charges not listed in their agreed contract. In exchange Heaney managed to pay herself overtime in 2016, despite being a salaried employee. Once the human resources department, and fellow finance department employees caught wind, Heaney was allowed to payback the money. Others would have been fired for embezzlement.
Human Resources Director Jose Cortes, was a former Accounting Manager for the city of Inglewood, and was appointed to his current position in 2014. Cortes, in conjunction with Artie Fields, combined multiple positions to enhance McDade’s compensation in excess of $300k annually. It was also under the direction of Fields and Cortes that the city failed to properly classify annuitant positions that resulted in many retirees, including Mayor Butts’ daughters godmother, into losing their part-time positions.
ALL of these instances were blamed on “errors” according to Mayor Butts.
Now comes the news that another “error” has come to light that the Police Chief is receiving an unauthorized $60,000 annual bonus, that no one seems to have approved, to attend an annual 80 hour training. Oddly, the finance department and payroll staff didn’t catch that the bonus wasn’t approved. Or perhaps they are being forced to do what the mayor says in order to keep jobs they have no business being in.
Mayor Butts shared with the Daily Breeze that the council would approve the bonus “retroactive” which according to the newspaper could be against the law. Chief Fronterotta’s integrity should persuade him to return the money to taxpayers.
2UrbanGirls has already questioned whether the mayor is intimidating city employees into breaking the law or are they willing participants due to the outrageous salaries and bonuses he bestows on them?
This basket of deplorables are so blinded by money they don’t realize that Humpty Dumpty is setting them ALL up for a big fall. Barbara Ohno detailed all of these wrongdoings, and much more, in her now settled wrongful termination lawsuit.
Next 2UrbanGirls will dig deeper into why former councilmembers Judy Dunlap and Mike Stevens always voted against paying the city bills. It centers around a committee, which does not appear in the Inglewood City Charter, that approves contracts/payments, outside of the public eye, then goes straight to the warrant register for city council approval. Stay Tuned.