2UrbanGirls had the opportunity to speak with City Treasurer Wanda Brown over the recent public discourse she has been engaged in with Mayor James Butts.
Ms. Brown explained to 2UrbanGirls that she has been meeting privately with Mayor Butts and City Manager Artie Fields regarding the city’s declining cash balance for the past year.
She has explained they should stop overspending on pet projects that reduces the city’s General Funds by millions.
From refurbishing the tennis courts at Centinela Park to the tune of $1 million dollars, remodeling Ash Park for another $1 million dollars, and other projects has resulted in millions of dollars spent presumably to keep the council re-elected by appearing favorable in the public’s eye.
Ms. Brown went further to state she is the last to know when the city enters into legal settlements that also involve millions of dollars going out of the city’s coffers.
Things came to a head over the holiday when it became public knowledge that a city employee placed #1 on the city’s housing lottery list, then a report by Sen. John Moorlach was published that showed the city is $450 million in debt related to unfunded pension liabilities.
During yesterday’s regular city council meeting, Brown reiterated she agreed with Moorlach’s analysis of the city’s debt. She also shared that she received calls from Congresswoman Maxine Waters who is doubtful the city can adequately address the shortfall.
Mayor Butts responded by having Brown’s mic cut during her comments.
“There is nothing the city can do about the pension debts which include lifetime medical benefits bestowed upon retirees and former elected officials,” said Brown.
We inquired about the eight page memo she provided to the Mayor, City Manager and members of council where she discussed the debt and urged the council to stop spending unnecessary funds. She also requested they meet with her to discuss her findings and only Councilmembers George Dotson and Ralph Franklin obliged.
According to Brown, Mayor Butts has been adamant, during his private discussion with her, that all cities run a deficit which isn’t true. Cities like Beverly Hills, Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica are all in the positive for their pension funds.
He also told her that her job is to “keep the city solvent” which is impossible with the councils reckless spending.
Our city continues to bestow raises and bonuses to certain members of Mayor Butts’ inner circle which contributes to our declining cash balance.
“The city of Inglewood’s negative unrestricted fund balance has grown more under Mayor Butts than any other mayor in the city’s history,” said Brown.
During yesterday’s regular city council meeting Mayor Butts continued to elude to the city not being in dire financial straits because Moody’s has upgraded our bond rating numerous times.
He called up Sharon Koike, Assistant Finance Director, and allowed her to agree with his analysis of the city’s finance. She was limited to one word responses.
“You have to take into consideration that we PAY Moody’s for bond ratings and with the market for their work being so competitive…” explained Brown.
According to Butts, the city will see nearly $10 billion dollars in new revenue related to the stadium.
“Reality is Moody’s predicts the stadium will generate $25 million per year and over 100 years that amounts to $2.5 billion dollars, which still won’t cover the growing pension debt,” said Brown.
To put in perspective, Moody’s predicted the casino to yield between $10-$14 million dollars in revenue to the city. In reality, it brings in roughly $5 million annually.
Former Los Angeles Chief of Police turned Councilman Bernard Parks contacted Brown stating the city was putting the 1st time homebuyer program in jeopardy by awarding the first position to a city employee.
Brown continued to proclaim City Manager Artie Fields and Mayor Butts being behind her drawing the names of the winners. This prompted Councilman Eloy Morales to ask Fields for more details.
“Out of respect for Wanda, Butts thought it was a good idea to have her draw the names as she has credibility with the community,” said Fields. Their actions seem to tarnish her credibility when she has fielded no less than three dozen calls asking why she awarded a city employee a house that was paid for with public money.
2UrbanGirls first reported on the city employee winning the housing lottery last August, then Daily Breeze followed up in December. Brown was adamant she would not have participated if she knew a city employee was involved.
When we asked why she has become so vocal in the last two weeks about these issues she was clear.
“I work for the residents not Mayor Butts.” said Brown. “And the best part is he can’t fire me.”