INGLEWOOD – The city of Inglewood held a public hearing Jan. 4 to approve an ordinance establishing event zones for the Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 13. Multiple residents, including this author, called in to make public comment, and were denied the ability to do so. Can the city vote on a public agenda item without receiving public comment?
The public hearing was less than two minutes, with no substantial discussion of what the ordinance entailed, but it passed 3-0 due to the absence of Council members George Dotson and Dionne Faulk.
This author emailed the city clerk public comments before the deadline posted on the Jan. 4 council agenda. Our comments appear to have been intentionally withheld.
City Clerk Aisha Thompson confirmed the following day she received comments submitted via email, and they would be entered into the public record, despite her being told they had to be read during the meeting.
City Attorney Ken Campos provided direction to both Butts and Thompson during a May 5, 2020, public hearing, that comments received by email must be read out loud (video is at the end of this article).
During the Jan. 4 public hearing, Thompson appears to have intentionally withheld emailed public comments, received in a timely manner, taking into consideration her city email is configured on her cellphone.
The comments asked what is the approx. cost to taxpayers for hosting the Super Bowl, what is the anticipated revenue, what exactly the zone was seeking to achieve, and if there is adequate parking and public safety staff on hand for the week long event.
While on hold to give oral public comment, you can hear the meeting and can also press corresponding numbers to find out how many callers are in the cue to speak. During the public hearing, there were four of us.
Thompson explained the city’s IT department handles the calls, which is of concern due to one of the department employees, Josh Howe, is paid for services outside of his employment, by Mayor Butts’ multiple re-election campaign accounts.
The operator didn’t give callers the option to press a corresponding button to speak during the public hearing, or give comment at the top or end of the meeting as we regularly do.
This also shows Butts and Thompson seek advice from the city attorney and don’t take it, which was a point of contention during last year’s elections.
The Inglewood Municipal Code states employees have to resign before running for office. Thompson was a full-time employee when she pulled nomination papers to run for city clerk, going against the city’s own rules.
Public records requests for communications between Campos, Butts, and Thompson on the matter were denied due to “attorney-client privilege”.
Certain elected members of the Inglewood City Council appear to be intentionally defying their legal counsel, and the public’s trust, by silencing our voices on issues in the city.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has acknowledged receipt of multiple complaints, about last year’s nomination period, Brown Act violations, and withholding public records requests by a person the city elected based on their experience and tenure in the city’s most important office.
2UrbnGirls asked on status of a records request for the executed contract between the City and Hollywood Park Management Co.
“We are working out of boxes, and with no filing system, so it’s hard to find documents,” said Thompson.