The Inglewood City Council should now be aware that all eyes are on them and the city’s finances. Mainstream media continues to scrutinize the actions of the council with a recent article in the Daily Breeze reporting the city added $36 million dollars of new debt to, the city’s general fund, without voter approval. The Daily Breeze article, in many ways, vindicates former Inglewood Budget Manager Barbara Ohno who said the city cooked its books to bring in the NFL.
Inglewood CFO David Esparza and Acting Budget Manager Keauonna Buckhanon are responsible for delivering the quarterly and mid-year figures to the council and public.
Although Inglewood Mayor James Butts touted his alleged inflation of city reserves, with zero discussion of how it was achieved, to be re-elected last year, he actually stuck property owners with $150 million in new debt (which includes $54 million in interest).
During last week’s regular city council meeting, Buckhanon delivered the mid year numbers and the $36 million dollar pension obligation bond (POB) was a mere footnote on the presentation. Buckhanon went into greater detail about the POB’s in her first quarter presentation back in January.
It turns out the city used the money from the bonds to give out bonuses to top executives, including Police Chief Mark Fronterotta and one of the mayor’s alleged girlfriends, Melanie McDade. City Manager Artie Fields now earns $472k per year.
City Hall critics accuse Mayor Butts of using taxpayer funds to silence city hall employees and fund pet projects. The Acting Budget Manager’s daughter was allowed to rent a 2 bedroom house, from the Inglewood Housing Authority, for $690 per month, while working in the same department.
Mayor Butts consistently touts public private partnerships to address the city’s unfunded pension liabilities but instead of paying down the debt, he gave the money away to executives. Front line staff instead were offered payday loans.
To be plain about the city’s actions, the city opened a new credit card, used some of the money to refinance old debt, paid some bills, then put the rest in reserves. Nearly overnight the city’s financial outlook appeared rosy.
Jason Henry, Daily Breeze
How was this achieved? According to the Daily Breeze it was “creative accounting” that could be considered illegal. These are the SAME allegations made by ousted Budget Manager Barbara Ohno who blew the whistle and was fired for doing so.
If so, who will be found at fault: city staffers (CFO and/or Acting Budget Manager) or the council?
Read the full Daily Breeze article by clicking here.