Inglewood Treasurer Wanda Brown has filed a $10 million claim against the city of Inglewood, Mayor James T. Butts Jr. and all members of the city council for retaliation, emotional distress and wrongful discharge.
“I put forth my best effort to work with Mayor Butts and the council regarding the declining financial health of the City, debt managenent, negative unrestricted fund balance, continued overspending, excesive use of consultants, and the need to hire competent personell especially for the Finance and Public Works Departments,” said Brown. “Mayor Butts response was harassment, bullying and retaliation.”
Brown began speaking out against the financial condition of the city, in January 2020, after a report was published by former Sen. John Moorlach, which called out how the city handled its debts. Moorlach accurately predicted the bankruptcy of Orange County.
Brown was also not happy about her alleged involvement in a housing lottery where Butts and City Manager Artie Fields asked her to draw the winning names for placement on the list for first-time homebuyers.
The #1 position went to a city employee, whose mother is also an Inglewood employee and right hand to the city’s Finance Director David Esparza.
Brown would utilize her allotted time, during council meetings, to share her opinions on the city’s financial condition, which is what Inglewood residents have elected her to do.
Brown holds three progressive degrees, emphasizing in Accounting, from Cal State Long Beach and UCLA. She is one of the most, if not the most, educated treasurer in the South Bay.
After speaking out, Mayor Butts removed the treasurer from speaking at council meetings, demagnetized her badge, cut off access to her computer, removed her duties, reduced her salary and ultimately impeded her and her staff from performing duties when he denied them access to their 2nd floor office in City Hall.
Brown’s claims mirror those of Butts’ former aide/girlfriend Melanie McDade who claims once she broke off their consensual relationship, he removed her duties and pay as retaliation.
Dr. Brown appears to be correct in her assessment of the city’s finances.
The city has run a deficit in five of the last six years, has less than $30 million in the city’s reserves, and had to take out a $10 million line of credit under the guise of using the money for reimbursable expenditures related to the transit connector project.
The FY 2020-2021 budget has a projected $9.8 million shortfall.
Brown’s claim will presumably be rejected by the council, which could prompt an additional lawsuit, at the taxpayers expense, for Mayor Butts’ mistreatment of women.
Butts has argued she isn’t capable of performing her duties.
“These were duties that were granted by the council over the years,” Butts said. “What she did was show herself incompetent to perform these duties.”
He didn’t always feel that way.
In April 2018 the city honored Brown for her then 31 years of exemplary service, with Mayor Butts calling her “intelligent, articulate, and seasoned, she has more tenure than any other elected official in the city of Inglewood” said Butts.
“Wanda hasn’t lost a DIME of our money,” said Councilmen George Dotson and Ralph Franklin.
“Wanda has great integrity,” said West Basin Board Member Gloria Gray, who represents the Inglewood area.
Brown was overwhelmingly re-elected to a ninth term and is now in her 33rd year of service to Inglewood residents.
She is seeking $10 million in damages for past/future wages and past/future emotional distress and attorney’s fees.