Inglewood Treasurer Wanda Brown wants to thank the many residents who have supported her through a very trying two years after she became vocal regarding the city’s finances.
“I have read the comments on your blog and social media pages, and have received many phone calls supporting my pledge to voters, to be an independent voice on the council,” said Brown. “But because Butts can’t fire me, he has done what he does best – retaliate by taking away duties and pay.”
Brown chatted with 2UrbanGirls on a wide range of issues regarding the City’s finances, to which she isn’t too familiar with now because as she puts it “I have been locked out of various aspects of the city’s finances”.
In early 2020, Brown began speaking out to the public after trying countless times to speak to the mayor and council about their overspending.
“The budget is not the best place to look at the city’s financial standing, you have to look at the Comprehensive Annual Finance Report (CAFR) because that is where the truth is,” said Brown. “Betty Yee, Sen. John Moorlach, and myself can’t all be wrong about the financials.”
Brown gave a quick finance lesson on what the city’s financials looked like at the time Butts was elected in 2011 through 2020.
“The city is in far worse shape than it was when the City declared a fiscal emergency shortly after Dorn was removed from the council,” said Brown.
“In 2011 the City had approx. $568 million in assets, and only $475 million in 2020,” explained Brown. “In 2011 our liabilities totaled approx. $354 million, and in 2020 they have nearly doubled to $681 million.”
When asked what contributed to the debt, Brown was frank.
“Overspending!” said Brown. “When the city refinanced the pension obligation bonds, instead of paying down the debt, they put the money into the general fund as if it were revenue.”
“In 2011 the City’s unrestricted fund deficit was approx. $74 million, in 2020 it has swelled to $504 million,” said Brown. “Inglewood has a Finance Department that lacks the education and experience needed to run it. [David] Esparza was misspending money at the LA Housing Authority, and when [Jeff] Muir interviewed Sharon Koike-Pitpit for a position, he found her unqualified. These are the City’s Finance and Assistant Finance Director’s.”
Last July, Brown predicted the City would be forced to layoff employees, and at the time the mayor accused her of “attempting to incite fear” but he has since voted unanimously, with the city council, to declare a fiscal emergency, and to hold a special election November 2, 2021, to raise taxes to cover the City’s deficit, which is expected to last the next five years.
“Mayor Butts having total control of the council, means he has the City by the throat with two hands,” said Brown. “I tried to tell the council internally, but had no choice but to go public, and as a result I was retaliated against by having my access to City Hall restricted, I was removed from the council dais, had my duties taken away, and my salary significantly reduced.”
The City continues to face financial hurdles, due to multiple lawsuits related to Mayor Butts – four lawsuits related to his reckless driving including a $50 million claim from the motor officer he hit, and $5 million for his wife who had to close her medical practice to care for him, the mother and daughter he hit, Melanie McDade, a City consultant, and Brown. The City still owes an undisclosed sum to a police officer, they owe back pay to, after a judge ruled his demotion was in error, and five former officers are suing for wrongful termination related to a shooting of a sleeping couple on Manchester.
The full impact of COVID has yet to be realized due to the City failing to provide a mid-year 2020-2021 budget presentation, while being less than 45 days from the new fiscal year which begins October 1.
“How can Mayor Butts lay claim to “saving” Inglewood, while causing such financial devastation in the process,” asked Brown.
Dr. Wanda M. Brown, is the elected Treasurer of the City of Inglewood. She has served as City Treasurer for 32 years. She is the longest serving elected officer in the history of the City. She is among the best professionally qualified Treasurers in the nation.
She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Cal-State University Long Beach, MBA from UCLA, and post graduate studies at UCLA. Each of her degrees has an accounting emphasis. She simultaneously earned two doctoral degrees from Ministerial Training Institute in Biblical Counseling and Church Administration.
She is a California Certified Municipal Treasurer, Certified Finance Municipal Administrator, and Certified Cash Handler via the Association of Public Treasurer of the United States and Canada. Additionally, she is a licensed Real Estate Broker, Life & Disability Agent, and is a Registered Representative, licensed to sell mutual funds investments and variable contracts.