Yesterday I had an opportunity to watch the City of Inglewood virtual State of the City address and let’s just say I was left with more questions than answers. Simply put, it left me with a sense of a leader completely tone deaf to the realities that many Inglewood residents are facing today as we all struggle with the uncertainties of the ravaging toll the coronavirus has taken on the world and more specifically, communities of color. Especially Inglewood despite the Mayor’s refusal to accept this stark reality.
Too keep it simple, yesterday’s address was simply another ” orchestrated” victory lap by Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., in which in standard James Butts form he took the opportunity to pat himself on the back for all that he has done for the City, since his arrival, and yet lacks the sense of empathy , compassion or sense of understanding that the community as a whole is dealing with.
I mean what I saw yesterday was the for the lack of a better term was a ” Kumbaya” moment sprinkled with ” illusions” of compassion, but short on details on making it through this pandemic collectively ,as a community and the more I watched, it became clearly obvious that not only is the Mayor clueless, but so are the so called community partners. One of which is a Metro vendor angling to build the transit connector, which could explain their mysterious entrance into the Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, when the former leadership was in turmoil due to fiduciary allegations against the former executive director. They attempted to make a concerted effort to express they were here for us while the Los Angeles Chargers touted their efforts of their collaborations with LAPD, Chief Beck, and Los Angeles Unified School District where they helped to raise $1.6 million to feed families. The Chargers gave Inglewood kids fitbits, razor scooters and bikes.
Maybe it’s me , maybe I’m being petty, but optics matter. Our so called ” Community Partners” during this time of uncertainty should make a concerted effort to truly understand ” Inglewood” as opposed to reimagining a ” Inglewood” that serves their purposes. What I did take away from this ” State of the City” address? That as much as these “Community Partners” proclaim to be all in with the City of Inglewood it’ s hard for me to take them serious when they can’t distinguish that Inglewood and Los Angeles are two separate entities with their own unique challenges.
The other glaring issue is the continued practice of white people coming in a city to capitalize of the talents of Black people. The 1500 Sound Academy began because of the musical accomplishments of Larrance Dopson and James Fauntelroy, but instead of highlighting them, the city chose to chat with their investor, an Asian woman whose known for nail polish. She wasn’t discussing moving her companies manufacturing operations, to create jobs for Inglewood residents, she talked about how she leveraged these Black men to benefit her investors.
Steve Ballmer showed up talking about what he plans to do in the city, should he build his arena here, but short of those “promises”, he has made no attempts to assist struggling businesses. A player from the Los Angeles Rams and the community stepped up to raise nearly $100,000 to the Serving Spoon, a 37 year old Black business in the city, and when I drove by this fine Sunday morning, they were closed.
City employees are fearing furloughs and none of their bargaining units have a finalized contract headed into 2021. Mayor Butts claims the city has $57 million in reserves that he continues to hand out to select folks (first time homebuyers and developers) but won’t give employees raises. He rather peddle them 25% interest payday loans. The city has ran a deficit over the last three years which is expected to continue to the next few, according to bargaining unit representatives. Haven’t you noticed the steady retirement announcements of Inglewood Police Department personnel? Are our streets safe?
This timely State of the City was nothing more than to stroke Butts’ ego as was his anonymous op-ed that he ran in last week’s Los Angeles Sentinel. This is also the same mayor who kicked the city’s treasurer and the public out of the taxpayer funded council chambers and community room due to COVID-19, but opened city hall to children to watch two swearing in ceremonies. This mayor doesn’t follow his own rules and residents look forward to our new District Attorney George Gascon not loosing any more investigations related to Butts nefarious activities that he covers with the same rhetorical proclamations “we got the Girl Scouts to move here”.
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