For some reason high level city administrators are not signing legal documents related to properties owned by the Inglewood Successor Agency and have opted to leave that duty up to the deputy to City Manager Artie Fields. 2UrbanGirls has asked elected officials why that would be the case to which they responded “just call her Oliver North”.
In accordance with ABx1 26 Governor Jerry Brown dissolved every cities Redevelopment Agency (RDA) which subsequently created Successor Agencies. The role of the Successor Agency is to wind down projects in progress under the former Redevelopment Agencies. The law mandated cities to provide reports, to the Department of Finance (DOF), to approve expenditures related to the staff’s time associated with winding down those projects. The Manager of Inglewood’s Successor Agency is Margarita Cruz.
The city of Inglewood had many projects in the wind down phase. The Forum, some parcels on Prairie, the site of the abandoned Hooman Hyundai dealership and the site formerly known as Burger King and AMAN, Inc. ALL of the properties were winding down under the direction of Mayor Butts and Royce Jones of Kane, Ballmer & Berkam, a law firm that specializes in RDA deals.
Under Mayor Butts, Madison Square Garden received $18 million and control of parcels on Century Blvd.
KP Properties (Michael & Louise Koper) who own commercial property that houses JAMZ Creamery, The Spot and a barber shop on Manchester and Market, were gifted prime parcels at the intersection of Manchester and Hindry to build an auto mall. Those dreams came to fruition when LAPD Commissioner Steve Soboroff brought in CarMax and Hooman aka HC Automotive moved in. Carmax is still open while Hooman has turned their space into a storage facility and despite having a 10 year contract, they stopped making payments to KP Properties. The city in turn was seeking payment from KP who stated they couldn’t fulfill their arrangements with the city due to Hooman not paying. A lawsuit followed with KP submitting public records request asking for documents on Mayor Butts’ private gmail account. The same gmail account MSG claims the Mayor used to dupe them out of Successor Agency controlled parcels. (the allegations go into greater detail in Barbara Ohno’s exhibits to her now settled lawsuit). AMAN, Inc., a then defunct nonprofit, was able to buy the old Burger King for little or nothing.
In the middle of the lawsuit, around mid 2017, KP submitted documents straight to city of Inglewood Finance Supervisor Peggy Velasquez who threatened finance staff to “adhere to Michael Koper’s direction”, or they could be fired. Michael Koper was accusing the city of opening business accounts, on parcels they controlled, without their permission. The document requested that no further businesses be opened on the parcels listed on his document.
The employee complained they didn’t want to sign the document due to the pending lawsuit and Velasquez insisted. The document included a list of parcels, attached to the Hooman location, and was sent via email to the Planning Department where Planning Director Chris Jackson intervened questioning the validity of the document considering it was not on official letterhead nor was there anyway to verify if the person signing the document was actually him. Velasquez again insisted everyone follow Koper’s direction.
The KP Properties matter was a topic of discussion at the July 17, 2018 regular city council meeting (agenda).
On July 24, 2018, the newly created Los Angeles County Second District Consolidated Oversight Board to the Successor Agencies of: Carson, Compton, Culver City, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lynwood, convened for their very first meeting at Inglewood City Hall.
This board is the intermediary to the Department of Finance who will recommend approval of ALL sales of Successor Agency property. In the event the property is entangled in a lawsuit, NO DECISION can be rendered and the property can NOT be sold until the matter is settled.
Mayor Butts has finagled himself into being named Chairman of this Board.
Immediately thereafter, on July 26, 2018, a special meeting was called to discuss finalizing the sale of the former Burger King/AMAN Inc. building to the LA Philharmonic. It was the only item on the agenda.
The staff report was prepared by Royce Jones (who is currently entangled in a lawsuit over the MSG/Clippers fiasco), Executive Assistant to the Mayor and City Manager Melanie McDade and Deputy to the City Manager Yakema Decatur.
Despite City Manager Artie Fields being compensated $385,000 in 2017 and Melanie McDade earning $245,000 in 2017, the line requesting their signatures was not signed by either one of them. It was signed by Yakema Decatur. Why?