Below is a piece of commentary from Randall Fleming of City Watch LA, who posited the following question on Tuesday, April 1: Did Inglewood Mayor Declare April Fool’s a City Holiday? Since then, Mayor James T. Butts has officially responded, clearing up the confusion. From the Mayor:
Response to the Randall Fleming diatribe:
The observance of Cesar Chavez Day, which is a state-recognized holiday in the states of California and Texas is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of Cesar Chavez’s life and work. Many state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are closed along with the City of Inglewood. Even President Barack Obama proclaimed Cesar Chavez Day as a day to “call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and education al programs to honor Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy”(see here). In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000, and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays.
There was no April Fool’s Day joke, nor was there a five-day weekend, as Tuesday, April 1, 2014, was not a City holiday. As such, City Hall was open for business. The fact there was no City Council Meeting was due to the fact that there was no anticipated quorum of City Council Members (e.g., there must be at least three members in attendance). The fact there was a recognized Monday holiday simply meant that City Hall was closed for one day out of the five days, as City Hall was open Tuesday through Friday, April 1st through April 4th.
The salaries paid to the Mayor and Council Members have remained constant for nearly two decades. The only changes made were when a previous City Council, more than a decade ago, authorized certain reimbursements that were authorized for vehicle use and a communications allowance be rolled into their salaries making them taxable.
I was not “handpicked by former Mayor Dorn” nor have I ever told anyone that. I was an Inglewood Police Officer, only the 7th Black officer when I was hired. I rose to the rank of Deputy Police Chief, 2nd highest rank in the IPD. At the age of 37 I was selected to head the Santa Monica Police Department as Chief of Police, the first African American and youngest police chief in their history. I served the citizens of Santa Monica for 15 years until I was selected to head the Homeland Security, Public Safety and Counter terrorism programs of the Los Angeles World Airport system where I served until December of 2009. In 2009 LAX was recognized by the Transportation Security Administration as the most secure in the United States. I ran for mayor in Inglewood for one reason, to serve the City that gave me my first career, a City that was imploding financially.
As a result of the economic downturn in 2008, the City faced an unprecedented 18.6 million dollar shortfall between significantly declining revenues and expenditures. The City Council at that time declared a fiscal emergency, and the City’s labor negotiating team successfully reached a deal with all of the City’s collective bargaining groups and labor union to implement what would be a three-year furlough of amounting to a ten percent (10%) per year reduction in gross pay of which ALL elected officials voluntarily agreed to participate in by having ten percent (10%) of their after-tax pay donated back to the City.
In addition, to further help in cutting costs, the City’s negotiating team was able to get all the civilian bargaining groups to agree to an end-of-year shut down of City Hall for the two weeks surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays. Since the labor groups receive four (4) holiday days off during those two weeks, it was logical to simply shut down operations and have the civilian staff use accrued leave time for the remaining work days of those two weeks. This provided additional savings to the City while at the same time reduced an unfunded liability centered on accrued leave time the City is obligated to pay out upon separation, retirement, or termination at the base salary rate employees are earning at the time of departure.
Finally, at no time in recent history has the City ever been closed for nearly a month. Furthermore, the City Council frequently schedules special meetings to further the conduct of the City’s business both in anticipation of upcoming holidays and even during holiday closures, as it did on Monday, December 30, 2013.
The following is the original piece by Randall Fleming.
For Monday, March 31, the City of Inglewood has declared a city holiday in observance of César Chávez Day. As such, all city services are unavailable and city hall is closed.
James T. Butts, the mayor of Inglewood, may have also declared the following day, April Fool’s Day, a city holiday. According to the Inglewood Web site, “there will be no city council meeting on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.”
The decision, which is no joke, allows for yet another two-day week for one of the highest-paid mayors and city councils in California. On August 15, 2010, the L.A. Times published a story titled “Council pay in Vernon, Inglewood and Compton is high, but Bell is still No. 1.” In it, it was reported that “[i]n Inglewood, the mayor — a full-time position that has been vacant since former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn pleaded guilty to a public corruption charge in January — makes $111,300 a year. Council members are paid $61,884 a year.”
While walking house-to-house in Inglewood during a subsequent mayoral election, Butts told voters that Dorn hand-picked him to be the next mayor.
The city, which went on furlough shortly after the above story was published, only operates from Monday to Thursday weekly. During the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Inglewood’s city hall, library and other agencies are unavailable for nearly a month from mid-December until approximately mid-January. In recent years, during elections, it has not been uncommon for the mayor and city council to postpone four consecutive city council meetings.
Butts and Inglewood city council members were unavailable for comment owing to the five-day weekend.
Originally posted at City Watch LA.