New jobs at Inglewood City Hall despite hiring freeze

Since calling for a hiring freeze in early February to help close a $10 million budget gap, the Inglewood City Council has approved the hiring of 21 new employees at a cost of nearly $2 million.

The new hires include four in the planning department, two in the city clerk’s office, four in the police department, nine in the parks and recreation department and two in residential sound institution.

The salaries and benefits for the new hires will add a cost of nearly $2 million to the city’s $324 million budget. Three of the positions are described as part-time, and seven are temporary.

During the hiring freeze, each new position must be approved by the city council, an additional step in the hiring process.

Councilwoman Judy Dunlap said each hire is examined closely and that all of the hires the council has approved since the freeze went into effect are crucial to providing key city services.

“We are looking at tremendous cuts and expenditures,” said Dunlap. “We strongly consider these things when we’re looking at hirings.”

The jobs deemed most crucial after the council approved the freeze were those in the city clerk’s office, which have been filled.

In her request for the city council’s approval of new hires for her office, City Clerk Yvonne Horton anticipated six elections taking place in Inglewood between June 2010 and June 2011, half of them runoff elections. Horton told the council that the positions “will allow the City Clerk’s office to provide excellent service to the community.”

The city budget allots less than $600,000 to the city clerk’s office. The two new hires will cost $161,000 combined.

Ed Maddox, public information officer for Inglewood, said other jobs, such as those needing to be filled in the planning department, are handled on a “case-by-case” basis. Some requests were made before the Feb. 2 hiring freeze gained approval, complicating the approval process.

In the planning department, lack of adequate staffing has delayed plans to convert Hollywood Park into a housing and business development, according to city staff.

Council Member Ralph Franklin said the planning department jobs are a catalyst for future job opportunities.

“By hiring planners, we stimulate the job market with these projects that allow for more jobs to be created,” Franklin said. “The money is recycled back into the city.”

Dunlap said the city council is still in the process of completely providing permission for each department to choose final job candidates. She said the city council should be presented with a new list of prospective planning department employees within the next two weeks.

More from Inglewood City Hall:

Inglewood residents fear an onslaught of special elections

Over the next eight months, Inglewood voters may find themselves casting ballots in local elections not once, not twice, but as many as five times.

The voting begins with a special election on June 8 to fill the post vacated by Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, who abruptly resigned in January after pleading guilty to a charge of public corruption.

If one candidate does not receive the majority of the votes, a runoff election will be scheduled no more than 70 days later, meaning some time in August, according to the city charter.

Close contests that result in runoffs are not uncommon in Inglewood. The city’s last mayoral election – in 2006 – went to a runoff, as did the election that year for the District 1 council seat.

“When you have a fresh election with new people, yes, [a runoff] is very common,” said Yvonne Horton, city clerk for Inglewood.

If one of the three council members who are vying for the mayoral spot wins, another election may be required to fill their vacated post.

And that’s not it.

Inglewood’s “worst-case scenario” could include an onslaught of special elections, said Elliott Petty, of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Coalition for a Better Inglewood.

“I very easily see four to five elections in the next eight months, a low turnout, and a lot of money for the city,” Petty said.

Kareem Crayton, an expert on election law and politics at the University of Southern California, called it the “domino effect of election vacancies.” While he said special elections are not uncommon, “the people who design these election rules do not really consider the costs associated with the ‘worst case scenario.’”

The June election alone will divert more than $100,000 from Inglewood’s general fund, Horton said. By consolidating the local election with a statewide race, the city will not have to hire its own poll workers.

But, according to Horton, that doesn’t mean the election is free. “[The state] will give us a quote, and we have to pay them,” she said.

The price tag for each subsequent runoff election would be the same, with the cost shouldered entirely by the city.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the nominating period for the November’s regular mayoral election runs from July 12 to August 6.

“Special elections happen all the time for any unfortunate reason,” said Sherry Mosley, an expert on governmental affairs at the University of Southern California. “But if that ran into a November election, then why are they having a November election?”

Council members are considering consolidating a potential runoff with the November election, said Edward Maddox, the Inglewood public information officer.

“They would need to petition to put something on the ballot that would change the rules,” Maddox said. “There is talk about that but council hasn’t taken any action.”

Residents are worried about what this potential election overload could do to voter turnout.

“I tend to believe after so many elections people get tired and dismayed,” Petty said. “You hear a lot of promises, and you get tired of the promises.”

Recent political events in Inglewood, however, have sparked an increased interest at city council meetings. The first council meeting after Dorn’s resignation drew a standing-room-only crowd.

“I hope these citizens see there’s a change happening,” Raynald Davis, an Inglewood resident, observed at the time. “And we need to take a stand as a city.”

Voter apathy threatens Inglewood’s special election

What if there were an election and no one voted? That’s what happened in Inglewood, or nearly so. In the November 3, 2009 countywide election, only 86 Inglewood voters cast ballots– less than one twentieth of one percent of the city’s electorate.

Inglewood’s 0.18 percent turnout took place during L.A. County’s consolidated elections. By comparison, turnout rates in other cities for the same election included 8 percent in Compton, 10 percent in Pasadena, and 11 percent in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Statement of Votes Cast. Ballots consisted mainly of city council and school board races.

The specter of low voter turnout concerns Inglewood leaders and community activists, especially in light of an upcoming special municipal election slated for June 8 to fill the mayoral seat vacated by Roosevelt F. Dorn, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conflict of interest charge in January.

“Nobody believes in government anymore because there are so many crooks, and people don’t care. There is no care in the government anymore,” said Stacie Williams, a community activist and advocate for youth facilities and housing. “It’s just a lack of professionalism and a lack of care in the city of Inglewood and that needs to stop.”

But the publicity surrounding Dorn’s departure may have the opposite effect, actually increasing voter turnout, said Michael McDonald, a voting expert at George Mason University. “It raises the profile of the election,” he said. “People are talking about it and anything that helps communicate to people that there’s an election will improve the turnout.”

A recent election that was strictly municipal fared somewhat better, by comparison. On June 12, 2007 about 18 percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots in a runoff for council district 1. The victor, Daniel Tabor, won by 200 votes.

“It [was] a local special election,” McDonald said. “Those are the kind of races that tend to draw the lowest level of turnout.”

Yvonne Horton, Inglewood’s city clerk, said the city’s voter turnout is “no more poor than others.” She said she does plan to do her part to raise awareness about the upcoming election.

“I am going to keep on asking them, every Tuesday [during council meetings] and every time I go out,” Horton said. “We can always try, [but] we can’t make people vote.”

Inglewood voters, like voters everywhere, are far more likely to turn out for a presidential race, said Michael Falkow, Inglewood’s chief information officer. About 84 percent of Inglewood voters cast their ballots in the last presidential race. It was a voting rate that reflected the enthusiasm generated by Barack Obama’s candidacy, which helped push voter turnout nationwide to a 40-year high, according to the Associated Press.

But within the context of national and statewide turnout rates, Inglewood’s voting rate in that election was about average. “The president is the most visible political symbol of America,” said Curtis Gans, an expert in citizen political participation in the U.S at the American University in Washington. “We have an eroded community; therefore fewer and fewer people are participating in local government and the people that do participate tend to be the same people.”

Falkow said that city leaders are hopeful that increased community attendance at city council meetings in the wake of Dorn’s departure will translate into ballots cast in June. But he is skeptical.

“I highly doubt that they’re all coming out just because the Mayor resigned,” Falkow said. “I would think that they’re coming out because they are finding out a lot of things about what’s going on that maybe they didn’t know.”

In the case of Inglewood resident Raynald Davis, that is exactly what happened.

“I want the city council to be transparent and let us know what is happening,” Davis said. “Tell us what we need to know, not what we want to hear.”

According to Gans, it is up to the city to restore the confidence of its residents in local government and inform them of what they stand to lose if they don’t cast their votes.

“They need to improve education, promote civic values, reduce the negative impact of media, strengthen unions, and change the way candidates conduct their campaign,” Gans said.

More on Inglewood’s political struggle:

City loan program proves to be Inglewood Mayor’s downfall

In January, Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn pleaded guilty to a charge of public corruption and was barred from holding public office. Yet, his resignation prompts a look at the patterns of dishonesty and fraud in the history of Inglewood’s city government.

Dorn was involved in the Residence Incentive Program (RIP), a city loan program adopted in Inglewood in 1992. The program provided executive non-elected employees of the city with low-interest mortgages to encourage them to buy homes in Inglewood. Interest rates for these mortgage loans were substantially lower than commercially available rates.

In 2004, Dorn attempted to convince Mark Weinberg, the former city administrator, that the program applied to the mayor as an “executive officer” and that the city should issue him a loan.

Weinberg raised concerns over the legality of the mayor’s request, prompting Dorn to propose a resolution before the city council.

One of Weinberg’s reservations was a lack of public purpose for issuing the loan, given that the Inglewood city charter already required elected officials to live within city limits.

Despite Weinberg’s concerns, the Inglewood City Council, including Dorn, approved the resolution, which was signed into law on June 29, 2004. The resolution expanded the RIP to include “officers of the city as defined in the Inglewood City Charter.” In effect, Dorn created, voted, and approved a law that would give himself a loan.

Five months later, Dorn received a $500,000 loan through the program at an interest rate of 2.39 percent. The loan provisions also stipulated that the rate would never exceed 4.39 percent.

Dorn told the financial officer who prepared his loan that the money would be used to purchase a home for his daughter in Inglewood. Dorn also used the loan to pay off his own mortgage and to open a seven-month, $300,000 Certificate of Deposit that earned him 4.25 percent interest.

This loan, however, became public knowledge when Dorn ran for reelection.

To prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest, Dorn repaid $491,317.05 and led the city council to rescind the resolution.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division began an investigation of Dorn’s activities in 2006, finding him in violation of county code by making a contract in which he had a personal financial interest.

Dorn’s mere involvement with preliminary planning and discussions extending the loan program put him in legal trouble, the District Attorney found.

At the time the RIP was enacted, Weinberg had complete control over who received loans. The idea that Dorn could so easily convince the city council to accommodate his requests called into question the whole system in place at Inglewood City Hall.

Current director of finance in Inglewood, Jeff Muir, consulted with Deputy District attorneys Max Huntsman and Juliet Schmidt on the case. Muir indicated that steps are being taken to ensure a corruption-free financial future for the city. For starters, the elusive credit card program to which Dorn was accustomed for personal expenses has been abolished.

“No elected officials have credit cards currently,” Muir said. “There used to be a reimbursement program for officials after each quarter, but we don’t do that anymore. We now roll any amount like that into compensation for the individual’s services, and it’s not individually done any more.”

To address public concerns, the city is creating an Investment Oversight Committee made up of interested citizens. The committee will meet on a quarterly basis and discuss the treasurer reports for the city, the Inglewood Redevelopment Agency, Inglewood Public Finance Authority, and Housing Authority.

While city council members and elected officials are no longer eligible for the RIP, non-executive employees outside of the city may still apply for a loan.

More on Inglewood’s political struggle:

Inglewood City Administrator Tim Wanamaker Resigns

imageFor two months, Inglewood has been without an official mayor. Now the city is also without its lead manager. Inglewood City Administrator Tim Wanamaker abruptly resigned Wednesday, about a month before hitting his two-year mark in office, and ended his service to the city and its residents the following day. The reason for Wanamaker’s departure is still unclear.

At the city council meeting March 9, Councilwoman Judy Dunlap fired off a list of demands at Wanamaker. Less than two weeks later, he was through taking orders.

Wanamaker admitted that his biggest challenge in his role as Inglewood’s city administrator was reporting to the mayor and council members.

“They are my bosses,” he said in an earlier interview. “They set the policy and it’s my job to carry it out.”

However, Wanamaker left office after nearly two years in the position without completing all the policy requests from the council. He failed to negotiate a new contract with the production company behind Inglewood Community Television, the local public access cable channel run by the South Bay Performing Arts Initiative, according to Dunlap.

He negotiated the $2 billion deal to redevelop Inglewood’s Hollywood Park into restaurants, retail and residential property during his tenure.

“I have enjoyed the tremendous challenge of working with the wonderful team of dedicated public servants and staff to improve the City’s infrastructure as well as its business and family environment for the wonderful people who live and work here,” Wanamaker said in his statement of resignation.

“While I am proud of the progress the City has made during my nearly two years in this demanding role, many challenges remain ahead for the elected leaders as well as my future successor,” Wanamaker continued. “I offer my best wishes to everyone who accepts the responsibility of continuing to provide critically needed services to this great community in the years ahead, and offer my sincere thanks for the great opportunity I have had in my role as City Administrator.”

The city council accepted Wanamaker’s resignation and Sheldon Curry, assistant city administrator for development, will take over his duties in the meantime. Along with a special election to fill the empty mayoral seat, a new city administrator must be chosen to replace Wanamaker.

“We are confident that the city will continue to move forward with projects and initiatives that are important to our community without interruption while we seek his replacement,” Mayor Pro Tempore Eloy Morales said in a statement on behalf of the council.

The council will hold a special meeting Monday morning where they will likely confirm an interim city administrator, according to Deputy City Administrator and Chief Information Officer Michael Falkow, since the last scheduled open session meeting was canceled due to a bomb threat that lead to the evacuation of city hall.

“It’ll be a challenge, but we’ve gotten through it before and I’m sure we’ll get through it again,” said Falkow, who served as acting city administrator just before Wanamaker took office and helped prepare him for the transition to Inglewood. “He’ll be missed. He was young and vibrant and he pushed a lot of folks to do their best work. That’s the mark of a good city manager and a good leader.”

It took the council more than a year to appoint Wanamaker to serve as city administrator, Falkow said. Until the council makes its new appointment, Curry and Falkow will work alongside Jeff Muir, the assistant city administrator and chief financial officer, to handle city requests and continue operating its administration.

“From an administrative perspective, it’s a challenge because it’s like a ship. You need somebody to be the captain,” Fakow said. “The council needs a point person. They need someone they can go to as a singular entity for all of their requests and to make sure things funnel up.”

Wanamaker’s sudden resignation came as a surprise, he said.

“He was very upbeat, very pleasant,” Falkow said about Wanamaker’s departure. “He wished us all success in the future and did reiterate that we definitely have some challenges in the organization and that he was proud of what he had accomplished and what we had all accomplished as a team over the last nearly two years.”

The city’s affairs are not at a standstill despite the lack of an official mayor or city administrator.

“The real challenge at the city is obviously moving forward and tackling those big problems like the budget,” Falkow said regarding the city’s structural deficit. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

More on Inglewood’s political struggle:

Meet the candidates for Inglewood mayor

Nine Inglewood residents are vying to be the city’s next mayor.

The election was called after former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn pleaded guilty to a conflict of interest charge in January and was forced to resign.

It will be consolidated with the general statewide election to meet the guidelines dictated by the city charter.

The filing period for the mayoral election lasts from Feb. 16 to March 12, and seven people had filed as of Feb. 26.

In order to be placed on the ballot, a candidate must collect 40 signatures from Inglewood residents.

To win the election, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the votes, so the likelihood of multiple run-off elections is high, said Ed Maddox, Inglewood’s public information officer.

Until the election, city council members will serve as Mayor Pro Tempore in a monthly rotation.

Meet the candidates:

Ralph Franklin has been a council member since 2003. Over the past seven years, he has advocated for the development of Century Boulevard and the Hollywood Racetrack.
Franklin mounted, however, a successful opposition to Dorn’s effort to bring a Wal-Mart into Inglewood in 2004.

imageFranklin has been a member of the Crenshaw Christian Center for more than 40 years.

“I seek your support to take care of the King’s business by having someone in office that is a child of God and a yielding vessel to do his work as Mayor for the City of Inglewood,” Franklin said in a note to the public.

The main components of Franklin’s platform are improving infrastructure and alleys, working on the water and sewer lines, and bringing the deficit balance budget back into the black. He plans to stimulate jobs, enhance public transportation, and hold the police force accountable.

“I am that man that has the ability, fortitude, and tenacity to make it a reality,” Franklin said.

In 2003, after serving 12 years as the chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Franklin was elected to the city council seat previously held by Lorraine Johnson.

Johnson had served as the 4th District councilmember from November 2002 until April 2003, at which point the seat came up for a four-year term, and failed to make the ballot. Franklin won a run-off election against community activist Mike Stevens for the seat, but Johnson sued, claiming Stevens had not lived in the district at filing time.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, a Los Angeles Superior Court overturned the election.

Franklin eventually won a court-ordered election and criticized Johnson for causing “considerable and unnecessary” expense to the city and aggravating voters. Johnson told the Los Angeles Times that she simply wanted the voters to get an honest election and aimed to discourage candidates from lying about their residency.

According to campaign finance records in 2002, Johnson raised $45,000 for the election, while Franklin raised nearly $112,000.

Lorraine Johnson told the Los Angeles Wave that she could “offer a new direction and new vision to the city.” She cites the 4th district development and early proposals for the development on Century Boulevard as some of her successes.

Johnson is a revenue administrator for an investment banking company and has a degree in business administration. She has served as the vice president of both the Inglewood Leadership Council and the Youth and Education Committee, according to her candidate profile.

“I think I have more to offer and feel I could do a better job than those who are likely to be running,” Johnson said. “I think we need to do away with the old and bring in the new.”

Wanda Brown has served as the city treasurer for 23 years. She claims to have earned the city $63 million in interest and said she has “never lost a penny, not even half a penny.”

imageBrown has an M.B.A. and Ph.D. in accounting and has taught finance classes at the UCLA extension and to the youth of Inglewood.

She has been criticized for receiving a $235,000 city loan from the same housing incentive program that toppled Dorn.

Brown was cleared of any misconduct because, unlike Dorn, she did not have the power to vote on the loan program.

This issue has brought her into contention with former Councilman Daniel Tabor, who directed Brown to pay back the loan. During his tenure as mayor, Dorn often came to her defense.

“There isn’t any question Ms. Brown received these funds legally, even though the contract was fraught with deceit. Ms. Brown has a strong case against the city, and they have no chance of making her pay off this loan immediately,” Dorn told the Los Angeles Wave.

Brown did not return calls to comment.

Daniel Tabor served on the city council 20 years ago but was unseated in 1993.

imageHe was reelected in 2007 and, in recent years, has worked on protecting residents from airplane noise, redeveloping areas like Hollywood Park, and fighting for families facing foreclosures.

Tabor said he will probably spend $150,000 to $200,000 on the campaign.

“I’ll probably end up running four times instead of just once because of the run-offs, so I need to take into account the cost of mailing and getting the message out there,” Tabor said.

Tabor has faced criticism for his financial problems, particularly from Brown. A search of Los Angeles court records showed Tabor has two small claims cases and a collections case on his record.

Tabor has run for mayor twice, most recently in 2007, when he was endorsed by Councilman Morales, the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, and District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Tabor said he does not expect Morales to endorse him again.

Larry Springs is an Inglewood real estate broker with Century 21. Springs filed candidacy but is unsure whether he will run a formal campaign.

“I haven’t made a complete decision,” he said. “There are a few more people I need to talk to.”

Springs said he would like to see affordable housing, a city walk, and a golf course developed in Inglewood.

Velma Anderson has been attending council meetings since 2000 and has spoken out against issues such as airport noise, according to council minutes.

In 2002, Anderson ran for the 4th District council seat but lost to Johnson, who won with 44 percent of the votes. Anderson also ran for City Clerk but did not receive any votes.

Audrey Lehman is a court reporter in Inglewood, and Solomon Muez is a contractor. Neither was available for comment.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Horton expects the locations will be announced in late March. Residents interested in becoming a poll worker can get an application at

The deadline for voter registration is March 24. Registration forms can be found at city hall, fire stations, libraries, and post offices.

Photo Credit: City of Inglewood Website

What does the future hold for the city of Inglewood? In-depth coverage of the city’s political transition:


Inglewood treasurer throws hat into mayoral race

Although disgraced Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt F. Dorn has resigned, his legacy may find new life in the mayor’s office.

Wanda Brown, the city’s treasurer for nearly a quarter century and a staunch Dorn ally, has declared her intention to run for the vacated mayoral post in June’s special election.
Brown said that as mayor one of her primary concerns would be redevelopment initiatives, such as the $2 billion Hollywood Park renovation project.

“Revenues are needed for the city,” Brown said. “We have to appear to be business-friendly to attract investors.”

Brown intends to revive a proposed senior center that was “put in permanent limbo” after the old center was torn down.

Brown said her accomplishments as city treasurer demonstrate her qualifications for the city’s highest elective office.

First elected in 1987, Wanda Brown has served as Inglewood’s treasurer for the past 23 years. Her first foray into Inglewood city politics came in 1983, when she ran for city treasurer and lost badly to incumbent Stan Jones.

In 1985, Brown, backed by then-mayor Ed Vincent, ran for school board on the platform of firing then-Superintendent Rex Fortune. She was defeated by a 3-1 margin after admitting she sent her two children to public schools in Westchester instead of Inglewood.

Not giving up and supported again by Vincent, Brown defeated Jones for city treasurer in June of 1987. Brown has been re-elected five times and has served 24 years as Inglewood’s treasurer – her current term expires in 2011.

But her tenure hasn’t been without controversy.

She created a stir in March 1993 when she proposed a 16-fold increase in her own salary, from less than $4,000 annually to just under $70,000 per year.

The proposal came during a financially difficult time for the city, angering city council members who were under pressure to reduce the budget.

“She is completely out of line,” then-councilman Tony Scardenzan told the Daily Breeze in 1993. “At a time when everyone else is looking at pay cuts she wants a pay increase that is out of orbit.”

Brown disagreed, saying the raise would allow her to spend more time on the job and thereby increase the city’s profits from financial investments. The increase was tabled by the city council until 1996, when her salary was upped to just over $40,000 per year on a 3-2 vote.

Brown said she has invested as much as $600 million on behalf of the city, earning it more than $72 million, though supporting data was not available to substantiate the claim.

“To have never lost a single dollar,” Brown said. “I consider that an achievement.”

Brown also touted her extensive education. She holds both an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I have the best education of anyone in government,” she said. “Better than anyone on the council.”

Brown, 65, said she felt compelled to run to represent “outraged” citizens who are upset with the actions of the current council members since Dorn’s departure, including a call by Councilwoman Judy Dunlap for more oversight of the treasurer.

When asked why some members of the council are seeking stricter control over her office, Brown blamed her alliance with Dorn.

“Well, basically I’m the last person on the council that was supportive of our former mayor,” Brown said.

The tension came to a head during a recent city council meeting, when Dunlap said the city treasurer has too much power and not enough accountability.

“We did not give her the authority to make these decisions,” Dunlap said at the meeting. “We currently have over $100 million invested that we are getting zero percent interest on. She has no oversight.”

Brown accused the council members of unfairly attacking her. “This is nothing more than a witch hunt,” Brown said.

Brown and Dunlap exchanged personal insults, pointing out mistakes in each other’s private financial dealings. “Not once have I received a compliment from her,” Brown said.

Dunlap is considering running for mayor in the June election as well.

Councilman Daniel Tabor proposed a plan to create a financial oversight committee but said Brown had done nothing wrong and that her job was not in jeopardy.

“She hasn’t lost a penny, not one half-cent,” Tabor said during the meeting. “But with a different investment strategy, the city could have made more money.”

During the meeting, Dunlap brought up Inglewood’s Residential Incentive Policy program, which was created by the city council in 1992 to offer low-interest loans to potential city executive employees so that they could live in the city.

At the prodding of then-mayor Dorn, the council modified the program in 2004 to extend the loans to current council members, the city clerk and city treasurer.

Dorn and Brown both took out low interest loans, which were later found to be against the law.

Dorn was set to go to court in January before pleading guilty of public corruption and agreeing to never serve in public office again. Brown, who took out a $235,000 loan, says she did nothing wrong and the district attorney agreed—no charges were filed against her.

“Wanda Brown’s circumstances were substantially different than Mayor Dorn’s,” said Jennifer Lentz Snyder, the assistant head deputy of the public integrity division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and one of the prosecutors that investigated Dorn and Brown.

Snyder said that the reason Dorn’s act was illegal was the fact that he voted for a program that benefitted himself financially. Brown, as the city treasurer, did not have a vote in creating the program.

Dunlap said that city administrators have sent letters to Brown asking that the loan be repaid immediately. Brown has refused to do so.

Snyder said the attorney’s office is no longer investigating Brown and the issue of repaying the loan did not impact their investigation.

“In the absence of any additional information, there is nothing forthcoming in the case,” Snyder said.

But Councilman Ralph Franklin said the city plans to pursue legal action if the funds are not paid soon. “We just want our money,” Franklin said.

While Brown is confident that she represents the best candidate for mayor, some Inglewood residents do not agree.

Diane Sambrano, president of the Historical Society of Centinela Valley and a citizen activist for 14 years, fears that Brown will be unable to accomplish policy goals without being hindered by opposition from city council members.

“It takes three Council members to make anything happen,” Sambrano said. “Wanda hasn’t won the hearts of any other two members of the council.”

Other residents say Brown should be given a chance.

“She has a cloud over her right now,” said Raynald Davis, a resident of Inglewood for 25 years. “But she is irreproachable in honesty and integrity.”

Photo Credit: City of Inglewood Website

What does the future hold for the city of Inglewood? In-depth coverage of the city’s political transition:


The rise and fall of former Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn


To the left of the front door at Inglewood City Hall hangs an illuminated blue and white sign featuring the names of the five city council members and the districts they represent. But one name is obscured by a fresh coat of royal blue paint, that of former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn. In the lobby, a frame that until a few weeks ago held his portrait is now empty, as if someone removed Dorn’s image but left the frame as a subtle reminder of his recent fall from grace.

On January 18, Roosevelt Dorn resigned after pleading guilty to the misuse of public funds. Dorn was the second black mayor in the history of Inglewood, a city that is half African American, and his departure left residents divided between those who decried his betrayal of the public trust and those who defended one of their own.

“I don’t think he’s been very good for the city,” said Erin Aubry Kaplan, who has written extensively about the black community in Los Angeles—including articles critical of Dorn — and who grew up in Inglewood. In an interview she affirmed the view she has expressed in the Los Angeles Times and the LA Weekly that Dorn is an authoritarian, autocratic, ego-driven leader who kept the city from growing. Aubry Kaplan said that the damage done by Dorn as mayor far outweighed his accomplishments.

“He did some questionable stuff and didn’t care what people thought,” Aubry Kaplan said. “He got in the way of what could have happened in Inglewood.”

Erin Kaplan’s husband, Alan Kaplan, who teaches American history at Alexander Hamilton High School and serves on the Inglewood Police Commission, said Dorn’s actions damaged the credibility of black leadership in Los Angeles. “[There is a] stereotype that black people can’t handle freedom,” he said.

But Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author of “The Assassination of the Black Male Image”, said Dorn has become a scapegoat for intractable problems within Inglewood city government. Problems which have led the city to stagnate and falter in recent years. He disagreed with the notion that Dorn’s departure diminishes the perception in the larger community of the ability of African Americans to govern their own communities.

“I don’t think this was really a case of denigration or even a mud sling at the African American male image,” Hutchinson said. “The charges came from African Americans in the community, not outside of the community.”

Whatever their origin, Michael Falkow, the deputy city administrator said the departure of Dorn, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, altered alliances on the city council and in the community. “Today’s buddies are tomorrow’s enemies,” he said.

Known as Mayor to his community, Reverend to his congregation and Judge to the youth who came before him in his 18 years with the LA County Superior Court, Roosevelt Dorn was a fixture in Inglewood civic life.

He rose from an impoverished childhood in rural Oklahoma to a life of prominence and stature, both in judicial circles and within the African American community. He served as president of One Hundred Black Men, a philanthropic organization where he worked to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other minorities. He promoted Project Hope, a program dedicated to reducing high school dropout rates. He helped lead an effort to pass a $131 million bond initiative to fund programs and services for children. And during his 13-year tenure as mayor, Dorn was credited with welcoming developers, entrepreneurs, and business owners to the city, bringing so-called “big box” retail to Century Boulevard between Crenshaw and Prairie.

But Dorn could also be a polarizing figure, both in the council chambers and in the courtroom, where he routinely stretched the bounds of his judicial authority.

Author Edward Humes deascribed Dorn’s courtroom demeanor in “No Matter How Loud I Shout”: “Dorn once revoked a boy’s probation and sent him to boot camp for six months for refusing his mother’s order to take out the trash. ‘I’m putting you back in control, Mother,’ Dorn said eyes locked on the stunned teenager before him. ‘Next time, if you tell him to take out the garbage, he had better jump.” Humes characterized Dorn’s courtroom speeches “as appropriate for a Sunday sermon as for a courtroom lecture.”

In the end it wasn’t Dorn’s demeanor that did him in, but his financial dealings with the city.

Howard Eley, an Inglewood resident who attended a recent post-Dorn city council meeting, was harsh in his assessment of his former mayor.

“He’s a crook,” Eley said.

Raynald Davis, a longtime Inglewood resident and city hall observer, was more measured in his critique. For him, Dorn’s fall brought to mind a biblical verse from Romans 1:22, “although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

In Davis’ estimation, Dorn was too smart for his own good –his extensive knowledge of the law and politics led him to abuse his post.

“He lost his good name for $500,000,” Davis said. “[He has] himself to blame. The man did good things, and that’s what makes it a tragedy. He did not have to do what he did.”

Inglewood City Hall photo courtesy of Flickr user bigmikelakers

Read more about Roosevelt Dorn on the South LA Report:
Former Inglewood mayor charged with misusing public funds will receive retirement benefits
DORN RESIGNS: Jury selection continues for Inglewood mayor

Former Inglewood mayor charged with misusing public funds will receive retirement benefits

The night before he was forced out of office, Inglewood’s former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn officially retired, meaning he is entitled to nearly $40,000 a year in retirement benefits for the rest of his life, according to City Administrator Timothy Wanamaker and city council members.

Second District Councilwoman Judy Dunlap explained that city officials receive 3 percent of their salary for each year they worked. Since Dorn, 74, worked 13 years, from 1997 to 2010, he is eligible to earn 39 percent of his salary each year until his death. Dorn’s salary was more than $100,000, said Dunlap.

Fourth District Councilman Ralph Franklin called Dorn’s move, “prudent and strategic decision making.” When asked if it was fair, Franklin said, “As a politician, I have to say yes.”

Dorn pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conflict of interest charge in January after receiving a loan from a city housing incentive program.

More stories on Former Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn:
The rise and fall of former Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn
DORN RESIGNS: Jury selection continues for Inglewood mayor

What does the future hold for the city of Inglewood? In-depth coverage of the city’s political transition:


Inglewood city administrator takes the lead


imageIn a city that is for the moment without an official mayor, Tim Wanamaker, Inglewood’s city administrator, is keeping the daily workings of municipal government on track.

Since the departure of Mayor Roosevelt Dorn in Janaury, Wanamaker has served as the face and figurehead of Inglewood. His image figures prominently on the city’s newly redesigned website and he puts in long hours each day working with the community, staff and the city council.

“The real thing about this city is [that] its people really love it,” he said. “If you get here and begin to be part of this city, you realize it really has a lot to offer.”

Wanamaker manages a multi-million dollar budget, coordinates operations for the city’s twelve departments and oversees the implementation of city ordinances and policies – all in a day’s work.

“My job is to ensure that it’s all being run holistically in a matter that is as efficient as possible, but as effective as possible,” he said in a recent interview.

Wanamaker approaches his role with a positive outlook, what he sees as “the ability to really effect change in the community toward the positive.” He entered public service after working as an architect because he realized he wanted to shape communities, not just design buildings.

In his 20 months on the job, Wanamaker has started to foster an open dialogue between city council members, residents and local business owners with his hands-on approach to running the city’s affairs.

“It works very well for the community, especially the residents and the businesses that invest here, to understand what we’re doing for them and how we’re determining what priorities are in the city,” he said.

Wanamaker started holding public work sessions to enable community members to learn about the challenges and complexities facing the city in determining its budget expenditures.

While Wanamaker strives to engage in frequent dialogue with Inglewood residents and business owners to gauge what services they need, he said his efforts are “nowhere near enough” due to short staffing at city hall and time constraints. He often works 12-hour days, and is on call 24 hours a day.

“It’s a never-ending cycle for you and you just have to learn how to deal with that type of work structure,” he said. “I love what I do.”

The 45-year-old La Puente, Calif., native lives in Century City with his wife, Zina, and daughter, Sydni. He commits to spending time with his daughter on weekends since he has so many tasks to accomplish during the week.

“I try to make sure that I take her to school in the morning because I’m not likely to see her before she goes to bed at night,” he said. “On the weekends, it’s really about her and spending time with her.”

Before Wanamaker moved with his family to lead Inglewood’s city administration, he served five years as the executive director of the Office of Strategic Planning in Buffalo, New York. He was president of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., the main development agency in the city of Buffalo, while working in New York as well.

He previously served as the deputy chief of the Redevelopment Authority of Prince George’s County, a Washington, D.C. suburb.

In what he called one of the “toughest professional decisions” of his life, Wanamaker resigned from his post as the top city planner in Buffalo to take on a higher role in municipal government.

“The ability to work on both coasts and different types of structures of government — it’s really my experiences that I have gained that have really helped me perform at this level, as the city administrator for the city of Inglewood,” he said.

He currently manages a city undergoing administrative changes with the resignation of former Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, who served more than a decade in office.

“The Council has been very good at working to understand what is needed and taking actions that they need to take to ensure that we keep the city’s business moving forward,” he said. “That was done day one after Mayor Dorn’s resignation.”

While continuity and order has been maintained, the additional costs required to hold a special election and possibly a runoff election for a new mayor were not anticipated, he said.

“From a management standpoint, it’s a bit of a challenge but it’s not the worse thing that could happen to us,” he added.

In a city suffering like many others from a faltering national economy, Wanamaker has made headway in accomplishing his goal to enhance the city’s financial stability by negotiating the Hollywood Park redevelopment project to transform the 238-acre space into a casino, residential properties, retail and restaurants, which he hopes will bring in much-needed revenue.

For the first time in a couple of decades, Inglewood revamped its Web site to provide greater accessibility for its many low-income residents unfamiliar with Internet usage.

“There has been a real outcry for transparency,” he said. “The residents… really love this city and they wear it on their shoulders. They are very, very enthusiastic in ensuring this city is all that it can be. They are very vocal in making sure that we understand as administrators what they’d like this city to be, both now and in the future.”

Wanamaker’s introductory video message on the city’s new Web site says: “Know that all of us in city government look forward to communicating with you and providing you with the highest level of service.”

“I’ve been very surprised how many people have told me that they’ve seen me on the Web site, so it’s good to see that people are starting to take use of it,” he said. “It’s accomplishing exactly what we want.”