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What’s Going on in Inglewood City Hall: Possible Pay to Play?

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Is Inglewood Mayor James Butts indirectly benefiting from his assistant’s exorbitant salary increases as he did with his brother’s employment with RepublicServices?

  Inglewood city employees are growing increasingly frustrated with how the Mayor’s executive team is operating and its ripple effects on the city’s general fund and their morale.  After the hiring of key employees, others are afraid to speak out, yet are doing so under the condition of anonymity.  Many are asking, “is the mayor using McDade as an intermediary”?  Another question on employees minds is Ms. McDade assisting in a coordinated effort to oust certain employees who cross the mayor while rewarding those who does as he says?   

Related:  Former Upland mayor indicted in extortion, bribery

One employee recounts to 2UrbanGirls how the mayor regularly threatened their job via the Finance department manager.  The mayor would call down to Finance Manager Maria Heaney, who is rumored to have paid herself unauthorized overtime for working during the annual Christmas holiday shutdown, and then summon said employee to the mayor’s executive conference office.  There they found the mayor sitting with his executive assistant Melanie McDade-Dickens when the mayor told them point-blank “your job will end here if you don’t do as I say and leave my campaign donors alone”.  They were fired four months later. 

Employees detailed how several of the mayor’s campaign donors have been granted a reduction in their tax obligations to the city or have it wiped out completely.  According to finance employees the owner of LAX Firing Range showed up at the Finance office disputing a past due business tax invoice saying that Ms. McDade instructed staff to wipe out his outstanding balance and Heaney complied.  Insurance and real estate agents Billy Campbell and Gene Armstrong (who regularly have ad space in Inglewood Today) are listed as “nonprofits” in the city finance system which according to the business tax schedule makes their tax liability $1.

The newly constructed Crenshaw-Imperial shopping center which houses Burlington Coat Factory, multiple properties along Century Blvd., Marvin Engineering and others benefit from McDade running interference for the mayor too.  A review of Mayor Butts, Councilman Franklin and Morales’ campaign finance forms, shows the above companies have contributed nearly $500k over the last eight years to possibly avoid paying their tax obligations.

Finance department employees complain that about $6 million dollars in revenue has gone uncollected.  $4 million in parking tickets were written off in 2014 and nearly $1 million in back taxes weren’t collected due to them being the mayor’s and councilman Franklin and Morales’ campaign donors.  Between Heaney and McDade they wiped those debts off the books.

A favored finance employee of Heaney was promoted to payroll clerk despite being disqualified because of their background.  The individual sought a promotion to work payroll for IPD but was rejected by the department due to their background.  After the rejection, Heaney promptly promoted her despite objections from IPD.  IPD complained that if they couldn’t pass their background how were they still able to process payroll?  Good question.

Code enforcement employees complain the Finance department isn’t collecting on nearly $1 million in code enforcement invoices that have piled up in the city’s finance system, dating back to 2010.  A public records request of Finance Manager Maria Heaney’s city email corroborate that it wasn’t until this year that she met with Acting Department Manger Chris Jackson to discuss the backlog.

Former IPD Captain Martin Sissac was regularly asked by Mayor Butts to provide confidential information to him and to circumvent the paper trail required to document the release of information.  When he refused, he was “loaned” out to Inglewood Unified School District and ultimately fired.  Mayor Butts was given a vehicle registered to the Inglewood Police Department, which he drives 24/7, instead of taking his car allowance.  The city has been unable to provide any documents showing he is authorized to drive a police car for personal use.  Public records requests asking for this information has been “pending” for months. 

Former Assistant City Manager Michael Falkow, who holds a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees, was in the position for 14 years before being fired after Mayor Butts became aware Falkow was assisting the Police Department with contract negotiations against his directive.  At the time, Falkow was the city’s lone Reserve Police officer in a program that didn’t exist in over a decade.

The coup de grace was the firing of Budget Manager Barbara Ohno who alleges that due to her reporting of fiscal malfeasance to both Esparza, McDade and Mayor Butts she was fired for not wanting to put her CPA license on the line to back date legal documents as it pertained to federal grant money (see documents below).  Ohno was fired for not wanting to participate in unethical behavior as it is not common practice to back date legal documents in any finance department as her superior David Esparza is well aware. 

Related:  Inglewood mayor profited from brother’s job with city trash hauler, records show

The media has reported that the Mayor has benefitted indirectly from his brother being hired by the city’s trash hauler.  His brother paid rent on a home owned by the mayor, yet the mayor didn’t disclose those funds on mandated annual filings.  Several trash employees, who had submitted bids to the city, state they “became aware” that the mayor’s brother needed a job during the bidding process for the city’s trash contract.  Did that information come directly from Ms. McDade?

When it came to light that Councilman Eloy Morales is under investigation for taking a consulting contract with the same trash hauler.  Mayor Butts went on Facebook saying Morales did so legally.  Has the District Attorney’s office personally called him to say so? 

Related: Inglewood mayor’s campaign worker made $312,000 last year as his assistant

Residents in a swanky Inglewood enclave share with 2UrbanGirls they see the Mayor and McDade coming/going from a home that they are believed to share.  The home is listed as being owned by Invitation Homes.  The community is concerned that Mayor Butts is possibly benefiting from her salary increases too.  What are the odds of both McDade and the mayor’s brother using the same bankruptcy attorney? 

Several current long-time city employees share with this blog it is well-known they are a couple. This appears to be corroborated by several elected officials under condition of anonymity.

Since the story broke, many current elected officials have contacted this blog with remarks like “it’s finally coming out about him and her”. And “we see Mayor Butts more with his assistant than his own wife”.

McDade already has a sketchy past when the community put two and two together and realized she was the same Melanie McDade who sued the beloved Dr. Anthony Samad for sexual harassment.  Is McDade a professional shake down artist of successful Black men?  Is she blackmailing Mayor Butts? 

Mayor Butts alleges that Ms. McDade is a woman of all trades and is qualified to handle the tasks of at minimum four to five additional positions.  All positions where the predecessors had extensive education and work experience that McDade doesn’t possess.

Mayor Butts would want the public to believe he is a highly ethical person, and a good judge of character, however, his actions show that is an extreme material falsehood of the truth

(2 Urban Girls are Urban Girl Media and post at 2urbangirls.com.Views expressed above do not necessiarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) [[ hotlink]]

-cw