Inglewood Stadium: Pie in the Sky?

INSIDE INGLEWOOD-The sudden announcement that the distinctly middle-class neighborhood of Inglewood is threatened with an 80,000-seat stadium and massive shopping center just opposite the nearly 20,000-seat Forum has residents upset. As a result, the small charter city’s mayor, James T. Butts (photo at right), is back-pedaling on statements he made just a week ago.

After a Monday morning Associated Press (AP) report that the stadium would cost taxpayers $100,000 million in its first five years, Butts’ announcements about “$5 million (in property taxes) a year” were quickly sidelined by hesitant statements regarding $25 million in unspecified revenue.

“‘The only thing that is required is, at some point, when [the City of Inglewood] make[s] in excess of $25 million in a given year, that we begin to pay back those costs that they have front-loaded for us…’” Butts said during a Monday morning televised interview with NBC Los Angeles.

Butts did not discuss details about the 187-page outline that has been released by developers The report has not been made available to Inglewood residents.

In an O.C. Register story published on January 5, Butts was taken to task but could provide little more than “‘I don’t know’” when asked about the legality of the stadium being built without a proper Environmental Impact Report (EIR) being generated.

The lack of transparency has prompted a number of residents to speak out, and a quietly announced block club captains meeting slated for Wednesday night at Inglewood’s District 1 Police Community Center on 2901 West Manchester Boulevard was advertised to feature Gerard McCallum, the Project Manager for the City of Champions Revitalization Initiative. (As the meeting has yet to occur at press time and the publication of this story will be the day after, look for a future story regarding that meeting.)

According to Wilson Meany Partners, McCallum “has over 20 years of experience in marketing, public affairs, community development and strategic planning. At Wilson Meany, Gerard is responsible for Governmental Affairs as well as Community Outreach for the Hollywood Park Tomorrow project in Inglewood California. Previously, he was Executive Vice President and General Manager for Forum Enterprises, Inc."

The on-line bio goes on to state that “[p]rior to his position at Wilson Meany, [McCallum] was Director of Development and Fundraising for Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood where he raised more than $10 million…”

On January 10, Faithful Central Bible Church hosted a signature-gathering event for the stadium proposal. Inglewood city council member Alex Padilla announced the event via his official weekly newsletter: “Citizens for Revitalizing the City of Champions Community Meeting and Signature-Gathering Drive Kick-Off…When: Saturday, January 10th at 3:00 PM Where: The Living Room, Faithful Central Bible Church, 400 West Florence Avenue.”

Padilla is a former Santa Monica cop who worked for then-Santa Monica police chief-turned-Inglewood mayor, James T. Butts, and whose 2013 campaign was personally financed by Butts,

Padilla’s January 8 newsletter also stated that “[The stadium] will continue to be built at no cost to the taxpayers and without any city subsidies.” The statement appears to contradict the aforementioned AP story that broke late last week.

Forum Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) is the former owner of the Forum. It is a for-profit entity that names Faithful Central Bible Church Chief Operating Officer (COO) Marc T. Little as its COO as well. Little, along with Faithful Central pastor Kenneth C. Ulmer, oversaw the Forum from 2000 until 2012 when the iconic venue was sold to Madison Square Garden (MSG).

FEI shares the same address on 400 Florence Avenue in Inglewood as the non-profit church, Faithful central Bible Church which lost many of its members nearly 15 years ago when it was disclosed that three of its youth pastors were having sex with underage boys enrolled in the church’s youth ministry programs.

When the story about Little’s connection to FEI and the pedophile sex scandal was published, Little attempted to threaten this reporter at a January press conference at the Forum.

In 2010, the LA Times reported that the Forum was in foreclosure to the tune of $18 million.

In 2012, Butts and the Inglewood city council “loaned” MSG $18 million for the sale of the Forum from FEI. In January, 2013, that loan was forgiven in its entirety. 

Padilla also announced that on Saturday, January 17 at 10 a.m., Inglewood city hall, a "City of Champions Revitalization Initiative Meeting and Stadium Signature-Gathering" will take place under the guise of a "special community meeting." 

The legality of the meeting is not yet decided, and the city is refusing to disclose the cost of the signature-gathering meetings nor who is footing the bill.

 

(Randall Fleming is a veteran journalist and magazine publisher. He has worked at and for the New York Post, the Brooklyn Spectator and the Los Feliz Ledger. He is currently editor-in-chief at the Morningside Park Chronicle, a weekly newspaper based in Inglewood, CA and on-line at www.MorningsideParkChronicle.com.  Mr. Fleming’s views are his own and do not reflect the views of CityWatch.) 

 -cw

 

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 5

Pub: Jan 16, 2015