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Compton Politricks: Autocratic political drama like a ‘Banana Republic’

Roger Haley’s ouster as city manager, latest example of whirlwind political drama in Compton governance While the world witnesses Donald Trump’s unremarkable, unashamed “slog” to the White House — a circus under the “Big Top” without

Roger Haley’s ouster as city manager, latest example of whirlwind political drama in Compton governance

While the world witnesses Donald Trump’s unremarkable, unashamed “slog” to the White House — a circus under the “Big Top” without precedent in U.S. political history, another similar “circus” of significantly smaller scale, though no less shocking is playing out in Compton.

Roger Haley’s ouster as the seventh city manager in 10 years is the latest example of “whirlwind” governance in the City. Haley was either a willing sacrificial lamb for an autocratic mayor hell bent on getting her way to the point that he would supersede the City Charter for her, or he was an extreme idiot given the city’s inane turnover rate of city managers, especially those resistant to the will of the council.

Mayor Aja Brown was sworn in to office in 2013 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, believed to be one of the primary influences behind Brown's drive to incorporate a significant industrial component into Compton. Photo: City of Compton

Mayor Aja Brown was sworn in to office in 2013 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, believed to be one of the primary influences behind Brown’s drive to incorporate a significant industrial component into Compton. Photo: City of Compton

As to Mayor Aja Brown’s role in the municipal drama, the Compton Herald gave her the benefit of doubt three years ago following her astonishing victory over two powerful incumbents in 2013. The Herald did not sneer and snipe at the youngest mayor in Compton’s 106-year history, as so many did. We were hoping she could pull off a miracle by stabilizing the city while quelling what we initially interpreted to as rebellious voices.

And the voices were rebellious because a political upstart had defeated two admired and experienced incumbents in Compton to grab the seat of power. People were mad about it. We believed time would eventually soften the rhetoric as Mayor Brown made strides. But as time wore on, the truth about Brown began to ooze through the cracks in the façade.

Brown began to reveal herself as authoritarian dispensing governance in an autocratic manner, much like the rule of an iron-fisted dictator in a “Banana Republic.”

Let’s examine the leadership at the helm, the source of the derision impacting every aspect of Compton, today.

Our sources have claimed for the longest that money for street repair, parks, general infrastructure, has always been available to take care of the myriad needs of the city. But the jobs have been forestalled — just look around — leading us to believe that money earmarked for specific purposes extending as far back as 2013, has been diverted or spent. Mayor Brown strongly refutes this as “speculation.”

Well, if the city did not divert or spend the erstwhile “approved funding,” then show us the money. If the money was there all along, why wasn’t it put to use? To say the city needed more money, hence “Measure P” amounts to manipulation. That means something is pathological about the way the mayor deals with her constituents. She’s aggressively driving agendas without transparency with the council or the public. That’s the way we see it.

This deceitfulness of power runs deep — flimflammery of the highest order. There’s no other description more appropriate to describe the deliberate ambiguity with which Brown interacts with the Compton community, leading constituents down a darkened, cratered road of deception.

All of the crafty cunning to ultimately heap praise upon herself is pure and simply manipulation from someone lacking a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. And the self-pride of the “high and mighty” mayor is over the top. Brown has hustled the local citizenry and violated the public trust. For that, she does not deserve the privilege to serve this great city.

The recent termination of Haley is a good example. Mayor Brown didn’t vote to fire him, but the way she used him at her beck and call, in spite of the city council, left them no alternative but to chop his ties to the city to prevent the mayor from persuading him to supersede the city charter, which he did when he authorized between $25 and $50,000 to print an extravagant amount of pro-Measure P literature against the authority of the council.

It is apparent Brown is operating at the behest of powerful outside influences that have no regard for the wishes of the people of Compton. These special interests led by the county of Los Angeles apparently desire to industrialize the city, transform it into a conduit between the Port of Los Angeles and points north — Metro Los Angeles and beyond. Mayor Brown apparently is in full compliance with this.

If she had roots in Compton, this might not be the case. But having no roots here and void of understanding of the city’s small-town persona, there is no guilt or conscience in opening the door for outsiders to come in and tread on Compton.

Mayor Brown is in the grip of a well-financed machine which she must now disavow, or face the consequences. No power is mightier than the concerted will of a grassroots political movement by the “People” to whom all elected officials answer — not the other way around.

 

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. is Publisher and Editor of Compton Herald. He attended junior and senior high school in Compton, and is an alumnus of California State University, Los Angeles.

2 COMMENTS
  • Michael Hill August 1, 2016
  • Michael Hill August 1, 2016

    Jarrette, I think you’ve said it better than I ever could put into words, or perspective. I was poring over your article just before going online to report several unlit streetlights via the Edison website today. We’ve got about 5 or six now out, again in our area, District 1. Just wanted to see if anyone else would call or report them, and to this day, about 4 weeks, if not more, in, no one. Two darkened locations were recently featured in the news, BTW. Both ideal spots for one unarmed shooting and the other, where the stolen vehicle (Honda) was ditched, because if you think like the bad guys, a perfect spot in which to bail and run. So after waiting a considerable time to see if any of the neighbors would think of contacting SCE, I’m disappointed that I feel that I’m the only one caring enough to do what’s necessary, though I tried to play the role of the typical disinterested, uninformed or apathetic complainer here. I’ll report them, the lights, get my confirmation via text of both the filing and the confirmation, once the work is completed, as before. I just wanted to test things to see if I was just being a fool, thinking I was helping to keep local streets well lit or maybe others would do the simple and easy contacting of resources. I’d like to know if Edison could pay for or distribute a door hanger in our city’s neighborhoods, since most probably discard contents of their monthly bill, like I do, and just examine the statement to pay their bill. There’s got to be some way to inform everyone that Edison does care about lighting. Just give them the location , nearest cross street and the number on the pole, which now, most do have clearly labeled, and the repair team will get right on it in a few days or so. Why live in the dark, when you can turn on a busted light with a phone app, even? Scratching my head as I ponder the lack of public involvement in everyone’s safe streets concept. SMH too.

    Take care.

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