Compton: What the ‘flimflam’ is going on in governance?
Suspected skullduggery, trickery, chicanery, deceit, and deception at the hub of governance By CYNTHIA MACON and SUSAN ADAMS For those of you who have not noticed, the “Compton Brickyard” as it was known for decades is now known
Suspected skullduggery, trickery, chicanery, deceit, and deception at the hub of governance
By CYNTHIA MACON and SUSAN ADAMS
For those of you who have not noticed, the “Compton Brickyard” as it was known for decades is now known as “The Brickyard South Bay.” Go ahead, look it up on their website at http://thebrickyardsouthbay.com. It begs the question — what the “flimflam” is going on in local governance?
Notice the map on their website that provides the location of the Brickyard. It does not even carry the name of the City of Compton. So, pay attention, as name disassociation often connotes gentrification and more changes to come, but definitely not “Hub City” pride.
But this article is not about labels, but a resolution before the Compton City Council this week, Sept. 13, to grant an “economic incentive” to UPS (United Parcel Service) — a company with an honorable history of employment of blue collar workers as many are aware — to occupy the Brickyard.
But this agenda Item #9 on the council is causing major confusion as citizens try to ascertain why a billion dollar company would need an “economic incentive” from a much poorer city. And while trying to understand, a slew of other questions arose. And since the City often fails in the category of “transparency” and balanced education versus always selling the public on an idea, we will start by listing the many topics causing the confusion or concern.
First, what happened to Amazon? For years the rumor was Amazon Corporation was coming to the Brickyard. Some report even seeing an official sign with the Amazon logo that was quickly taken down. The rumored answer is Amazon vacated the premises, saying they were not coming to Compton, especially in light of the increased sales tax, Measure P, passed by Mayor Aja Brown and the city. The Compton Chamber of Commerce and the business community, championed by Royce Esters of Esters Tax Service and Planning, opposed Measure P and tried to warn of such an occurrence, pointing out moving to a 10 percent sales tax while surrounding cities remained at 9 percent would cost Compton business in the future. Well, if all of this is true, it did not take long before the chickens came home to roost.
Second, why would a billion dollar company need an economic incentive that amounts to only $420,000 according to the accompanying estimate? Allegedly, this was needed to offset the higher tax cost of bringing a regionally-based business to Compton versus another city with lower taxes. But does this not defeat the purpose of Measure P to bring in more revenue from sales? Is the city committing to taking in money, then turning around and giving a third of it back?
And why 30 percent? That’s nearly one-third? This is highly questionable. Will the city be prudent and protect its interest by including a written cap at $420,000 if it turns out the provided figures are greatly incorrect and underestimated? Think people, before you are flimflammed.
Third, the UPS resolution calls for a 10-year set-aside. Compton has a history of the city council giving away potential revenue from taxes and even land to businesses for long periods of time that saddle future councils. Are we in the process of doing it yet again? Residents are wondering how they can be charged higher taxes while being told not to cry about pennies, and yet, a billion dollar multi-national corporation is being given a 10-year break when they cry about pennies; at least for them.
How about 30 percent for one to two years? That way if you are wrong with your figures, you are not tied to getting the shaft for a decade. After all, residents of Compton will be inconvenienced beginning day one of the trucks rolling, and having to pay the one-penny tax forever. The public will receive no such break in time.
Fourth, the resolution calls for a guarantee of $70 million to be spent on purchases within the city over the next five years. What does this mean? Purchases of what? How will it be tracked? What type of products or equipment does Compton have to offer to fit the anticipated needs of UPS? And who is in line to receive this business and commissions? Will this be done through bids or personal UPS preference? Someone obviously has greater insight into this already or such a high dollar commitment would not be announced to the public. Can we get some details?
Fifth, traffic congestion. How many trucks and employee traffic will be rolling out of the Brickyard on a daily basis? What hours and time periods? What tonnage or number of wheels on the trucks? What traffic routes to avoid neighborhoods and residential living will be taken? Will UPS agree to avoid the use of Wilmington Avenue and the City Council put up signs prohibiting truck traffic in neighborhoods, especially along Wilmington Avenue? Aha, gotcha!
Sixth, what about jobs? Hate to break it to you, but thankfully UPS has been an employer of Compton residents for years. If you open up a UPS, they will come, so 50 net jobs are what will probably occur naturally, at a minimum, without an agreement. But who is in line for these jobs; what are the qualifications? How will they be counted, will residency versus fraudulent residency be checked, and who will track the net 50 and how?
If the original worker moves out the city, will that number be replaced by current residents? Will these jobs be all janitorial or across a spectrum, up to, and including middle and upper management? How will the jobs and job categories be advertised? What role do the unions play in all of this?
Yes, we said it, the unions that paid so much into Mayor Aja Brown’s Measure P campaign. Pay attention, people!
Seven, what about the residential community surrounding the Brickyard? Will UPS hold a meeting to address their concerns and issues? Will there be an effective pre-determined method for handling their complaints before we get into a quagmire like when rodents escaped the Brickyard for the residential area? What happens if noise and fumes become an issue, whose authority will be sacrosanct—the city or UPS?
Will residents find themselves hemmed up in their neighborhoods, unable to get out at certain hours, while Compton motorists simply avoid this side of town? Will the city set-up a methodology for mitigation of citizen’s complaints with UPS, besides standing there looking stupid and giving lip service?
Eight, what is happening with the property adjacent and circumventing the Brickyard? There are rumors or zoning changes in the area, other development, and the purchase and sale of land to increase the Brickyard’s influence. What say you, planning department? But we understand your limitations on being effective, as your vote and recommendations are often never the last word due to council override.
This is the 4-1-1 on the 90059 about U-P-S.
Just asking, before it’s too L-A-T-E.
Cynthia Macon and Susan Adams are Daughters of Compton.
Disclaimer: This is not necessarily the opinion of the Compton Herald.