Compton salary boosting: DA silence frustrates residents
Residents vocal despite district attorney's public silence over the matter COMPTON — While the Los Angeles District Attorney declines to comment publicly on its warning to the City’s mayor and council that they could face prosecution
Residents vocal despite district attorney’s public silence over the matter
COMPTON — While the Los Angeles District Attorney declines to comment publicly on its warning to the City’s mayor and council that they could face prosecution for illegally boosting their salaries, local residents have plenty to say, on the streets and in social media.
Daniel Juarez of L.A., said it is, “Interesting to note that the city officials from Bell [Calif.] were prosecuted to the full extent of the law and the City of Compton receive[s] a warning letter. Is it because the DA only goes after Latinos? Who is at the head of the DA’s Office? Wait a minute I answered my own question.”
Kathy Jurado, a resident of Compton, said, “We need to expose who is spring[ing] these crooks. I hate to say this, but the unions call it democracy.”
Compton resident Robert Louis Ray, who regularly attends council session, noted in a Facebook post, where the issue is a hot topic, “In reality, if the DA does decide to prosecute, [they] will have to include the previous administration because all this madness started about eight years ago.”
Carole Dearmon, previously of Compton, now living in Long Beach, commented, “Many city councils have received these commission salaries and enhanced Charter salaries. I think these increases resulted from City Attorney’s interpretations of the city Charter and legislation. Aja Brown and the other council members probably never questioned their salaries; now they see they should have.”
Former Compton Police officer John Rick Baker, who lives in Las Vegas, Nev., said, “[The] solution to this practice that has been in circulation far too long — is a ‘Cap’ on city council members’ salaries, creating a flat across the board base, let’s say at $44,000, which would encompass assignments to [various] commissions, [and] car allowance. The end result in not addressing this abuse will be another ‘black-eye’ for the city, via ‘straight outta Compton’ dress-down.”
Local resident Joyce Kelly, who also regularly attends council meetings, said, “I told them at last year’s budget council meeting that I saw a line item that had increased their pay. It was [for] a commission [session] that lasts less than 10 minutes. As usual they ignored me. [Mayor Aja Brown] has taken that huge salary for two years and now she tells on herself!”
Fran Shepard of Compton, asked the question, “Why hasn’t the L.A. District Attorney’s office acted on these felonies? Is it because the previous mayor of Compton, Eric Perrodin, works for [the DA’s office?] How can the DA be aware of an ongoing crime, and not act?”
Ezra Nero, a 1969 Dominguez High School grad who has since lived in the Philippine Islands, summed up the court of public opinion, when he opined, “It never ends with the Compton city government. There is always a scandal.”
The remarks followed a week of tumult at City Hall after a letter from the Los Angeles District Attorney was delivered to Compton City Attorney Craig Cornwell, with copies to Mayor Aja Brown and city council members Janna Zurita, Isaac Galvan, Emma Sharif, and Yvette Arceneaux. The letter pointed out that salary boosting with payments for attendance at city commission meetings was a felony.
In that letter, the district attorney also warned Compton officials could be prosecuted if the additional payments continued. The DA’s office admits in the correspondence they have known about the payments since 2008.
Prompted to speak out recently regarding allegations that she and council members have been illegally boosting their salaries for years, Compton Mayor Aja Brown commented in a letter to the public, and on a local radio station that council compensation reform has always been on her agenda, even though she willfully accepted the extra money for two years after being elected mayor in 2013.
“I don’t believe that we deserve to have full salaries, and that was stated in public record July 28 before I actually received a letter from the D.A.,” Brown said in her defense.
The district attorney declined to comment after the Compton Herald queried the office in a written statement, why the DA’s office has not prosecuted lawbreakers, even though they’ve known about the crimes since 2008, and how much time city officials would be accorded to comply with the DA’s mandate.