It appears that, finally, the residents of Huntington Park will begin to hold their elected officials responsible for their actions. (Times, Sept. 14.)
Far too long has the "good ol' boy" system utilized by our elected and appointed officials been allowed to thwart the will of the people and benefit only a few select friends of the council or outside business entities.
It's amazing that, even after the misleading advertisements and literature put out by Councilman (Jim) Roberts and his committee, the residents were able to see that the tax issue was not a police issue at all. It was an attempt to cover up the several years of irresponsible and wasteful management on the part of the city administration.
For sure, Huntington Park is in trouble. However, the trouble is not due to lack of revenue or taxation or federal subsidies. The cause is the city administration and council acting in the insulated capacity as a redevelopment agency, draining some $14 million of general funds into the hands of a few select developers.
Equally disastrous was the decision on the part of the council to not only commit property tax revenue to the redevelopment projects, but also to commit sales tax revenue. It does not take an economist to realize that sales tax is the lifeblood of a city like Huntington Park. The administration's actions have bled the city of this needed resource.
While this mammoth sellout to outside developers was occurring, the long established revenue producers were neglected and driven from the city. One should ask why Sopp Chevrolet, GMC trucks and a host of other companies elected to leave Huntington Park. I wonder how many more companies would have left had the tax measure passed.
In light of recent revelations in Los Angeles, I find it appalling how residents of Huntington Park have not begun questioning recent City Council actions, which to me appear in poor taste at least.
Perhaps it was equally appropriate for the council--at the direction of (Councilman) Tom Jackson--to change the residential rubbish ordinance and spend nearly half a million dollars in general fund monies to supply the city with trash barrels, allowing the contractor to significantly cut his labor costs. Funny, I don't recall a decrease in residential rates.
What is even more unbelievable is that a multimillion-dollar commercial rubbish franchise was given without any solicited competitive bidding process, even though there were other legitimate companies that submitted unsolicited bids which would have generated over a million dollars in revenue to the city. The council awarded the franchise to a new rubbish company without any experience or equipment.
The council members may think that they can still get away with doing business against the will of the people and they may even believe, as they were quoted in the paper, that "the worst possible thing would be to put it to a vote of the people", but I believe not.
I spent over 19 years serving the city, and I will continue to support honest law enforcement and the dedicated men and women in the field. I also believe that the police must be held accountable to those people it serves, and not merely act as puppets for the manipulation by local politicians.
I still care about Huntington Park, and I hope that the voters show that they also care in the selection of a new City Council next year.
Contessotto is a former police chief of Huntington Park.