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Compton residents plan fourth recall attempt this year

Petitions against Mayor Eric J. Perrodin, Councilwoman Lillie Dobson and two others allege misuse of public funds, nepotism and voter fraud.

August 13, 2010|By Ann M. Simmons and Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

Discontented Compton residents announced Thursday that they have launched a recall campaign against their mayor and several other elected officials, citing allegations of misappropriation of public funds, nepotism and voter deception.

Activists said Mayor Eric J. Perrodin, Councilwoman Lillie Dobson, City Atty. Craig J. Cornwell and City Clerk Alita Godwin have been served notices of intent to circulate a recall petition.

"We have been watching and telling people what's going on," said Joyce Kelly, a recall organizer. "We can no longer be quiet. Now the people are coming forward, backing us and speaking out."

It is at least the fourth time this year that a recall has been attempted against these officials, Kelly said.

None of those targeted by the recall petitions responded to requests for comment. But Perrodin's supporters were quick to come to his defense.

"There's no proof of these allegations; if there were, he would have been indicted by now," said longtime Compton resident Lorraine Cervantes.

The notice of intent to recall charges that Perrodin misappropriated public funds by allocating bond money to cover anticipated startup costs for the return of the Compton Police Department — a move many residents oppose. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement services to the city.

The recall proponents also charge that Perrodin used public funds to pay back companies and organizations that contributed to his 2009 election campaign. Perrodin awarded no-bid contracts to friends and family; misled residents about major revisions to the city's Charter; and violated residents' civil rights by using intimidation and manipulation to quiet dissent, the recall notice alleges.

The allegations in the recall petitions against Godwin and Cornwell include election process violations, and in Goodwin's case, failing to work full time while being paid in full. Her annual salary is about $110,750, according to the city.

The recall proponents are upset with Dobson for voting to bring back the Compton Police Department, and for approving water rate increases.

"These are definitely some of the most egregious violations in the history of Compton politics," said William Kemp, who helped organize Thursday's rally to announce the recall campaign.

Among the most damning incidents, Kemp and other activists say, is awarding contracts to Perrodin's family and friends.

Joseph & Paul Inc., whose principal is Perrodin's brother Percy, has had a contract since 2003 to provide law enforcement consulting services. A new one-year, $95,000 contract was approved by the City Council in May. Perrodin was absent for that vote.

A friend of Perrodin, Verna Porter, was hired by the city in 2007 on a one-year contract for $90,000. She was to address "high priority projects," including improving the city's street lighting level. She has since been hired as a city employee.

Mark Woods, another Perrodin friend, is being paid $260,000 annually to provide cable and video services for Compton's government access channel, according to a contract approved by the city in March.

Perrodin ran against nepotism, but he has been the biggest nepotistic leader in the county, Kemp said.

ann.simmons@latimes.com

abby.sewell@latimes.com

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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