Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon. (Matthew 16:18)
Note: the following is the original article written by me, Charles L. Chatmon for the California Crusader Newspaper, August 16 -22, 2018. Thanks for reading.
A Renewed Quality of Life in Inglewood
By Charles L. Chatmon
When Councilman Ralph Franklin started his tenure, he inherited a district along with the city of Inglewood to be "lethargic, not moving around at all." At that time it proved to be a challenge to present the city in a good light to developers who did not feel it was marketable. Reaching out to his constituents, the Councilman assessed how to improve the quality of life in where they lived. Four terms in, Inglewood has achieved an impressive turnaround due to the efforts of the Councilman.
The turnaround occurred when the "Sixteen acres that houses Chili and Red Lobster was the key to investors Inglewood residents will patronize and spend their dollars if they have the product and service that you make available for them." The Councilman says. The sixteen acres Franklin refers to is the Village at Century shopping center on Century Boulevard between Yukon and Crenshaw which was built as a result of an another outreach via surveys to the community. "I want to know where you shop and where you shop if it's not in Inglewood, my job is to get those stores in Inglewood for you to patronize. We can recycle the dollar to help improve the infrastructure, more job opportunities and improving the quality of life particularly with the high demand of public safety and public services particularly Parks and Recs as well as the streets and the opportunity on which we can improve the park area." In January 2018, Franklin oversaw the installment of a rubber exercise track, eight exercise stations and new playground apparatuses in the only park located in his district.
Inglewood is a long way from Franklin's native state of Kansas where he started in the food industry as a part time box boy for the International Grocers Association moving up to cashier, stock clerk, the meat department and assistant manager. After moving to California, he worked for L.A. County in the Tax Collector's office in the Hall of Administration. Later, Franklin was employed by Ralph's supermarket in Personnel and Labor Relations. As a business agent for Local 770 the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Franklin worked as a Laymen Advocate where he would pitch cases before an arbitrator which led him to run for Councilman for the Fourth District back in 2003. He speaks with pride of being the key vote in turning away Walmart when they sought to build a superstore on the Hollywood Park property by putting it on the ballot. The voters wound up rejecting the proposed superstore as Franklin asserts, "We want a better quality of life and weâre tired of discounts."
Inglewood's future has the Councilman looking with a forward eye of what is in store. He mentions the Hollywood Park development which involves the new stadium and other venues will be the economic hub for the city and that it is privately owned between L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the Stockbridge Capital Group. Franklin insists it will come at no cost to the taxpayer. Along with Hollywood Park, Franklin is anticipating a new NBA arena for the L.A.Clippers courtesy of Murphy's Bowl LLC, a company owned by the team in 2024. The stadium is expected to open in 2020. Remembering the history of traffic congestion caused by the former racetrack, the Councilman acknowledges, "we need to reduce the carbon footprint in the city." He states the coming of the new Crenshaw-LAX rail line from Florence to Imperial and Aviation Boulevard will be an assist in achieving that goal. As a chairperson of the Metro South Bay Service Council in which he works with sixteen cities, Franklin confirms plans to build a "first mile, last mile rail system", a monorail is in the works. It would operate in the middle of Florence Avenue, then Prarie to Manchester where it drops down to the Hollywood Park project moving forward to the new Clippers arena. Should all go well Franklin envisions, the monorail could extend to the 120th Street and Crenshaw Green Line station.
As much as he is optimistic of the developments in Inglewood, Franklin anticipates the outcome of ten billion dollars in construction projects over the next seven years. 50,000 construction jobs will be added along with 12,000 permanent jobs which will go to local residents. Franklin believes these hires promote prevailing earnings on a union scale. He also wants to "keep Inglewood residents gainfully employed with prominent wages."
On the subject of prostitution in the city, an issue Franklin inherited since his first term in office; it is the gaming industry via the local casino which "lures that kind of attention." according to documents he has read. This ongoing activity has also increased the use of a task force specializing in prostitutes and the pimps. In recent times Franklin states, the federal government alerted Inglewood P.D. of two websites used for the advertisement of prostitution on Century, Prairie and Imperial Highway. Despite the removal of the websites, carloads of prostitutes are present on the streets because of their failure to advertise online. A recent sting by police revealed a case of human trafficking which led to the arrest of several pimps. A deterrent to this illegal activity is to apprehend a prostitute with a customer or "John Doe" who will be published in the local newspaper as Franklin says, "to exploit them, to discourage this type of participation."
As a public servant, Franklin sees himself as a person who does not run from a problem but runs towards it, he is willing to respond to a phone call or message to anyone who reaches out to him whether they are a developer, contractor or resident. "That call to them was valuable and I cherish my position as a public servant. I'm submissive to the voter to what they see is an issue, and I believe with knowledge, thereâs power." For the last decade, Franklin has been the only Councilman who has faithfully met with residents for at least three town hall meetings a year to discuss the issues that matter most; street closures, road repair, utility work that will affect the city, gang violence and prostitution. The Councilman believes these town halls will empower residents to learn more about these issues and take control when needed. "Here's things you can do so instead of you always having to call my office, I'm going to give you the knowledge, the wherewithal, the power in the event I'm not available." On September 12, Franklin will hold another town hall which he stresses can be seen on Time-Warner and through the city's website, https://www.cityofinglewood.org. Inglewood residents in the fourth district and throughout the city can be assured of one thing; there is a councilman who works tirelessly to improve the quality of life wherever they may live.
Charles L. Chatmon can be reached at email@example.com. His website is charleslchatmon.com.