Mayor of Inglewood, James Butts, Jr., Entangled In Trash Bid Controversy

In 2012, Inglewood's city council approved a 10-year contract for a waste collection job that costs them $100 million total. This deal would impact Inglewood residents' trash collection rates for the next 10 years. Instead of giving the Operations Manager position to the lowest bidder, they decided to hire Mayor James Butts Junior's brother, Michael Butts. In response, a complaint has been filed against Mayor James Butts Jr. for committing an act of nepotism and bribing the bidders according to an article reported by the L.A. Times.

According to the Los Angeles County district attorney, the mayor encouraged bidders to hire his unemployed brother in exchange for his continued support. It's been confirmed by Gary Clifford, the executive VP at Athen Services, who also happens to be the lowest bidder. He admitted that their company refused to hire Michael Butts, and as a consequence, they were turned down for the contract. It was handed to Consolidated Disposal Services, a company that charged the city council an extra $10 million.

Of course, Mayor Butts denies having the accusations, insisting that he never had a final say on the contract's voting process during a phone interview. He also stated that his brother's hiring decision "had no bearing on the award of the contract". Nevertheless, the garbage contract was investigated by the FBI, despite the absence of a case file at the D.A. office. In addition, Jennifer Eldridge, a representative of Republic Services, refused to answer questions emailed by James Castro, who dealt with the contract bid itself.

As a result, Michael Butts is still working at Consolidated Disposal Services. He has so far stayed silent on the issue. Ann Ravel of California's Fair Political Practices Commission, criticized the mayor's actions, citing the importance of serving the public's interests over profiting off of their family connections. Jessica Levinson agreed, calling it a "misuse of office".

Inglewood had only three bids for the contract and Mayor James Butts did negotiate with the winning company. The city council passed the contract 3-1, but one member named Judy Dunlap reported the incident to the DA's public integrity division. Both Clifford and Corcoran, from two waste management companies, talked with the mayor about his brother needing a job. But they did not have an opening for Michael Butts at the time.

Dunlap's complaint pointed out that Inglewood residents will pay a higher price for Consolidated's waste management services, compared to Athens'. The extra fees could eventually add up to over $25 million. As of now, she is no longer a member of the council. On the other hand, Mayor Butts sided with Consolidated over Athens because the former company supports employee unions.

Many people involved in the complaint were inquired by the NY Times. However, they were unable to conclude whether the D.A. has justifiably pursued Dunlap's accusations or are they still on the fence about it. The D.A. prosecutors are still having trouble finding the case file and must work with a restricted amount of information. Only on March 6, 2013, was the matter finally resolved.