Wednesday, May 18, 2011
What's In The Press About....City of Compton Mayor Eric J. Perrodin
Current recall efforts are a direct response from residents of the accusations of corruption of the city's mayor and council. Some of the accusations involve the issuing of city contracts to personal donors and friends. One particular accusation involved the trash and recycling contract of the city to Pacific Coast Waste and Recycling LLC in 2007, whose leadership donated large amounts of money to Perrodin's political coffers.
Notices of intent to circulate recall petitions against four Compton city officials are expected to be filed in August 2010, by a group of citizens who claim corruption in Compton is being ignored by the same authorities who were shocked by the recent salary controversy in the city of Bell.
Compton has discharged its city manager for the second time in three years. The Los Angeles Times says the City Council voted in a closed meeting, September 9, 2010, to fire Charles Evans. The Times says council members refused to discuss the reasons for their decision. Evans took office in 2007, after the dismissal of previous City Manager Barbara Kilroy. City Controller Willie Norfleet will take over until a permanent manager can be named.
Compton’s new assistant city manager is Verna D. Porter, a 59-year-old woman of limited and checkered experience in city government and unknown education who lives next door to Mayor Eric J. Perrodin’s mother and teaches Sunday school at his church.
City Manager Willie Norfleet appointed Porter on Oct. 19, despite the fact that the city council meeting that night was cancelled due to a lack of a quorum.
Several sources at City Hall have told The Compton Bulletin that Porter does not have a college degree. At an Oct. 5 council meeting, however, Perrodin insisted that she not only has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, but also a Masters degree in sociology and a certificate in project management.
The Bulletin spoke with Porter briefly on Monday. She said she’s “excited to be able to serve the city of Compton,” but she would not answer any questions regarding her education or appointment, referring such inquiries to Norfleet.
“You might want to contact the city manager’s office for that information,” Porter said. The Bulletin was unable to contact Norfleet before press time
Compton has no set requirements for the job of assistant city manager. According to the city clerk’s office, the city doesn’t even have a job description on file.
Porter first began working for Compton about two years ago. In late November 2007 she was granted a $90,000 consulting contract to work on several of the mayor’s pet projects, which a staff report called “high priority projects that require immediate attention.”
The projects included improving street lighting citywide, ensuring the city complies with the general plan’s open space requirements (which mainly focused on the mayor’s plans to transform the Southern California Edison right-of-way that lies along the south side of Greenleaf Boulevard into a parkway), disaster preparedness coordination and ensuring all homes and buildings in the city had clearly visible addresses.
That same staff report described Porter as a “qualified project manager.”
When the contract was up, however, no report was provided detailing any progress she might have made, and neither the parkway nor the street lighting project had been initiated.
When her contract ended, Porter worked on the Perrodin’s re-election campaign. According to Perrodin’s campaign contribution statements for the April 2009 primary election, Porter received $3,703 for office expenses and campaign fliers for the mayor’s candidate for the 4th District seat, Amos Clay. She donated $500 to Perrodin’s re-election bid, according to the statements.
Porter also worked on Clay’s failed campaign in his bid for the 4th District council seat. She loaned Clay’s election committee $500 and was compensated $487 dollars for office expenses and campaign literature and mailings, according to Clay’s campaign contribution statements for the same time period. Her daughter had served as Clay’s council liaison during his tenure as the council’s appointed 4th District representative. Following Clay’s defeat, Perrodin fired his longtime secretary, Karen Haywood, and hired Porter’s daughter to fill the position.
Days after that election, Porter was officially hired as a city employee in a move that circumvented the civil service process. This was accomplished when a position paying roughly $100,000 annually was created for Porter in the city manager’s office that was written into the 2009-10 fiscal year budget.
The civil service process aims to ensure that city employees are hired based on fitness and merit. It entails candidates for employment in a classified City Hall position filling out an application to ensure they meet the stipulated education and past experience requirements. Qualified candidates then must complete written and oral civil service examinations. Those who pass are interviewed, and the city hires from the field of interviewees the candidate it feels would best fill the position.
One of Porter’s first assignments as a city employee was to serve as the event coordinator for the 2009 Gospel Concert, which the mayor said she organized this year, as well. Perrodin said Porter also coordinates his quarterly Mayor and Pastors Breakfasts.
Street lighting was partially addressed about six months into Porter’s full-time employment at City Hall. According to a Jan. 6, 2009, staff report, the city hired and paid Albert Grover & Associates $112,500 for the project design and $4.825 million for construction related to the street lighting project. The redevelopment agency covered 60 percent of the total cost, while the Lighting and Landscaping District covered the remaining 40 percent. Another $125,000 was to cover contingencies, according to the report.
It is not known exactly when the city put the brakes on the project, but the installation of the new streetlights was allegedly halted after it was discovered that the streetlights Porter selected were not adequate to fulfill the mayor’s goal of increasing nighttime visibility. The 1st District is the only section of town that received the new streetlights.
The Public Works Department in early September announced that a new citywide street lighting project was to soon begin at a cost of roughly $3 million. Southern California Edison has agreed to cover about half, or $1.5 million, officials said.
The parkway project was also announced during the Sept. 7 council meeting as finally moving forward.
It is not known when, but Porter was eventually moved to a position in the Public Works Department, where she had worked until her appointment to assistant city manager last week.
According to a city employee fee schedule posted on the city’s website, www.comptoncity.org, Porter is now making $164,488 annually, plus benefits.
COMPTON—Ask John Kobylt or Ken Chiampou, and they’ll tell you that Eric J. Perrodin has a lot of explaining to do regarding a career criminal accused of recently murdering four people, three of whom were killed after Perrodin twice allowed the repeat offender to remain free on bail.
Perrodin, the city’s part-time mayor who works full-time as a deputy district attorney for L.A. County, is being criticized by folks like Kobylt and Chiampou, the popular talk radio personalities behind KFI AM 640′s conservative “The John & Ken Show,” for being too soft on a career criminal who should have been behind bars under the state’s embattled three strikes law when he allegedly went on a killing spree.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Perrodin was earlier this year assigned to prosecute two separate felony cases involving 53-year-old John Wesley Ewell. The cases technically marked Ewell’s fifth and sixth strikes, but the District Attorney’s Office has time and again given Ewell a pass, court records show.
Three of the four people Ewell was charged Tuesday with slaying were killed during home-invasion robberies occurring after the second time Perrodin reportedly not only passed on seeking a third strike for Ewell, but also failed to request that Ewell be remanded into custody.
Technically, Perrodin was following his employer’s rules in terms of not pursuing a third strike conviction in either case. Recognizing that the mandatory sentencing law voters approved in 1994 is flawed, District Attorney Steve Cooley’s policy is to not seek the sentencing enhancement when the third offense is nonviolent and considered a petty felony.
Of the four times the county chose not to strike Ewell out, so to speak, over the past 16 years, three of the occasions were during Cooley’s tenure, and, in fact, took place within the past year. Perrodin prosecuted Ewell, who has a rap sheet that spans three decades, the last two of those three times, according to the Times.
“He (Ewell) has been mishandled for 20 years by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office,” Kobylt said during the Dec. 1 “Driving it Home with John and Ken” segment that airs weekdays at 6:30 p.m. during KTLA Channel 5′s local evening news.
The talk radio pundits accused the mayor of more or less allowing Ewell, whom they dubbed a “serial killer,” to roam free and prey on innocent people in the community.
“The mayor of Compton — this guy. … The judge wanted to put Ewell in jail with no bail, and the prosecutor says, ‘Oh, no, that’s OK.’ And the judge says, ‘If it’s up to me, I’d put him in with no bail, but alright, because you’re asking, fine, we’ll let him go’,” Kobylt said. “This is the prosecutor letting Ewell go.
“And then they agreed that he could go to see his eye doctor and undergo eye surgery and not start serving his sentence,” he continued. “Well, after he got that break, he kills four people.”
Kobylt blamed county prosecutors for mishandling Ewell’s various cases over the last 20 years.
“He should have been put away on a third strike a long time ago. He certainly shouldn’t have gotten his break to go see his eye doctor. That’s how he killed four people — because he was allowed to be on the streets when he’d already been sentenced to nearly three years in prison.”
The District Attorney’s Office told the Times that it had no way of knowing that a man with a history of theft and forgery convictions would suddenly turn homicidal.
While the charges against Ewell over the last two decades have been nonviolent, some are saying that Perrodin should have used better discretion in assessing the likelihood that Ewell would continue to commit crimes.
Channel 5 newscaster Glen Walker added his two cents, saying, “Yeah, and he’s, uh, there’s a couple of citizens in Compton … not real happy with him (Perrodin) these days.”
Kobylt concurred before blasting the mayor for not returning the Times’ calls for comment.
“No, and he hasn’t said squat about this,” said the radio host. “We’re waiting for him to explain why he gave this guy (Ewell) two breaks, no bail, and then a delay on serving his sentence … and now he’s a serial killer.”
KTLA’s Walker suggested that they track Perrodin down, “shove a microphone in his face” and demand an explanation for his leniency with Ewell.
(Click here to watch a video of the Dec. 1 “Driving it Home with John and Ken” segment on KTLA Channel 5 News featuring the candid discussion quoted above, which begins at about 3:35.)
The cases Perrodin handled against Ewell represented what should have been the felon’s fifth and sixth strikes under the state three strikes law. Prosecutors in 1994 did not seek the sentence enhancement when Ewell, who had two felony robbery convictions dating back to the 1980s, deposited a forged $28,000 check into his bank account, the Times reported. In exchange for his guilty plea, Ewell received a reduced sentence of seven years in state prison.
After being released in 2002, he reportedly joined his wife in actively advocating for three-strikes reform. He even appeared on the Montel Williams Show in 2006 to boost awareness of what many consider an unjust law.
The Times reported that during his appearance on the show, a caption that read “Afraid to leave his house because he has 2 ‘Strikes’” was plastered on the screen.
Ewell managed to stay out of trouble until earlier this year, when he was popped for committing his fourth, fifth and sixth felony crimes tied to three separate incidents in which he was caught stealing from different The Home Depot stores.
Ewell was charged with petty theft and second-degree commercial burglary, according to the Times, after allegedly switching the price tag on an item he purchased from one of the home improvement retailer’s locations in Huntington Park.
This was technically Ewell’s fourth strike, but prosecutors for the second time were lax with their application of the mandatory sentencing law. They even reportedly allowed Ewell to remain free on $20,000 bail.
Mere months later, still awaiting a hearing tied to the first Home Depot incident, Ewell was arrested and charged with stealing from another Home Depot. Perrodin prosecuted the case and, according to a July 26 hearing transcript, allowed Ewell to continue to remain free on bail, according to the Times.
The judge presiding over that hearing reportedly told Ewell that he was getting “a break,” saying that had Perrodin asked, the judge would have remanded the criminal into custody “on the spot.”
A few months later on Sept. 14, Ewell pleaded “no contest” to the theft and burglary charges stemming from the first Home Depot incident in exchange for a 32-month prison sentence, the Times reported. But instead of being hauled off to jail to start serving his time, the judge presiding over that hearing granted Ewell something of a grace period because he claimed he needed time to address a medical issue.
The Times reported that detectives said Ewell underwent eye surgery.
That very same day, Ewell was charged with stealing from a third Home Depot in Los Angeles.
The prosecutor was again Perrodin, who for a second time reportedly failed to object to Ewell’s remaining free on bail despite it marking Ewell’s third repeat of the same offense in less than a year and constituting the sixth time Ewell was being prosecuted on felony charges.
By that time, authorities allege Ewell had already murdered his first victim, the Times reported. After being permitted on Oct. 4 to continue roaming the streets, the frequent felon allegedly proceeded to murder an additional three people.
His first alleged victim was Hanna Marcos, an 80-year-old man whose body was reportedly found tied up on Sept. 24. It was determined that he had died after suffering a heart attack.
Nineteen days later, Ewell allegedly struck again just nine days after Perrodin refrained from seeking a three-strikes enhancement on Ewell’s sixth felony case and did not request that Ewell be remanded into custody. The victim was Ewell’s neighbor, 53-year-old Denice Roberts, who lived a couple of houses down from her suspected murderer in the community of Harbor Gateway, according to the Times.
Ewell’s third and fourth alleged victims were Leamon, 69, and Robyn, 57, Turnage. Their bodies were found strangled on Oct. 22 in their Hawthorne home, the Times reported.
Authorities arrested Ewell the following day on Oct. 23 in connection with the Turnage’s murders after he attempted to use the couple’s ATM card at a gas station. Detectives soon discovered that Ewell had pawned items that had been stolen from each of the four victims’ homes, tying him to the first two homicides, according to the Times.
Some Compton residents are aghast that Perrodin, a former law enforcement officer who has always touted himself as being tough on crime and has on more than one occasion stated publicly that he “love(s) putting people in jail,” effectively enabled the repeat offender in his alleged murderous pursuits.
Outspoken Perrodin critic William Kemp told us that he’s siding with “The John and Ken Show.” He said the District Attorney’s Office, and Perrodin in particular, screwed up big-time and should shoulder much of the blame relative to Ewell’s alleged killing spree.
“I hope the victims’ family members sue,” Kemp said.
By Richard Winton and Jack Leonard Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES (MCT) — To hear him tell his story, John Wesley Ewell was the victim of an overly harsh criminal justice system.
The South Los Angeles hairstylist complained to journalists over the last decade about the unfairness of the state’s tough three-strikes law, saying he lived in fear that even a small offense would land him back in prison for life.
He even appeared on the “The Montel Williams Show” to argue the case against three strikes. A caption that flashed on the screen when Ewell spoke read: “Afraid to leave his house because he has two ‘Strikes.’”
But Ewell is now charged with killing four people in a series of home invasion robberies that terrorized the South Bay this fall. On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance at the Airport Courthouse.
Far from embodying the severity of the justice system, Ewell benefited from its lenience over the last 16 years, according to a Los Angeles Times review of court records and interviews.
Ewell has a lengthy criminal history that includes two robbery convictions from the 1980s.
Nevertheless, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office decided on four occasions against seeking to use the full weight of the three-strikes law when he was charged with new crimes.
And this year, after Ewell was arrested three times for allegedly stealing from Home Depot stores, a judge agreed to delay sending Ewell to prison so he could take care of some medical problems.
It was during that delay, authorities say, that Ewell robbed three homes and killed the victims.
“He should have been in prison a long time ago,” said Leamon “Kelly” Turnage, whose parents were among the victims. “It is a shock to me that no one is willing to take responsibility for letting this killer go.”
Ewell’s case is likely to fuel more debate about the practice of many California prosecutors to seek less than the maximum sentence for some three-strikers.
Under the law, offenders with two previous convictions for serious or violent crimes can be sentenced to prison for 25 years to life if they are convicted of another felony, no matter how minor. But most prosecutors use discretion in deciding when to seek life terms. Since 2000, the L.A. County district attorney’s office has generally prohibited prosecutors from seeking possible life sentences when a defendant’s third strike is not serious or violent.
Prosecutors repeatedly exercised this discretion in Ewell’s favor.
Critics argue that the district attorney’s policy fails to adequately protect society. The law, they say, deliberately counted minor crimes as third strikes to put away repeat offenders before they hurt other victims.
Prosecutors say it is unfair to suggest that they — or anyone else — could have predicted that Ewell would turn to such violence. At 53, he appeared to be little more than a petty thief and hardly fit the profile of a killer.
“I really don’t think anybody could pretend to anticipate that ... this guy would suddenly go from stealing things from Home Depot to murdering old people,” said Los Angeles County Head Deputy District Attorney John Lynch.
The district attorney’s policy has won widespread support as a just way of dealing with minor offenders who might have serious criminal pasts. Although a handful of criminals have benefited from the policy only to later commit violent crimes, the vast majority of offenders prosecuted under the policy have not gone on to kill or carry out other serious crimes.
Detectives describe Ewell as a man who led a double life. Residents of his Harbor Gateway community of Los Angeles knew him as a friendly handyman willing to help others. But investigators said he was a career criminal whose offenses stretched over more than 30 years.
In 1985, Ewell was convicted of helping to rob a jogger after she had checked her bank balance at an ATM. Nearly four years later, Ewell, who had a cocaine habit in the 1980s, was one of several people found guilty of robbing a motorist parked in an alley, court records show.
“Don’t move if you don’t want to be hurt,” he allegedly told the victim before binding the man’s hands and taking his wallet, watch and truck.
In 1994, California adopted the three-strikes law. Ewell’s two robbery convictions each counted as a strike under the new law. Later that year, Ewell deposited a stolen check for $28,000 into his bank account. He was charged with check forgery, a potential third strike.
The L.A. County district attorney’s office could have sought a 25-years-to-life prison sentence for Ewell. But in return for his pleading guilty, prosecutors instead agreed to a reduced sentence of seven years in prison.
While Ewell was incarcerated, his wife, Carmen, joined Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes, a group that seeks to reform the law. Later, she became the organization’s state treasurer.
The group has focused attention on scores of prisoners who are serving potential life sentences under the law for minor drug possession or petty thefts. It has sought several changes to the law, including a requirement that an offense be violent or serious to count as a third strike.
In 1999, Carmen Ewell complained to The Times about the law. Without it, her husband would have served substantially less time behind bars for his nonviolent forgery conviction.
“I think it’s an injustice,” she said.
When Ewell was released from prison in 2002, he also became an active member of the organization.
In 2004, he attended a news conference in support of a ballot measure that would have amended the law. Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “Fix Three Strikes,” he said he lived in fear that he might commit a small crime and end up permanently incarcerated.
Two years later, he was one of several guests to appear on a 2006 episode of “The Montel Williams Show” that highlighted opponents’ criticisms of three strikes. On the show, Ewell was identified as “John.” But sheriff’s detectives and a neighbor confirmed that the guest was Ewell.
In his brief appearance, Ewell spoke mostly about his forgery conviction, saying he had deposited a bad check his cousin had given him. Court records show he told a different story at the time of the offense, telling a probation officer that a woman outside the bank had asked him to deposit the check for her in return for a cut of the money.
Having dodged a third-strike conviction in the mid-1990s, Ewell spent years out of trouble. But earlier this year, he was charged with second-degree commercial burglary and petty theft. He was accused of switching an electronic price tag from a cheap pry bar with one from an expensive Dyson vacuum cleaner at a Huntington Park Home Depot before taking the vacuum cleaner through the self-checkout line with the wrong tag.
Prosecutors filed felony charges but did not seek a possible life sentence under the three-strikes law, the second time the office had used its discretion not to count a new charge against Ewell as a third strike. He was allowed to remain free on $20,000 bail.
The decision conformed with the office’s policy of not seeking life terms for people accused of minor crimes.
Months later, Ewell was accused of stealing from another Home Depot, and charged again. Deputy District Attorney Eric J. Perrodin agreed to let Ewell remain free on bail, according to a transcript of a July 26 court hearing.
“You are getting a break,” Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz told Ewell. “Because I would remand you on the spot if Mr. Perrodin said, ‘Put him in.’”
On Sept. 14, Ewell pleaded no contest in the first of his theft cases in return for a 32-month prison sentence.
Superior Court Judge Lori Ann Fournier agreed to postpone sentencing, citing medical issues that Ewell needed to take care of. Sheriff’s officials said he underwent eye surgery.
Ten days after the court hearing, authorities say, the killings began.
On the same day Ewell entered his plea in a Norwalk court, he was charged in Los Angeles with a third case of shoplifting from a Home Depot. The prosecution marked the fourth time in 16 years that the district attorney’s office filed felony charges against Ewell but did not pursue the case as a third strike.
At an Oct. 4 court hearing, Perrodin, the prosecutor, again did not object to Ewell remaining free on bail, according to a hearing transcript.
The prosecutor, who also serves as mayor of Compton, did not return calls seeking comment. A court spokeswoman said judges are ethically prohibited from commenting on pending cases.
By then, Hanna Morcos had been killed in his Hawthorne home. The body of the 80-year-old victim, who had been tied up, was found Sept. 24 by his wife, who had been asleep in the house at the time of the assault. He had succumbed to a heart attack.
The killings continued.
On Oct. 13, two doors down from Ewell’s Hoover Avenue home in the Harbor Gateway area of Los Angeles, Denice Roberts, 53, was on the phone when a visitor came to her door. The person on the phone with Roberts heard her call the visitor “brother John” before hanging up, detectives said. Roberts’ body was discovered by her husband when he returned home that afternoon.
On Oct. 22, Leamon Turnage, 69, and his wife, Robyn, 57, were found strangled in their Hawthorne home.
Ewell was arrested a day later after he allegedly tried to use the Turnages’ ATM card to buy gasoline from a local Shell station. Detectives say he had pawned items that had been stolen from all the victims’ homes.
In the back of his car detectives found a Bible and a newspaper from earlier this year with a story about the arrest of the alleged Grim Sleeper serial killer, whom authorities accuse of murdering 10 women in South L.A. since the 1980s.
“This is so awful,” said Diana Seif, granddaughter of one of the recent home-invasion robbery victims. “I don’t understand why they were so lenient to him over and over again.”
D.A. Reviewing Donations to Compton Mayor
Eric Perrodin, a county prosecutor, failed to report campaign money from Death Row label.
August 03, 2004
Times Staff Writer
Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin failed to report about $11,000 in contributions from Death Row Records while campaigning for the city's top office three years ago, and has paid a fine of that amount to the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
The case raised questions Monday in the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, where Perrodin has been a prosecutor for 10 years. Perrodin handled part of a criminal case against one of Death Row's leading artists, Nate Dogg, about the same time he received the unreported contributions.
"We're going to pull the file and look at them," said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. "Even an appearance of a conflict of interest would violate our policies."
Perrodin said he was disappointed that the commission's written findings characterized the matter as a "serious violation" of the law.
He blamed an inexperienced campaign committee for failing to disclose contributions of $3,500 and $7,500 from the record company.
The Fair Political Practices Commission reached an agreement with Perrodin July 16 to settle the case and is expected to formalize the action Thursday.
"It's not serious, not at all," Perrodin said. "There was a misunderstanding of what we needed to do and the time frame in which we needed to do it."
He also denied a connection between his handling of Nate Dogg's criminal case and the campaign money.
"No way I would jeopardize my job for that," Perrodin said. "That guy means nothing to me."
Death Row Records was founded by Marion "Suge" Knight, who served a five-year prison sentence in the mid-1990s for a probation violation stemming from an assault. Knight built Death Row into the nation's top rap label with the help of artists such as Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg, whose real name is Nathaniel Hale.
Robison said Perrodin was one of the prosecutors who handled a case filed against Hale in March 2001.
Court records were not available, but Robison said Hale entered a plea of no contest in August of that year to a weapons violation.
Perrodin said Hale allegedly kidnapped his girlfriend, threatened her with a gun and then set fire to a car. "They got him on the gun count," he said.
By the time of Hale's plea, Perrodin had been transferred off the case, a move he described as routine.
Robison confirmed that Perrodin was no longer on the case when Hale entered his plea.
Perrodin emerged as the front-runner against Omar Bradley in the April 2001 primary and defeated the incumbent mayor two months later in the runoff.
In a bruising campaign, Perrodin portrayed himself as a squeaky-clean reformer and a contrast to Bradley, who was sentenced in May to a three-year prison term for misusing city credit cards and making unauthorized city loans to himself.
Perrodin said an associate of Knight gave him the campaign contributions. "He called and asked me if I needed any money," he said.
"I think it sends a message to the people outside Compton that this is more of the same," said William Kemp, a 30-year resident and political foe of Perrodin. "I think he should step down immediately."
Mayor Admits Carrying Gun, Denies Intimidating Voters
Compton: Eric Perrodin testifies in the suit filed by former Mayor Omar Bradley alleging election fraud in his June 5 ouster.
November 29, 2001
JOHN L. MITCHELL
TIMES STAFF WRITER
Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin testified Wednesday that he was carrying a concealed gun when he visited a polling place during his June election, but he denied allegations that he intimidated voters there.
Though conceding that he had cursed at them, Perrodin contested accusations that he made death threats against city firefighters who were campaigning for his opponent, then-Mayor Omar Bradley, on June 5.
Perrodin's victory in that voting is being challenged as riddled with fraud in a lawsuit filed by Bradley against Perrodin, the city and others. The trial is being heard in Los Angeles Superior Court.
During three hours of questioning from Bradley's attorney, the current mayor testified that he went to the polls because he had heard that pro-Bradley firefighters were blocking traffic and harassing voters.
Bradley Hertz, Bradley's attorney, asked Perrodin if he knew it was against the law to have a gun at a polling place.
"I was told by my attorney this morning," Perrodin replied.
He vehemently denied that he brandished it to threaten Bradley supporters on election day.
Perrodin, who is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said he has a license to carry a handgun. A former Compton policeman, he said he carries it for protection because he made a lot of arrests and could face retribution.
"It's better for me to be armed and not need [it] than to need it and not be armed," he said.
Tony Branson, president of the Compton Firefighters Assn., testified earlier in the week that Perrodin drove up to the polling place, uttered an obscenity against the firefighters and raised "both his middle fingers up."
Branson said he saw Perrodin take the handgun from his car and put it in a pocket. Several firefighters testified that they thought that action and the obscenities were threatening to voters.
Firefighters supported Bradley because he promised that they would keep their jobs under a now-stalled plan for the city to disband its Fire Department and contract with the county for protection.
Perrodin conceded Wednesday that he had used profanity. But as for the suggestion that he shown them the middle fingers of both hands, he said: "I didn't think I did two. I think I did one."
The mayor also said he told the firefighters there would be "consequences" for their decision not to support him in the election. He said he would not support their effort to switch to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, where they hoped for better equipment and working conditions.
Perrodin said he told the firefighters: "You guys are not going to go county if I can do anything to prevent it."
In other questioning, he admitted that his campaign accepted a contribution from Death Row Records, the controversial company founded by rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, who was recently released from prison where he served five years for a probation violation stemming from an assault.
Perrodin said he had questions about whether to accept the money, but in the end he decided to take it.
"We needed it," he said of the contribution, the size of which was not revealed in court.
After Bradley finished more than three hours of questioning from his lawyer, the attorney representing Compton, Bruce Gridley, took less than five minutes to ask about some campaign literature.
"It is clear to us Mr. Perrodin was a convincing witness," Gridley later said in the hallway.
Eddie Rodriquez, a firefighter, took issue with much of Perrodin's testimony, but he admired his composure on the stand.
"He's smooth," he said after the court session.
A California mayor who failed to report his donation of $11,000 (GBP6,100) to rap mogul MARION 'SUGE' KNIGHT's DEATH ROW RECORDS has been ordered to pay a fine of the same amount.
The state's FAIR POLITICAL PRACTICES COMMISSION, which reached an agreement with Compton Mayor ERIC PERRODIN last month (JUL04) to settle the case, called it a "serious violation" of the law.
The findings have drawn questions among officials at the Los Angeles district attorney's office where Perrodin has worked for the past 10 years. He handled part of a 2001 weapons violation case against Death Row artists NATE DOGG - about the same time he received the unreported contributions of $3,500 (GBP1,950) and $7,500 (GBP4,150) from the record company.
JANE ROBISON, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, says, "We're going to pull the file and look at them. Even an appearance of a conflict of interest would violate our policies."
Perrodin blames an inexperienced campaign committee for failing to disclose the contributions and denies a connection between the cash and his involvement in the case against Nate Dogg.
Perrodin accused Nate Dogg, real name NATHANIEL HALE, of kidnapping his girlfriend, threatening her with a gun and then setting fire to a car. Perrodin had been transferred off the case by the time Hale entered his plea.
Marion Suge - Compton Mayor Fined Over Death Row Donation
04 August 2004 09:28
January 24, 2008
Compton, Calif., seeks gang injunctions
By Paloma Esquivel
The Los Angeles Times
COMPTON, Calif. — Seeking to further curb criminal activities, Compton has asked a judge to ban individuals identified as members of the Mob Piru street gang -- including rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight -- from congregating in a northeast neighborhood.
Using a strategy employed by other crime-ridden communities, the court order would be the first gang injunction in a city with a long history of battling street gangs.
Authorities contend that the Mob Piru gang has terrorized the neighborhood for years, with buying and selling of drugs, discharging firearms, robbing and assaulting residents and by creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
For the last two years, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department gang task force has worked to get gang members off the streets with aggressive enforcement of immigration, housing and parole violations.
"We've done it without an injunction," said Lt. Paul Pietrantoni, who heads the task force. "We have the lowest murder rate in 20 years in Compton. The injunction is just going to give us one more tool."
But the proposed injunction is expected to be controversial because community leaders and others say it opens the door to police harassment of innocent residents.
"What you find is that the whole community becomes terrorized by law enforcement," said Kim Saunders, 45, a city planning commissioner who is also a teacher and a long-time community volunteer.
Knight, who is listed as a defendant, dismissed the injunction as "a publicity stunt."
"This is crazy," said Knight, co-founder of Death Row Records. "I'm a 42-year-old businessman, not a gang member. I don't even live in Compton anymore ...This injunction names people who are already in jail — and at least one guy who is long dead."
Henry "Hendog" Smith, who is also named in the injunction, was shot to death in 2002, according to news reports.
Mob Piru members have gained widespread notoriety for their alleged links to Knight and Death Row Records, once home to some of rap's biggest names. But sheriff's officials say the gang is on the decline.
"Years ago they were bigger," Pietrantoni said. "Now they're more victims than anything else."
The injunction would create a huge "safety zone" in the neighborhood bounded by Bullis Road on the west, Pine Street on the north, Thorson Avenue on the east and Rosecrans Avenue on the south. It would ban the estimated 200 members of the gang from congregating, carrying guns, using gang gestures, spray-painting graffiti, fighting or drinking alcohol in public and staying out past 10 p.m.
Violators would be subject to arrest on misdemeanor charges, which could bring a $1,000 fine or up to one year in jail.
There are dozens of similar injunctions in place in cities throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, Anaheim, Oxnard and Riverside. Los Angeles County has about 44 gang injunctions, according to the district attorney's office.
The move against Mob Piru comes two years after Compton officials, faced with a rash of gang-related homicides, pledged to crack down on gangs.
"We are putting criminals and gang members on notice," Mayor Eric J. Perrodin said at the time. "It's time to pack your bags. Crime is not accepted in Compton."
Since then, homicides have dropped by about half, according to city crime statistics.
A hearing is scheduled today for a temporary injunction to be put in place until the court can hear arguments for making it permanent. Despite the drop in violence, a gang injunction is still needed to fight a host of other gang offenses, officials said.
"You have everything from homicides to graffiti — it's a whole range of activities," said Deputy City Atty. Craig Cornwell. "We're still very hopeful that the injunction is going to have a positive effect on the community."
Whether it will is not clear, community members say.
Saunders, the planning commissioner, said deputies are already overly aggressive. Her son, a 21-year-old barber, "gets harassed every other day by police asking: 'What set are you from?' 'What gang are you in?' 'Do you have a gun?' "
"Will a gang injunction make the community feel safer," she said, "or will it make the community feel as if it is being harassed?"
The neighborhood named in the injunction encompasses a few blocks where tree-lined streets with single-family homes and two large apartment complexes sit side-by-side. A gated community of tract homes selling for half a million dollars is within its boundaries.
Outside a grocery store within the proposed "safety zone," Rhonda Warren, 51, sat eating lunch Wednesday and preparing for her first day of work. Warren, who was born and raised in Watts and has lived in Compton for two years, said gang members are killing one another every day. She seemed resigned about the violence in her community.
"They're going to do what they want to do anyway," she said.
Cable broadcasts of Compton City Council meetings to omit public comments
September 30, 2010 by donal brown
Filed under 1st Amendment News, Access to Meetings, News & Opinion, Sunshine Ordinances
The Compton City Council has taken several steps regarding citizen participation in council meetings including removing public comments from local cable coverage of the meetings. -db
Los Angeles Wave
September 22, 2010
By Leiloni De Gruy
COMPTON, Calif. — Seen by some residents as another attempt to silence their voices, the city council voted 3-1 to remove the public comment segment from its local cable telecasts.
The Sept. 14 move followed a “minute motion” on the Sept. 7 agenda. There was no staff report to address why such an action was considered or taken.
However Mayor Eric Perrodin and council members Lillie Dobson and Barbara Calhoun saw fit in removing what they have called in past meetings “slanderous” and “vicious” statements that prevent them from conducting city business. Councilman Willie Jones was the lone dissenting vote and Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux was absent.
In addition, the city clerk’s office is no longer selling videotaped copies of the council meetings, which had cost members of the public about $20. A representative of the clerk’s office stated that the policy began at the beginning of this month but could not provide a reason behind it.
But some residents, interviewed last week outside the Compton Superior Court, harbored suspicions about the council’s intent.
Guillermo Rodriguez said he “didn’t think this would happen, but in a way I saw it coming,” referring to residents’ being unable to watch a month’s worth of heated council meetings after the city failed to renew its contract with the cable provider. He also pointed to last year’s changes to the rules of decorum in the council chambers, which limit public speaking time and restrict certain outbursts or gestures.
“It’s not right, they are violating people’s rights and trying to silence us,” added Rodriguez. “They are trying to keep the community from knowing what’s really going on.”
Shameeka Thomlinson does not “think they should take [the public comments] out,” she said. “They are only saying what they see happening in the city. We need to know because the city isn’t going to tell us. And a lot of us look for that [in the telecasts] because we can’t make it to the meetings. … Something is wrong here. They must be trying to hide something.”
It was in September 2009 that the city council voted to change the rules of conduct that govern citizen participation during council meetings.
According to the ordinance, “each person who addresses the Council shall do so in an orderly manner and shall not make personal, impertinent, slanderous or profane remarks to any member of the Council, staff or general public.” In addition, “no person in the audience at a Council meeting shall engage in disorderly or boisterous conduct, including the utterance of loud, threatening or abusive language, whistling, [or] stamping of feet…”
Each person must also address their comments to the Council as a whole and cannot single out any member unless in response to a question from that particular member.
Violators are to first be given a verbal warning, after which the person will be asked to leave for the duration of the meeting. If the person does not remove him or herself, any Council member holds the right to have them removed by force by law enforcement. A person resisting removal may be charged and found guilty of a misdemeanor.
Beyond the rules of decorum, audience members no longer have three minutes to comment per item on the agenda. Instead, they have a total of five minutes to address any and all items on the agenda, as well as non-agenda matters, in the early part of the meeting; that is before the items are brought up and considered by the Council. During public hearings, persons commenting are limited to two minutes.
Since its implementation, at least three speakers have either been threatened with removal or removed from council chambers and barred from the following meeting.
First Amendment Coalition
534 4th Street, Suite B
San Rafael, CA 94901
Ph: (415) 460-5060
Fax: (415) 460-5155
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555
To call component officials, see the Directory of Department Officials