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California ‘screwed up,’ not just near-bankrupt Compton, local says

July 18, 2012 |  3:08 pm

Ymmanuel Poole, 7, and his brother Mikael, 6, make their way past Compton City Hall.

Several Compton residents said Wednesday they are not surprised by news that the city is discussing the possibility of filing for bankruptcy.

Clifford Hill, 50, has been a Compton resident for 20 years. He's seen some parts of the city developing, while other neighborhoods fall behind.

"When they say Compton is [talking about] filing bankruptcy, it doesn't surprise me. Compton has never been a financial superstar," Hill said.

He thinks the city is probably just following the examples of other cities such as San Bernardino.

"[Bankruptcy] is right if they really exhausted all their options. It's wrong if they don't give it any other strategy," Hill said

Laytoria Rivera, 41, moved from Pasadena to Compton about five months ago.

"It's all of California that's screwed up, not just Compton," she said.

Some residents, including Luisa Delgadillo, 57 -- who grew up in Compton, moved away, then moved back to buy a house --  said her bills and taxes are rising, while city services are decreasing.

"Where is the money going?" said Delgadillo, who believes a potential bankruptcy could have been prevented.

"I think there's too many politicians not listening to the people," Delgadillo added.

Treasurer Douglas Sanders told the council Tuesday night that the city has $3 million in the bank and $5 million in bills to pay.

"We are in some very critical issues, so by August 1, y'all need to decide what's going to happen -- make the bond payments, default on them, or go into bankruptcy," he told the council. "...For the 20 years I've been here, this is about the worst I've seen."

The city should be able to make payroll through Sept. 1, Sanders said.

The city's financial issues have been a potent political issue for more than a year. The general fund has accrued a deficit of more than $42 million, and the city has consistently fallen behind on payments to vendors, including its sheriff's contract.


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-- Melissa Leu in Compton

Photo: Ymmanuel Poole, 7, and his brother Mikael, 6, make their way past Compton City Hall. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times