ADELANTO — Adelanto’s newly seated City Council voted 4-1 late Wednesday night to approve a controversial jail plan to house an overflow population of Los Angeles County inmates, which could significantly impact the city’s fiscal crisis.
After three new members were sworn in — new mayor Rich Kerr and new councilmen Charley Glasper and John “Bug” Woodard — the council sat down to listen to more than 20 public comments mostly opposed to the proposal to build a 3,264-bed facility within the city limits.
Although Victorville city leaders on Tuesday called on the Adelanto council to delay the vote, new city officials did not express willingness to comply. Councilman Jermaine Wright Sr. was the only one to vote down the proposal.
“I want to know why they’re asking us to delay our official business to discuss something they should have talked about six months ago, or a year ago?” said Glasper before the meeting. “They knew we were in financial problems over a year ago. Now they want to throw mud in the game like they got all the answers to our problems. I don’t need their interference in our business.”
 The five-member body was ultimately lured by financial gains from the proposal which they see as one of the only fast options to staving off its ongoing $2.6 million deficit and a bankruptcy filing next year. The city stands to gain $1.2 million a year in bed-tax revenue and $3.6 million up front when the project breaks ground. The up-front payment is for the last three years of a 20-year inter-agency agreement.
However, the vote does not signify a done deal. The plan must now go to Los Angeles County for consideration and it has yet to officially even be considered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff or Board of Supervisors, officials said. For example there is no mention of Adelanto in Los Angeles County’s $2 billion jail overhaul plan that was revealed in May.
“We don’t need this jail and we don’t want it,” said Diana Zuniga, a statewide organizer for Californians United for a Responsible Budget.
The group appeared in a mass at the council meeting and left in a rowdy demonstration after the vote  was made, yelling: “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” They also held a sign that read: “No more cages. Build strong communities.”
Glasper said he was frustrated with Victorville’s timing and the history the two cities have shared. As a former mayor of Adelanto, Glasper said he thought Victorville has treated Adelanto “like stepchildren sitting on the side of Highway 395, just withering away.”
“You can take your letter and shove it,” Glasper said in response to Victorville’s call for a valley-wide discussion on the jails. “I don’t need them telling us what we should be doing.”
City Manager Jim Hart shared similar timing concerns and said any talks to alter the city’s meager property tax allotment of .0175 percent could take years.
“We appreciate that the city of Victorville took the time to express their concerns,” Hart said Wednesday afternoon. “Generally, the sense is why at the last minute?”
However, Hart said city officials would be open to participating in regional discussions regarding the impact of adding jails through Opportunity High Desert, a regional partnership.
Kerr said he believed Wednesday night’s vote was simply giving the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors a vote on the plan.
“It doesn’t matter what our vote is, if the (Los Angeles County) Board of Supervisors say no, it’s over anyway,” Kerr said. “Just because we say yes, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. All we’re doing is telling Los Angeles, ‘Yes, we’ll build you a prison.’ It’s all up to the board of supervisors in L.A.”
Joel Bellman, media relations deputy for newly seated Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, said this week that he didn’t believe the supervisor had yet taken a position on the proposal. Messages left with others Los Angeles supervisors were not returned.
Adelanto resident Mark Smith said he was disappointed in the council and said he had lost faith in them.
“You are public servants. That means you are in the business of serving the public,” Smith said. “Get your act together.”
Doctor Crants, founder and former CEO of Corrections Corporation of America, is one of two high-profile businessmen bringing the plan forward. He reiterated the financial gains the proposal would bring for the city, including a bed tax of $1 per inmate per day, or $1.2 million a year. He opposed critiques that the project would not bring local jobs or increase public safety concerns.
“We’re not part of the state system,” Crants said. “We’re a stand-alone.”
While the new council voted on the larger jail plan that would bring the city’s jail count to four facilities, they postponed another vote on a 1,050-bed facility until late January. Geo officials requested to delay the development agreement renewal, officials said.
Brooke Self may be reached at 760-951-6232 or BSelf@VVDailyPress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @BrookeSelf or @DPEduNews.