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Dirty Water: Central Basin Municipal Water District President Roybal and Director Vasquez Cashing in on New Positions

Monday January 20, 2013, 5:50 p.m.

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

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[l-r} CBMWD President James Roybal, Director Leticia Vasquez, and VP Robert “Bob” Apodaca. Graphic by Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained documents from a public records request that show Central Basin Municipal Water District Director Leticia Vasquez and President James Roybal leveraging their new positions at CBMWD, taking in large monthly checks from the embattled agency for attending Board and Committee meetings.

Both directors were elected in June 2012 and took office early 2013. They quickly banded with Director Bob Apodaca to form an alliance that would soon pay big dividends.

Within one week of taking office, Roybal illegally suspended the CBMWD Administrative Code. Roybal, along with Vasquez and Apodaca, removed Director Art Chacon from the Presidency and installed himself as President.

Roybal then removed Chacon and Director Phil Hawkins from all but one committee, giving most to Vasquez and the pay that comes with each meeting.

According to Payroll Disbursement Records from CBMWD, since Vasquez gained her new committee appointments, she has garnered over $47,000 in 12 months, taking in as much as $5,600 per month.

When contacted by HMG-CN, Vasquez said, “ as a Director on both Central Basin and Metropolitan Water District boards I spend countless hours representing my constituents and understanding the needs of the communities I serve.”

Records show that Vasquez has missed several committee and Board meetings citing “previous commitments.

Vasquez was elected to CBMWD under a cloud of shady dealings and contributions from questionable sources. Engineering firm HDR, Sedgewick attorney Doug Wance, Ernie Camacho and his company Pacifica, MLJ Properties, owned by Camacho’s children, and Ron and Tom Calderon gave Vasquez over $14,000 for her campaign. Most of the contributors are now targets of the FBI and its investigation of CBMWD and the Calderons

In addition, in February an exclusive HMG-CN investigation revealed that Vasquez’ campaign was financed by convicted felon Rick Meyer and Angle Gonzalez, who was charged with a felony but pled down to a misdemeanor.

Similar to Vasquez, Roybal is reaping rewards from his new position. An examination of the same Payroll Disbursement Records from CBMWD show Roybal making over $35,000 since January, taking in as much as $4,100 per month for attending those same meetings.

Texts and phone calls from HMG-CN to Roybal for comment were not returned.

Similar to Vasquez, Roybal’s road to CBMWD election was helped by the same contributors; Mayer and Gonzales also financed his campaign. Roybal also received $5,000 from Camacho and reported $6,617 in un-itemized contributions, where he does not identify the source of the funding.  Those donations are currently under official investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission, who is charged with enforcement of campaign financing in California.

Compounding the pay situation, in November of this year, an exclusive HMG-CN investigation revealed that President Roybal, a teacher at Wilson High, was remanded to LAUSD “Teacher’s Jail” February 20, 2013.

Beginning in the mid 90′s, teachers accused of misconduct have been removed from their teaching assignments and held in district offices while administrators and law enforcement agencies investigate allegations.

In a January 15, 2013 televised statement made by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, only teachers accused of “egregious acts” are reassigned. They are returned to their classrooms only after being cleared by law enforcement.

Under written rules, teachers in jail are to check in every day for 2 hours and then go back to their home. They are not to seek a second job, take a day trip, or enjoy outside entertainment, such as going to the movies, sporting events, shopping, etc.

The records show that over $30,000 of the $35,000 Roybal has realized has been paid after February 20, a direct violation of LAUSD’s Teacher Jail rules. Most meetings Roybal attended were immediately after his 2-hour stay at teacher jail violating the policies of LAUSD

Calls into the Integrity Division of the LAUSD asking what actions will be taken against Royal went unreturned.

 

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