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Monday March 4, 2014 2:26 p.m.
By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
High-level sources have told Hews Media Group-Community News that Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) Director Leticia Vasquez sent a “personal friend” to represent her in the capacity as legal counsel to secretly negotiate a “yes” vote for settlement on what is being referred to as a “shakedown” of Pacifica Services CEO Ernie Camacho.
Sources inside Pacifica have confirmed that Vasquez’ representative met in Pasadena at least twice and as recently as only two weeks ago to broker the vote from Vasquez to settle the District’s lawsuit against Pacifica in favor of Pacifica.
CB’s suit against Pacifica is potentially worth upwards of $5 million to the cash-strapped water agency. According to sources, Pacifica may not have possessed the necessary California State License to contract with public agencies while doing work for CB. If this is the case, fraud may have been committed by Pacifica and CB could sue for the entire $5 million.
Pacifica has counter-sued the District and is seeking in excess of $300,000 in unpaid invoices that CB has determined are invalid.
Only a few days after the “shakedown” meeting with Camacho, and possibly violating Brown Act laws, Vasquez, Apodaca and Roybal called for a Special Board meeting this Tuesday, March 4th at 11am with only Pacifica and the District’s lawsuits on the agenda.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Pacifica Vice President Mike Sisson is scheduled for a deposition this week.
Normal practice would have been for the Board President to call the Special Meeting, but according to current President Phil Hawkins, he was blindsided once again by the three banding together.
Central Basin has a regularly scheduled Board Meeting set for March 13th, and held a meeting only eight days ago.
Hawkins, a former State Assemblyman and longtime CB Director, questioned the process to call for the meeting and indicated the three could have violated Brown Act Open Meeting Laws. Hawkins said, “if these three are coming in to give Pacifica a sudden victory and huge financial windfall against the strong advice of our legal counsel, then I think we have a bigger problem here.”
Pacifica’s long association with CB began in 2007 with a presentation by then CB Consultant Tom Calderon strongly recommending that CB retain the services of the minority-owned Pasadena engineering firm.
Subsequently, Pacifica bid and won a $600,000 contract in 2007. HMG-CN exclusively published documents that showed eight no-bid contract extensions over the next five years resulting in Pacifica billing in excess of $5 million.
During this time, Board Members Phil Hawkins and Art Chacon were demanding an audit and accountability of the contract and sought to block further extensions including a final $2.2 million two-year extension that would have ran into 2015.
Attempts to audit Pacifica’s contract and billings were then blocked by Vasquez, Apodaca, and Roybal.
Then in January 2013, Vasquez, Apodaca, and Roybal stopped the investigation by Interim Chief Operating Officer Chuck Fuentes and Assistant to the General Manager Ron Beilke into Pacifica’s contracts by firing the two without notice.
HMG-CN reported in Feb 2013 that Vasquez, Apodaca, and Roybal accepted a combined $45,000 in “reported” campaign contributions from Camacho and his Pacifica-related sources, including his family.
Sources familiar with the District claim that Roybal and Vasquez boasted that Camacho may have provided huge “unreported” support to their respective campaigns.
Both candidates secured victories while reporting almost $30,000 in unpaid campaign debt. Some of the debt remains unpaid.
HMG-CN has published a series of articles highlighting Pacifica’s influence at the troubled water agency. Reports initially published by HMG-CN highlighted the existence of a $2.7 million “slush fund” that secretly netted Pacifica an estimated $750,000 in fees.
Also reported was the discovery of regularly scheduled day-long Friday golf outings at lavish exclusive courses that included Pacifica’s Camacho, Vice President Mike Sisson, Pacifica employee Scott Hennessey and former CB General Manager Art Aguilar.
Aguilar reported only three “golf donations” made to him by Pacifica on his mandatory 700 Statement of Economic Interests disclosure forms while golfing at least 20 times and is expected to be investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission.
This weekend, HMG-CN received part of an estimated 16,000 emails distributed by Pacifica’s VP and CB point man Mike Sisson that were extremely offensive and sexually explicit.
These emails, generated onsite at CB and on District-owned equipment by Sisson, can be best described as homophobic and racist while targeting Muslims, Palestinians, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, seniors, naked woman, obese individuals, liberals, immigrants, Wal Mart shoppers and rednecks.
Sisson, a conservative republican, also distributed extremely offensive emails pertaining to President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as well as other well-know liberal U.S. politicians.
When informed of Tuesday’s Special Board Meeting, CB Director Art Chacon commented, “considering we held a Board Meeting only eight days ago where our newly hired legal counsel assured us that the outcome of our lawsuit against Pacifica would result in the likely recovery of millions in ratepayer monies, I question where Apodaca, Roybal, and Vasquez plan to go with this emergency meeting.”
Chacon added, “with the discovery that these three Director’s solicited over $40,000 in campaign contributions from Pacifica as well as the recent news of all the golf outings and now the discovery of thousands and thousands of racially offensive emails initiated by Pacifica’s VP Mike Sisson, I think this Board needs to get out of the way and let the legal system do its job”.
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