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Central Basin Director Chacon Responds to 2010 Car Accident, Media Flap Surrounding Incident

Central Basin Water Board Director Art Chacon.

Central Basin Water Board Director Art Chacon.

By Brian Hews and Brian Hews

Two individuals have come forward to Hews Media Group-Community News to dispute the content of articles published in the Whittier Daily News and posted online on the news radio site KPCC about Central Basin Water Director Art Chacon.

Moe Masanian of Montebello and former Director Ed Vasquez have provided HMG-CN statements that directly contradict information in the articles the two news outlets broke last week regarding Chacon.

The articles centered around a Nov 4, 2010 automobile accident Chacon was involved in on the 710 freeway at 5:40 p.m. 

Since the publishing of the articles, Chacons adversaries on the board have been quick to criticize and provide quotes to both Whittier Daily News and Pasadena based public radio station KPCC. Chacon claims the articles are politically motivated and that the two news outlets are publishing propaganda, ignoring important facts and publishing false stories.

Chacon was not on the job

Vasquez confirmed that Masanian, who is an active leader in the Armenian church in Montebello, called him and Chacon a combined three times to visit the site on Lincoln Avenue in Montebello.

The project, which caused major problems on Lincoln, was a $30 million Southeast Recycled Water Project (SWRP) that ran from South Whittier to the Montebello Golf Course. Pacifica Services, owned by Ernie Camacho, received the engineering and project management contract for the job.

Chacon stated for the record, which was confirmed to HMG-CN by Director Ed Vasquez, that he was at the Central Basin headquarters in Commerce the afternoon of Nov. 4, with both Director Vasquez and then General Manager Art Aguilar present, when the third call was received about the problems with the project in Montebello.

Chacon said he told both Vasquez and Aguilar he was going to visit the site, and they both acknowledged Chacons decision.

Sources told HMG-CN that Aguilar, after the Nov. 4 accident, also told CB insurance carrier, the Joint Powers Insurance Authority based in La Palma, that Chacon was on the jobwhen he went to Montebello.

But in a deposition related to the Pacifica lawsuit, a company Aguilar and former indicted Assemblyman Tom Calderon brought into Central Basin in 2007, Aguilar changed his version of the details of the incident story and denied that Chacon told him he was going to Montebello to conduct a site inspection of the work contracted with Pacifica.

HMG-CN published an article with supporting documents last year that showed Aguilar altered several no-bid contracts in favor of Pacifica without Board approval, totaling  $5 million.

When told of  Aguilars statement, Curtis Parvin attorney for CB said,  in regards to Aguilars testimony [at the deposition] it is not consistent with my recollection of what he told me, and I am very disappointed Aguilar said that.

Further evidence that Chacon was on the job was the $63,000 workers compensation settlement he received under case number ADJ8044889. An employee cannot receive workers compensation settlement unless they were on the job when the accident occurred.

Chacon told HMG-CN that, one of our constituents asked me to come out and see the mess on Lincoln Ave and thats what I did. I needed to see the mess so I could then call Pacifica and complain. Thats what we are elected to do, serve the people.

Chacon ‘did not have auto insurance’

A source at CB told HMG-CN that CBs insurance carrier JPIA acts just like a regular insurance company. JPIAs policy with Central Basin contains terms, conditions, and exclusions similar to all other insurance policies.

The high-level source went on to say, JPIAs policy does not exclude CB Directors from auto insurance if they do not have a valid drivers license, therefore  Director Chacon had insurance coverage under CBs policy at the time of the accident. The lack of a license is not a basis for to deny coverage.

Chacon ‘received a car allowance without a valid drivers license’
Both KPCC and the Whittier Daily News wrote about Chacon receiving a $590 monthly car allowance even though as of last Friday Feb. 28, Department of Motors Vehicle records show he does not have a license.
JPIA continues to deny coverage of the accident claims to CB and Chacon with Robert Gokoo, attorney for JPIA, telling KPCC that the inspection of Lincoln Avenue had nothing to do with Chacons duties.
This delay, and the pending lawsuit, remain on Chacons DMV record, prohibiting him from obtaining a drivers license for the past three years.
KPCC and the Whittier Daily News somehow left that important point out,an indignant Chacon said.

The KPCC on-line article also said that current Directors Leticia Vasquez and James Roybal were  never told about the lawsuit payout.

“I had spoken to all the Directors over the past several months of my intention to settle a number of employee and director related matters,”  General Manager Tony Perez told HMG-CN.

“Central Basin’s insurance carrier is currently dealing with Bob Apodaca’s multimillion dollar sexual battery and harassment lawsuit with more potential victims in the wings. Leticia Vasquez is shaking down vendors for payoffs and is facing yet another recall. James Roybal has been banished to Los Angeles Unified School District’s notorious ‘Teacher’s Jail.’ “I think if I was them, I’d be using whatever tools available to deflect what’s really going on wrong at Central Basin too,” Chacon said.

Board President Phil Hawkins,  when reached for comment, had only to say that he wished that members of the Board could find a way to work together instead of against each other for the good of the people we represent.  “We may not always agree, but we need to remember why we were elected in the first place.” 

“Since serving side by side with Director Chacon, he has shown to be a strong advocate for his constituents, and this is why it did not surprise me that he was driving to go investigate a complaint pertaining to Pacifica. It’s unfortunate he had an auto accident in the course of his duties as a public servant,” Hawkins said.

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