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Sources Confirm Cerritos Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Chen Held Meeting to Stop Passage of ABCUSD Bond Measure 

Controversial Cerritos Mayor Pro Tem Carol Chen coordinated private meeting with other elected officials to talk about upcoming ABC School Board Bond worth $235 Million,

Controversial Cerritos Mayor Pro Tem Carol Chen coordinated private meeting with other elected officials to talk about upcoming ABC School Board Bond worth $235 Million,

By Brian Hews and Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community Newspapers has confirmed from two sources that embattled Cerritos Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Chen purposely held a private meeting with other local leaders and two elected ABCUSD Board Members to craft a strategy to defeat a proposed $235 Million Bond to help rebuild aged school campuses including the headquarters of the ABC Unified School District.

HMG-CN was told by a source who attended the meeting that Chen and former Cerritos Mayor Grace Hu talked “hard ball politics and strategy on how to defeat the bond measure.”

The source said that Chen “controlled the meeting,” and that Chen and Hu voiced concerns that they would be “unfairly taxed” due to a large number of both residential and commercial properties they own within the ABC Unified School District.

A second source, who works inside the ABC USD told HMG-CN on Tuesday afternoon that “everyone is concerned about what took place at the meeting” with Chen and Hu. Current Cerritos City Councilman Bruce Barrows, and current ABC School Board Members Sue Yoo and Lynda Johnson were also in attendance.

Johnson told HMG-CN that she would be “preparing a summary of notes of what took place at the meeting” and that they would be shared with the newspaper.  As of Tuesday at 3 p.m., Johnson did not produce any correspondence about what took place behind closed doors.

Troubling questions linger in relation to the meeting and whether it violated the California Open Meeting Law better know as the Brown Act.

HMG-CN obtained a letter written by Chen in 2011 on Cerritos official letterhead. Chen used her [email protected] email on the letterhead; letterhead printed and paid for by the city of Cerritos.

That by default makes her [email protected] an official city email, which then made the meeting she called an official city meeting. Not allowing the public violates the Brown Act.

See letter click here.

Questions also linger in relation to Johnson and Yoo attending and the possible “quid pro quo,” translated as “give something, get something” that could have been forged between the two and Chen.

One Cerritos resident questioned why they did not walk out of the meeting once it became clear what the meeting was about. “It is very suspect that Yoo and Johnson stayed at the meeting, something was going on that enticed them to stay.”

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper obtained a copy of the email and published it on line just hours prior to the commencement of the 8 p.m. meeting in a third floor conference room at 183rd Street and Gridley Road real estate office owned by Chen.

Chen sent a personal email with addresses obscured from her individual Yahoo email account on Monday June 30 calling it an “urgent meeting” to seek input on the proposed ABCUSD $680 million Facilities Master Plan and $235 million Bond Measure.

When asked, Chen indicated she did not want the press at the meeting.

HMG-CN confronted Chen at the meeting and was repeatedly denied access. Chen on several occasion during the heated interview denied sending out the email or deflecting any and all questions surrounding the meeting.

 

 

In her email Mayor pro tem Chen said, “Given the facts I know of current(ly), if the bond passes it will impact/increase your property tax bill hundreds of dollars annually. ABCUSD School Board members Lynda Johnson and Soo Yoo both have reached out to me to get this information out to the public.”

Based on the statement by Chen in the email where she said, “I wanted to get this information out to the public,” HMG-CN contacted Chen by email to attend the meeting.

Chen’s terse one-line reply was, “no media, invited guests only.”

Cerritos City Manager Art Gallucci, who was not in attendance, was informed about Chen’s meeting on Wednesday in an email from HMG-CN.  Gallucci said, “The city was not aware of the meeting until you (HMG-CN) emailed the information to me. This is not a city meeting therefore the city will not be participating in any official capacity.”

With a cell phone video rolling, HMG-CN captured both Yoo and Johnson arriving at the meeting  at the same time carrying paperwork.  Chen greeted the two ABC School Board Members with open arms and hugs before they went into a private elevator.

Johnson, when asked if members of the media could attend, responded that she was there as a “guest.”

See video click below:

Earlier in the afternoon, Johnson told the newspaper that she was attending.  “I am attending and will take input from attendees, but I am there as an observer only.”

One Cerritos resident who wanted to remain anonymous and who sent the email to HMG-CN said, “I’m guessing she (Chen) and the city probably doesn’t want it (the Bond Measure) because the city has wanted to raise water rates and maybe a utility tax. This could cause conflict between the district and city hall. If she is against it, in my opinion this meeting is an attempt to sabotage funding for schools, while considering taxing residents to pay for council perks and lifetime benefits for her and her colleagues. We rank 46th in the nation in education, this is absolutely wrong, secret meetings are undemocratic.”

HMG-CN Online Editor Randy Economy attempted to enter the meeting and was personally blocked by Chen and her longtime supporter Gordon Hom, who is a key member of the Cerritos Republican Club.

Several other residents of Cerritos wanted to attend the meeting and were turned away including former California Assemblywoman Sally Havice.

Also turned away was Cerritos residents Jay Gray and Jim McMahon. McMahon sent HMG-CN a copy of the email that showed he was invited, yet he was turned away.

At least 10 other local residents gathered outside the meeting in the parking lot after been denied as well.

Also attending the meeting was Cerritos Public Safety Committee Member Matt Kauble, Cerritos Republican Club Member Joan Plyman as well as Cecy Groom a former ABC School Board member who was censured in the past for make racially charged remarks to former school board member Louise Dotson who is an African American.  Sources tell HMG-CN that Groom is contemplating a run in next year’s ABC School board campaign for a seat on the Cerritos City Council.

 

 

 

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