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EDITORIAL: Whittier Daily News Reporter Mike Sprague Fabricated Article on Central Basin Director Art Chacon

Whittier Daily News Reporter Mike Sprague.

Whittier Daily News Reporter Mike Sprague.

HMG-CN contacted one of Sprague’s experts who said, “I am extremely upset that Sprague lied to get a quote from me about the Central Basin board vote related to Art Chacon.”

By HMG-CN Publisher Brian Hews

In the past week, the Editor of the Whittier Daily News and his reporter Mike Sprague have published several questionable stories aimed at discrediting Central Basin Water District (CB) Director Art Chacon, while ignoring ethics and monetary violations of other CB Directors.

Their mission to publicize Chacon’s alleged transgressions has involved, among other things, harassing Chacon’s diabetic 77 year-old mother Paula, his 80 year-old and wheel chair-bound aunt Lupe, and his nephew’s fiancé Jessica Lao.

Sources are telling Hews Media Group-Community News that former CB GM Art Aguilar, a close associate of the Calderon family and long time friend and mentor of Mike Sprague, could be behind the harassment in a behind-the-scenes power grab of the CB Board of Directors.

Sources are also telling HMG-CN that CB Directors Leticia Vasquez and James Roybal are helping Sprague in an effort to seize the majority on the board so Vasquez can reap millions by voting for the Qui Tam “whistleblower” lawsuit she filed against the embattled agency.

As exclusively reported by HMG-CN last Friday, Vasquez filed a last-ditch amendment to the whistleblower complaint, with the final hearing to occur Oct. 10, 2014.

How did Sprague obtain Lao’s number?

Lao has no idea how Sprague got her cell number. She did spend the night at Chacon’s house last week. Sprague was seen parked in front of the house at the time.

The next day, Lao got a text from Sprague that said, “My name is Mike Sprague, I’m a reporter at the WDN. I understand that you know Art Chacon, a member at CB, can you call me at 562-567-7537?”

Sprague also e-mailed her several times harassing Lao to the point that she threatened to file a police report.

Granted Chacon’s history is by no means spotless, but neither is Vasquez’ or Roybal’s.

But the WDN and Sprague have published Chacon’s history ad-nausea, using Vasquez, who was recalled from the Lynwood City Council in 2007 and who was accused of jury tampering in the Paul Richard’s corruption case, as their source.

No less than five articles-and today an Editorial-have been published in the last six days slamming Chacon.

The editor should replace Whittier with Chacon and call it the Chacon Daily News.

So what is the motivation of the latest articles?

The first article was, “District Attorney’s Office investigating complaints about Central Basin Water District Director Art Chacon.”

The key words in the title are “investigating complaints.”

When HMG-CN called Los Angeles District attorney spokesperson Jane Robison to clarify she said, “We don’t discuss whether they’re under investigation or it’s an ongoing investigation, all we say is that we’ve received a complaint and it’s under review.”

But Sprague wrote a misleading “investigating”-not reviewing-in his article title.

Interestingly, Sprague failed to ever mention that Leticia Vasquez, his well known source for information out of CB, had several complaints filed against her in the past that are under review by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, the F.B.I., and the FPPC.

Omitted too was the fact that CB Director James Roybal is under investigation by the LAUSD’s Office of Inspector General and took over $20,000 in 8 months from CB while in “teacher jail,” a violation of LAUSD policy.

Omitted again was the fact the Robert “Bob” Apodaca recently cost the District over $600,00 in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

But Sprague chooses to go after Chacon and his $597 per month auto allowance and $16,000 payment.

Further, Vasquez was quoted as saying, “Chacon should return all auto allowance money he received to CB.”

Absent was any quote by Vasquez asking Roybal to return the money he “earned” while in teacher jail.

In that same article Sprague wrote, “DMV officials say he hasn’t had a license since Sept. 30, 2003.”

I guess Sprague did not read the CHP report relating to the 2010 accident Chacon was in that said Chacon had a license at the time of the accident, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

HMG-CN obtained Director Chacon’s driver’s license last Friday. It is clear that his license was valid since March of this year, a fact Chacon told Sprague and the CB Board several times since March of this year.

 Strike one on Sprague.

See Chacon’s license click here.

 

But it gets worse, and HMG-CN contends that the WDN and Sprague are trying to influence the election.

Three days ago Sprague wrote an article titled, “Exclusive video: Central Basin Municipal Water District director Art Chacon, who has no license, driving.

In the article Sprague wrote, “Security videos obtained by this news organization show Central Basin Municipal Water District Director Art Chacon behind the wheel of a Mercedes he drove on district property earlier this month.”

Sources at CB tell HMG-CN that CB Director James Roybal helped Sprague obtain the video.

The video was taken Aug. 10, 2014 at a pumping station in Pico Rivera five months after Chacon obtained his license.

HMG-CN called Sprague Sunday and Monday morning asking for comment and if he knew Chacon had a valid license. Sprague did not return the calls.

 Strike two on Sprague.

Last Monday night, hours after HMG-CN questioned Sprague, he wrote another article trying to cover himself, “Water board director gets license back after $16,000 payment to accident victim.”

Sprague claims that the insurance company sued Chacon for damages, not true-1.

When the accident occurred in 2010, Art Aguilar, who disliked Chacon, was GM of CB and Doug Wance was the district’s attorney.

Aguilar and Wance intentionally failed to turn in the insurance claim in a timely manner to CB’s insurance company ACWA/JPIA for payment; a claim the insurance company said it would have paid.

So the claim was not paid, the insurance company sued, and Chacon’s license was suspended in 2010.

Sprague then writes the claim was paid in February but Chacon’s license was not reinstated until August 18.

Not true-2 and Sprague knew it. Chacon’s license was reinstated March 14, 2014.

In blatant lie-3, Sprague goes on to say that there was a 3-1 CB board vote to pay the $16,000 claim.

He went so far to substantiate his lie by obtaining quotes from “experts” Gil Aguirre, an “activist,” and Bob Stern, former president of Center for Governmental Studies.

HMG-CN was able to contact one of the experts who did not want to be identified saying, “Sprague told me it was a 3-1 board vote to pay the $16,000, I am extremely upset that he lied to me about this.”

HMG-CN further confirmed there was no vote through CB spokesperson Joe Legaspi who said, “The Board did not vote on the matter. It was handled under the General Manager’s (Antonio Perez’) authority.”

CB GM Antonio Perez told HMG-CN, “the District mishandled submitting Director Chacon’s accident claim to our insurance and our attorney felt Director Chacon could have a valid legal claim against the District as a result.  Paying the $16,000 was not only the right thing to do, but was also the smart thing to do.”

See Perez’ full statement, click here.

 Strike three Sprague.

You and your Editor are out.

 

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3 Responses to EDITORIAL: Whittier Daily News Reporter Mike Sprague Fabricated Article on Central Basin Director Art Chacon

  1. jim flournoy Reply

    August 31, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    A POX on all their houses
    I was at the central district board meeting where the General Manager tried to explain/ justify his paying the $16,000 for a director even though the district was not a party to the suit and had no liability.
    He did under his authority to pay up to (what is it $25,000) without board approval.
    He had to know he was going to get heat.
    Putting things behind us
    Cleaning up the agenda
    moving forward
    so who pushed his button ?
    who has something on him?

  2. Newspaper Guy Reply

    August 29, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Can’t say we didn’t see this one coming. Recent stories featured in the Whittier Daily News regarding Arturo Chacon seemed no doubt excessive and quite frankly, much ado about nothing. Guess that’s what gave it away that something was amiss about Mike Sprague who was seemingly creating news at all means conceivable, including stretching the truth and plain old making shit up.

    With that said, I can honestly say in my opinion that a pompous publication like the Whittier Daily News will simply act like nothing has happened and that they will allow Sprague to continue digging in hopes of finding something to justify their witch hunt. I suggest Mr. Chacon sue and consider filing a restraining order against Mr. Sprague.

  3. Alejandro Ramirez Reply

    August 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    This story is amazing. I can’t wait to hear Sprague’s few supporters again blame everything on Director Chacon as they have repeatedly done. I think this story really puts things in perspective. Why would Sprague and the Whittier Daily News make such a fuss over so little? Would someone please explain why they care so much about Chacon’s ability or inability to drive, or whether he has had DUI’s, or whether he collects the same auto stipend that the entire Board accept, or even whether his auto accident cost the District $16,000???

    How could Sprague and WDN continue to crucify Chacon while ignoring that Bob Apodaca just cost the District $670,000 to settle his latest sexual harassment complaint, that Leticia’ Vasquez’ Qui Tam has already cost the District $200,000 in legal fees and that Roybal caused the District to pay former COO Chuck Fuentes $55,000 in a settlement that Roybal immediately violated resulting in Fuentes re-filing yet another suit against the District??

    And let’s not forget that Pervert Roybal landed in LAUSD’s Teacher Jail where he proceeded to “double-dipping” both LAUSD and Central Basin for salary covering identical work hours (although I would hardly consider Roybal’s time in teacher’s jail work given he wasn’t teaching children but instead sat in his cubicle thinking about the next child he could molest)!

    I think I’m making myself clear. What could possibly account for Sprague and WDN’s to go so off the rails? Lies, lies and more lies is obviously the rule of thumb at that paper. I will forever take anything they write with a grain of salt. WDN’s only redemption at this point would to be to fire that putz Sprague and endorse Chacon for re-election in November!

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