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By Brian Hews
Sergio Calderon , Board President and Division Four Director of the Lakewood based Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), is once again flaunting the incompatible office law and spurning the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, starting a fundraising effort and election campaign to win a seat on the Maywood City Council.
Calderon’s Division Four WRD area includes the city of Maywood.
In 2009 Calderon, who held his WRD Director seat at the time, resigned his Maywood City Council seat one month before a civil trial filed by the L.A. District Attorney commenced, suing him for incompatible offices.
But that is not deterring Calderon, as he is already assembling a cast of corrupt and convicted characters to run his campiagn.
Sources are telling Hews Media Group-Community News that Calderon has hired Angel Gonzales, the long-time East Los Angeles political operative and owner of Pyramid Press – and a felon who plead down to a misdemeanor – known in Southeast L.A. for his past work for former South Gate Treasurer Albert “Big Al” Robles, who is serving time in federal prison for his part in a wide-ranging bribery scheme.
Calderon has also hired convicted felon Ricardo “Ric” Mayer. Mayer was convicted on seven counts of felony electoral fraud in 2001 for lying about his place of residence to qualify for the South Gate ballot.
And a campaign fundraising flyer obtained by HMG-CN shows that Calderon has already secured endorsements from a who’s who list of questionable and unethical Los Angeles politicians.
The flyer includes Carson Mayor and WRD Division Five Director Albert “Little Al” Robles, who himself is fighting an incompatible office lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
It also includes Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan, who was recently admonished by the D.A. for excessive pay. Calderon has been hired as a “liaison” for Galvan’s council office and sources are telling HMG-CN that Galvan is helping to fund Calderon’s Maywood City Council campaign.
The flyer also included embattled Central Basin Municipal Water (CB) Director Leticia Vasquez. Vasquez was recalled from her Lynwood City Council seat in 2007 and, along with her friends CB Director James Roybal and President Bob Apodaca, are running CB into the ground while simultaneously suing the agency.
Vasquez is a party plaintiff in a “qui tam” whistleblower lawsuit against the very agency she was elected to serve, a lawsuit that has cost the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend.
And, like Calderon, Ric Mayer and Angel Gonzales ran Vasquez’ election and contributed thousands to her campaign.
Lastly Maywood City Councilman Thomas Martin, Calderon’s good friend, is endorsing Calderon.
Martin, who was the only one to respond to HMG-CN emails, said, “yes, I am supporting him but at the end of the day, he doesn’t really need me. He can win on his own and has proven that before.”
Martin went on, “ I talked to Sergio and he said he is running because as City Clerk, he has been not been given access to Maywood City Hall nor city records as his right as City Clerk. It’s my understanding, that the City of Maywood has 3 independent mutual water companies, not run by city hall. The city does not have a water department and should not be a conflict for him.”
With the endorsements, and with “Little Al” Robles in his corner, Calderon is snubbing another potential incompatible office lawsuit, a fight he lost in 2009 after a two-year battle.
Back in 2007, a conflict of interest complaint was filed with the district attorney’s office asserting that Calderon was wrongly serving both on Maywood’s council and as a board member of the WRD.
“There is a possibility of a significant clash of duties or loyalties between the two positions,” the complaint read.
The district attorney’s office agreed with the complaint and filed a “quo warranto” civil lawsuit against Calderon with then California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown.
The quo warranto asked for Calderon to be removed from his City Council position and was granted to go trial by Brown on May 27, 2008.
The opinion stated, “two public offices are incompatible if, among other reasons, there is a possibility of a significant clash of duties or loyalties between them, based on the powers and jurisdictions of each office. Here, we note that the City may acquire water supplies for use by the City and its inhabitants, and may sell the water at rates and charges it determines to be reasonable. The District’s principal purpose is to replenish groundwater supplies within its boundaries, and it is a major purchaser of water for this purpose. Maywood lies completely within the boundaries of the District, and the District’s main office is located in the City. Under these circumstances, the interests of the City and of the District may differ, depending in particular upon the availability of groundwater supplies within the District. For example, a conflict could arise if the District decided to raise the price for pumping groundwater in a manner that caused the price increase to be passed on to the City. Further, the City’s water use practices and land use regulatory activities could degrade the supply and quality of the groundwater that the District is charged with supplying and conserving.”
The statement went on to grant the lawsuit, “because the duties of these two offices appear to us to be incompatible, we conclude that the question whether one person may hold both offices is appropriate for judicial resolution.”
The lawsuit was set, and due to go to trial Dec 22, 2009.
“Little Al” Robles represented Calderon in the lawsuit. At the time, Robles stated, “there is nothing that would indicate to anybody that there is a conflict.”
Robles indicated someone was out to get Calderon inside the DA’s office, calling out Deputy D.A. Dave Demerjian as one of the primary sources.
Robles attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed by filing a motion to move the trail from the D.A. to the Attorney General, but was rebuffed in Nov 2009.
Calderon, seemingly agreeing that the offices were incompatible, resigned his City Council position one month before that trial.
Now in a complete turnaround, Calderon is again running for the Maywood City Council seat while holding his WRD position.
Given his past decision to resign, many are questioning his motive for running in Maywood.
If Calderon were to win the Maywood seat, an incompatible office complaint could be filed supported by the 2009 case precedence.
If Calderon were to lose that case or resign as he did in 2009, he would have to resign his lucrative WRD seat.
“It does not make any sense,” sais one observer who did not want to be identified, “ unless of course Calderon is out to get two salaries, one from WRD and the other from Maywood and have “Lil Al” Robles defend his case. Robles will probably defend for free, so where is the risk? Robles is doing the same thing right now as Carson Mayor and WRD Director, fighting an incompatible office charge from the D.A.”
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