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By Brian Hews
At the July 22, 2015 Montebello City Council meeting, Mayor Jack Hadjinian hastily voted to approve the controversial “2113 Whittier Blvd, LLC” housing development even though many serious question remained about the project.
Some of the questions included inadequate guest parking, tandem only parking for residents, and concerns about water pressure from the Fire Marshall.
Councilmember Bill Molinari cited inconsistent and incomplete elements of the project application, and also that smaller units will be approved that are not allowed by the Montebello Building Code.
Yet Mayor Hadjinian somehow approved the project.
Now, a conflict of interest investigation by Hews Media Group-Community News revealed Hadjinian was treated to a lavish dinner by Jason Kachan, the development’s owner, just months before Hadjinian voted yes on his project.
Elected officials are required to file an annual Statement of Economic Interests — a Form 700 — which discloses potential conflicts of interest. The forms are an indicator whether an official is acting in his or her own self-interest.
An examination of Hadjinian’s 700’s showed that he enjoyed an expensive dinner with Kachan on November 18, 2014
Months later the project, a development that Montebello Planning Manager Matt Feske admitted uncertainty in the number of rental units and the number of stories for the project, was approved.
At one point during the approval, Molinari said, “I’m looking at the applicant’s plan. We seem to have a floor floating around somewhere. We have a discrepancy here. It doesn’t add up.” He complained, “staff can’t even tell me how many floors there are.”
In addition, the controversial project was approved without Council being provided a copy of a second traffic and safety report.
And Hadjinian seems to be taking advantage of his elected position in Montebello.
According to those same form 700’s, Hadjinian enjoyed over $2,000 in dining and entertainment in 2014.
Some of the gifts included hockey tickets in January, March, and June that amounted to $100, $200, and an eye-opening $400 ticket, respectively.
The $400 ticket was given to Hadjinian by Erik Pulatian, whom Hadjinian appointed to the city’s Golf Commission in 2012.
Hadjinian also enjoys his golf outings paid, as he was treated to $545 in golf green fees in 2014, golfing twice in September at apparently swanky courses costing $150 and $125 per round.
And apparently Hadjinian enjoys fancy meals, dining several times and reporting an average cost of the dinner at $90.
In October, a local businessman treated Hadjinian to a $200 dinner, according to the documents.
But it is the dinner with Jason Kachan that has many Montebello residents questioning Hadjinian’s ethics.
One resident contacted by HMG-CN who did not want to be identified said, “This is typical Jack. Taking advantage of his position without regard to ethics. Having dinner with the owner of a Montebello development months before he approved the deal? It’s outrageous, Hadjinian needs to go.”
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