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20-Registered Voters Sign Petition to Recall Embattled Water Director
By Brian Hews
Hews Media Group-Community News has exclusively learned that Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) Director James Roybal was served today with a Notice Of Intention (NOI) to Circulate Recall Petition. The NOI was signed by 20 voters residing in municipalities within Roybal’s District 1 and was served on Roybal at a morning committee meeting at CB’s headquarters in Commerce.
NOI’s must state reasons why an elected official should be recalled. Some of the reasons given on the Roybal NOI highlighted, “his incompetence that caused irreparable harm and financial damage to CB.”
The NOI also slammed Roybal for his assignment to LAUSD Teacher Jail, and Roybal receiving compensation from the LAUSD and CB at the same time, a violation of LAUSD policy.
Both violations were first reported by HMG-CN.
“While working at L.A. Unified School District, Roybal was assigned to teacher jail, a facility used to separate teachers from school children. While assigned to teacher jail, Roybal concealed his teacher jail assignment, and was dishonestly paid by both CB and LAUSD, leading to an investigation by the LAUSD and his eventual forced retirement.
The NOI went on, “Roybal leaked a confidential settlement document to the media, resulting in a lawsuit and a $50,000 payment to the plaintiff.” Roybal also, “blatantly ignored CB’s insurance carrier who threatened to cancel insurance for board dysfunction, with his inaction resulting in cancellation of CB’s insurance in mid-2014.”
Lastly the NOI stated that Roybal, “Ignored lawyer’s advice by voting to waive attorney-client privilege in Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit filed by CB Director Leticia Vasquez. The suit cost CB over $200,000 in legal fees, and potentially hundreds of thousands more in additional fees.” It also outlined Roybal’s decision “to fire former General Manager Tony Perez for cause, once again against CB attorney’s advice, resulting in a $700K payment to the GM, and CB losing its insurance for a second time in 2015.”
The proponents signing the petition include voters from nearly all the cities in Roybal’s district, including two from Montebello, three from Bell Gardens, eight from Downey, and seven from Roybal’s home city of Pico Rivera.
Roberta Ruiz of Downey, one of the proponents signing the petition, commented, “Roybal’s tenure has been dominated by acts of incompetence, dishonesty and cronyism. His “double-dipping” while in teacher jail should immediately disqualify him from elected office. How can we allow an official that can’t even be trusted to be in the same classroom as our children, to make decisions on a vital resource such as water? It’s time for a change at Central Basin, and it can’t happen soon enough.”
The embattled water agency has been under intense media and legislative scrutiny over the past three years, ever since Roybal (and Vasquez) first took office in January 2013.
During Roybal’s time in office, HMG-CN exclusively reported on a number of controversial decisions and actions taken by Roybal and his voting partners, Bob Apodaca and Leticia Vasquez.
Many residents have emailed HMG-CN and left comments on its website asking why the F.B.I. and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office have not taken action based on the published articles.
Some of the articles include HMG-CN first reporting that Roybal and Board ally Leticia Vasquez had their campaigns funded in large part by convicted felon Rick Mayer.
Other stories included Roybal’s leaking of a confidential settlement agreement with former General Manager Chuck Fuentes to the Whittier Daily News, resulting in a lawsuit and total payments to Fuentes of over $70,000; the approval of the payment of $670,000 to settle a sexual harassment and battery lawsuit against Director Bob Apodaca, and joining Apodaca and Vasquez in voting to waive attorney-client privilege to allow the costly qui tam lawsuit to continue.
HMG-CN confirmed over 9 months ago with two attorneys that Vasquez is a “party plaintiff” in the Qui Tam lawsuit.
That action took place over protests by CB’s General Counsel that the vote was illegal because of Vasquez’s conflict of interest.
Calls to Director Roybal for comment were not returned at the time of this posting.
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