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By Brian Hews
Hews Media Group Community News has exclusively learned that long-time Hawaiian Gardens City Manager Ernesto Marquez has been forced to resign his position from the tiny city located in Southeastern Los Angeles County.
Sources are telling HMG-CN that Hawaiian Gardens Mayor Barry Bruce and City Councilman Reynaldo “Rey” Rodriguez are behind the removal and have plans to “basically take over the city.”
Bruce ramped up his takeover plan in Dec. 2015, where sources said he was overheard several times at City Hall asking Marquez “if he had found another job yet.”
They also told HMG-CN that Bruce was heard saying, “I will hire a City manager that will do anything I ask.”
Bruce, knowing Marquez was resigning today, set his plan into motion by sending out a public meeting notice yesterday calling for a 3:30 meeting today.
HMG-CN has confirmed that Bruce and Rodriguez want to hire convicted felon and former Hawaiian Gardens Police Chief Walter C. McKinney as the City Manager.
With that hiring, Bruce is all set to finally cancel the City’s contract with the L.A. County Sheriff’s and establish his own police department, further cementing his grip on the City.
Bruce and Rodriguez’ plan was set in motion after the election in 2015. Sources are telling HMG-CN that there was a “Quid Pro Quo,” between Bruce and Rodriguez; force Marquez to resign and obtain the majority vote to hire McKinney.
No confirmation on who would be the third vote to hire McKinney, but given the situation, the deciding vote will likely be cast by newly elected Councilman Hank Trimble.
Many in Hawaiian Gardens are wondering why this is taking place in their city, especially the hiring of McKinney.
They are also calling on the L.A. County District Attorney to investigate Brown Act violations by Bruce during the Quid Pro Quo meetings.
In 1998 McKinney was charged with perjury and filing a false police report while Chief of Police for Hawaiian Gardens.
Months later he was convicted of a felony and served 500 hours of community service, which lowered the conviction to a misdemeanor.
McKinney also was General Manager of a company called Affordable Housing Solutions Group that was sued by the city of Hercules, a town 16 miles north of Berkeley, Ca., for breach of fiduciary duty and conflict of interest.
McKinney denied involvement, but his name appeared on numerous city contracts as the general manager.
Meanwhile, another corrupt former Hawaiian Gardens politician has surfaced.
Kathy Nevejas, recalled from Hawaiian Gardens City Council in 1996, has been seen around town and is reportedly receiving mail at City Hall.
Local AFSCME 3624 members, the Association of Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), and other local elected officials are incensed at Bruce and Rodriguez and fear the worst with Navejas back in town.
So does newly elected City Council woman Myra Maravilla.
HMG-CN exclusively obtained a letter Maravilla will read during public comment at today’s public meeting at Hawaiian Gardens City Hall blasting the current situation caused by Bruce and Rodriguez.
Maravilla references the hiring of McKinney and the presence of Navejas writing, “Capable, hardworking, and experienced union workers are being overlooked and supplanted by alleged convicted felons and disgraced former politicians. In short, due process is being replaced with cronyism in our small city.”
She also references the harassment at City Hall after the Dec. 2015 election, “These last few months our city workers have been repeatedly trampled. Who hasn’t noticed that their hours have been slashed, new members have been hired with limited hours and no benefits, and positions have been left unfilled while many who wait have been denied opportunities to flourish within their departments.”
Referencing Kathy Navejas, Maravilla wrote, “Not long gone are the days of recalled councilmember, yet her influence abounds again in the city. Ask yourselves, how likely would you be to welcome her ideas and vision back into our city government? I say these things not to scare you, but to create awareness. There is too much at stake tonight.”
The local unions are not taking this lightly, sources are telling HMG-CN that there is already a movement to recall Bruce from his position, and possibly Rodriguez, telling HMG-CN that,” many organizations have pledged their support for the recall, they will not let this city go back to the Navejas days.”
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