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Los Cerritos Community News and Hews Media Group captured two top honors at the 58th Annual Southern California Media Awards Ceremony sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club this past Sunday night for Best Investigative Series and Best Sports Feature.
There were over 1,000 entries this year, a record for the annual event.
This is the third first place award in the past four years in the prestigious category of Investigative Series for Hews and HMG-CN and a first for longtime HMG-CN Sports Editor Loren Kopff. HMG-CN has now garnered eight awards since 2012.
HMG-CN Publisher Brian Hews took home first place in the category of Investigative Series for all print newspapers in the daily or weekly category in Southern California, with the hard hitting investigative article entitled “State Water Board Drought Restrictions Show Political Bias Favoring Governor Brown’s Party.”
Second and third place went to Rebecca Kimitch, Steve Scauzillo, Jason Henry and Frank Girardot, with the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and their story entitled, “City of Industry Investigation,” and also Hayley Fox, Frances Sharpe, BJ Samuels, Rich Schmitt and Casey Smith with the Palisadian Post, and their story entitled “Lawsuits, Judgments Stack Up Against Prominent Local Biz Denton Jewelers.”
The judge’s commented, “This is fine enterprise reporting and analysis showing a well- documented pattern of discrimination against Republican led districts in the levying of water use cutbacks and the associated fines. This is the kind of watch dog reporting that we need more of–a lot more!”
The investigation found that the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), an unelected body made up of members appointed by Governor Brown and by Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon, and stacked heavily with environmentalists and labor leaders, deliberately assigned higher levels of water conservation to water agencies located in districts with seats held by State Senate and Assembly Republican office holders as opposed to agencies in the districts of Democratic office holders.
Further, the investigation revealed that, as the penalties for non-compliance have increased from 1,786 in May to 29,500 in July, a jump of 21,798, 75%, were issued in Republican Senate and Assembly districts.
The investigation also revealed that, of the highest penalized agencies, 90% were in Republican Senate and Assembly districts.
The penalty numbers showed a similar pattern for August and September.
HMG-CN Sports Editor Loren Kopff took home first place in the Best Sports Feature category for his story entitled, “Cerritos’ Movchan Newest Member Of Small 1,000-Point Club.”
The story chronicled the High School basketball career of Alyssa Movchan eclipsing the 1,000-point barrier for the Cerritos High girls basketball program. Movchan broke the barrier on Dec. 23, 2014 with her team’s first basket against St. Mary’s Academy.
The judges commented, “The story was well written and gave a good sense of the young players career so far and all that she has accomplished.”
Second and third place went to Esme Deprez of the Bloomberg News, and her story entitled “The Bulgarian Duo Leading an Indoor Rock Climbing Revolution,” and David Nusbaum with the Los Angeles Business Journal, and his story entitled “Team Player.”
Last year Hews took home first place in the category of Investigative Series with the story about the La Mirada Football Booster Club entitled La Mirada Football Booster Club Under Scrutiny by Attorney General.
The investigation revealed that the Booster Club violated several California laws and had little or no oversight on where and how hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent every year.
Even more alarming, the Booster Club indicated on all donation documents that it was a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, going so far as using an inactive and non-existent identification number.
The investigation also revealed that the organization did not have a California Franchise Tax Board number, and therefore did not remit taxable sales from fundraisers to the state.
Finally, no year-end or internal financial statements have been generated since 2006, and sources told HMG-CN that there are no bank statements available from the organization.
LCCN and HMG-CN also took second place in the Best News Feature category for the riveting expose on former Central Basin Municipal Water District GM Art Aguilar and his expensive golf outings with top officials at Pacifica Services, Inc., including CEO Ernie Camacho and VP Mike Sisson, that Aguilar did not report on his Statement of Economic Interests For 700.
After the story published, the California Fair Political Practices Commission investigated Aguilar and eventually fined him $30,000.
Two years ago HMG-CN took home three awards including First Place in the category of Best News Feature for the article “Undercover FBI Agent Rocky Patel Used Dal Rae in Pico Rivera to Stage Calderon Sting Operation.”
The judges of the category praised HMG-CN’s winning entry by stating that the work was “A colorfully written examination of an FBI sting operation that reads like a capsule version of the hit film, American Hustle.”
HMG-CN also took second place in the News category for their explosive expose on former California State Assembly Speaker John Perez Implicated in the Central Basin Water District Investigation.
The LA Press Club also honored HMG-CN with a second place certificate in the category of Best Investigative Series for “Dirty Water: Corruption Inside the Central Basin Municipal Water District.”
Three years ago, at the 55th Annual Southern California Media Awards, HMG-CN won First Place for Best Investigative News Series for the hard hitting work that led to the arrest of Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez and three other individuals in what former District Attorney Steve Cooley called the biggest “financial corruption scandal in the history of LA County.”
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