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New Central Basin Water Board Ousts Phil Hawkins as President, Replaces With Bob Apodaca

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From left: William Gedney, Mark Grajeda, John Oskoui. Courtesy WDN.

By Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that William Gedney, Mark Grajeda and John Oskoui, the three new Central Basin Water District Board members (CB) appointed last Wednesday, have sided and allied themselves with Directors Leticia Vasquez and Bob Apodaca and have voted to throw the operations of the embattled water agency into questionable territory once again.

The move has many questioning the motives of Gedney, Grajeda, and Oskoui who were appointed to the Board per the “mandate” of AB 1794, authored by Assemblywoman Cristin Garcia (D-Downey).

Vasquez is a “party plaintiff” in a whistleblower lawsuit against Central Basin that has cost the agency hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. And, as documented by HMG-CN, Vasquez has a very checkered past since her election in 2012.

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Apodaca recently had to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that cost the district over $1 million dollars after legal fees were factored in. HMG-CN also exclusively reported that Apodaca’s common law wife was paid $10,000 for “floral arrangements” provided at special events.

 

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The “process” started during the Feb. 22 meeting where the Board voted 3-2 to investigate CB GM Kevin Hunt and his “questionable and covert” actions during the selection process of Messrs. Gedney, Grajeda, and Oskoui.

President Phil Hawkins, VP Pedro Aceituno and Director Art Chacon voted yes to investigate Hunt over the selection process, with Hunt allies Vasquez and Apodaca voting no.

A little over an hour later, after most Board members had left the building, Gedney, Grajeda, and Oskoui were hastily sworn in by Hunt inside the Board room without public notice.

Two lawyers that HMG-CN contacted said Hunt’s actions were a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act open meeting law because Hunt did not properly notice (place on a future Board agenda) the appointments to give the general public a chance to comment on the proposed new Board members.

The potential violation did not matter to Hunt, as the selection process ended up placing Gedney, Grajeda, and Oskoui on the Board.

One day later, CB published an agenda online scheduling the meeting for today.

Two agenda items called for “a reorganization of the Board and a review of the investigation into GM Kevin Hunt.”

The new “voting block” Board followed through with the reorganization, removing Phil Hawkins, who was appointed president only one month ago, replacing him with the controversial Apodaca.

They also removed Hawkins from his Metropolitan Water District Board seat.

Aceituno remained at VP, while Vasquez and new Director Gedney were given seats on the Metropolitan Water District Board.

And in a move that could have future repercussions, Gedney, Grajeda, and Oskoui voted with Vasquez and Apodaca to stop the investigation into Hunt and terminate the contract with attorney Anthony Willoughby, who was heading the investigation.

On all items, Hawkins and Director Art Chacon voted no.

HMG-CN contacted Assemblywoman Garcia and CB for comment with no response as of publication time.

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