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Former Mayor Rodriguez Slams the City Council, Calls Hawaiian Gardens the ‘New City Of Bell’

June 21, 2019

BY BRIAN HEWS AND TAMMYE MCDUFF

Former Hawaiian Gardens Mayor Reynaldo Rodriquez is upset, believing that the new City Council is displaying a new level of cronyism, giving handouts and favors to family and friends; and he makes certain to go to every Council meeting to make his point.

This past June 11 meeting, Rodriguez pointed to two actions by the Council; the City’s continual hiring of consultants, and the hiring and rehiring of one in particular, Dave Barnhardt.

Barnhardt was a consultant that was hired to “shadow” the Recreation Department Director in the fiscal year 2018-2019.

“He was hired last year to shadow the Director because there were numerous problems in that department,” said Rodriquez,” we paid over $60,000,  and of course nothing ever came of the investigation.”

The City Council decided to rehire Barnhardt in February of this year to do the same thing. 

The City is in the middle of implementing severe budget cuts to programs that residents depend on, and Rodriguez blasted the Council’s latest actions. ”What I want to know is why you are cutting programs, but continue the practice of hiring consultants,” said Rodriguez. 

“Why are you doing this,? Does the Recreation Director need all of this help? We pay good money to these employees and they should be able to take care of tasks as needed.” 

“Every Director the City hires should be able to do their job without hiring out for extra help, this is a blatant misuse of tax payer’s money, you are making budget cuts, but this goes against that,” he added.

Rodriguez accused the Council of cronyism, hiring and promoting friends and increasing pay in the time of budget cuts. 

“I just want you people to realize that you are doing the exact same thing that the City of Bell did.  The city funds were low and yet everyone got a big promotion and raise, I want to remind you to be aware of this issue and remember that everyone from the City of Bell landed up in jail.” 

He added that it seemed as if the Council was hiring friends as consultants and ignoring the perfectly capable employees that could do the job and deserve the promotion or a raise.

“Keep these things in mind,” added Rodriquez, “because eyes are watching you.”

The move is yet another in a long line of questionable decisions by the City Council, which includes three new members: Jesse Alvarado,  Luis Roa, and Monica Rodriguez, along with Myra Maravilla and Hank Trimble.

Just after their election in 2018, the Council wasted no time calling a special meeting  to fire the city’s law firm of Alvarez Glasman-Colvin – hired barely two years ago – and replacing Glasman  with the former attorney for the city of Commerce, Eduardo Olivo.

The vote, without a formal Request for Proposal or RFP, was 5-0.

Olivo has an extremely questionable past, including getting fired from his City Attorney post in the City of Vernon in 2004.

Two years later, Olivo, disbarred attorney Cristeta Summers, and former Southgate treasurer and convicted felon “Big Al” Albert Robles, allegedly hatched a scheme in an attempt to take over the cash-rich City of Vernon.

The group registered three “candidates,” one of whom was found to be living out of his car.

Olivo was said to have bought a building for over $200,000 in Vernon and, working with Robles and Robles’ cousin Angel Gonzales, attempted to orchestrate a coup and take over the city.

Gonzales is a well-known political operative in East Los Angeles who owns Pyramid Press; in 2001 he was convicted of a felony but subsequently plead down to a misdemeanor. Gonzales has been known to assist many campaigns in East Los Angles

Sources told HMG-LCCN at the time that Gonzales ran Alvarado,  Roa, and Rodriguez’ campaign in a pay-to-play scheme to get Olivo in as the CIty’s attorney.

 

Hawaiian Gardens Council Abruptly Fires City Attorney, Hires Firm With Questionable Past

 

Just a few weeks later, the Council, led by Mayor Myra Maravilla, who is a delegate for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, bucked years of tradition and moved the annual City Carnival to Fedde Middle School.

And for the first time, despite the protest of many residents, including Rodriguez, alcohol was sold.

That decision turned out to be a disaster.

During the Saturday night carnival, HMG-LCCN received calls from frantic residents that the carnival was on lockdown due to gang violence and possible shootings. The Carnival had been completely shut down.

Residents were saying there was at least twelve LA County Sheriff’s units on scene at the time.

In a statement, Maravilla denied any gang violence and blamed it on a car chase that ended up near the carnival.

Later, HMG-LCCN was sent video and pictures that contradicted Maravilla’s statement.

Rodriguez slammed the council at a meeting after the carnival saying, “For you, the council and even the sheriff’s department to say nothing serious happened at that carnival is deplorable. There were ten sheriff patrol cars, one helicopter that was called to an incident that occurred on that Saturday. And what’s more the sheriffs came with their weapons. The sheriff department confined the area for approximately one hour. You couldn’t get in or out.”

Rodriquez continued, “ABCUSD Board Vice President Olga Rios made the comment at their board meeting about the alleged shooting and how frightening it was, so don’t pretend that nothing happened. I also heard that numerous residents had attempted to contact city hall regarding the police activity and were told that nothing significant had taken place.”

 

VIDEO: Gang Fight at Hawaiian Gardens Carnival Last Night, Sheriff’s Placed Carnival on Lockdown

 

 

 

 

 

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