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Hawaiian Gardens Paying Grant Writer Involved in Financial Scandal $24,000 for Three Month Engagement

BY BRIAN HEWS • Sunday Aug 4, 2019, 4:15 p.m.

Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has obtained the professional services agreement between Omar Hernandez, his company Global Urban Strategies (Global), and the city of Hawaiian Gardens that shows the City paying Hernandez a hefty $24,000 for three months of work for a grant writing project.

The agreement was obtained via the public records request under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Under contract law, if a City labels the contract a professional services agreement, it does not require a competitive bidding process.

The contract was  approved covertly during a study session that Councilman Hank Trimble missed leading him to ask Hernandez, who was giving a presentation at the July 23 regular City Council meeting, “who are you, I don’t know who you are, are you an employee?”

This past week, HMG – LCCN reported on Hernandez and his extremely questionable business practices when he was involved in a grant writing agreement with the city of El Monte in 2013.

At that time, he was Principal of Arroyo Strategy Group, and the subject of an audit by El Monte, after the scandal he closed Arroyo and started Global.

The audit found that, during his work with El Monte, Hernandez, among several other questionable actions, over-billed the City, did not provide back-up of invoice items, and submitting identical invoices for two different time periods. 

He even refused to give auditors any paperwork during the audit.

The Los Angeles Times wrote that, among other issues, the auditors said that Hernandez and Arroyo did not have a physical office and that it did not keep any records, such as time sheets or other records, to justify the work it was doing. 

During the investigation, HMG-LCCN found that Global, similar to Arroyo, does not have a physical office.

Yet the City Council, led by Mayor Myra Maravilla, and without a back ground check on Global, signed the agreement with Hernandez on May 7, 2019.

Since then, Hernandez indicated he conducted two outreach meetings, “attended by 50 people,” and presented the results at the July 23 meeting, leading to another question by Councilman Trimble.

“What outreach meetings, I was never told about any meetings, I would have certainly attended.” 

That led Mayor Maravilla to say, in a similar insulting fashion that her predecessor former Mayor Barry Bruce frequently displayed at meetings, “it’s not our fault residents did not know about the meeting.”

HMG-LCCN spoke to several high ranking local elected officials and several former City elected officials who also said they did not know about the meetings.

Emails into Hernandez asking for documentation of attendees or any other proof related to the outreach meetings went unreturned.

Payday Tomorrow

According to the employment website Indeed.com, the average annual salary for a Grant Writer is $42,311.

Sometime tomorrow, Hernandez will travel down to Hawaiian Gardens City Hall and submit the proposal with no guarantee the grant will be awarded. 

And the City, per the agreement, will pay Hernandez $12,000, having already paid him $12,000 immediately after he signed the contract.

Emails into Mayor Maravilla, the City Council, City Manager Ernie Hernandez, and Omar Hernandez went unreturned.

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