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TEXTS SHOW HAWAIIAN GARDENS CITY EMPLOYEES WERE INVOLVED IN THEFT OF HMG NEWSPAPERS FROM CITY HALL

STAFF REPORT

In June of this year, Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News published an exclusive story about Hawaiian Gardens employee and former AFSCME President Fred Licon who was accused of misusing thousands of dollars of union funds.

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The June front page article, which was based on a hearing document exclusively obtained by HMG-LCCN, was deemed “offensive and dirty” by Licon and his friends down at City Hall, which included current Mayor Myra Maravilla.

So offensive that City Hall personnel resorted to lies, petty theft, defamation, and a violation of free speech and the First Amendment in a misguided attempt to bury the story from the public by stealing newspapers from City Hall.

Along with weekly home delivery, HMG-LCCN delivers 200 papers to Hawaiian Gardens City Hall reception area and to the Recreation Center next door to City Hall every Friday for free as a courtesy to City employees and local residents.

When the Licon story published on Friday June 14, HMG-LCCN delivered the papers at approximately 10:30 a.m.

Later on in the day, HMG-LCCN received several calls from readers asking for the papers; it was discovered later they were stolen. 

HMG-LCCN learned later that both buildings had video surveillance equipment and sent a public records request June 19 to City Clerk Lucie Columbo and City Manager Ernie Hernandez asking for the video between Friday June 14 and Tuesday June 18.

But the City dragged their feet in what now looks to be an obvious attempt to cover-up the theft, answering the June 19 request forty-two days later, which is a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Best, Best, and Krieger attorney Megan K. Garabaldi sent a letter stating, “after a diligent search and inquiry, the city has discovered that, due to inadvertence in its internal procedures and practices, the requested video footage is no longer available. It was automatically overwritten by the default settings of the system.”default settings of the system.”

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A few weeks passed, then HMG-LCCN received an email with an attachment that shows the papers were stolen by AFSCME District Council 36 members to bury the Licon story and that officials in the City could have been complicit in the theft.

The attachment was a screen shot of text messages received by 1562-xxx-4589. HMG-LCCN called the number and confirmed it belonged to AFSCME District Council 36 member Glynn Cornejo, Supervisor of the Hawaiian Gardens Recreation Department.

“Cornejo said he could not remember the text,” said HMG-LCCN Publisher Brian Hews, “I told him it was his number and he hung up.” 

Hews continued, “I have called and texted Amaro, who is the AFSCME local Vice President several times, but apparently he does not want to talk about the text.”

The text clearly implicates Amaro and others in the scheme to steal papers, valued at $400, and bury the Licon story.

The text read, “hey this is Frank Amaro, Brian Hews is dirty he’s trying to bribe Freddy [Licon] so he can get money from the arch [sic] City and we got a leak from one of our members telling him stuff this story is not true.” 

Amaro continued, “and that’s why all the papers he sent to our recreation or to our city has been disposed of.”

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Texts between Hawaiian Gardens AFSCME D-36 members Glynn Cornejo and Frank Amaro.

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“Not only did Amaro admit to stealing the papers, but he defamed my company and me,” said Hews, “who knows how many people that text was sent to.”

Text and calls into Amaro went unreturned as did texts to Mayor Maravilla, Mayor pro tem Jesse Alvarado, and Council persons Hank Trimble and Luis Roa.

HMG-LCCN texted Monica Rodriguez, who shockingly resigned her City Council position this past Tuesday, she did not respond. 

HMG-LCCN also emailed AFSCME 36 President Andreas Jung without response.

“This is the level of the city has hit with Maravilla at the helm, as chronicled in my newspaper,” said Hews. “Crooked union members, nepotism inside City Hall, pay-to-play politics, hiring corrupt City contractors, taking unnecessary trips on taxpayer’s dime, demeaning residents at public comment, and now a cover-up of a theft facilitated by AFSCME 36 union employees that the City knew about.”

“Former Mayor Rey Rodriguez was right, the City is turning into Bell.”  

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MISSING SEMINARS?: (l-r) Hawaiian Gardens Mayor pro tem Jesse Alvarado, Hawaiian Gardens employee Juan Serrano, Mayor Myra Maravilla, and Anna Rodriguez at the Contract Cities Convention in Palm Springs this past May. Rodriguez, a good friend of Maravilla, recently stated at a City Council meeting, that “spending on City senior programs was ‘excessive’ and why spend the money, we all die anyway.”

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When asked what actions the City will take, City Manager Ernie Hernandez emailed, “The City of Hawaiian Gardens takes allegations of employee misconduct seriously. Upon evaluating the allegations raised against City employees, the City will determine whether an investigation is warranted. If an investigation is warranted, given the confidential nature of any internal employee investigation, the City will not be providing additional comment.” 

“If you have additional information that should be considered, please provide a detailed complaint/correspondence to the City so that our Human Resources staff can process as appropriate.” 

Hews responded, “Yes, I HAD evidence but the City inadvertently erased the video that showed the theft. And as far as Hernandez saying the investigation is confidential, that’s not the case in a court of law.”

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9 Responses to TEXTS SHOW HAWAIIAN GARDENS CITY EMPLOYEES WERE INVOLVED IN THEFT OF HMG NEWSPAPERS FROM CITY HALL

  1. Greg

    September 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    I am truly impressed and appreciate that HMG is one of the few in media actively involved in journalism. No big surprise that another SE LA County municipality is found to be involved in corruption and union thuggery. Seems that most of them are.

    • Dale Clark

      September 24, 2019 at 12:22 am

      Trash journalism Greg. Barely a blog, if that’s what you want to call it.

      • EddieCLLaw75

        September 26, 2019 at 12:40 am

        Well Mayor Maravilla, I mean Betty Sanchez, errr sorry “Dale Clark”. For a trash journalism paper that is barely a blog, you sure are devoting quite a bit of time to trolling on it. Why waste your time consuming trash? That speaks more to your character and priorities than the publishers. The fact that you attack someone the way that you do with baseless accusations without proof just shows that you’re just immature. Why not have an actual debate using cogent arguments and evidence? We know why, because you can’t. And every person who has tried to file suit against this paper ended up losing. Turns out they were crooked politicians. One of which was married to an attorney!!!

        By the way, it doesn’t matter what name you post under, it’s rather easy to see where you’re posting from. One of the gifts of technology. So unless you want an old timer to show up at the Long Beach Clerk’s Office to complain that an employee of theirs is harassing and bullying people, I’d suggest you learn how to actually conceal your identity. You do know that everything you do online is subject to a PRA request and, with a bored litigator like me, subject to subpoena? Would run circles around your smug CM and and attorney. If I couldn’t, my two sons who are Ivy League law grads would. Born and raised in this city. Not to get personal, but come on…no mames…

        Idiot.

        • Dale Clark

          September 26, 2019 at 10:41 am

          Trolling you guys takes only a few seconds of my time. Considering how easy it is to find information online, I find it hilarious how you might think I am the mayor… Such a tool. I am a private citizen like yourself. It’s funny you call the CM smug, yet your the one who has to go out of your way to mention your kids are going to Ivy league schools, or that your a tired litigator. In other words your kids are going to pot college and you learned how to fill out a few forms. Not to get too personal, but come on, No mames pendejo. You need to have proof about the bullshit you speak of, I can 100000% guarantee you this is not the mayor! And if you even knew how to get my location from this comment you would know my ip address, not to mention what an IP address is.

  2. Carson St

    September 17, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Had one bad dealing with the city of HG and never did any business within that city. 50 Yrs ago, it was run by the underground and still is today. What give HG the rite to operate the city with no code enforcement, the properties are all so over run with blite. Staffers do not even know what handicap laws are.

    When Plowboys open air market left, the city has gone downhill since then.

  3. Dale Clark

    September 24, 2019 at 12:20 am

    You guys commenting on the stories are just haters. If we are playing room detective, I would say you guys are angry old men with nothing better to do. Did anyone on this paper ever look into what happened with this horrible trash contract?

  4. AndyAmerican

    September 25, 2019 at 12:15 am

    Haters? That’s the best argument you can come up with?! I’m no psychic but I’ll bet you failed night school twice. Hawaiian Gardens city’s corruption dates back further than many of you would feel comfortable with. No one ever thinks: “hey this city has a thriving casino & bingo house.. the parking lots are always full and busy, but why does the city look as though a Hurricane hit it 18 years ago & everyone just said: “ohhh.. we’ll pick it up later”. Couldn’t that money be used to improve the city’s appearance? Safer streets? If city hall has the power to get its clerk’s / on-call goons to go out stealing over pathetic rumors- then what’s to stop city hall from telling an even BIGGER lie to its employees and having them do much worse?

    • Dale Clark

      September 26, 2019 at 9:33 am

      What are you talking about. Levying personal attacks does nothing to help your arguments. Of which you have none. The city is making huge strides. If you do not recall about 18 years ago the city was still dealing high crime. All this culminated in the death of a deputy and one of the largest gang raids in American History. I live here, I would know. The city is not the same. To combat those issues a lot is being done, but it takes time. If you haven’t noticed all our parks have been remodeled. Fedde sports complex has been redeveloped to a world class area for our youth to compete effectively. When I grew up and played football on that field we would have to deal with the shoddie grass being muddy or ripping up under our cleats. Now kids from various ages and sports affiliation use the field for practice. Lee Ware Pool will soon be remodeled and upgraded. Thanks to our mayor. A lot of the issues you bring up, are from previous administrations. This current council has two individuals with masters degrees in public administration. What does that mean. We have two people who spent 6 years minimum learning how to run government organizations. These people are going above and beyond in delivering to residents a great place to live. I was at Fedde complex last night and seen council member Roa inspecting the complex, meeting with the staff, engaging with the residents, and even working out with the girls soccer team. In all my years living in Hawaiian Gardens, I have never seen a more engaged council. Are they perfect, I don’t know. But I would trust council members Roa and Maravilla in higher office because they are highly competent and trustworthy individuals. They have the city’s best interest at heart. They are considerate of all residents. And we maybe taking for granted how lucky we are to have them in their current roles.

      • AndyAmerican

        September 27, 2019 at 3:34 am

        So a thriving casino & bingo house that brings in millions of US dollars each year if not every quarter has so far purchased grass that is easier on cleats for the city & a remodelled sports center that children can kick a ball around in discount uniforms? Hawaiian Gardens crime rate is still high & your library is laughable. Hawaiian Gardens’ is the rich uncle that gives out $5 Starbucks gift cards at Xmas- we know you can spend more but you just won’t! So where is the money going? If City Hall didn’t send it’s payroll thugs to steal newspapers then myself; and posible everyone else would have ignored the very start of this story. However.. when such great attempts are made to hide secrets.. well, we all love a Novela & the public is hungry for political justice these days. Keep up the great journalism!👍🗞📰