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Asm. Garcia’s Late Bill Aims to Take Over L.A.’s Major Water Agencies

Garcia in HMG-CN offices in 2013.

Feb. 19, 2021

BY BRIAN HEWS

Hews Media Group-Cerritos News has learned that Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell) has authored a bill (AB 1195) in yet another attempt to disenfranchise millions of L.A. County voters related to the county’s water agencies.

Unlike the corrupt method Garcia used to try and send Central Basin into receivership with SB 625, a water agency found to have a $3 million operating profit after that bill failed, Garcia is going after the three big fish in L.A. County.

Sources are telling HMG-CN that Speaker Rendon’s Assembly attorney Alf Brandt is helping Garcia.

Brandt helped Garcia with the two bills aimed at Central Basin, one which put incompetent appointed officials who caused havoc on the Central Basin Board (AB 1794) and then, when that take over didn’t work, Garcia and Brant authored the receivership bill, SB 625.

 

 

 

cristina garcia and alf brandy

 

Garcia and Alf Brandt are all smiles after AB 1794 passed and nearly bankrupted Central Basin with its appointed directors, two of who resigned under corruption charges.

 

 

AB 1195 aims to dissolve Central Basin, West Basin, and hold “jurisdictional territory” over the Water Replenishment District.

“The agency’s jurisdiction shall encompass all communities in Central and West Coast Basin with a jurisdictional territory coextensive to the jurisdictional territory of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California.”

The agency shall be governed by a five member board of locally elected officials within the three water agency’s borders. The Governor, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Gateway Cities Council of Governments, the South Bay Cities Council of Governments, and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments will each appoint one official.

The board will appoint a general manager with “at least five years experience.”

“The bill would require the agency to serve the region as the leader in intra-agency collaboration on water resource issues and authorize the agency to serve the water needs of its region through specified activities, including, among others, operating public water systems or other water infrastructure and integrating (taking over) other water systems in the region into its operations as prescribed.”

The bill specifies that if an elected official leaves office they will appoint another one and that a president will be elected every year.

The bill also allows the agency to “consolidate operation of public water systems, integrate other water system into its operations, and to assist the mutual water agencies.”

It’s a take-over plain and simple,” said one water board director who did not want to be identified, “they are terming out in 2024 and want somewhere to land. I also heard Garcia was very upset that the receivership bill SB625 failed and has been working on this since that bill went down.”

During the SB 625 fight, HMG-CN exclusively reported on Garcia and the corruption trail that involved her, Speaker Rendon, Asm. Ian Calderon, and Sen. Steven Bradford that led up to SB625.

HMG-CN examined several campaign finance documents on FollowtheMoney.org and the California Secretary of State’s website Cal-Access which revealed a complex web of relationships and monetary donations related to elected officials favoring CB’s take over.

The investigation found that Garcia took thousands from water purveyors inside Central Basin Municipal Water’s boundaries, the same purveyors causing problems inside the agency itself.

In addition, the documents showed several possible campaign finance violations.

The same water purveyors inside CB boundaries that gave money to Garcia donated thousands to several political action committees (PAC’s), with the PAC’s turning around and giving money to Garcia.

Finally, the investigation found a massive web of donations – from the same purveyors and PAC’s that gave to Garcia – paid to elected officials who have their name on SB 625.

Blatant Conflicts

The donations by the individual water purveyors and PAC’s to candidates present a laundry list of conflicts, pay-to-play and possible campaign finance violations.

The purveyors who gave money are all inside Central Basin’s boundaries including Whittier-based San Gabriel Valley Water; Whittier-based Cadway/California Domestic Water; Downey-based Park Water and Liberty Utilities.

One of the most questionable donations was by San Gabriel Valley Water, who donated $16,900 to Garcia.

SGVW is current Garcia-appointed CB Director Dan Arrighi’s employer and resigned only a few days after HMG-CN exposed his company.

Liberty Utilities counts as one of its employees Frank Heldman, another dysfunctional Garcia appointed CB Director who resigned under a shadow of corruption after an HMG article found Heldman filing false 700’s. He also attempted to broker a deal between Liberty and Sativa Water while a Director at CB.

Individual Company Donations to Candidates

Arrighi’s company, San Gabriel Valley Water, gave Garcia-

  • $4,700 in 2012
  • $4,700 in 2014
  • $3,000 in 2016
  • $2,500 in 2018
  • and just recently gave $2,000 in 2020.

SGVW gave Speaker Rendon $5,600 from 2014-2016 and gave Calderon $6,500 from 2014-2018.

California Domestic Water Company, also known as Cadway, is another water purveyor in CB’s area; Cadway gave Garcia $2,500 in 2016 and $2,200 in 2018.

But these companies, with already questionable connections, did not stop at the individual level, donating over $128,000 to PAC’s that would eventually support Garcia, Rendon, Calderon, and Bradford.

Individual Company Donations to PAC’s

 Three PAC’s were beneficiaries of the SGVW, Liberty/Park, and Cadway donations:

  • California Water Association
  • California Association of Mutual Water Companies
  • Consumers for Clean Water.

The California Water Association was the biggest recipient, garnering over $58,000 in donations; second was Consumers for Clean Water who took in  $21,600 from Cadway and $22,100 from SGVW. Last was California Association of Mutual Water Companies, who took in $25,900 from the apparent cash-cow Cadway.

PAC’s Donations to Candidates

The CWA, flush with money donated by water purveyors who have a clear conflict of interest, donated to all the major players involved with SB 625. The donations are total numbers:

  • $7,500 to Garcia (2012, ’14, ’16, ’18)
  • $5,000 to Rendon (2014)
  • $5,800 to Calderon (2012, ’16,’18)
  • $9,000 to Bradford (2012, ’16)

And in what looks like pay-to-play, CWA gave Bradford, who is carrying the bill and who is up for re-election in November, $3,000.

Next in line was Consumers for Clean Water who took in $43,700 from Cadway and SGVW; Consumers gave Rendon $4,100.

Last was the California Association of Mutual Water Company PAC. After taking $25,900 from Cadway, the PAC turned around and gave Garcia $2,000 in 2016 and $3,200 in 2018.

The Conflicts Continue

HMG-CN obtained the agenda for the Assembly hearing on SB 625  in Sacramento in July by the Committee on Local Government.

Also supporting the bill is the California Association of Mutual Water Company ($5,200 to Garcia) and the California Water Association ($7,500 to Garcia).

Garcia’s first bill passed in 2016; during that year, the companies and PAC’s cited in this investigation gave $53,300.

$10,500 (19%) went to Garcia.

In 2018, the companies and PAC’s cited in this investigation gave $54,100; $9,400 (17%) went to Garcia.

Texts to Garcia went unreturned.

See bill here.

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