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Cerritos’ Law Firm Refuses to Answer HMG-CN Records Request for Mayor Pro Tem Vo’s Emails

 

January 17, 2022

By Brian Hews

A wide-ranging investigation by the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago uncovered  “a trove” of racist text messages exchanged by more than a dozen current and former Torrance police officers.

According to district attorney’s office records reviewed by The Times, the officers’ comments ran the gamut of homophobia, joking about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying during an investigation into a police shooting.

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Cerritos Mayor pro tem Chuong Vo is a long-time Torrance police officer who, for the first time in Cerritos’ history, declined to take the city’s Mayor seat in 2021, declaring he “was not qualified yet.” Vo was on the Cerritos Planning Commission, a training ground for City Councilmembers, for years.

Many observers questioned his decision and wondered why he would refuse the appointment.

HMG-CN emailed Vo and other Cerritos City Council members several times, asking Vo if he was involved or provided information to investigators about the racist texting scandal.

Vo did not respond to emails.

A few days later, HMG-CN sent a public records request to the Cerritos City Clerk on Dec. 9, 2021, asking for Vo’s text messages for one year and his personal emails for two years.

The City Clerk then forwarded the email to the high-powered law firm of Rutan and Tucker.

Rutan  took the customary ten days to respond, then, in a four-page letter, indicated that the request was “too burdensome.”

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Part of the letter sent from Rutan and Tucker, click on image to see entire letter.

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They stated that redacting “over thousands of texts and emails was too burdensome” under various FOIA case decisions over the past decade.

When HMG investigated Assessor Juan Noguez in 2013, his office handed over three years of redacted personal emails and thousands of pages of redacted campaign donations.

And when HMG was investigating then-Mayoral candidate Wendy Gruel, her office handed over two years of her personal calendar with all sensitive information redacted.

Rutan and Tucker went further and cited the oft-used deliberative process argument, which disallows disclosure of public records, in this case Vo’s texts and emails, because it would expose “sensitive contract negotiations.”

With that statement, Rutan and Tucker’s letter established that Vo admitted he was using his cell phone and personal email to conduct sensitive Cerritos contract negotiations.

Rutan and Tucker offered to turn over records if the request “was narrowed.”

This is just another in a long line of questionable actions by Vo, which HMG-CN has chronicled in several articles.

  1. Vo collected cash from the biggest tax revenue generator in the City, the Cerritos Auto Square, excluding himself from any future discussions and votes concerning the CAS.

Cerritos Candidate Chuong Vo Took a $7,500 Donation From the Cerritos Auto Square


2. Months later Vo, in a blatant conflict of interest, voted to give a large rent deferral to a dealer at the CAS.

Cerritos Mayor Solanki & Mayor Pro Tem Vo Giving Big Breaks to Campaign Donors

3. That same year, Vo posted on Facebook defamatory and false statements about HMG-CN, later retracting his statements.

Cerritos Council Candidate Chuong Vo Retracts Defamatory Statements Against Hews Media Group

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Vo has since abused his office powers attempting to enact new city policies and procedures to financially injure HMG-CN.

One Response to Cerritos’ Law Firm Refuses to Answer HMG-CN Records Request for Mayor Pro Tem Vo’s Emails

  1. Pingback: Cerritos Spent $184000 on Legal Fees in December – Los Cerritos News - Artcl.us - Daily Tips and Articles