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Hawkins Calls Central Basin Campaign Attacks ‘Phony Political Advertising’

(Note: This article was updated on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 4:45 p.m. to reflect additional details by Los Cerritos Community Newspaper after this article first appeared on our website on May 8).

By Brian Hews and Jerry Bernstein

Central Basin Water District Board incumbent Phil Hawkins went on the attack Monday taking on his two rivals for recent statements made in Los Cerritos Community Newspaper.

Hawkins, a longtime Cerritos resident, and a former member of the California State Assembly, said that a series of print advertisements in Los Cerritos Community Newspaper have been a “phony political ad” attack.

In an interview with LCCN Editor Jerry Bernstein and Reporter Randy Economy on Monday afternoon, Hawkins went on the offense by singling out his two rivals, Assemblyman Tony Mendoza and Cerritos community leader Jay Gray for “conducting a dirty and deliberate campaign” against him by “twisting the facts” regarding several articles that recently appeared in both the Los Angeles Times and on local television news casts written by a writer who the Times now questions even exists.

“This campaign is going to be about scare tactics, and half truths, and in some cases just flat out lies,” Hawkins said.

But in an interview with Shelby Grad, City Editor of the Los Angeles Times, Hawkins “needs to be held accountable for his past statements.”

 “We wanted to clarify several comments made in the story. Despite what Mr. Hawkins said, The Times has never retracted any of its articles about the Central Municipal Basin Water District and we never told officials there that the article was “bogus,” Grad stold Los Cerritos Community Newspaper.

“The Times stands by our stories. Moreover, there has never been any confusion over the authors of those stories,” Grad said.

In the advertisements published in Los Cerritos Community Newspaper during the past three weeks, Hawkins claims that his opponents have taken excerpts from that particular article and have “twisted the facts” for their own “political benefits.”

Hawkins said that Mendoza was “misstating the truth” about current residential water rates offered by Central Basin for his “own political gain.”   He said it true the District raised the rates 40 percent but a breakdown of the increase reveals it cost the District $18 per acre foot, down from $25. “That’s enough water to provide a family of four with water for one year. Our bond rating is Triple A, the highest you can have for bonds, and our District building is paid for,” Hawkins said.

Also he claims that when he was elected to the Board 12 years ago the District had a $1 million deficit. “Today we have a surplus,” he said and he didn’t think that demonstrated that the District was “corrupt.”

Hawkins also dismissed the claims that his association with Tom Calderon, who is the head of a public advocacy consulting firm hired by Central Basin to conduct “outreach efforts” to local and state elected officials was not done as a political “favor.”

“His (Tom Calderon) experience as a former California state legislator, and as the head of the Calderon Group makes him experienced in acting as a consultant for Central Basin since 2004 in dealing with the State on Water issues, especially on the need for water storage” and other issues such as water recycling and “fighting the Metropolitan Water District and Water Replenishment District’s rate increases to local cities.”

Hawkins also told LCCN that Calderon, who himself is currently running for a state assembly seat in the newly created 58th Assembly District that stretches from Bell Gardens and Commerce southeast into Cerritos “contributed $300 to one of my past campaigns, and has not contributed to this current campaign.”

But according to campaign reports obtained by LCCN, Hawkins did receive thousands of dollars in contribution from “The Calderon Group” and other political action committees controlled by Tom Calderon.

During Hawkins 2008 reelection, Tom Calderon contributed $1500 to Hawkins, and in addition, the Political Action Committee called California Citizens for Good Government doled out  $4,750 for that same 2008 campaign during October of that year, a month before his last campaign.

“In summary, Phil has lied about the contributions he has received from Tom Calderon and has used a deceptive PAC controlled by Tom Calderon to funnel an additional $4,750 to Phil’s last campaign,” Rob Katherman, a Director of the Southern California Water Replenishment District told LCCN in an email on Wednesday.

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  • Jay Gray says:

    It’s evident that the facts are catching up with Mr. Hawkins and the Central Basin Water Board.

    I will point out that if things at the Central Basin Water District are so great(as Hawkins’ claims), why did many cities in the district vote to request that the agency undergo a State audit as a “High-Risk Agency?” When a city council goes on the public record and votes to ask the State of California to declare an agency, such as Central Basin, “High-Risk” they understand that there are serious concerns, which could have a long lasting damaging affect on the public.

    From one LA Times article, let me quote what our own city council woman and according to Hawkins’ in his fist interview HIS own supporter, Carol Chen, had to say, “Cerritos Mayor Carol Chen said she supported a close examination of Central Basin and WRD and asked that auditors look into their spending on public relations and lobbying, as well as the costs of infrastructure projects and whether they are “necessary and reasonable.” (March 8, 2012).

    So, you see ladies and gentlemen, even Hawkins own supporters have questions and want a “close examination” of what Hawkins and the rest of the board over at Central Basin have been doing.

    Jay Gray
    Candidate, Central Basin Municipal Water District

  • Floyd Farrar says:

    Above all DO NOT vote for the corrupt and incompetent Mendoza .. he is the worst of them all! He will not do anything that doesn’t include his illegal alien buddies!

  • Leticia says:

    We have to look at the whole picture. Career politicians and special interests go hand-in-hand. Calderon would know. And we also have to deal with the whole Oldtimers’ issue, too. I am sure he is a decent person but that does not mean he has the people’s interest at heart.



    See for yourself!