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LA Times City Editor responds to Hawkins in statement to LCCN

Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Ang...

Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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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  • Dexter Morgan says:

    Come on, this Hawkins character is just trying to cover is rear. The well over at Central Basin is so polluted that I believe it’s beyond saving. Central Basin is just one step from the State comingin an taking it over. All of us better pray Hawkins is finally put out to pasture. What an embarrassment!

  • Jay Gray says:

    With all this bad new that keeps pouring in on Hawkins what’s the status on the LCCN sponsored debate?

    • Randy Economy says:

      Thanks for the note, Mr. Gray. LCCN will be updating our readers and this website about the LCCN sponsored debate in the next few days.

  • Getting Soaked says:

    It’s refreshing to see candidates like Mr. Gray and Mr. Mendoza stepping up in an effort to put a stop to this level of corruption in our local government. Our water service delivery has for so long been ignored by the masses and jokers like Phil Hawkins have made a killing as a result. Hawkins’ will do ANYTHING to save his Central Basin seat just so he can keep his Metropolitan Water member board seat where he sits on their real estate committee where he directs “close” associates of his to land deals that will make their closely knit crew of thieves a fortune!

    This must end and I am so grateful to journalist like Randy Economy and Sam Allen at the LA Times for doing the digging and having the courage to expose people they have sometimes known for years, like tricky Phil Hawkins.

  • Floyd Farrar says:

    Do not forget that Mendoza is NOT a nice guy either! He is in this for the public money trough NO MORE and NO LESS.. When he was on Artesia city council he was DISLIKED by many in the community. When he UNFORTUNATELY became my assemblyman the other council members almost did hand springs! He is NOT lilly pure either. His antics while in charge of the Ca Ca land hispanic caucus border on extreme arrogance mixed with contempt for all NOT from Mexico! I listened to a few interviews of him and he showed HIGH indignance of the news man asking him TOUGH questions NOT asked by the OVER biased lame scream media. He is a real PRINCE that needs to be sent back to private life, the sooner the better!