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DIRTY WATER: Central Basin Municipal Water Board Director Campaigns Financed by Convicted Felon

By Brian Hews

An examination by Los Cerritos Community News of recently filed California 460 Campaign Financial Disclosure statements for new Central Basin Municipal Water District (CBMWD) Directors James Roybal and Leticia Vasquez, both of whom campaigned on ridding the troubled water district of corruption, show extremely heavy financial support from two individuals with substantial criminal backgrounds, one convicted on political corruption charges, and the other a convicted felon.
Vasquez, who defeated Rudy Montalvo in Division Four, declared paying political campaign manager Angel Gonzalez $4,000.00 before the actual June 5, 2012 election and owing him another $18,399.98.

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[l] Leticia Vasquez and James Roybal both got a large amount of campaign funds from two individuals with substantial criminal backgrounds, one, Rick Mayer, is a convicted felon.

Gonzalez was prosecuted and convicted by the District Attorney for illegal campaign activities in the past.
Vasquez also owes money to R&M Associates, controlled by former CBMWD Director and convicted felon Rick Mayer. R&M is part of Mayer’s other company Golden State Consultants. A phone call into Golden State confirmed that R&M is operated out of that office and is owned by Mayer.

Mayer served prison time for his felony conviction for lying about his place of residency while running for city council in South Gate.
Furthermore, Rick Mayer’s campaign manager was “Big Al” Robles who was indicted on federal corruption charges in 2004. He was found guilty of 30 felony counts, sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, and ordered to pay the city of South Gate $639,000 in restitution.

Vasquez raised only $4,900.00 before the June 5th election, she raised $31,146 after. Vasquez still owes Gonzalez and Mayer $8,559.
Documents show that some of the $31,146 came from the same special interest groups that she vigorously campaigned to root out.
Tom and Ron Calderon gave $2,250, Vasqez’ own mailer criticized Tom Calderon for taking money from the CBMWD.

Douglas Wance, former CBMWD General Counsel, gave $2,500. Wance was fired in November when facts emerged regarding the expenditure of nearly three million dollars in an off-the-books “Trust Fund” purportedly used for district lawsuits.
James Roybal’s financial disclosure forms showed similar patterns and reliance on Gonzalez and Mayer.

Before the June 5th election, Roybal made payments to Angel Gonzalez and Mayer’s R&M Associates totaling $10,400.00 and still carries an IOU of $28,878.39 to Mayer.
Some say Mayer is going after “outreach contracts” similar to those he is getting from the Water Replenishment District of Southern California located in Lakewood.
Since taking office on January 7th, Roybal and Vasquez joined ranks with long-time Director Bob Apodaca and fired recently hired Chief Operating Officer Chuck Fuentes, along with Asst. to the General Manager Ron Beilke.

Upon his termination, Beilke raised the suspicion of a cover-up by the firings. According to Beilke, “little doubt exists about the direction of the new board majority given who financed their campaigns. A quick look at their 460 disclosure forms speaks volumes about the character of these two supposedly highly educated people.”

Other significant actions taken include the three meeting to amend the CBMWD Administrative Code to permit Roybal to take over the presidency. The meeting could constitute a possible Brown Act Violation.

Director Art Chacon was president barely a week before the three amended the code. Chacon was removed and replaced by Roybal.
The president is a powerful position, he/she forms committees where all agenda items and contracts are vetted and approved for board meetings.
The three also immediately removed CBMWD Director and Cerritos resident Phil Hawkins from his long held seat on the board of the Metropolitan Water District. Hawkins served as chair of the important Real Estate and Asset Management Special Committee.

“The new majority’s rush to deliver on apparent promises to their financial benefactors, they have disregarded rules and regulations, resulting in flagrant abuses of Brown Act requirements,” said Bielke. “This is also reflective in their rush to terminate all those, like myself, who were on to their plans and would not agree to bury questionable findings uncovered since the previous General Manager & Attorney left the agency.”
Supporting documents can be found under this story title at loscerritosnews.net.

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