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Dirty Water: ‘Pay to Play Culture’ Trickling Out At Central Basin

Director Vasquez wastes no time in approving contracts for political friend and fiancé’s law firm.

By Brian Hews

(Commerce)-Despite repeated claims at Board meetings of promoting transparency, embattled Central Basin Municipal Water District Board Director Leticia Vasquez is using her newfound -and possibly illegal – majority voting bloc status to benefit longtime personal associates including Maurice Chenier, the law office partner of her fiancé Ronald N. Wilson and another close personal associate Jasmyne Cannick.

Chenier was hired as a special attorney and Jasmyne Cannick as a media consultant by the CBMWD recently, raising ire from two elected directors of the agency.

CBMWD Director Art Chacon suspects that the two were awarded the lucrative work because of their close ties to Vasquez, telling Los Cerritos Community Newspaper in a series of interviews this past week, “The District apparently has added yet another lawyer and for some unknown reason some sort of media relations specialist, whatever that means.”

CBMWD Director Phil Hawkins was even more outspoken telling LCCN, “The very first board meeting, after she was elected, I said her whole plan was basically to hire all her (Vasquez) campaign team, friends, and relatives and put them on staff so they would be ready for her next campaign, and it is all coming true now.”

Hawkins went on to say that, “for no reason they fired our attorney, COO, and assistant manager, now its time to fill those positions with her cronies.”  Hawkins represents Cerritos on the five member board and is a former member of the California State Assembly.

Chacon contends that Chenier and Cannick have no prior experience working for the District and were hired “without process” by Interim Chief Operating Officer Dave Hill at the sole request of Vasquez.

Chenier has apparently been hired to investigate possible Brown Act violations related to election of officers, LCCN has determined.  Chenier has been charged to “investigate facts relating to agenda posting procedures for January 24, 2013 special meeting to analyze and render legal opinions concerning procedures.”

Chenier will be paid a minimum of $300 an hour plus expenses, he lists his office on Flower Street in Los Angeles.

An examination of Vasquez’ 2012 California Form 460 disclosure statements lists Ronald N. Wilson as a multiple contributor and his address as 3700 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 655 Los Angeles, CA 90010. Chenier’s website and Linkedin account lists the same address as Wilson’s.

See a screenshot of Chenier’s website and Linkedin account, click here.

“It’s obvious this is a sweetheart deal, literally for the benefit of Vasquez fiancé’s legal associate,” said Chacon. “I don’t think anyone is being fooled by the awarding of this contract to another lawyer who’s website says that he works out of the same office as her fiancé, irregardless of what they the contract states.”

As evidence of the deal, LCCN found numerous connections between Vasquez, Chenier, and Wilson.

An internal document from Central Basin clearly displays Chenier as having RSVP’d for the District’s January 7, 2012 swearing-in as an invited guest of Director Vasquez, Wilson was also in attendance.

See invitation click here.

An internet search also produced numerous links in which Chenier and Vasquez’ fiancé Wilson are described as “co-counsels.” A lawsuit filed against the City of Lynwood’s Redevelopment Agency show the Law Offices of Ronald N. Wilson & Associates with Ronald N. Wilson and Maurice L. Chenier are described as defendant and respondent for the City.

Vasquez served on the City Council in Lynwood at that time and was subsequently recalled along with her colleagues who were later convicted on political corruption charges.

Cannick was hired under similar circumstances. At last Monday’s Board meeting, staff offered a presentation of “specialized media relations services” to be provided by Cannick. Vasquez did not disclose her prior relationship with Cannick during the presentation.

LCCN has obtained a video from the January 7th swearing-in event where Cannick refers to Vasquez as her “good friend.”

LCCN also found a Wave Newspaper article dated March 14, 2012 featuring Cannick that refers to her working for various elected officials including Rep. Laura Richardson and former Lynwood Mayor Leticia Vasquez.

LCCN’s investigation into Cannick’s hiring has also revealed questionable hiring practices within the District.

The District entered into the contract with Cannick on February 1, 2013, but did not obtain signatures until the 15th. In addition almost two months passed before the contract was brought to the Board for review. Interim Chief Operating Officer Dave Hill’s contract was entered into Feb. 1, 2013 and not signed until the 21st.

According to Chacon, Chenier and Cannick’s contract were authorized only under the Interim Chief Operating Officer Dave Hill’s spending approval, not the Boards.

“Roybal, Apodaca and Vasquez are playing ignorant like they knew nothing about these contracts. They want the public to believe Hill just stumbled upon these Vasquez buddies by chance so it would seem”, stated Chacon.

One source who declined to be identified said “I have no doubt that Leticia is leveraging her majority team of Jim Roybal and Bob Apodaca to secure contracts for her supporters and friends, that’s how these type of people operate. I think South Gate Councilman Henry Gonzalez said it best when he stated that Vasquez was ‘as dirty as they come’.”







  • Debra Hirsch says:

    Randy & Brian,

    This is what I would call excellent reporting. Does anyone doubt that had LCCN not uncovered these bogus contracts, millions more in contracts would be in the works?Everything that I have read in this newspaper paints a clear picture that Bob Apodaca, Jim Roybal and Leticia Vasquez are corrupt and unfit to hold public office. Does LCCN have any insight into the status of the District Attorney’s investigation? When can we expect a picture of these three in front of a judge pleading not guilty and enjoying their day in court?

  • maliciously defamed says:

    Brian Hews and Randy Economy:

    in a quest for sensationalism have published numerous, demonstrably false statements specifically designed to maliciously injure. It is clear that there has been no effort to propely investigate any of the false statements alleged. Each of you will be sued individually and your viscious false statements will be the demise of your third rate false gossip column. Please provide the name address and telephone number of your agent for service of process in the State of California and the of your lewgal counsel if you have one.

  • maliciously defamed says:

    Brian Hews and Randy Economy. In a quest for sensationalism have published numerous, demonstrably false statements specifically designed to maliciously injure. The statements have been published with actual malice and with no intentg to discover the true facts.

    It is clear that there has been no effort to propely investigate any of the false statements alleged. Each of you will be sued individually and your viscious false statements will be the demise garbage gossip column. Please provide me with the name address and telephone number of your agent for service of process in the state of California. In addition please provide the name address and telelphone number of your legal counsel if you even have one. Dont be scared post it on your website if you stand behind your false statements.

    • anonymous says:

      Is this Angel Gonzalez, Leticial Vasquez, Isacc Galvan, Rick M., or any other Angel’s puppets….

      I hope that Angel gets arrested again like he did when he was involved in South Gate

  • Mike Tyson says:

    I can’t believe that psycho ghetto broad that those of us at Central Basin actually have to refer to as “Director” would respond with such nonsense! Not only is EVERYTHING this newspaper has printed true, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. 99% of us that work at Central are disgusted by this sack of cr_p!! And furthermore, we are equally sick of their tool of a Interim Chief Operating Officer Dave “couldn’t find water in a lake” Hill. He deserves to go to jail with the rest of them for literally being paid to do whatever those three ask. It is sickening and many of us are thinking of a way to expose them for what they are, especially that pervert Bob Apodaca.

    I PROMISE that I will cooperate fully when the DA comes knocking and I’m also confident that many of the others there will do the same. Would you believe that Vasquez has been the first (and only) Director to DEMAND an office at Central Basin, all decked out with all the bells and whistles? Doesn’t she realize that NOTHING she can do will make her more than what she is, a lowlife hood rat wannabe gangster that has graduated to a higher life of crime! She got lucky in Lynwood but this time I’m sure even ratting on her colleagues won’t save her enormous rear end.

    Leticia Vasquez, you can’t fire all of us so I’m going to tell you what ALL of us that work hard and do honest work at Central Basin think of you. We think you’re scum and a pretentious phony who needs to go back to the jungle you came from with the other parasites you associate with. You are disgusting, a bloated pig of a woman and a disgrace to the qualities of what an educated person should stand for and represent.

    LIKE I SAID, BRING IN ALL THE MAURICE’S, THE RONNIE WILSON’S AND EVEN BRING BACK JOHNNIE COCKRAN from the grave and you still won’t be able to fire all of us that hate you. I hope this newspaper is there the moment the District Attorney places you in handcuffs! Ask your buddy John Noguez for tips on how to smuggle burritos into jail now while you still can.

  • LA's Top Lawyer says:

    to maliciously defamed:

    You obviously do not understand the Bill of Rights and the LAW of the land when it comes to a “free media.”

    Here is a little reminder, since you were probably ditching class during the 6th Grade…

    The Founders saw the right to publish one’s views as a natural right, and considered a free press a means of ensuring justice in government. (Gee, novel concept, huh?)

    While written to apply to actions of the federal government, the Supreme Court incorporated the amendment into state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment in the case Near v. Minnesota (1941). (Yeo, that includes the Central Basin Municipal Water District. Follow, so far?)

    The Virginia Declaration of Rights was a precursor to this amendment, holding that “the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.” (So…hummmm…..getting the point here?)

    Supreme Court cases centered on press freedom include New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), New York Times v. United States (1971), and Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1989).

    The Alien and Sedition Acts presented the first challenge to freedom of the press in the early republic, outlawing speech that was critical of government. Matthew Lyon was the first person jailed under this law, for his printed criticism of President John Adams.

    Do yourself a favor and stop your stupidity before you get disbarred or thrown behind bars…

    Keep BEING the WATCHDOG of our COMMUNITY, Los Cerritos Community Newspaper!

    • Jason Herrera says:

      This ongoing saga of Central Basin Water has become so fascinating to follow. An agency with such a pathetically long history of manipulation, abuse and corruption just can’t seem to catch a break. For so many years Central Basin has operated under the shadow of all those shady characters that have brought such suspicion and scrutiny to a government function that has become so easily corruptible. It is obvious that voters simply do not have a clue who or what type of people they elect to water boards and that is especially the case at Central Basin.

      Newly elected questionable and marginal characters like Jim Roybal and Leticia Vasquez are now likely to one day join the ranks of Albert Robles, George Cole and Rick Mayer, all former Central Basin Directors prosecuted on felon charges. Will the voters in the 24 cities that make up Central Basin’s service area ever wake up and realize that they are indeed deep in “dirty water”?

      I congratulate the investigative reporting of Brian Hews and Randy Economy. They deserve to rightfully be on the radar screen of every locally elected official as they once again display an uncanny ability to investigate every aspect of all those with something to hide. I have no doubt that Leticia Vasquez along with Roybal and Bob Apodaca will be fully investigated by the District Attorney and justice thus served.

    • brian says:

      …you may have more knowledge than me in regards to law…or you are just better at GOOGLE…so here’s a question I pose to you..

      If a person is NOT a public official yet works at/for an office of one…is it not defamation, equal to libel, when said persons name is printed in a lie? Whether in midst of story or in comment section? Doesn’t the person who controls the public access to lies have an obligation to remove or delete these items?

      If one prints these lies for public consumption about a private person, are they not “guilty” of libel ?

  • anonymous says:

    Randy you need more into Angel Gonzalez… Isacc that is currently running for compton council

    trust me.. Angel is currently selling the votes of his puppets

  • Walter Cronkite says:

    I don’t believe anyone, including Randy & Brian, could get to the bottom of the deep rooted corruption and backroom deal making that surrounds politics in the southeast area. You mention Angel Gonzalez, but let’s not forget his sidekick in crime Rick Mayer who recently has went underground given exposure in financing two newly elected Central Basin Board Members and his revolting threats to Central Basin Director Art Chacon. These two people make there living off of getting people elected and smearing those they want out of their way. And let’s not even go into what happens if they get yopu elected and then you develop a conscious! It’s Mervyn Dymally politics 101 at it’s best (worse actually), it’s “either you’re with us or against us! By the way, Rick Mayer recently was booted from his lucrative contract at the Water Replenishment District over all the negative attention his “buying” of the Board majority at Central Basin. Of course, thanks to LCCN Mayer is “too hot” to tap his kickbacks at Central Basin. Boy, Mayer sunk a bundle into those hacks Roybal and Vasquez and now he’s walking away with nothing but a few cases of Central Basin bottled water;,(

    But Angel is still hard at work. According to recently elected Carson City Council member Albert Robles’ 460 disclosuire statements, he paid Angel almost $12,000 for his mailers and accepted $2,900 in consulting services from Angel. Angel has had his teeth in Albert for years and has done work on all of Robles’ many WRD campaigns. Of course, WRD has hired Angel to do their printing for years at inflated prices that have raised eyebrows, but who cares, this is just a water agency where anything goes.

    Angel is also the mastermind behind young Issac Galvan’s decision to move overnight from Commerce to the glorious highlife of Compton to run for a newly created safe “Latino” district seat. Take that you black folk! It’s not bad enough that Compton is on the brink of financial collapse so what better time to bring in an uneducated political hack like Galvan to save the day? Once Galvan and Gonzalez pick the city dry, they’ll just say that’s what ignorant people deserve, afterall, someone was going to rip them off, it might as well be there turn.

    And speaking of birds of a feather, Albert Robles’ Carson 460 forms reveal a certain low profile Central Basin Board Member as well as a BIG contributor, sense she loves Compton so much, Vasquez for Water Board 2012 dropped a cool $2,000.00 into Robles’ kitty and her boytoy attorney Ronald N. Wilson ponied up another $500.00. Of course, Robles’ also milked virtually every vendor doing business with WRD for his dual service scam to the tune of about $20,000. So what do these water vendors care about the City of Carson, nothing but Robles controls the purse strings at WRD and it’s good old fashion “pay to play” at it’s finest.

    But let’s not worry people, afterall, someone’s gonna steal your tax and fee money, so it might as well be a well versed and organized group like these brazen thugs:)

    • Victor says:

      Is Littel Albert under investigation by wearing two hat? I thought it was illegal to have two elected positions .

  • Walter Cronkite says:

    Lil’ Albert is a lawyer who intends to represent himself if the DA prosecutes him. He’ll file motion after motion to delay whatever efforts the DA makes. In about two years when all stall tactics have been exhausted, he’ll resign from WRD and the DA will have no other recourse but to drop all charges. In the mean time, Robles will collect about $25,000 a year by cashing in his monthly health benefits from Carson since he and his wife and two kids are fully covered by his WRD benefits. He’ll also collect Carson’s monthly salary, car allowance and technology stipend. He’ll also spread out his travel where he’ll collect reimbursements there as well. Between the two agencies, he’ll really be a globe hopping fool. So much for public service, at least not from a guy like Lit’ Al. Big Al would be proud, he raised his namesake well.

  • Ishtar says:

    Has anyone followed up to see if there is still a contract with Maurice Chenier or, more billing?