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Cerritos Taxpayers Pick Up $5,000 Dinner Tab for Area Elected Officials

By Brian Hews and Brian Hews

Document obtained through a public records request by Hews Media Group – Community News showed that over 80 elected city and county officials from throughout Southern California gathered last month at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts Center to dine on a lavish dinner catered by one of the most exclusive private caterers in Orange County at tables adorned with fine white linens, fresh cut hydrangeas and cloth covered chairs, and the taxpayers of Cerritos picked up the entire tab.

Under the California Public Records Request Act, HMG-CN obtained over 30 emails that detailed how Cerritos city staff members spent time, during regular business hours, planning the dinner, all the way down to preparing comments for current Mayor Bruce Barrows who addressed the group.

“Every time Cerritos hosts an event for the California Contract Cities Association, everyone knows that it is going to be nothing but first class, and this dinner was no exception,” a mayor from a nearby city who attended the event said in an interview.

The featured speakers for the dinner were Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, and Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald.

Barrows greeted the guests during the evenings remarks by saying “we’re pleased that the California Contract Cities Association has chosen to hold tonight’s Board of Director’s meeting in Cerritos.”

Attending from the Cerritos City Council included Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Pulido, City Councilwoman Carol Chen and Councilman Joseph Cho.  Councilman George Ray turned down the invitation at the last minute due to an outside personal business meeting.

In addition, Assistant City Manager Kathy Matsumoto also attended the event and played an active role in finalizing many of the details of the dinner, again during business hours at Cerritos City Hall.

The guest list also included Pam Mendoza, Executive Secretary to Gallucci, as well as Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and Sheriff’s Lt. Harpham.
“While we are all facing budgetary challenges, we are also grappling with issues resulting from the public safety realignment,” Barrows said in his comments.  Barrows prepared comments were written by staff members who work in the city’s public information and communications office.

City staff officials also prepared a visual “power point” presentation that was seen on a large screen during the dinner that touted the many well-known landmarks in Cerritos including the Auto Square, the Los Cerritos Center, the Cerritos Towne Center and the Cerritos Library.

Several paid city staff members who work at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts Center were used in the planning of the event, including Dianne Cheney who is the Director of the theater, city emails show.

An email on June 26 from Pam Mendoza, and City Manager Staff Members Debbie Hitomi and Yvette Villalobos, with a copy going to Matsumoto, Mendoza states “the expenses for the California Contract Cities dinner that the City hosted on June 18 will go to account 111-63410.”

“The final invoiced received from Patina (the caterer) shows a zero balance, payment of the deposit and final balance was paid using the city’s Calcard.  Copies of these invoices have been placed in the calcard book,” Mendoza writes.

Mendoza also alerts Hitomi, and Villalobos in the same email “when the Rainbows (floral and centerpiece company) invoice arrives, please be sure to use this account for payment or to code the receipt it was put on a Calcard.  I would also like a copy of the Rainbows information for my event file.”

A copy of all of the emails obtained by HMG-CN regarding the coordination and payments for the event can be viewed here.

  • McMahon, J. says:

    Friday, July 26, 2013


    Randy and Brian: Some of the city staffers on this list are retired from the city, but still employed part time. What a shame, when the county is still suffering from unemployment rates between 6-10% unemployment.

    Guess this $5K dinner, will be added to above deficit of $7M per yr for the CCPA annual budget.


    Thurs, July 25, 2013, only 4 CWP contest winners were rewarded at the CCC Meeting. Boy the $5K spent for CCC dining, could have gone towards some recognition to the 28 CWP winners and judges. Listen to all of the advertising events the CCC went to over the past month, as money using for meet and greet sessions, could of been more wisely used for CWP winners and judges.


    The $5K/ dinner could help shoulder some of the expenses for the PPC tree removals, which will be discussed on Tues 7/30/13 and help expense the citywide proposed tree reforestation program.

    PPC Agenda

    P. An appeal of an administrative determination by the Parks Superintendent denying a request to remove eleven (11) parkway trees adjacent to the properties located at (APN 7012-002-061), (APN 7012-004-072), (APN 7012-006-) (APN 7012-006-029), (APN 7012-006-033), (APN 7012-007-034), (APN 7012-005-062), Cerritos, California, 90703.

    Property Preservation Commission Case No. TR 2013-09
    7. New and Old Business
    A. Consideration of Reviewing the City Parkway Tree Removal Policies.


  • Cerritos Cost Us Money says:

    Is it true?

    Auto insurance Companies base fees on zip codes? Illegal, but some still do it? Cerritos has a high crime rate? Cerritos has a high auto theft rate?

    Cerritos City Council and City Manager receive an auto allowance paid for by residents?

    Are residents paying higher auto insurance premiums, because of the high crime rate?

    What is the city council doing to help residents? Throwing a dinner party for other officials who also receive auto allowances paid for by residents?

    What else is Cerritos doing to cost us money?

  • InSecret says:

    I have something to add to this! Yvette Villalobos uses to the City of Cerritos’ staff to print out party invitations for her family as well as use the park facilities for free, have printed T-shirts for her personal events AND she does this all during regular business hours! I know because she is my family.