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Commerce Employee Set to Cash in on City Council Relationships

By Brian Hews 

(Commerce) A group of vocal Commerce activists are criticizing a city job application process to hire a new Public Information Officer claiming that the position was essentially political payback for the current city employee, Jason Stinnett, who was a political consultant to three current members of the city council.

Stinnett, who is the Acting Public Information Officer for Commerce, now appears to be on the verge of receiving a new role in the City that will pay him anywhere from $6,600 to $8,800 per month in salary as well as full time benefit package that includes medical insurance, dental, vision, and retirement.

Jason Stinnett

Jason Stinnett

Stinnett has been a strong force in Commerce area politics for the past number of years and has worked in the past to get current city elected officials Lilia Leon, Tina Baca Del Rio, Ivan Alramirano, and Joe Aguilar into office.

Stinnett in the past has also overseen a local political website www.savecommerce.org.

The web site actively promoted the campaigns for Leon, Baca Del Rio, Alramirano and Aguilar, and others in the past, and criticized outside challengers who have sought public office in Commerce.

“My concern is that this job is not open to anyone with better qualifications from outside of Commerce,” said Jamie Valencia a longtime community activist.  “It appears more like rewarding your political friends who got you elected to office. We need someone who doesn’t have a bias view of the city.”

In an interview with the Commerce Community News, Commerce City Administrator Jorge Rifa was asked if the PIO job was created “specifically for Stinnett.”

Rifa paused and replied: “I understand the question. All I can tell you is it is my intention to basically put a recruitment process as requested by the city council, and I have done that.”

“I will confirm that I will be responsible for deciding who lands the (PIO) job and that includes the final process,” Rifa said.

Rifa did not want to elaborate on Stinnett’s employment at the City of Commerce.  “I have no comment regarding Jason’s tenure other than to say he is our acting Public Information Officer.”

Valencia was direct in his displeasure with Stinnett and the “back room deals that are being cut to take care of him.”

Valencia said, “Jason has a bias view based upon the fact that he ran the campaigns for four current city councilmembers including Mayor Joe Aguilar, Vice Mayor Lela Leon, Councilman Ivan Alramirano, and Councilwoman Tina Baca DeRio. The public has the right to know what’s going on inside city hall and we deserve a public information officer who doesn’t have a political agenda of his own,” Valencia said.

Stinnett did not return three phone calls requesting a comment for this article, and did not respond to an email sent to him this past week.

Stinnett has indicated that he will be a candidate for the Central Basin Water District Board of Directors in 2014 and run against incumbent Art Chacon who is a longtime resident of Commerce.

Valencia said that he is “deeply troubled” by Stinnett’s planned campaign.

“It is obvious that Jason is using his position to leverage his own career in politics.”

Valencia also voiced his dismay regarding a recent city bond campaign that he claimed Stinnett used “heavy handed” campaign tactics.

“My concern is that this past voter approved AA Bond Measure was run with taxpayer funds and that Jason had a role handling that campaign effort,” Valencia said.

“I feel that employees are scared of Jason because the way he helps the city council and the city council protects him.  Jason manipulates city workers,” Valencia said.

Another longtime city employee who has worked for more than 20 years in Commerce, who did not want to be publicly identified for fear of retaliation said, “the city of Commerce doesn’t need a full time Public Information Officer at this time, especially someone with a track record like Stinnett. Jason is the most influential person in Commerce; he is more powerful than all five city councilmembers combined.  He is going to get this job based on his political power, not because he is the qualified,” the source said.

Stinnett is also listed a Vice President of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, District #36 for Local 773 Commerce Employees Association. A member of the union, who did not want to be named, said “Jason plays both sides of the fence. Because of Jason, we got a lousy contract for the city workers.”

“Jason is the Robert Rizzo of Commerce,” one other source said. “He isn’t likeable, he is politically savvy, but just watch your wallet.”

  • Mike Tyson says:

    Finally Exposed! Stinnett has been sniffing around Central Basin waving his union flag since Roybal and Vasquez got elected back in June of 2012. He’s TROUBLE and all of us at the District know it. This guy has one agenda and that’s to take over this place, give union-connected cronies all the contracts and replace staff with all his unemployed Commerce councilmembers. When will this manipulation stop???

    Los Cerrtios News needs to keep an eye on this joker. He comes to our meetings during Commerce work hours allegedly as their Public Information Officer. He sits there on his all-important iPad like he’s pretending to be somebody important. He criticizes Director Art Chacon just to sound like he’s in the know yet ignores all the scandal-plagued Directors like Touchy-Feely Bob, Kegger Jim and Luscious Letty. This guy walks in with his slick back hair and trendy mini-ponytail acting like he’s some kung fu wannabe. He’s a joke and staff would do everything in our power to derail his Central Basin run next year.

    Hear us Jason, slitter back to city hall and stay away from our water agency. We WILL tell LCCN everything we know about your wheelin” and dealin’ with Roybal and Co. Thank you Brian and Randy:)

  • Valencia 0 - 5 says:

    This article seems like another pathetic attempt to smear good names using dirty politics. Valencia, Robles, Mike Tyson – I am surprised you guys haven’t learned that dirty politics doesn’t work, it only makes you look like more of a desperate fool.

    • Wayne Carter Sr. says:

      Mr. 0-5, I find your comments misguided and without substance. As a 56 year resident of Lynwood, I have been following the controversies surrounding Central Basin Water mainly as a result of my prior knowledge of Director Leticia Vasquez, who was recalled in Lynwood after only one term (for good reason).

      It would seem to me that this publication has been extremely accurate in their reporting and that numerous investigations are currently underway as a result of their investigative articles. Where are good names being smeared?

      If you play in the mud, you will get dirty. That’s what my mother used to say and it’s true. This Stinnett fellow seems to be in cahoots with the council member in the City of Commerce to place him in a position to gain support to run for an elected seat at Central Basin representing the city in which he lives and works. Now I’m not a rocket scientist as they say, but something tells me that this is collaborative and orchestrative effort to get Stinnett elected using the Public Information Officer position as a vehicle to ensure maximum exposure. Great plan, but not ethical by any means. This is not right and those Commere councilmembers should not be permitting this happen.

      Furthermore, the fact that Stinnett is opposing Director Arturo Chacon with the backing of those causing all the mess at that water agency speaks volumns! I know Director Vasquez and she is not fit to serve. I have read much about president Roybal and frankly, that man is simply nuts. If Stinnett is being supported by those two, then the City of Commerce is just asking for trouble.

      This story is not about smearing good names, it’s about sending a warning shot to alert people that what’s going on in Commerce needs a closer look. There’s nothing desperate about this story, it’s what the media needs to be doing more of. Are you one of those voters who believes in making an uninformed decision? Well, there’s plenty of you folks to go around unfortunately, just look at all those who elected Roybal, Vasquez and Apodaca!

  • City of Corruption says:

    It’s no coincidence that the Central Basin Water District is located in the City of Commerce. Like many of the elected members of the water district, the city’s councilmembers are just as corrupt. Their campaigns were financed by Steve Craig who owns the Citadel. He greases the council and in return they give him carte blanche.

    It won’t be long before the District Attorney, Attorney General and the Fed’s come sniffing as they look into the bank accounts of councilmembers, especially Ivan’s. He’s practically family with the Craigs, even vacationing with them.

    In their quest to pay back Stinnett, the Commerce Council opened the door wide open and now it can’t be closed. City Manager Jorge Rifa knows that once he agrees to give Stinnett the PIO position permanently, the clock starts tickin’.

    Steve Craig may own the City Council, but he’ll have nowhere to hide once he crosses the Stinnett bridge. When the press exposes Stinnett as the city’s photographger (is that actually a real job?) who somehow climbed the ranks to a management position, all hell will break lose in this one horse town.

    Furthermore, the last thing the embattled Central Basin needs is another political hack who knows zero about water coming in to seek his share.

  • Commerce Resident says:

    Excellent article! I have a few questions and comments; did Stinnett also run the Robert Fierro and Tina Baca campaign when they ran together as a team; that connection would be advantageous since Robert Fierro is a convicted felon and they both ran on the promise to clean up the city’s crime problems;

    Stinnette promoted both of them per the savecommerce.org website; some people don’t think that violating the F.P.PC. regulations is a crime; as long as they pay the fine. I think the state is happy when they get the revenue and the politicians are happy when someone else pays for it; the only people that are unhappy are the residents.

  • Steven Seagal says:

    So where is this Stinnett guy hiding? Wasn’t this the same guy who was responding to the early stories in this paper about the corruption at Central Basin claiming to he holier than thou? As I recall, Stinnett was that tough talking chump who was sticking up for Central Basin’s resident crooks James Roybal, Leticia Vasquez and Bob Apodaca while promoting his BS anit-Chacon agenda that nobody bought? Yep, same turkey.

    This guy raised big union $$$$$ for Roybal and Vasquez and claimed to be a union head honcho shot caller. Great credentials buddy, makes me want to rally behind him.

    So let’s look at what’s going on here. Stinnett works for the City of Commerce so he can’t run where he works, so I guess that makes Central Basin ripe for the taking. His council buddies promote him to a cushy job where he can promote them (and himself) so that he build a base for Central Basin where he can then hire Tina, Lilla and Ivan to public outreach and government liason posts that all pay $100,000 plus. Sounds like more Gil Cedillo Jr.’s right?

    The residents of Commerce deserve better and Stinnett needs to be terminated. Too bad Jorge Rifa is the Council’s boy who will do whatever they ask. I think that place needs a good housecleaning.

  • Anonymous says:

    savecommerce.org may be taken down due to this but you cannot delete history.


  • Steven Seagal says:

    So why was SAVECOMMERCE.ORG shut down so quickly? A whiole buch of chinese stuff comes up now. Talk about running scared. I wonder if Jason Stinnett will be at Central Basin’s Special Meeting of the Ethics Committee tomorrow? His buddy James Roybal is about to fry. Talk about having a bad week courtesy of the LCCN…first his job at city hall is now in jeopardy and then his closest ally at Central Basin is about to be put in a box.

    Isn’t it amazing how quickly one’s fortunes can change.

  • Jose Lopez says:

    Wow! This is a bunch of crazy accusations! Jason is an honest man…he’s been working for the City since I was kid! And Jamie Valencia…nobody likes him. He acts all creepy at the gym an noone wants to talk to him! He’s compas with former council convict Hugo Argumedo who got smacked by the DA just like Robert Fierro got smacked by the FBI and guess what: Hugo is run in the next election with crybaby councilwomen Denise Robles who was supported by Robert Fierro! Someone should tell Jaime that losing 5 elections in a row doesn’t make him a community activist. It makes him a loser and a lier!

  • City of Corruption says:

    Jose Lopez, your cousin Tina Baca DeRio must be desperate for you to attack a handicaped guy like Jaime Valencia. I also see Valencia at the gym and yes it’s weird seeing a person which such exyensive disabilities attempting to work out. Personally, it makes me thankful that I am healthy and can work out while looking like everyone else. I can’t believe you would actually refer to him as creepy… this guy needs crutches to get around and I can see why nobody talks to him. It’s sad, not creepy! You crossed the line here Tina and Jose. You need to apologize. That was personal and disgusting. Tina should resign for putting you up to this!

  • Serpico says:

    This is in response to Jose Lopez’s comments; “ Wow! This is a bunch of crazy accusations! Jason is an honest man” you neglected to give us some specifics/facts of what accusations are crazy and to provide some examples of why Mr. Stinnett is so honest; when I read these statements; my first thought was; this person is a family member of someone that is involved in these issues; my suspicions have been confirmed by a previous commentator. “and Jamie Valencia nobody likes him” again you present no facts; nobody means not one person likes him; how many hundreds of these nobody’s voted for him in the last election. “He acts all creepy at the gym an noone wants to talk to him!” again you present no facts; is he creepy because he is handicapped? “no one wants to talk to him!; again no one means not one person wants to talk to him”; can you prove that; “He’s compas with former council convict Hugo Argumedo who got smacked by the DA just like Robert Fierro got smacked by the FBI”; if your saying that Jamie Valencia is a friend of convict Hugo Argumedo; then if the previous commenter is correct about you being the cousin of Tina Baca Del Rio who was involved in the conspiracy described in the Federal indictment with Robert Fierro, that resulted in a felony conviction; Hugo Argumendo pled guilty to a misdemeanor; not comparable. Tina Baca was found guilty of violating state Fair Political practices statutes and paid a $26,000 dollar fine; compare that to Hugo Argumendo’s penalties; no comparison. “Someone should tell Jaime that losing 5 elections in a row doesn’t make him a community activist. It makes him a loser and a lier!” again you are incorrect; it was 4 elections; ”a loser”; someone who does not give up is not a loser; especially if he walks on crutches all day talking to the residents of commerce; “a liar”; what did he lie about; specificity does not seem to be your strong point. I believe in facts; I am requesting that Randy Economy provide PDF’s of the federal indictment involving Robert Fierro and Tina Baca and the F.P.P.C documents verifying the charges against Tina Baca Del Rio and the subsequent fines and any other relevant documents. This will allow the community to judge for themselves between facts and fiction.

  • Jose Lopez says:

    Crazy trolls. The ‘former commenter’ is crazy. I’m not related to any Councilmember and you guys are the ones talking about Jamies handicap so mabe you should say sorry to him. Save the drama fo you mama until you man up and post your name you cool anonymous dudes. I’m going to tell all my friends that Serpico, Steven Segal and Mike Tyson live in Commerce!

  • Jason Herrera says:

    This must be a joke post, right? He’s going to tell “all his friends” that Serpico, Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson live in Commerce. That’s a low blow! If the late Saddam Hussein was still alive, I think that EVEN HE’D BE EMBARRASSED to say he lived in Commerce! Something tells me that this Jose Lopez is really Jason Stinnett, which says a lot about his qualifications to be Commerce’s Public Information Officer:) Obviously union-backed, intelligence not a requirement..

  • Serpico says:

    This is in response to Jose Lopez’s response to my last post; instead of refuting my facts, logic and reason, you continue to insult, obfuscate, and now you try an implied threat; “I’m going to tell all my friends that Serpico, Steven Segal and Mike Tyson live in Commerce!” You are trying to intimidate all 3 of us so that we will not comment anymore; the reason is; you can’t handle the truth; you don’t have the truth; you don’t have any facts to offer to refute my version of the truth; you don’t have any logic, reason or substance to offer; all of this limits your ability to comment; that is why you are so angry. This is in response to Cool Anonymous Dude’s comment; “Jose, you told those guys! Freakin’ unbelievable…..”; you became so excited about Jose’s implied threat that you decided to man up and post your real name; “Cool Anonymous Dude”; my only response to you is; Freakin unbelievable!!!!!!!!!!!

  • why you rustled says:

    @team valencia,denise and art: http://i.imgur.com/FWiGqVa.gif

  • Mr. Lopez says:

    I met this clown and from the beginning I could tell that he was self servant. I recall asking him about their employee negotiations and he said that he did not have to woory because their union membership was stupid and would follow like sheep to the slaughter house. He is very arrogant and said I could get it done through Kevin Larsen he is my puppet and I can manipulate him. After reading this article I guess Mr. Stinnet was right.

  • Mike Tyson says:

    We are so happy that all these people posting are exposing Stinnett for what he is. This guy latched onto James Roybal and steered union money to both he and Leticia Vasquez with the simply intention of trying to weasel his way into gaining their support to challenge Director Art Chacon next year. This guy isn’t legit. He’d do whatever it takes, sell his mother if necessary, to become SOMEBODY important. How pathetic.

    The good people of Commerce need to be forewarned that Jason Stinnett is using them, using their councilmembers, using his union connections, all to become an elected official. Just what Central Basin needs too. Another crook to join the ranks of Apodaca, Roybal and Vasquez. Wake up!

  • Concerned Commerce Resident says:

    Jason Stinnett slithers back and forth smiling with you and stabbing you in the back first chance he gets. You are right to say he is a politician. He worked as a photographer for the City of Commerce and has always used his website and partnered with unethical people like Miles to promote their own agenda for personal gain…..TRASH. Let us remember those 2 people: Acero and Kevanian who had a strong desire to advocate for the people. We are talking about a Deputy Sheriff and an IRS Agent, who wanted to clean up and create a transparent City Hall. Employees were fed poison by Stinnett and his gang of homeboys: leonard mendoza, miles, joe augilar’s nephew carlos, and kevin larsin. Jason and his gang prevailed and Stinnett got promoted during a time when Commerce is supposed to freeze unneccessary positions to better serve Commerce Residents. Youth who are employed in Commerce through the YES program now make 500 dollars for 200 hours of work as opposed to receiving 1600 dollars for those 200 hours. No SARCASM. U Stinnett are inconsiderate. Your own daughter refused to live with U because you lack morals and have a corrupt heart

  • ghost from days past says:

    WELL WELL WELL!!!! I guess kharma really does exist. I wonder how Jason likes being in the fish bowl? For years I watched this person use and abuse both people and things to get what he wanted. Totally subscribing to ” the end justifies the means” Speculation but is all well and good but I was actually there and in many rooms watching him in action first hand. This is not Jason’s first position as politacal payback. In fact sufficed to say his whole tunure with the city is. He has used politicians, unions, friends, neighbors, co-workers, family classmates, girlfriends, children and anyone else he could to get where he is. I especially like the slithering comment made in one comment. That discribes perfectly how he operates. Jason has NEVER done anything for employees unless it was in his best interest and personal gain was involved. Time and Time again he sold out part time employees all the while convincing them that it was in their best interest to give up rights and benefits. So he could prove to the powers that be that he had power and could deliver AND deliver he did. At their expense and apparently his methods are still working. He received his last promotion without proper qualifications or credentials as political payback and that is a FACT!!! There were candidates with degrees (already in hand) and much more experience but low and behold Jason got the job? Hmmmmm???? When it was exposed it turned into oh he is working on his degree and will not get the pay until he does????? RIGHT!!
    Jason has some real issues and has the need to build himself up and try to provee his intelligence at the expense of others. He lives in his own warped mind that tells him he is much too intelligent for us earthlings. He is the most DANGEROUS kind of person. He has lived to have a title whichis what defines him.Jason’s behavior started long before his first job with the City of Commerce!! His relationships with prior councilmembers and connections to his positions with the city are very connected!
    So Jason, How does it feel to be in the Fish Bowl??? A well deserved position I say. Welcome to your own kharma Jason!
    I hope that at least the employees will see him for the cheap suit that he really is. He should be given the position of pariah.
    Employees of City of Commerce deserve better. They are hard working people who deserve to be represented by people who truly are ready to sacrifice their own comforts for the WHOLE membership not just the full timers!!! For too long full time and part time have been pitted against eachother and unfortunately part timers have always been the bargaining chip the was throw away. Jason is and has always been very good at convincing people that he is fair and right! But watch out if you dare challenge his ego lest you end up target of his righteous pen or mouth.
    People Jason Stinnet is not your friend nor champion he is his own and works towards his own selfish goals and needs to be someone. He his a legend in his own mind. This is not opinion this is fact. First hand accounts.
    Jason should come with a label that says

    • Revolutionary Man says:

      Well said Ghost. You know this guy as well as the rest of us. Let’s spread the word to get rid of Stinnett, Baca Del Rio, Leon and Ivan!