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Op-Ed: Commerce Employee Runs Political Machine On Taxpayer Dime

By Brian Hews, Publisher

It is election season, the time when candidates running for local city council offices and school board seats jaunt around to seek out endorsements from other elected politicians, powerful union bosses, and other self-proclaimed political king makers.

These “kings” help deliver neophyte candidates large bags of campaign cash, guarantee vast amounts of votes, and bring in endorsements from other politicians who hold powerful offices like Congressional Members, Assembly Members and State Senators.

Jason Stinnett, Interim PIO for the CIty of Commerce is apparently running campaigns out of Commerce City Hall.

Jason Stinnett, Interim PIO for the CIty of Commerce is apparently running campaigns out of Commerce City Hall.

These kings can make or break a candidate’s chance of winning.

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned, and takes issue with, an apparent local political “king” here in Commerce, Interim Public Information Officer Jason Stinnett.

We have never spoken to Mr. Stinnett, and not for a lack of trying on our part.

The main job of a Public Information Officer is to talk to members of the media and to serve as the official spokesperson for the public agency he or she in employed with. Stinnett has never returned a phone call from this news organization. Not one.

We take issue with the Mr. Stinnett who is attempting to build a political empire while on the city’s payroll; he should be doing the work on behalf of the people of Commerce.

Stinnett is paid a lofty salary that includes full medical, dental, retirement, and other perks. He applied for the PIO position that will pay over $100,000
HMG-CN has learned that within the past few weeks, Stinnett has played king and met with elected officials or attended meetings during regular business hours that have nothing to do with the business of the City of Commerce.

One such meeting was with current Maywood Councilman Felipe Aguirre.

In an interview with HMG-CN Aguirre said, “it was at South Gate Farmers Market, around 11:00 a.m. I met with him because he was backing Ishmael Ververa, a candidate for Maywood City Council who is a police officer in the City of South Gate. Ververa recently moved into the city of Maywood to run for city council.

Aguirre went on to say, “I wanted to find out why Ververa was running. Mr. Stinnett was representing Ververa and his campaign, and he said that he was running the campaign for Vervara as well as appointed City Councilman Edward Verela, and challenger Eddie DeLa Riva.”

Aguirre said Stinnett repeated that he was running their campaigns in their conversation that lasted around 30 minutes.

“I have no idea if Jason is running these campaigns out of Commerce City Hall, but I do know that he is indeed running these campaigns here in Maywood,” Aguirre said.

“Jason did not threaten me during our conversation. I don’t even know the guy, but he was telling me that he is running against Art Chacon next year for Central Basin Water District, and that he was doing whatever he could to build up support for his campaign.”

“This does not surprise me,” said one city employee who declined to be identified, “He is never here at work, in fact, I called him once, left a message on his city machine, and he told me that I never answer that machine call me on my cell.”

HMG-CN has obtained records of Central Basin Water District meetings that show Stinnett’s signature on the attendance sheets. Most of those meetings occur at 10 AM.

When informed what Stinnett was doing, long-time Central Basin Municipal Water Director Art Chacon commented, “as a resident and taxpayer in Commerce, we should expect our city employees to be dedicating their work time to city business and improving our community, not to exploiting their position to promote their own political agendas. City Staff and Council need to hold their employees accountable, especially those in upper management positions.”

Recently, Stinnett declared his candidacy for the CBMWD’s Division 3 seat currently held by Director Chacon. Stinnett is actively raising money for his campaign and has already raised $1,200 in contributions, including a $1,000 donation from the local AFSCME (Commerce city) employee union he controls.

More recently, Stinnett traveled to a meeting of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor to argue to the powerful political wing not to support current Montebello Unified School District President Hector Chacon. Stinnett did this during business hours when he should have been at Commerce City Hall. Sources tell HMG-CN that Stinnett and one of the union leaders, “almost went to blows,” over Stinnett arguing not to endorse Chacon.

After the argument the union employee got up and left the meeting and the union eventually voted not to endorse Chacon. Stinnett is putting his political clout behind Loni Cupchoy to beat Chacon in the upcoming November 5, 2013 election.

Cupchoy is also being supported by well-know Calderon lackeys Mario Beltran, Sergio Infanso, Carlos Illingsworth, and Julian De La Torre; so now it is official, Stinnett is a Calderon minion.

Yes, it is election season, and Stinnett is in full campaign mode. We would like to remind Mr. Stinnett that the people of Commerce and the media are paying attention, especially in these times when political corruption is out of control in Southeast Los Angeles County.

Correction: We inadvertently named Mr. Aguirre Mayor Pro Tem, when he was not, we apologize for the error.

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