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Central Basin Water President Apodaca, VP Roybal, and Director Vasquez Choose Law Firm Once Connected to the Calderon Family

By Brian Hews

On a 3-2 vote this week, with Central Basin (CB) Directors Arturo Chacon and Phil Hawkins voting no, CB President Robert Apodaca, VP James Roybal and Director Leticia Vasquez chose Nossaman, LLP, a firm that had ties to the Calderon family, and a firm that was recommended by CB GM Kevin Hunt, as CB’s new legal firm.


Nossaman screenshot Calderon

Screenshot of Nossaman website, 2nd paragraph, 2nd line indicates Charles Calderon worked for Nossaman.

In addition, in what appears to be a violation of California Contract Law, the three chose the firm even though they were the highest bidder.

The selection process did not, according to Hawkins and Chacon, follow CB’s policy for contracting with a firm such as Nossaman.

And the process took an odd turn when CB Director Chacon received a call from former California Assemblyman Jose Solario, who was recently hired as a Senior Policy Advisor for Nossaman.

“I got a call,” Chacon told HMG-CN, “from this guy who I did not even know and he left a message. He said his name was Jose Solario and he worked for Nossaman and proceeded to try to impress me by telling me how he knew and worked with Rick Mayer-a convicted felon, Angel Gonzales- a felon who plead down to a misdemeanor, and Compton Councilman Isaac Galvan. Given the very questionable character of those three individuals, I did not return the call. He also called Director Hawkins with the same message and Director Hawkins did not return his call either.”

The fact that Solario cited Mayer, Gonzales, and Galvan did not seem to bother Apodaca, Roybal, or Vasquez, as all three met with Solario. It did not seem to bother CB GM Hunt.

Apodaca is reportedly very close friends with Rick Mayer. Also it was first reported by HMG-CN that Apodaca worked for then-State Senator Ron Calderon as a staffer involved in a pay-to-play scheme with Ron’s brother Tom Calderon to funnel CB contracts to Tom.

See story click here.

In addition, in a February 2013 article, HMG-CN was the first newspaper to report that Roybal and Vasquez’ campaign were financed by Rick Mayer and Angel Gonzales.

See story click here.

And Hunt worked with Nossaman previously when he was GM at the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC).

In 2014, KPCC reported that Dick Ackerman, who is a senior member of Nossaman, had been on several Metropolitan Water District ratepayer financed trips with Larry Dick, who represented the MWDOC.

Ackerman and his PAC donated to Dick’s water district campaign, and Ackerman and his Nossaman law firm received a contract from the MWDOC.

CB GM Kevin Hunt was general manager at the MWDOC at the time and advocated for the Nossaman firm.


“They did not follow the process, this was set up from the beginning to bring in Nossaman,” Chacon said, “Phil [Director Hawkins] and I were basically left out of most of the process.”

It was first reported in this newspaper that Apodaca and newly hired GM Kevin Hunt met privately with Nossaman, who Hunt knew had connections with the Calderon family, in direct violation of CB procedures for hiring firms that contract with the Commerce based water agency.

Sources told HMG-CN that CB Vice-President James Roybal also met with Nossaman representatives.

A review of Nossaman’s website by HMG-CN found that the firm had previous connections with the Calderon family, “…Nossaman advisors are well respected in Sacramento, reflecting the strong legacy of former Senators Dick Ackerman, John Foran, and Charles Calderon, former Assembly Members Jack Knox and Bill Bagley, and California’s longest serving Legislative Counsel, Bion Gregory.
Both Apodaca and Hunt have previous ties with the Calderons and Nossaman, respectively.

Hiring Procedure

HMG-CN was told that the procedure for hiring a law firm for CB initially starts with a top administrative “panel” interviewing potential firms.

To ensure transparency, the GM along with CB Board Members do not participate in this process.

The firms are classified and only those designated as “Tier 1” move on to closed session interviews with the GM and Board Members after which a decision is made.

But in a recent meeting, Chacon and Hawkins were stunned when they were told by Hunt, “President [Bob] Apodaca and I met privately with Nossaman recently.”

The meeting between Apodaca, Hunt, and Nossaman took place prior to the closed session interview of potential law firms, violating the procedure for hiring and calling into question the entire hiring process.

CB Director Art Chacon was perplexed about the whole situation. “Kevin told me several times that our current law firm, Glassman, was the best, then all of a sudden Glassman is not the best and we need to go with Nossaman? The interesting fact is that Glassman was the lowest bidder and Nossaman was the highest and that Nossaman’s monthly contracted hourly rate jumps after a certain amount of hours. Why did we have this ‘hiring process’ when they do deals like this behind everyone’s back?”

CB Director Phil Hawkins told HMG-CN, “here we go again, for some reason certain people are ignoring the lessons from the last time CB dealt with the Calderons.”

  • FLFF says:

    Regressive CA WRD liberal democrat business think… if it works, break it… if it doesn’t work, break it more!

    When oh when will we be RID of the graft corruption and rotten to the core officials doing all of the reported crap? I guess never seeing as how ALL the libturds stick together and protect each other.

    The AG needs an independent investigation of the entire office but none will happen because of politics OVER good government!