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OP/ED: Cerritos Mayor Carol Chen Holds Secret Meeting, Misuses Public Funds to Salvage Local Political Newspaper

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Sources tell HMG-CN the meeting was official City of Cerritos business aimed at keeping the pro-Chen paper open using Cerritos’ advertising dollars and endorsements. HMG-CN will ask Los Angeles District Attorney to investigate misuse of funds.

By Brian Hews

In a meeting that can only be labeled highly questionable and extremely unethical, Cerritos Mayor Carol Chen and former Cerritos Mayor Bruce Barrows demanded, and were immediately granted, a meeting with self-annoited newspaper publisher Melinda Kimsey, a.k.a. Chen Publisher, in Chen’s battle to keep Kimsey’s politically one-sided publication in operation.

Back in June, Chen Publisher slashed her printed newspaper circulation by 95% amidst ongoing tensions between her only writer Jerry Bernstein and her designer, Cerritos Fine Arts and Historical Commissioner Janet Beach.

Apparently Chen Publisher runs the paper like Donald Trump, hurling insults out at employees every day, which typically happens to unsuccessful real estate agents who try to become newspaper publishers.

Relations between Chen Publisher, Bernstein, and Beach sunk to such a low level that a vindictive, peevish Chen Publisher publicly wrote “Your Fired!” to Bernstein and Beach in her Opinion column in her publication in June.

Paging Dr. Phil; got a good show segment for you.

Chen Publisher’s petulant outburst in her column caused major fallout as delivery ceased in June, with the paper severely cutting its already small home delivery, while Chen Publisher was seen delivering papers herself to only Artesia and Cerritos City Halls, a cut back in circulation of over 95%.

And Cerritos advertised that week… they should ask for a refund.

Chen was informed of the firing and non-delivery as she attended a Cerritos Optimists meeting and immediately “demanded” the meeting with Chen Publisher Kimsey, taking her long-time political ally and confidant “Battery” Bruce Barrows with her just in case Chen Publisher got chippy.

I guess Chen thought Jay Gray was going to attend the meeting.

What did Chen, the Mayor of Cerritos who holds all the purse strings with three votes have to gain by salvaging the Chen News?

Plenty. Chen has enjoyed complete unfettered access to controlling the editorial content of the paper since it started.

Witness all the lies the paper published about the ABC AA Bond or the endorsment of all the anti- ABCUSD improvement candidates in the latest election.

Pictures of Chen and her Cerritos City Council buddies can be found on the front and inside pages in virtually every publication.

I once counted five pictures of Chen, Ray, and Solanki in the paper, and that was a slow news week.

Chen even has Bernstein on speed dial so she can summon him for every event she attends…. that doesn’t have food.

The staggering number of pictures and stories about Chen and Co. certainly should cause observers to think the unfounded and duplicate advertising dollars placed by the City of Cerritos – by Chen’s order – in the Chen News is a blatant misuse of public funds spent to promote Chen and her political career.

So, what did Chen have offer to salvage the failing Chen News in that secret meeting?

Once again, plenty. Chen is the Mayor of Cerritos, she has three votes, so basically anything she wants.

More city advertising dollars for the paper? Threaten to cut all city advertising? Additional city advertising above what they are placing now? Endorse Brad Beach, Janet Beach’s son, when he runs for City Council? Give Bernstein an open account at Lazy Dog Café?

It is a Los Angeles District Attorney’s dream scenario in a court of law.

HMG-CN has been told from reliable sources that Chen is financially assisting the newspaper.

That makes sense, as the newspaper does not have enough advertising on its pages, or even information about the newspaper rates on its’ website.

Calls into the newspaper asking for rates yielded, “what do you want to pay.”


Chen is helping the paper as a counter to Los Cerritos Community News’ hard hitting investigative reporting on her, which included reporting on the illegal trip to China that Chen and Barrows took in April 2012, and her many $65 halibut dinners, $85 steaks, and $45 desserts on Cerritos taxpayer’s dimes.

Cerritos changed their travel policy because of the articles and Chen is still angry.

Nothing wrong with funding a newspaper as a private citizen, as long as you are not a Mayor or City Councilperson and hold the financial purse strings to the city, with the ability to funnel advertising dollars to the publication to further their own political careers…and pocketbooks.

So Chen and Barrows have their summit with Chen Publisher and, lo and behold, the next edition of the Chen News has three Cerritos advertisements and astonishingly, Bernstein and Beach, after getting humiliated in print when Chen Publisher “fired” the two in an opinion column, came back to work.


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Three advertisements (half, quarter, & eighth) published in Kimsey’s paper one week after her meeting with Cerritos Mayor Carol Chen and Bruce Barrows. When Chen learned that Kimsey publicly fired her Editor Bernstein and designer Janet Beach, she called for a meeting. One week later, Bernstein and Beach were back at work and the City of Cerritos had placed the three advertisements in Kimsey’s newspaper. The ads were placed after Kimsey cut the number of newspapers printed by 95%.



Gee what a shock.

I know that Cerritos City Manager Art Gallucci would have never run those advertisements unless he was compelled to do so by three City Council persons.

My guess is that Chen and her followers called Gallucci and “requested” he place advertising in the Chen News.

Nothing else makes sense.

Offering more evidence is this: The Chen News’ office is in Artesia, yet if a person calls into Cerritos City Hall asking for Cerritos newspapers, the receptionist answers the Los Cerritos Community News and the Chen News.

Can you say Brown Act Violation?

What we have here Ceritans is Chen’s blatant misuse of public funds to retain control over local media combined with her using city funds and the power of the Cerritos Mayor’s seat to coerce the Chen Publisher into publishing stories favorable to Chen.

And all you Ceritans thought I was nuts when I called Chen a Communist.

So, given the above blatant misuse of public funds and abuse of office, HMG-CN will be sending a complaint letter to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division asking for an investigation.

The D.A. likes it when complaint letters are specific, so here is a partial excerpt from the letter:

Mayor Chen is in violation of California Penal Code Section 424 (a)1 Misappropriation of Public Funds and Section 425.

Section 424 (a) states: each officer of this state, or of any county, city, town, or district of this state, and every other person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys, who

1. Without authority of law, appropriates the same, or any portion thereof, to his or her own use, or to the use of another; is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and is disqualified from holding any office in this state.

Section 425 makes the violation of 424 a felony.

Section 426 defines “public moneys,” as including……all moneys belonging to the state, or any city, county, town, district, or public agency therein.

Now look, I certainly would not want Chen in jail, but to be disqualified from public office certainly sounds good, and is applicable in this case.

I believe the D.A. will think so too.

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