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By Brian Hews
Hews Media Group-Community News has exclusively learned that Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) General Manager Kevin Hunt, who is under investigation for allegedly manipulating the selection process for new Board members, has initiated what can only be called a coup d’etat, orchestrating an attempt to take over of the board of directors and seize control of the Commerce based water agency.
It is a move reminiscent of the board takeover that Directors Leticia Vasquez, Bob Apodaca, and James Roybal pulled off in 2012.
Back then, Vasquez and Roybal won their respective seats, and, with the help of Apodaca, immediately removed then President Phil Hawkins and VP Art Chacon to take over the Board.
After that, the “Roybal Three” started down a trail of corruption and political pay-to-play schemes that have cost the agency millions of dollars.
And GM Hunt is trying a similar maneuver in a desperate attempt to secure power and keep his job.
The events unfolded after yesterday’s special board meeting called to “discuss the future employment status of Hunt.”
Sources have told HMG-CN that Hunt had manipulated the selection process of the newly created Board seats as outlined in Cristina Garcia’s AB 1794 and was “getting called to the carpet for possible dismissal” at the meeting.
The Board ended up voting to investigate Hunt for his questionable actions, with current President Phil Hawkins, VP Pedro Aceituno and Director Art Chacon voting yes, and Hunt allies Vasquez and Apodaca voting no.
CB then hired Culver City based Anthony Willoughby to investigate Hunt and paid Willoughby a $25,000 retainer.
Hunt was so incensed by the investigation that he immediately “summoned” the three new applicants and proceeded to swear them in as Central Basin Board members.
Immediately after that, Hunt’s new board called for a special meeting next Monday February 27 to “reorganize the board.”
The meeting will likely remove current President Hawkins and VP Aceituno and replace them with Bob Apodaca and Leticia Vasquez cementing Hunt’s position.
But the meeting might not happen.
Hunt and CB has violated Section 54950 et. seq. of the Ralph M. Brown Act making the swearing-in of the new board members illegal.
Hunt and CB did not give proper public notice or opportunity for the action to be heard by the public.
The Brown Act mandates that an agency must post an action to an agenda and schedule a public meeting in order to give notice to the public of what the agency intends to do.
Hunt’s actions after yesterday’s board meeting was not posted, nor did the public have an opportunity to comment, which violates the Brown Act.
In addition, Hunt has violated provisions of AB 1794, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
AB 1794 states, “The general manager of the district shall notify each water purveyor of the district and provide a 60-day period during which the district will accept nominations for appointment of individuals to the board of directors.”
The 60-day period culminates on March 3, 2017 indicating Hunt had to wait until March 3 to start the appointment process.
HMG-CN has learned that lawyers representing Ron Beilke will file an emergency temporary restraining order either today to tomorrow to stop Hunt’s actions.
Director of External Affairs Joseph Legaspi sent a comment from Hunt this morning, “The three successful candidates who resulted from a process that could take up to 60 days for nominations under the legislation was fully noticed, conducted in a public and transparent process with all documents being retained as public records. Over 30 of the purveyors responded with their ballot, a much higher participation rate than in general elections of directors by district. The actions of the process fulfilled both the intent and the letter of the law. Representatives from Assemblywoman Garcia’s office were present and witnessed the open and transparent process and the high level of involvement throughout the appointment process.”
When asked how the swearing-in was publicly noticed, Hunt responded, “The purveyors were noticed well in advance of all workshops discussing Assembly Bill 1794. Additionally, media releases were posted on our website and distributed to the media to keep the public informed of the process as it unfolded.”
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