_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________



QUESTIONABLE RECALL: From (l-r) Mayor Ali Taj and Councilmen Miguel Canales and Victor Manalo.

By Brian Hews

Once again proponents of an Artesia recall, who, according to Artesia residents, deliberately misled them during a failed May 2017 recall attempt, have resurrected another recall campaign in an effort to oust Mayor Ali Taj and Councilmen Victor Manalo and Miguel Canales.

Disgruntled former Artesia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rene Trevino, along with a few angry vocal business owners in Artesia, are once again behind the controversial recall attempt.

And this time they reportedly have enlisted a “campaign consultant” to help them with their campaign.

Even though they have both voted very similar to Taj, Manalo, and Canales, neither Mayor pro tem Sally Flowers nor Councilman Tony Lima is included in the recall.

Helping Trevino is Gurpal Sood, Dorothy Kane, and local newsletter owner Melinda Kimsey.

Many are questioning the involvement of Sood and Kimsey, as both live in Cerritos.


Cerritos resident Melinda Kimsey is helping the recall, many are questioning her motives and involvement in the effort.

Sources are also telling HMG-CN that the group is using outside campaign consultant Chris Robles.

Robles, who operates the Pericles Group, is a long time operative with a past that includes managing controversial recalls for trash haulers along with several Fair Political Practices Commission violations including depositing  funds meant for his campaign into his own bank account.

His inclusion will have many local residents wondering why he has joined the recall effort.

Sources are telling HMG-CN that Robles and the new recall could be backed by trash hauling companies angry that CR&R landed Artesia’s trash contract in 2015.

Their endgame is a referendum to recall Taj, Canales and Manalo and then vote on a new trash contract, but they need to clear out the Council first.

Robles trash history

In 2008, Robles’ established a political committee called Save Our City and began receiving contributions, mostly from trash hauling companies.

Those companies included well-known trash haulers NASA Enterprises, Serv-Wel Disposal, Universal Waste Systems, AAA Rubbish, American Reclamation, Haul-Away Rubbish, Key Disposal, and Commercial Waste Enterprises.

Robles reportedly collected over $128,000.

Robles and Save Our City funded a recall of Montebello City Council members Robert Urteaga & Kathy Salazar in 2010.

Similar to Artesia, the two council members were part of a three-council majority that voted for an exclusive trash-hauling contract.

Robles’ company, Pericles Group, was well-paid for the campaign literature and mailings, campaign consultation; even earning a large salary during the recall.

The committee also owed Robles money for the recall petition circulation after the recall was concluded.

Robles was also involved in very questionable financial activities.

In 2007 Lynwood Councilwoman Aide Castro agreed to pay $3,500 to settle violations by her campaign.

Castro paid the fine after state regulators ruled that a political action committee, Voters Against Corruption, established to recall Lynwood city council members, was connected to her campaign group.

Durkee & Associates was the treasurer for Castro’s and for Voters Against Corruption.

The FPPC questioned Robles’ work as a “double agent,”  working as a campaign consultant to both Castro’s Group and VAC.

Durkee was accused of campaign fund mismanagement from politicians across the state, such as Senator Diana Feinstein. She was arrested in 2011 and later sentenced to 8 years in prison for fraud.

Several FPPC Violations

In 2009, the FPPC found that Robles failed to file his Assuming and Leaving Office Statements of Economic Interests as a Montebello Planning Commissioner.

See FPPC letter click here.

These forms are used to spot any monetary conflict of interest relationships (bribes) between an appointed officials and local companies.

In 2010, the FPPC found that Robles failed to properly report contributions and timely file campaign statements of his own campaign.

More serious, the FPPC also found Robles violated the Political Reform Act by coordinating an expenditure with a candidate.

Finally, the investigation found that Robles deposited monies intended for a committee into his own Pericles Group business bank account.

See FPPC letter click here.

Trevino disgruntled former Commissioner

The motives of Trevino, who is the “proponent, ” or “leader” of the recall, have been called into question as Trevino resigned under controversy as the Artesia Parks and Recreation appointee of Mayor Ali Taj.

Trevino recently attempted a recall in May but it failed miserably.

The May 2017 petitions submitted by Trevino and Sood contained fraudulent signatures and signatures that were obtained by the two giving false and misleading statements to residents of Artesia.

Many residents told HMG-CN, and bombarded Artesia City hall with phones calls, that Trevino and Sood told them the petition was to stop the Pioneer Blvd. project not to recall the officials.

Those types of misleading statement are a violation of California’s Election Code section 11000.

19 of the 29 May signatures, over 60%, were withdrawn by the residents who claimed they were misled and signed the petition.

The withdrawal invalidated the entire recall.

However, during the May recall process – while misleading residents into signing the petition – Trevino and Sood gathered over 300 signatures.

The recall group placed 30 signatures from the May documents onto new recall petitions, submitting the months old signatures to the City Clerk to begin another recall.

“That does not seem logical to be able to re-use the signatures,” said Dan Reed a long-time election law attorney based in Rancho Mirage, “you would think that, like the first set of signatures, 60% of the new signatures would be withdrawn.”

But the proponents made that point moot.

Using even more questionable tactics, the group served Mayor Taj and Councilman Manalo while both were on vacation, giving the two very little time to answer the petitions and possibly invalidate the recall.

Upon receipt of the petition Artesia Mayor Taj went out and immediately gathered three request for removals.

The Mayor and councilmen had until Friday July 21, 2017 to file an answer in objection to the petitions.