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Artesia Councilman Victor Manalo Makes a Strong Case That Recall Proponents Defamed Him and Others

From (l-r) Artesia Mayor Ali Taj, and Councilmen Miguel Canales and Victor Manalo are fighting a questionable recall. Manalo wrote a strong letter to the City and residents claiming recall proponents, led by Rene Trevino, defamed him in the Intent to Recall Petition.


Most Proponents and Supporters in the Recall Have Questionable and Criminal Pasts

By Brian Hews

Artesia Councilman Victor Manalo has taken the lead in fighting the questionable recall against him, Mayor Ali Taj and Councilman Miguel Canales, sending out a letter to both the City and residents describing the recall as a sham while making a strong case that the proponents defamed him in their petition statements.

Residents Rene Trevino and Dorothy Cane are leading proponents of the recall, as is Cerritos resident Gurpal Sood. Cerritos resident Melinda Kimsey has questionably joined the effort.

Kimsey’s goal is to replace the three so she can assure herself City advertising.

Curiously, the proponents are not recalling Mayor pro tem Sally Flowers or Councilman Tony Lima, both of whom have voted for most of the same projects as Taj, Manalo, and Canales.

Trevino became emboldened when Kimsey, who owns a small newsletter, eschewed journalistic ethics and became Trevino’s ally in the recall, an action which was not out of character for Kimsey.

In 2010, after a two year bogus battle in court, Kimsey shockingly admitted in a court of law to committing perjury, falsely accusing a 4th grade teacher of sexual harassment and pedophilia, recanting her entire story, finally paying a $20,000 fine. Click on link below.


Cerritos Resident Melinda Kimsey Fined $20,000 for Falsely Accusing Teacher of Pedophilia


Kimsey’s friend and confidant, Jerry Bernstien, a long-time  journalist, also eschewed ethics and joined Trevino and Kimsey in the recall effort.

Bernstien has constantly criticized  Taj, Canales, and Manalo, blasting the three popular elected officials in Kimsey’s newsletter while hiding behind a “Staff Report”  byline to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Finally, Kimsey’s chief newsletter designer, who has some editorial leeway in the newsletter, is Cerritos’ resident Janet Beach,  a Fine Arts Commissioner in Cerritos appointed by current Councilman Jim Edwards.

Beach, like Kimsey, has a questionable history, with Beach and her fellow commissioners spending thousands of Cerritos taxpayer dollars on lavish “art” trips.

Prior to her current 2017 appointment, Beach had been appointed by Edwards in 2005, ’07, ’09, ’11. Former Cerritos Mayor George Ray appointed Beach in 2013 and ’15.

In August 2010, then-Councilmembers Carol Chen, Bruce Barrows, and Edwards took a trip with Beach and four other  commissioners. Records showed that during that trip, the group dined at a high-end restaurants spending over $375, including $40 steaks, and $38 crab cakes. On another night they spent over $260 for dinner, eating wild salmon and prime rib. Six other meals averaged $100 each.

In 2014, HMG-CN exclusively reported that Beach and her commission  went on a lavish trip to Miami on the taxpayer’s dime to “choose artwork.” Records show the group spent over $8,000 on the four day trip. Click on link below graphic.


High flying members of the Cerritos Arts Commission [l-r] Julietta Williams, Elaine Shiohama and Janet Beach attended the ‘Art Symposium’ in Miami, costing Cerritos taxpayers over $8,000. Doris Iglesias who also attended is not pictured. The Cerritos City Council has nixed all future travel for city commissioners after HMG-CN ran critical articles about the pricey trips. Graphic by HMG-CN.


Cerritos Commissioners Attend Lavish Miami ‘Sculpture Symposium’


Kimsey and Supporters Have Not Questioned Alleged Defamatory Statements by Trevino and Sood

Kimsey and her newsletter crew are solidly behind the questionable recall, with Kimsey seen with Trevino at local events, even sitting with Trevino during an entire Artesia Council meeting that sometimes last up to three hours. Kimsey has not denied her support for the false statements in Trevino’s Intent to Recall Petition.


SUSPECT RELATIONSHIP: Cerritos resident Melinda Kimsey seen here with Rene Trevino, the outspoken leader and proponent of the Artesia recall movement, at this week’s Artesia City Council meeting. Kimsey and Trevino sat together the entire meeting. Kimsey was also seen with Trevino posting the Intent to Recall Petition around Artesia. Councilman Manalo accused Trevino of defamation with Trevino lying about financial circumstances surrounding the Artesia trash contract on thel Petition.


In addition, Trevino and Sood have reportedly enlisted Chris Robles as a “consultant” to help them with the recall. Robles, similar to everyone else involved in the recall, has a very questionable past.

And Kimsey, Beach and Bernstien have yet to report on Robles’ questionable past which was first documented by HMG-CN. Click on link below.




HMG-CN attempted to contact Robles, who owns Vantage Campaigns and the website vantagecampaigns.com placing several phone calls to numbers listed on his website, (323) 546-8683 and (909) 259-9489, beginning July 20.

By August 5, the (323) 546-8683 was disconnected and the (909) 259-9489 is a Vonage phone with a message “the caller is not receiving calls at this time.”

In addition, HMG-CN researched Robles company address at 4195 Chino Hills Parkway, Suite 587, Chino Hills, CA., 91709 and found that it is a rented PO Box at Parkway Postal.

Manalo Makes His Case

Manalo’s initial email to the City accused Trevino, Cane, and Sood of knowingly misleading residents related to the content of the recall petition, citing California Elections Code Section 18600.

Under 18600 it is a misdemeanor to circulate and obtain signatures while misrepresenting or intentionally making any false statement concerning its contents.

It is also a misdemeanor when proponents (Trevino, Cane and Sood) knowingly circulate or publish any false statement or misrepresentation concerning the contents for the purpose of obtaining any signatures.

Manalo stated, “Based on evidence corroborated by Mayor Taj and myself from the first Notice of Intent to Recall, filed in May 2017 and further evidence obtained by Mayor Taj from the Notice filed on July 6, the circulators of these petitions knowingly mislead people regarding the contents of the petition in order to persuade them to sign the petition.”

The circulators were Rene Trevino and Gurpal Sood.

HMG-CN exclusively reported on the recall in May where the same charges were being alleged against Trevino and Sood. Click on link below.


Charges of Fraud and Forgery Leveled at Organizers of Artesia Recall Campaign

Only a few days later the controversial recall campaign against  Taj, Manalo, and Canales was invalidated due to questionable signatures. Click on link below.


Artesia Recall Petitions Invalidated Due to Questionable Signatures


Trevino, Sood, and now Cane, tried once again,  with stronger assistance of Kimsey and Bernstien, to recall the three, using the  same alleged defamatory statements and signatures that were gathered in May.

HMG-CN asked Artesia City Attorney  Serita Young of the law firm of Richards, Watson, and Gershon if using two-month-old signatures was legal.

Her response was less than enthusiastic for Taj, Manalo, and Canales, “I don’t know if it is illegal to use the signatures. It is a moot point right now, it looks like they got the signatures, the proponents now have to get over 1,700 signatures for the actual recall election.”

Taj, Canales, and Manalo were not happy that signatures gathered prior to May, signatures obtained using false statements, were allowed to be used in a new recall effort.

In the first recall, 60% of the signatures were invalidated; the signatures were 10% of the total collected (300) by Trevino and company from the May signature drive where it was proven they fabricated their statements about the contents of the recall. Click on link below.


ARTESIA RECALL FRAUD: Petitions Show Additional Forged Signatures


In statistical terms, sampling 10% of any set of numbers would give a very good indication of the entire set and is similar to a political poll. Given that, approximately 60% of the “new” signatures turned in by Trevino and company in July would be invalidated, thus invalidating the recall.

Manalo’s own work proved the statistical numbers, “Many signers were misled into signing the petition, and six of them filed official letters with the City Clerk to remove their names from the petition.”

Manalo’s letter to the City went on, “Additionally, as noted in my attached letter, the grounds for recall as stated in the recall ballot are blatantly false, and they include a slanderous accusation that I violated California law and that the council is embezzling funds from the trash contract. The City should act with caution as it decides to move forward to publish this document without consideration of its injury to me, my family, and my reputation.”

The email included a letter that Manalo sent out to residents who signed the petition blasting the proponents for “printing false and misleading information on the Petition.”

Manalo asked residents to complete his letter and send into the City Clerk.

“If you believe you were misled or misinformed about this petition and you want to remove your name from the petition, please complete the attached letter.”

Manalo proceeded to outline the alleged lies in Trevino and company’s petition in his letter to the residents.

Trevino and company: Manalo promised to improve Artesia but instead he misspends our tax dollars, ruins our business district, ignores resident’s concerns, and is in the pocket of special interests.

Manalo:  “Since I have been in office, Artesia has gone from a fiscal emergency, layoffs, furloughs, and ZERO savings for emergencies in 2008 to hiring new staff to serve the city’s residents and a “rainy day” or emergency savings of over $9 million.”

Trevino and company: Increased the public safety threat, Manalo’s Pioneer Blvd project impedes emergency vehicles, leading to delayed response times that will cause property damage and loss of life.

Manalo: “The Los Angeles County Fire Department and Sheriffs signed off on our plan and the downtown has not had a negative impact on public safety response times.”

Trevino and company: Manalo damaged [the] local economy, Manalo ruined Pioneer Blvd with his wasteful multi-million dollar project.  Increased traffic and metered parking are driving consumers to other cities, costing the city revenue

Manalo: “The lack of diverse shopping and dining options in our downtown has driven all Artesians to shop and dine in Cerritos, Norwalk, Lakewood and other surrounding cities.  This is the biggest source of lost revenue.  The vast majority of the businesses downtown do NOT pay their fair share of sales taxes—this is our second largest source of lost revenue.”

Trevino and company: Manalo refuses to hold a town hall meeting to answer resident’s questions or to seek their input on major issues in Artesia.  No transparency.

Manalo:  “As Mayor, I held 5 town hall meetings, and we just convened a town hall meeting in June 2017 to discuss public safety with LA County Sherriff Jim McDonnell.”

 Defamatory Statements

Manalo then  slammed the proponents for defaming him and threatened a lawsuit.

Trevino and company: Manalo is in the pocket of powerful developers.  He took a trip to China without disclosing who paid, in violation of California Law

Manalo: “Truth, the trip to China was approved by the Artesia City Council in a publicly agendized city council meeting in February 2017 and IS NOT in violation of California law. Defamatory.”

Trevino and company: Manalo is deceiving residents by making us overpay for trash service.  The council negotiated a lower trash contract but is pocketing the overcharges instead of passing the savings on to us.

Manalo once again slammed the proponents for defaming him and threatened a lawsuit and rightfully so; CR&R could also have an action against Trevino and company.

Artesia residents are paying the same rate for trash services as they did before contracting with CR&R.

Further, CR&R is billing the residents; before, the payments were included in the resident’s property taxes.

Payments now go directly to CR&R with CR& R making a check out to the City thus making it impossible for anyone to “pocket” money or secretly receive overcharges.

Manalo on the trash accusation: “We all continue to pay the same trash rate as we have for over three years.  With our previous trash service, we all paid for our trash service as part of our Property Tax bill.  With our new trash provider, we are billed directly for the service and the monthly fee for trash service remains the same and will continue to remain the same for the next two years. Defamatory.”




  • Brenda says:

    I still believe the change to Artesia council will be an improvement. I was and am a resident of Artesia, I personally received a letter after signing petition about my signature. Police officer also came to my house to ask if I signed this petition. I was not offended, I laughed and asked why was he here to ask, non of his business. I was told in the letter if i didnt notice the city of removing my name i would be made a defendent in this slander case. To me, i dont care your reason, when you are in the public eye get over it, you put yourself and your family out there for anyone to say anything . Its not like artesia lives in a small box like area with out news or info out there every day. So what the people of artesia know and learn fr is our town officials, our news reports from local news sources like this one. What the city counsil did was approve a plan which residents didnt want and acted upon the stages it would take, first stage pioneer blvd changes, then they wanted to shove a street closure to transportation of any kind , and make the middle of the street business open to public . Really not safe or wanted by residents.some residents have lived their entire lives here, played at local park where city council now says we need to play ball teams in Cerritos cuz no interest at local park. I call bullshit on that. I think recall should have happened and believe residents of Artesia should have a say on what goes on in our city , about building in our city as well. Brenda Belcher resident of Artesia resident of surrounding area as well for 54 years.