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By Brian Hews

Artesia is currently embroiled in a controversial signature gathering recall of Mayor Ali Taj and Councilmen Victor Manalo and Miguel Canales.


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


Two weeks ago an expensive robo-call hit Artesia, frightening residents while talking about the “lack of safety” along Pioneer Boulevard.

One week later, a recall signature gathering event was held in front of the Flame Broiler  in Artesia, which is reportedly owned by a recall proponent.

Finally, recall signature gatherers have been seen in front of Stater Brothers market in Artesia asking for signatures to get the recall initiative on the ballot.

Someone or some organization is spending money on the recall campaign; the robo-call and signature gathering events cost money.

But according to Artesia City Clerk and Norwalk Registrar Recorder’s office, no committee has been registered showing donations to – or proponents of – the controversial recall.

It is a major violation of Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) laws under the Political Reform Act to spend money in support of a recall effort without reporting the expenditures and who is behind the donations.

Each violation carries a maximum $5,000 fine.

It is additional strong evidence that the recall, aimed at Taj, Manalo, Canales, is a blatantly corrupt movement with unknown motives.

Some of the recall supporters are known: Artesia residents Rene Trevino and Dorothy Kane are openly behind the recall, with
strong backing from Jerry Bernstein and Cerritos residents Melinda Kimsey and Gurpal Sood.


Pictured from (l-r) Rene Trevino, Melinda Kimsey and Jerry Bernstein. Kimsey and Bernstein are newspaper reporters. Bernstein worked for HMG-CN for 15 years, was instrumental in the hiring of Kimsey at HMG-CN. Bernstein left HMG-CN when Kimsey started her own newsletter.


Others recall supporters are outsiders, but have a track record working or running recall campaigns.

Still other proponents are alleged to be involved for financial reasons, but those allegations cannot be confirmed.

In any case, the recall has exhibited graft and corruption from the very beginning.

Trevino and Sood submitted their “Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition,” with what they said were valid signatures in May of this year.

But according to Taj, Canales, and Manalo, the petition contained fraudulent signatures and signatures that were obtained by false statements.


ARTESIA RECALL FRAUD: Petitions Show Additional Forged Signatures


The three, with their allegations, accused Trevino of fraud, forgery, and perjury.

And other Artesia residents backed those allegations.

On May 23 HMG-CN reported that the recall campaign was invalidated due to questionable signatures.


Artesia Recall Petitions Invalidated Due to Questionable Signatures


Many residents on social media confirmed what HMG-CN published, that Trevino and Sood were misleading residents to get them to sign the petitions.

A number of posts indicated that Trevino and Sood were telling residents, “this petition is to get the Pioneer Blvd. project moving forward,” to obtain signatures.

The proponents were later allowed to use other signatures obtained from the same fraudulent May campaign and were able to set in motion the signature gathering movement.

That is when a high-level Artesia elected official saw Chris Robles with Trevino, Sood, and Kimsey posting legal notices about the recall campaign.

Chris Robles.

Robles, who owns the Pericles Group, is a long time operative with a past that includes managing controversial recalls for trash haulers.




Robles also had several FPPC violations including depositing funds meant for a recall campaign into his own bank account.

Once HMG-CN learned of Robles, several phone calls were placed to his listed numbers and his cell phone with no response.

Later phone calls found that the Robles numbers were disconnected.

Finally, unconfirmed rumors are swirling that a Los Angeles trash hauling company is behind the recall, in retribution for CR&R winning the contract in 2015.

The last time Robles ran a recall campaign he was paid by several trash haulers.