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Financial Ties are Troubling Between Montebello’s Athens Waste Services and Councilwoman Vivian Romero & Her Partner Shannan Calland

Vivian Romero (l) and Shannan Calland

 

Romero voted in July against a Request for Proposal to send the Athens trash contract out to bid, then took $5,000 from Athens; her partner worked as a consultant for Athens and did not report the income on the proper disclosure form as required by law.

October 17, 2018

BY BRIAN HEWS

Two weeks ago, Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News exclusively reported  that Shannan Calland, Montebello Planning Commissioner and partner of current Montebello City Councilwoman Vivian Romero, received over $26,000 from Romero’s State Senate Campaign committee.

 

ELECTION 2018: Montebello Councilwoman Vivian Romero Paid Partner Over $26,000 From Campaign Committee Funds

 

Calland is the President of SHC Collective, “a full-service boutique consulting firm.”

The company was found to be shadowy at the time, with little or no social media presence and no website.

California Secretary of State records showed that Calland filed for incorporation just 11 months ago, in Dec. 2017, with an address off the 101 freeway on Cahengua Blvd. in Los Angeles.

SHC’s Facebook page had only two posts, the last post Aug 24, and suspiciously had only one “like.”

A “Learn More” button on SHC’s Facebook page, as well as a url listed on Calland’s Twitter page, directed users to www.shccollective.com.

But that address landed on a Wix page that stated, “looks like this domain isn’t connected to a website yet,” showing that SHC Consulting, in this day and age, did not have a functioning website.

After the story published, Calland hurriedly put up her website; then an “anonymous” person left a lengthy comment on HMG-LCCN’s website stating, “maybe you should do fact checking on the work involved in running a campaign! SHC Consulting Group Collective website opened just fine, what are you using? Netscape over dial-up? You’re obviously tech incompetent.”

But an examination using the website Web Archive, which logs a history of web pages, showed an absence of website history for the SHC url meaning the website was not active until one day after the HMG-LCCN article published.

 

Web Archive showing that SHC Collective has no web history

 

When texted, Romero only defended Calland saying, “she has tons of experience.” When asked about the questionable optics of paying her partner Romero said, “maybe so, but I had to pay professionals I can trust, we always have to pay for experienced people.”

Now HMG-LCCN has discovered additional questionable financial transactions by Romero and Calland that could land the pair in legal hot water both with the Los Angeles District Attorney and California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Aristo Strategies

Gustavo Valdivia, owner of Los Angeles based Aristo Strategies, is a paid consultant for Athens Services.

Valdivia and “others consultants” assisted Athens in securing the lucrative Los Angeles waste franchise area in Jan 2017 that encompasses West and Central Los Angeles.

Sources told HMG-LCCN that one of the “other consultants” was Shannan Calland and she was paid thousands.

When contacted by HMG-LCCN, Valdivia confirmed that Calland worked with him and his company to help Athens win the franchise saying, “I have not worked for Athens for six months, up until then Athens was paying my company and I was paying Calland and her company SHC.”

A source who did not want to be identified told HMG-LCCN that they saw checks from Aristo/Athens on Calland’s desk. “I saw two checks made out to Calland,” said the source.

 

Shannan Calland with Athens’ employees at LAPD headquarters in July 2017.

 

Calland is a Montebello Planning Commissioner appointed by Romero; Calland is required to file California Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests every year.

The Form 700, “provides necessary information to the public about an official’s personal financial interests to ensure that they are making decisions in the best interest of the public and not enhancing their personal finances.”

Under FPPC rules, if a commissioner is an officer of a business entity, they must report any personal or business income on the Form 700; Calland is president of her corporation.

Calland’s 2017 Form 700 did not report the income received from Valdivia and Aristo Strategies, an omission that could carry a $5,000 fine for each ommission.

 

Calland’s Form 700 showing the Schedule C-Income box not checked, indicating Calland did not report her income from Aristo Strategies.

 

And that omission could have been on purpose in an effort to hide their scheme to take over the Montebello City Council and award Athens the lucrative trash contract.

Athens’ Cronies Running for Montebello City Council

Former City Treasurer Rosie Vasquez is running for Montebello council, with campaign finance reports showing that long-time Athens consultant Mike Lewis gave Vasquez $1,225 for lawn signs.

 

Vasquez’ 460 campaign report showing Mike Lewis’ donation for lawn signs.

 

This is the same Vasquez who was sued by Montebello in 2012 alleging conflict of interest violations related to the Athens waste hauler contract she “approved” in 2008.

At the time, Athens donated a massive $45,000 to Vasquez’ campaign.

The complaint alleged, “Vasquez had a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the public when on July 23, 2008, she violated State law by voting to approve one of the largest trash contracts in the City’s history despite having a financial interest in it.”

Montebello, through a process of elimination, concluded that the approval of the Athens contract could have only occurred through collusion between Vasquez and Athens.

Another Montebello City Council candidate, Kimberly Ann Cobos-Cawthorne, also has questionable ties to Athens. Her September campaign finance reports obtained by HMG-LCCN show a $5,000 donation from Athens; Cobos-Cawthorne has raised only $6,200.

 

Cobos-Cawthorne’s 460 campaign report showing the $5,000 donation from Athens.

 

The third crucial leg in the scheme to take control and award the contract to Athens is Councilwoman Romero.

In 2011 Montebello passed Measure O, the “Residential solid waste franchises initiative” that added regulations to the City’s Municipal Code requiring  the City Council use a competitive bidding process to award residential trash contracts.

The initiative was a result of Rosie Vasquez’ actions and passed by a 71% to 29% margin.

Yet at the July 25, 2018 regular City Council meeting, Councilwoman Romero voted against releasing a Request for Proposal for the City’s waste hauling services.

Instead of sending the waste hauler contract out to bid, as mandated by 71% of Montebello voters, Romero voted to hand the contract to Athens.

Quid Pro Quo?

During her State Senate campaign, Romero received $4,400, the maximum contribution, from Athens Services; this while her partner Calland worked for Athens through Aristo Strategies and failed to report that income on her Form 700.

HMG-LCCN recently obtained campaign finance reports ending September 22, 2018 showing that Athens gave an additional $5,000 to Romero’s council campaign just one month ago.

 

TOP: $4,400 donation from Athens to Romero’s State Senate campaign. Bottom: Romero’s 460 campaign report showing the $5,000 donation from Athens.

 

 

Texts into Calland went unreturned,  Romero angrily texted HMG-LCCN writing, “I went to church and prayed for my enemies, hope you have a nice day.”

 

 

 

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Are we really surprised by this? Vivian Romero, Athens Trash Services and the City of Montebello? Enough Vivian!!! You are a big joke!!!!