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Central Basin Director Andrew Hamilton Paying Agency Employees Without Oversight or Approval

 

BY BRIAN HEWS • August 1, 2020

Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has learned that Central Basin Finance Director Andrew Hamilton has been issuing paychecks to Central Basin employees despite the fact that the board has not passed a 2020-’21 budget.

The budget stalemate is due to Directors John Oskoui and Bob Apodaca; they are defying a court decision from last week deliberately not attending special board meetings called to approve the budget.

In addition, the actual amount of payroll has not been approved as an item on the consent calendar during regular board meetings, and Hamilton is not submitting financial reports to the board.

Hamilton, who was recalled from the Lake Forest City Council in 2018, could be in serious legal jeopardy, including charges of misusing public funds and felony charges given the amount of money involved.

Central Basin has 20 employees, some making over $150,000 per year, most were hired by former GM Kevin Hunt without scrutiny, consequently the agency is top-heavy with high-paid managers.

This is something the current majority is trying to change, but Apodaca and Oskoui won’t let them.

According to Transparent California, in 2018 Hamilton’s total pay, including benefits, was over $207,000. Engineering Director Jacqueline Kootz earned nearly $179,000. The former Director of Human Resources Dana Hidalgo, whose job is now occupied by Naja Braddock, earned over $161,000; Director of Water Resources Tammy Hierily earns $152,000; Conservation Manager Sandy Plimpton earns $155,000; Dorette Lambey and Peggy Williams, who both work for Hamilton, earns $133,000 and $118,000 respectively.

Just between those employees is nearly $36,000 per pay period, if the  13 other employees average $50,000, the total would be approximately $61,000 per pay period.

There were two pay periods in July indicating that Hamilton has paid out over $120,000 in unapproved ratepayer funds.

Leticia Vasquez, who was adjudicated as president of the board in a court decision last week, has attempted to pass a budget in three different meetings this past Friday and again on Monday and Thursday, but Directors John Oskoui and Bob Apodaca, who want to see the agency placed in receivership, have deliberately missed meetings.

The absence Oskoui is particularly vexing, he is the Assistant City Manager for Downey making $320,000 per year and Mayor Blanca Pacheco and the City Council, as well as his boss Gil Livas, are well-aware he is deliberately missing meetings.

All of not responded to emails from HMG.

Downey and the City Council are also a party to a lawsuit against Central Basin attempting to stop a meter charge- a charge that Oskoui voted to pass.

Central Basin President Leticia Vasquez told HMG, “Mr. Hamilton has been in control of all the District’s finances spending money without making public disclosure and without Board approval since January of this year. His actions are possibly criminal. We urge Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to investigate. Various members of the community have filed complaints with the D.A. These actions are part of Hamilton and Oskoui and Apodaca’s efforts to privatize Central Basin. Mr. Hamilton is working with them to shut down Central Basin because he was promised a job and a big fat raise. He has been representing himself as authorized to speak to Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s and just two weeks ago they issued a warning.  And now he is paying employees without authorization, our community will hold him liable for all the financial harm he is causing Central Basin.”

 

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