_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


Old Corrupt Habits Come Back to Haunt Central Basin After Financial Turnaround

July 4, 2023

By Brian Hews


Director Juan Garza, appointed in Feb 2023, demanded a special board meeting tomorrow July 5 with one agenda item, “Public Employee Discipline, Dismissal, Release per Government Code §54954.53(e) and 54957(b).”


Former Bellflower Mayor and Central Basin (CB) Water Director Juan Garza, who was appointed to the late Phil Hawkins’ CB board seat, only took a few months to go rogue, teaming up with perennial agency disruptors CB Directors Leticia Vasquez-Wilson and Martha Camacho-Rodriguez in an attempt to further interrupt operations at the Commerce-based water agency.

According to multiple sources inside the agency, Garza, much like Vasquez-Wilson and Camacho-Rodriguez, has harassed and intimidated CB staff, going as far as directing his anger in public at CB staff during committee meetings when they declined to implement his demands without board approval.

Garza began his behavior in May, just months after he was appointed when he became “very angry” that CB GM Alex Rojas would release a lobbying firm Garza works with, California Advocacy, LLC.

One of Cal Advocacy’s clients is California Cities for Self-Reliance-JPA, an organization representing casinos; Garza is the Executive Director of the JPA and has renewed the contract with Cal Advocacy since 2020.



In May, Garza had asked GM Rojas about the status of Requests for Proposals from lobbying firms. Garza was told CB was not pursuing new firms; according to sources, Garza became angry at GM Rojas and CB staff.

Just a few weeks later, at the June 26 meeting, Garza, saying he did not receive an email with the board agenda items, joined Vasquez and Camacho-Rodriguez and voted to table two lobbyists firms approved by CB staff.

But Garza’s anger did not end there, with sources telling LCCN that Garza, in a possible Brown Act violation, had talked with other board members about firing GM Rojas based on the 2022 indictment by the Los Angeles District Attorney.

With Prejudice

The indictment centers around Rojas’ employment with Bassett Unified School District and the relationship with Del Terra Construction, whose CEO is Luis Rojas, who is also indicted.

Both Rojas’ have vehemently denied all charges in the indictment, and their attorneys are “eager to go to trial.”


First page of the Leal report.


For the indictment, the D.A. used a report authored by attorney Francisco Leal in 2019; a controversial attorney, a known associate of Vasquez-Wilson, and a constant GM Rojas critic despite the agency’s impressive financial turnaround; a four-notch credit rating upgrade from Moody’s while building a $16 million reserve and lowering rates by 14%.

But the Leal report is full of holes and lacks evidence; it is so bad that when Bassett’s law firm used the Leal report to sue Del Terra in civil court, they lost, and lost horribly.

And it is much easier to win in civil court than in criminal court, where the D.A. indicted the Rojas’.

When the judge looked at the purported evidence in the Leal report, he dismissed the major allegations of fraud and punitive damages against Del Terra; which are the same charges brought against GM Rojas.

But it wasn’t just any dismissal; it was an in-your-face, don’t bring this case back to any courtroom dismissal.

The judge dismissed the allegations with prejudice and without leave to amend. In the legal world, a court case that is dismissed with prejudice means that it is dismissed permanently, it is over and done with and can’t be brought back to court.

LCCN informed the D.A.’s office of the loss in civil court and asked if they knew about the judge ruling with prejudice and without leave to amend.

After months of emails, D.A. spokesperson Greg Reisling finally wrote, “The District Attorney’s office declines to comment.”

Both Alex and Luis Rojas’ attorneys have stated several times that there is no evidence and that they want to go to trial now and question Leal about his report.

As confirmation, the D.A.’s office is acting as if there is no evidence.

The case was brought in August 2022, nearly one year ago; the evidentiary hearing has been moved three times by the D.A., the latest move just last week, with the judge finally ordering the D.A. to produce evidence by October.

Garza Uses Same Report

Yet Garza, according to sources, is using the same report and teaming up with Vasquez and Camacho-Rodriguez to drum up votes to fire GM Rojas, calling for a special meeting tomorrow July 5.

There is one item on the agenda, and it reads, “Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release Government Code §54954.53(e) and 54957(b),” which can only be one person, GM Alex Rojas.

But the firing is highly problematic; in the legislative bill produced after a 2015 audit that former disgraced Asm. Cristina Garcia put forth – after she and others tried to take over the agency – the audit demanded more protection for the GM mandating that it would take a 4/5ths vote to remove the GM.

In an ironic twist, the stipulation stemmed from the many times that the board, led by Leticia Vasquez, James Roybal and others fired the GM and installed a crony GM, similar to what they’re trying now; the last time they did that was when they fired Tony Perez and appointed Kevin Hunt.

There are seven members meaning six of the seven need to vote yes to fire GM Rojas.

More Trouble With Garza

And there could be additional disruption on the horizon caused by Garza.

Officials and board members have told LCCN that Garza “failed to inform the board and management” during the appointment process of his conflicts of interest and questionable business connections with lobbying firms.

California Cities for Self-Reliance-JPA is a client of California Advocacy and Garza, as Executive Director of the JPA, has renewed his contract with owner Marvin Pineda since 2020.

According to Cal Advocacy’s website, former State Senator Richard Polanco is an advisor working with Cal Advocacy.


WORKING TOGETHER: Polanco is an “Advisor” with Cal Advocacy.


Polanco is also affiliated with the lobbying firm Tres Es, Inc., one of its clients is the Water Replenishment District; sources have told LCCN that Francisco Leal is affiliated with Tres Es through his attorney relationship with the WRD.

LCCN has sent several emails to Leal about Tres Es without response; meanwhile, Leal is getting increasingly brazen in his attempt to damage CB.

A source close to Leal recently told CB officials that, while at Attorney General Rob Bonta’s fundraiser at Tamayo’s Restaurant last week, Leal was bragging to people that he was “going to get GM Rojas and Central Basin.”

Leal has not returned an email about his comments at the fundraiser.

In the Middle of the Venn

To sum it up, we have three circles: Tres Es, Inc. (Polanco and Leal) has a relationship with Cal Advocacy (Polanco and Pineda), who has a relationship with Garza. Leal, the author of the legally challenged report that Garza is using to fire GM Rojas, is right in the intersection of the three circles in the Venn diagram.

Is it a coincidence that Garza gets his knickers in a twist then tries to fire GM Rojas because Rojas was not changing CB’s lobbying firm to the trio of Tres Es, Inc., Cal Advocacy and Leal?

GM Rojas went on the record confirming Garza’s illegal maneuver to get Cal Advocacy in as CB’s lobbying firm, “Garza called a meeting and demanded we fire Lucien Partners, our current lobbying firm, and replace them with Cal Advocacy; there was another board member at the meeting.”

Garza’s demand could be a violation of CB Board Policy in regards to relationships between companies and board members.

“Complete Negligence”

In several texts to LCCN Garza attempted to justify his move on GM Rojas, “It’s my obligation as a public official to perform my job, especially when I find factual information demanding follow-up of any public official. To do otherwise would be complete negligence and a complete dereliction of my duties as a public official.”

Yet Garza has ignored a 2021 report showing Vasquez and Camacho-Rodriguez harassing employees – Camacho-Rodriguez called an employee a heifer when the employee was pregnant – while also ignoring the incident where the two demanded GM Rojas pay $40,000 to two questionable lobbyists.



CB recently paid $1.25 million to settle several harassment claims.

Garza defended Cal Advocacy, but when asked about Tres Es and Richard Polanco Garza stated, “he never heard of them.”

When pressed and shown evidence, Garza backtracked, “I’ve met Richard Polanco once. At a Groundswell event at MWD a couple months ago.”

The meeting will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the temporary board room located at the Embassy Suites in Whittier, 7320 Greenleaf Ave. The special meeting will cost the agency over $3,000 in stipends and hotel fees.