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Organizations Demand D.A. Investigate West Basin’s Gloria Gray for Incompatible Office

July 24, 2023

By Brian Hews

In March 2023, Los Cerritos Community News first reported on Gloria Gray, a good friend and mentor of Central Basin Director Leticia Vasquez, who was elected to the Inglewood City Council in March while also serving as an elected director of West Basin Municipal Water District, a clear incompatible office situation.

According to West Basin’s website, Gray serves in District II, which serves portions of the cities of Gardena and Hawthorne, and the unincorporated Los Angeles County areas of Ladera Heights, View Park-Windsor Hills, West Athens, and Westmont.

The district also serves Inglewood.

Under Government Code Section 1099, a person may not simultaneously hold two offices if the duties clash. To find that two offices are incompatible, a conflict doesn’t need to actually occur; it is sufficient that a conflict may occur in the regular operation of the offices.

Some on the West Basin Board, along with its general counsel, told Ms. Gray during an April board meeting that she was in violation of 1099 and should resign one of her positions, but Gray adamantly refused.

Gray argued that “the voters decided I could hold both by electing me to office in Inglewood and West Basin, and only the voters should decide whether I can keep the two seats.”

Gray’s statement was enough for several water-related organizations to take decisive action, sending a scathing letter, exclusively obtained by LCCN, addressed to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office asking for an investigation of Gray and the incompatible office conflict.

The letter was signed by Sierra Club California, the Southern California Watershed Alliance, SoCal 350 Climate Action, Desal Response Group, Southern California Watershed Alliance, We Tap, Social Eco Education, The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, and Los Angeles Waterkeeper.

The membership and supporters of these organizations number in the hundreds of thousands statewide.

The letter read, “We all are deeply concerned about a conflict of interest which Gloria Gray has created by seeking and accepting seats on both the Inglewood City Council and West Basin Water District’s board of directors. We request that your office investigate.”

The organizations cited a blatantly incompatible office situation that Gray is currently involved in.

As a West Basin’s Director, Gray participates in the agency’s budget formulation/decisions, which started earlier this month; one of those decisions is setting the agency’s water rates.

As an Inglewood City Councilmember, Gray negotiates the water rates paid to West Basin for resale to its residents; Gray is clearly on both sides of the transaction.

Under 1099, offices are incompatible when “there is a possibility of a significant clash of duties between the offices.”

“The [water rate] conflict could not be clearer,” the letter stated, “Albert Robles and Sergio Calderon were removed from office, and David Argudo is currently under investigation for similar activities. The public is entitled to representation free of such conflicts. We ask that you take appropriate action.”

Where two offices held by one official are legally incompatible, adjudicated through a quo warranto action by the D.A. the official must immediately vacate “the first office.”

In Gray’s case, she would have to vacate her West Basin position.