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Executive Director of California Cardrooms JPA Handing Out Big Money No-Bid Contracts

October 3, 2023

By Brian Hews

A Los Cerritos Community News investigation has found that Juan Garza, Executive Director of California Cities for Self-Reliance (CSR), a joint powers authority that advocates for Southern California Cardrooms, is handing out lucrative no-bid CSR contracts without sending out Requests for Proposals and at least one board member was unaware of Garza’s actions.

Garza’s actions are similar to some of the same issues found after the 2015 Central Basin audit that the District has since corrected.

Garza is the current District Four Director at Central Basin and is unabashedly leading the charge with Directors Leticia Vasquez, Martha Rodriguez and Michael Gulateri to remove Central Basin GM Alex Rojas for the same acts Garza has overtly committed; but the four directors have not produced proof of their Rojas’ allegations.


Garza (left) is leading the charge with (l-r) Directors Michael Gulateri (current La Habra Heights Water GM), and known leftists Martha Rodriguez and Leticia Vasquez-Wilson, to remove Central Basin GM Alex Rojas for the same acts an LCCN investigation has shown Garza has overtly committed.



A joint powers agreement such as CSR is a formal, legal agreement between two or more public agencies that share a common power and want to implement programs, build facilities, or deliver services jointly; the “authority” is subject to the same laws as other public agencies.

CSR’s public agency-cities include Commerce, Cudahy, Compton and Hawaiian Gardens, and Bell Gardens.

LCCN confirmed last week that Garza has not sent out a bid for CSR’s current lobbyist contract for at least two years; the contract is worth $80,000 annually. The overall budget of the CSR is $235,000.

The CSR’s lobbying contract information was obtained via a public records email, a request that Garza took 24 days to respond, subsequently writing, “…there are no documents responsive to your request.”

The contract is with the Sacramento-based California Advocacy, LLC, the same firm Garza tried to illegally coerce Central Basin GM Rojas to retain.

In July of this year, GM Rojas went on the record with LCCN, confirming Garza’s illegal maneuver to force the hiring of California Advocacy as CB’s lobbying firm.

Rojas told LCCN, “Garza called a meeting and demanded we fire Lucien Partners, our current lobbying firm, and replace them with California Advocacy; there was another board member at the meeting.”

Garza Doing His CSR Job?
After learning of the no-bid California Advocacy contract, LCCN began digging into the financial information on CSR’s website for additional agreements.

The research found that Garza has yet to post CSR’s agendas dating back to May of this year, the site missing four months of meeting minutes, and corresponding financial information.


Screenshot of CSR’s website showing missing agendas from June to September.


In addition, only agendas from Nov. 2021 to May 2023 are posted, and some are missing the financial information – including all of 2023.

The remaining financial information shows two companies receiving monthly payments from Nov. 2021 to May 2023; the law firm of Olivarez-Madruga and a website management company called CampaignRep.

An examination of payments shows that Olivarez has received over $24,000 from Dec. 2021 to Nov. 2022 and that CampaignRep was hired in November 2021 and paid $10,200 to Jul. 2022, receiving a 40% increase in Aug. 2022 to $14, 400 annually.

LCCN sent another records request to Garza asking for bids sent out for CSR’s law firm; once again, Garza is taking 24 days to answer.

The lack of transparency by Garza is not only troubling – given the way Central Basin Directors Vasquez, Rodriguez and Gulateri and Garza are vilifying CB GM Rojas for his alleged wrongdoing – but Garza’s no-bid handouts are a violation of California’s Public Contract Code Section 20162.

Section 20162 states that when an expenditure required for a public project exceeds $5,000, the agency must post a bid describing the services needed in three public places or in a newspaper of general circulation newspaper and then award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

Garza is well aware of the bidding process; he was elected as a Bellflower City Councilman and dealt with assessing and awarding public contracts for years and was known as a budget hawk.

Texts into Garza went unanswered.