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Central Basin President Michael Gualtieri Will Step Down Under FPPC Cloud

Michael Gualtieri

March 27, 2024

By Brian Hews

Los Cerritos Community News has learned that Michael Gualtieri, who, due to an LCCN exposé, has a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint currently filed against him, will resign as Central Basin Water Board President and officially leave the Commerce-based water agency on May 4, 2024.

It was a peculiar and abrupt move by Gualtieri – he is now retiring as GM of La Habra Height County Water District [LHHCWD] – given that in early February, the newly-minted President Gualtieri conducted a meeting – with eight CB employees attending that included CB VP Juan Garza – and brazenly announced that he is negotiating a professional services contract with the LHHCWD Board of Directors that would allow him to keep his Central Basin seat and president position.

Gualtieri knew at the time that under the CB Board of Directors Administrative Code, his retirement would force him to resign his seat on the CB Board.

The negotiations between LHHCWD and Gualtieri were illegal under Government Code 1090, which addresses conflicts of interest for public officials and employees. 

The illicit negotiations would have handed Gualtieri thousands of dollars annually in taxpayer monies, keeping his paid appointment to the CB Board, his paid attendance at CB meetings, his paid attendance at the Metropolitan Water District meetings, and his new position salary as an LHHCWD consultant.

Section 1090 states, “[the law] prohibits an employee from participating in making government contracts in which the employee within the agency has a financial interest. Section 1090 applies to virtually all state and local officers, employees, and multimember bodies, whether elected or appointed, at both the state and local level.” 

“Making” a contract includes final approval of the agreement and involvement in preliminary discussion, planning, and negotiations.

Gualtieri was going all in with his maneuver, not violating 1090 once but multiple times.

And the LHHCWD Board could have been in legal hot water; most agencies require a twelve-month cooling-off period between retirement and returning as a consultant or lobbyist.

In addition, the LHHCWD Board was attempting to fly under the radar, calling his consultant agreement a professional services contract not subject to California Contract Laws, which require the contract to go out to bid.

The letter to Central Basin Water Association read “On May 4, 2024, Michael Gualtieri will retire from La Habra Heights County Water District. We would like to nominate [name withheld] the new General Manager as Director of the [CB] Board.”

Gualtieri’s term ends in 2027; according to CB Administrative Code, the 60-day nomination clock starts on Gualtieri’s retirement on May 4, 2024, meaning CB can send out notification of a vacancy today with nominations open from May 4 through July 4.

Gualtieri’s seat is “at large” so all purveyors in CB’s entire area vote, but the vote is weighted based on the number of meters in each purveyor’s District.

There will be a meeting soon after July 4 where the nominations will be read and tallied, and a new CB Director will be appointed.

  • arthur says:

    Boring! LosCerritosNews should change their name to LosCerritosCentral BasiNews (Hews)

    Nobody cares about Central Basin!

  • Roni Love says:

    Thank you for being fixated! Corruption affects us all!

  • arthur says:

    you get paid to write this