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Central Basin Director Juan Garza Rebuffs Board Reorganization Vote Request

April 29, 2024

By Brian Hews

Los Cerritos Community News has uncovered an email exchange revealing Central Basin Vice President Juan Garza’s attempt to thwart Director Leticia Vasquez’ urgent request to include a board reorganization agenda item in tomorrow’s Central Basin board meeting.

Garza tried to justify his reasons for blocking Vasquez’ request saying it was against the Central Basin Administrative Code; but Garza used that same Administrative Code to justify the placement of several items on the agenda for Central Basin’s January 22, 2024 meeting.

Sources have informed LCCN that CB Board President Michael Gualtieri, who announced his departure on May 4, has hinted at his intention to disallow the items on the agenda. These items, if approved, would appoint a new Board president and vice president and make appointments to the Metropolitan Water District Board.

Garza wrote in an email, “Our administrative code lays out a clear process…in my reading, simply a majority of the board asking for agendizement of any items does not rise to….meet the agendizement process as laid out in our administrative code…”

But Garza, who said in the email, “if memory serves me right,” directly contradicted his past requests to place items on the agenda.

In just one example, Garza, in a January 18, 2024 email obtained by LCCN, demanded items be added to the Monday, January 22, 2024 Central Basin Board meeting writing, “..requesting the following items be placed on the January 22 agenda…public employee discipline/dismissal/release [of the] General Manager; appointment of general counsel Victor Ponto as exclusive project manager for the forensic audit; discussion and action regarding amendments to CB Administrative Code Section Three.

Garza’s requests were not run-of-the-mill agenda items; the first item was used to place GM Alex Rojas on administrative leave illegally. The second request authorized crony attorney Victor Ponto, who approved Rojas’s illegal removal, to be the exclusive contact for the accounting firm auditing Capstone work documents.

(Gualtieri and Garza have alleged for over a year that Capstone is a fake engineering company that did nothing for Central Basin yet received over $700,000 while Rojas was GM; Rojas has vehemently denied any malfeasance.)

Garza’s January 18 email finished, “[My] requests are consistent with our Administrative Code: a member of the board, or the body itself, subject to rules or procedures of the district, may direct the General Manager or the appropriate district staff to place a matter of business on a future general agenda.”

A long-time public agency board member who did not want to be identified told LCCN, “The board can make a motion from the floor [to add the agenda items]….the attorney would be an idiot to say they can’t. The attorney could cite proper notice, but if he does, the majority could motion for a special meeting to vote.”

The meeting is today at 10 a.m. at Bristow Park, 1466 South McDonnell Avenue, Commerce, California 90040.