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OP/ED: Thirteen is Unlucky, Time to Recall Leticia Vasquez

Central Basin Water District Director Leticia Vasquez, who took office only one year ago, is a party to a whistleblower lawsuit against the very district she was elected to represent.

Central Basin Water District Director Leticia Vasquez, is a party to a whistleblower lawsuit against the very district she was elected to represent.

 

By Brian Hews

Over the past year and a half, this paper has chronicled the actions of Central Basin Municipal Water District Director, Leticia Vasquez. Director Vasquez was elected in June 2012 in a wave of voter anger over the corruption of the Bell scandal, capitalizing on the time for a change voter sentiment.

After only 18-months in office, clearly the time for a change has come again.

Ms. Vasquez pledged to expose and wipe out the corruption that she proclaimed was rampant at Central Basin. There was undoubtedly some truth to Ms. Vasquez’s claim, as federal investigators in June 2013 raided the offices of Senator Calderon and began an investigation into the actions of the senator’s brother, Tom Calderon, a long-time consultant at Central Basin. Unfortunately, Ms. Vasquez has demonstrated a level of corruption and incompetence that overshadows the problems she campaigned to solve.

Upon GM Art Aguilar’s retirement in October 2012, and prior to Ms. Vasquez being seated, the District Board hired interim General Manager Chuck Fuentes and Assistant GM Ron Beilke in large part, to investigate potential improprieties at the District. Inexplicably, shortly after Ms. Vasquez was seated, she voted to fire Fuentes and Beilke, and began an aggressive campaign to smear the previous Board, accusing them of creating and covering up an illegal “slush fund”. This despite the Board already voting to conduct an internal investigation looking into the formation of the fund.

Consider the following:

  1. Ms. Vasquez has filed a qui tam lawsuit against the District’s former lawyers, staff and 50-does alleging illegal action re the slush fund. If successful, Ms. Vasquez stands to receive millions of dollars.
  2. Legal representation for the District in the qui tam matter has cost the District hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  3. The presiding judge in a recent hearing indicated that she was inclined to dismiss the suit, given that Ms. Vasquez clearly is not a qualified qui tam plaintiff and the District’s refusal to waive attorney-client privilege. Ms. Vasquez had lobbied aggressively for months to persuade the District to waive privilege despite the strong warnings by the District’s legal counsel. It is now clear that Ms. Vasquez was advocating waiving privilege to help her lawsuit, and thus secure a large payday.
  4. If the qui tam is dismissed, Ms. Vasquez and the District are exposed to millions in a likely lawsuit by the defendants for malicious prosecution.
  5. Ms. Vasquez attempted to fire GM Tony Perez after only 6-months of a 5-year contract, despite his settlement of long-standing lawsuits, the universal support of the water industry, and the completion of the largest sale of replenishment water in the District’s history.
  6. Ms. Vasquez is associated with and is a strong supporter of accused sex offender, Compton School Board member Skyy Fisher, also of accused embezzler West Basin Water District Director Ron Smith.
  7. Ms. Vasquez has allied herself w/ Dir. James Roybal, which HMG-CN found to be assigned to LAUSD’s “teacher jail” and illegally receiving tens of thousands of dollars in District salary.
  8. Ms. Vasquez retained known convicted felons to run her campaign, and just recently paid them off.
  9. Ms. Vasquez’s actions as a Board member were a determinant factor in the ACWA/JPIA’s decision to drop Central Basin’s insurance coverage due to increased liability for “board dysfunction”.
  10. Ms. Vasquez’s actions as a Board member were a determinant factor in the L.A. County Board’s motion to investigate the District over concerns that the Board’s dysfunction may affect the District’s ability to deliver water.
  11. Ms. Vasquez is the primary suspect for illegally providing a confidential federal subpoena to a private citizen. The District is investigating the source of the leak, which if the source is found and convicted is considered an obstruction of justice punishable by 20-years in prison.
  12. It was reported in this paper in March 2014, that a recall campaign was being launched by concerned citizens.
  13. Ms. Vasquez has previously been recalled as a Lynwood City Council member due to political corruption charges.

It is time for the voters to halt the dysfunction.

If the voters are concerned during this time of extreme drought, to have honest, capable representation on their water boards, it is time to recall Leticia Vasquez.

Thirteen is unlucky.

 

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