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OP/ED: Whittier Daily News Stealing Stories…Once Again

By Publisher Brian Hews



I am firmly convinced that the word attribution in LA’s newspaper industry has gone by the wayside.

It happened to us when we broke the Assessor Noguez story and now it is happening again with our Central Basin Municipal Water District series, which started way back in Jan 2013.

In today’s (Mar. 28, 2014) Whittier Daily News, reporter Mike Sprague, and I am taking this right off the front page, “exclusively” broke the story that James Roybal, the embattled Director at Central Basin, is in LAUSD “Teacher’s Jail,” and is under investigation.

We broke this story over three months ago on Nov. 14 2013, with follow-up stories Dec. 2013 and Jan. 2014.

Did we just call someone out? We sure did because we are sick and tired of news outlets stealing our stories.

It seems that the journalistic standard of attribution is dead when it comes to Los Angeles County daily and weekly newspapers, and online-only news outlets.

This is not the first time the ‘WDN Three’-Publisher Ron Haase, his Editor, and Sprague-have lifted our content without attribution.

Since January of  2013, we have been exposing corruption at every level at the CBMWD. This has come from extensive research, several public records requests, and the confirmation of the stories with our sources.

We have been threatened with libel suits by two high-powered law firms and physically threatened by people we exposed. We also confirmed that Director Leticia Vasquez retained an attorney-at the water agency’s expense-for the express purpose of researching whether they could personally sue HMG-CN.

We broke three exclusive stories about CBMWD; one story about Director Bob Apodaca’s sexual harassment charges, one about Gil Cedillo, Jr. receiving $22,000 taxpayer dollars to fund his college tuition and revealing he earned $112, 000 per year, and the last about Cedillo Jr. being released by CBMWD.

All three stories received several thousand views on our site, and of course on our printed publication.

Yet the WDN Three unethically and shockingly “published” the same stories in print and online without attribution, both on the Saturdays following our Friday publication.

Below is a screenshot of our story on the Apodaca harassment put online July 3, in print July 5. Below that is a screenshot of the WDN’s posting July 5, in print July 6, no attribution was given.


Click here to see story.

Below, the HMG-CN Cedillo Jr. story online July 18, in print July 19, with another screenshot showing WDN “breaking” the same story online July 19, in print July 20.


HMG-CN Cedillo Jr. story published online July 18, in print July 19.

WDN Cedillo Jr. story posted online July 19, in print Jul 20, 2 days after HMG-CN posted and printed the story. Again no attribution was given.

Link to WDN Cedillo Jr. story click here.

Back to today’s “exclusive” WDN story on the front page. As I said we broke this story in November 14, 2013. We had a source, a teacher in teacher jail, contact us and tell us they saw Roybal at the same teacher jail facility. Roybal gave himself away by wearing a CBMWD shirt.

Nov 14, 2013- Central Basin President Roybal Pulled From LAUSD Classroom Duties; Attends ‘Teacher’s Jail’

We then sent in a public records request to LAUSD asking for three items, the last item asking if Roybal was in teacher jail.

We received the letter two weeks later with an answer that confirmed Roybal was in teacher jail.

EXCLUSIVE: Public Records Request Reveals Central Basin Water President Roybal Attends LAUSD Teacher Jail

Knowing that Roybal was breaking LAUSD policy by working after leaving teacher jail, we asked for public records of Roybal’s pay from Feb. 2013 to Dec. 2013 and found he earned almost $30,000 while in jail.

It was at this point we wrote a letter to the  Office of Inspector General and requested they investigate Roybal based on our findings. Below is a screenshot of an email dated January 24, 2014 from Nancy McGuire of the OIG telling HMG-CN that she would investigate Roybal for violating LAUSD policy and to send any documentation you have.

Picture 20

I was then subpoenaed by the attorneys for the United Teacher of Los Angeles (UTLA) to testify mid Feb. 2014  about receiving the letter indicating Roybal was in jail.

The LAUSD will not tell the UTLA the reason a teacher is in teacher jail, so the UTLA was not happy that I received the letter about Roybal.

UTLA Subpoenas HMG-CN for Roybal Teacher Jail Documents

After we discovered Roybal was in jail, we were asking Sprague to simply ask Roybal if he was in jail, he never did.

But strangely he kept hounding Director Art Chacon about a 2010 accident and ignored our stories.

After we discovered Roybal was in jail, we were asking KPCC’s Karen Forshay to simply ask Roybal if he was in jail, she never did.

But strangely she kept hounding Director Art Chacon about the same 2010 accident and ignored our stories.

Then the ‘WDN Three’ “exclusively” breaks their story.

We asked Director Vasquez to comment several times after we broke it and she never comments, until Mike Sprague asked her, then she could not stop.

These people are shameless, and need to be called out.

We don’t like to have our hard investigative work stolen from us by any media outlet, period.

We call it the way we see it.

Otis Chandler would have loved us “down here” in the trenches, and to the WDN Three of Hasse, his Editor, and Sprague, shame on you and your unethical practices.

Yep. We call it like it is….just ask James Roybal.



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