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OP/ED: Central Basin Directors Roybal, Vasquez, and Apodaca Secretly Planned to Install Former Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez as Agency’s New General Manager

Central Basin Water Investigation


Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that former California State Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez is being pushed by Central Basin Water Board Directors James Roybal, Leticia Vasquez, and Bob Apodaca to become the next General Manager of the besieged public agency as early as this Wednesday.

HMG-CN has been told that current GM Tony Perez will be relieved of his duties at the upcoming Wednesday Sept. 10 meeting that is slated to begin at 10 a.m. at the Commerce based agency.

Central Basin Director Art Chacon told HMG-CN, “I suspect a deal has been cut to bring former State Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez in as Central Basin’s General Manager if Tony Perez is fired on Wednesday”.

Chacon’s assertion comes after a series of what he refers to as “conflicting” phone calls between Bermudez, Perez and himself since this past Thursday.

Chacon said that he and Perez have spoken to Bermudez on at least three occasions. Perez confirmed to HMG-CN that Bermudez had called him earlier on Thursday.

Bermudez said to Perez that Chacon had told him that Directors Roybal, Vasquez and Apodaca were intending to fire Perez and were planning on naming an interim replacement.

Chacon emphatically told Perez that no such conversation took place and that Bermudez “was lying.”

Chacon claims that although Bermudez had called him inquiring about potential lobbying opportunities at the District, he insisted he didn’t tell Bermudez about the termination plans and that he had just been notified himself.

“For some unknown reason, Bermudez told Perez I was the source disclosing plans to terminate the General Manager, but as I told Perez, that was not true and I question why I was accused.”

HMG-CN had published reports that Bermudez was targeted by Vasquez, Roybal and Apodaca to be hired to take over the GM role at Central Basin.

But, Bermudez sternly denied those assertions and reiterated that in a text message to HMG-CN on Saturday. “Someone gave you bad information the last time and you ran the story anyway, the information is still bad.”

When asked to confirm or deny he could be the new GM with a simple yes or no, Bermudez responded with the same comment.

According to Chacon, Central Basin staff had informed him on Thursday, September 4th that a special meeting was being scheduled for September 10th, although the meeting had yet to be finalized.

Chacon said he was told that Apodaca and Roybal had called to schedule a meeting with the sole item on the agenda being the termination and replacement of GM Perez.

Staff also explained that they were told by Apodaca and Roybal to “expect” a call shortly from Director Vasquez.

It was shortly thereafter that HMG-CN learned about, then published the story about Perez’ possible firing.

Interestingly, as of end of day today, Central Basin never received the phone call from Vasquez.

Former Central Basin candidate Scott Collins provided a statement to HMG-CN that he was at Clearman’s Steak n’ Stein in Pico Rivera earlier this year where he witnessed Bermudez and Roybal in deep discussion.

Sources at the water wholesaler claim that Bermudez has been secretly meeting with Apodaca, Roybal, and Vasquez to discuss take-over plans at the District.

This would include the extension of contracts with Pacifica Services, the firing of the District’s General Counsel, as well as additional staff reductions

It is believed that Roybal has been the catalyst behind recruiting Bermudez.

Shortly after Bermudez’s meeting with Roybal, both Director Chacon and Board President Phil Hawkins began receiving messages at the District from Bermudez requesting meetings.

Sources at the agency confirm that messages were not left for Vasquez nor Apodaca, indicating Bermudez had already secured their support.

When asked to comment on the rumored moves, Director Chacon responded that he “doubted that the water community and political powers-that-be would take such changes lying down.”

HMG-CN contacted LA County Supervisor Don Knabe about the possible appointment who said, “They just don’t get it. They have tried the political appointments before and it didn’t work. They are in the water delivery business not appointing political friends to attempt to cover their mismanagement and incompetence. If that happens you can be sure I will be on the phone to Assembly Member Rendon to ignite the legislation to take them over.”

Central Basin Board President Phil Hawkins added, “This (the firing) would be a disaster both financially as well as politically. If they fire Tony, we can’t refinance our bonds and our reserves will be depleted in 12 months. We have a dysfunctional board; if they see us fire Tony then we have a dysfunctional administrative team. Tony is negotiating the bonds now, if they see Tony leave, then they will drop us and our payments will go up by $1 million a month.”

Of equal concern is a possible Brown Act Violation by Roybal, Vasquez, and Apodaca. Said one source at Central Basin, “how do you fire someone 45 days before an election and bring another person in within 24 hours without a meeting between Roybal, Vasquez, and Apodaca, it is impossible and likely a Brown Act Violation.”

Bermudez is a known associate of convicted seven-time felon Ricardo “Ric” Mayer who successfully managed both Roybal’s and Vasquez’ 2012 campaigns and is suspected of working behind-the-scenes on Apodaca’s current November re-election race.

Sources have told HMG-CN that Mayer, in his capacity as a home contractor, is alleged to have extensively remodeled Apodaca’s Whittier home.

Roybal also reported on his most recent 460 campaign finance filings that his over $18,000 indebtedness to Mayer was “forgiven”.

“It seems that those three are up to their old tricks,” stated a source close to the District. “Roybal needs a GM who will put an end to the ongoing investigation into his acceptance of $25,000 in pay for attending District meetings while also accepting pay from his former employer, LAUSD.”

Roybal resigned from LAUSD in July following his year and a half long reassignment in “Teacher Jail” amid allegations of improper conduct with children.

Vasquez is also under investigation at Central Basin for allegedly leaking confidential federal subpoenas to reporter Mike Sprague at the Whittier Daily News as well as her part in the subsequent forgery of subpoenas altered to make it look like President Hawkins was under investigation by the F.B.I.

Vasquez is also seeking favorable management at Central Basin that would be supportive of her Qui Tam whistleblower case, which has cost the district over $100,000; a case that all agree will be thrown out in October.

It is expected that once Vasquez’ case is tossed out by the courts, she will be targeted by the named defendants in a series of defamation lawsuits that could expose the former recalled Lynwood Councilwoman to hundred’s of thousand’s in damages.

“Bermudez is seen as someone who would do whatever the majority needed, irregardless of the consequences to the ratepayers,” according to sources familiar with the former state assemblyman.

According to Bermudez resume, he is a former Norwalk City Councilman and former probation officer.

Unlike current GM Tony Perez, Bermudez is not an engineer and has no water-related experience or credentials.

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