Water district clout: LA Co agency gives millions in contracts to politically connected recipients

Jun 4, 2012 Full story: articles.latimes.com

A water district that serves southeast Los Angeles County has awarded millions of dollars in contracts to politically connected individuals and organizations, which have helped the district fight critics and avoid outside scrutiny, public records and interviews show.

In the last five years, Oldtimers has received more than $2.5 million from Central Basin. Oldtimers provides low-cost housing, dial-a-ride programs and other services to municipalities. The water district has paid it to install water-saving toilets and promote water conservation, among other services. Central Basin has also paid Oldtimers' board president, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, more than $750,000 in consulting fees since 2004 for political and legislative advice.

Calderon's two brothers, both state legislators, have defended the water district's interests in Sacramento. In 2009, Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) helped thwart an audit of Central Basin's books. This year, Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) proposed legislation that could reduce the fees Central Basin's customers pay for groundwater.

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), whose congressional district overlaps with Central Basin's service area, said the utility has refused to share information about its finances and rate structure. She also said it was a conflict of interest for Ron and Charles Calderon to sponsor legislation affecting an agency for which their brother is a paid consultant.

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“Hilltop Park Above All”

Since: Sep 08

Montebello, CA

#1 Jun 4, 2012
Perhaps stories like this indicate the need to bring new, uncorrupted candidates into these government groups?

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