State Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, carry on a family tradition every Thanksgiving.
Join the discussion below, or Read more at LA Weekly.
#477 Mar 8, 2014
Maybe if enough high level legislators are shamed, the rest will make more ethical choices. With there now being two high level guys out, and these things typically come in threes, when the next shoe falls, that may start the dominos rolling.
#478 Mar 9, 2014
My understanding is that registered lobbyists in California have to report on their activities. Tom Calderon and his clients, the Central Basin Water District, the San Gabriel Valley Water Company and others, got around that requirement by calling Tom Calderon a "consultant". We know that he was paid over 11K a month by Central Basin. We still don't know how much the SGV Water Company paid him. It's a private business so doesn't have to tell us wondering public such interesting info.
I've wondered for some time now if the big sums of money paid to certain "consultants" or donated to certain nonprofits weren't actually meant for "pay to play" political contributions to powerful politicians. Tom Calderon and nonprofits that he controlled may have played the role of "pass through" for those who sought favors from elected officials.
#480 Mar 13, 2014
During the press conference, Beilke interrupted Vasquez numerous times.
“You took money from all these people,” he said. Why are you being such a hypocrite? You took money from Tom Calderon.”
During the last six months of 2012, Vasquez received $750 from Calderon,$2,500 each from Pacifica Services, a former contractor now in litigation with the district, HDR which in the past prepared an environmental impact report for the district, and from Douglas Wance, a former attorney for the district who she filed a whistle-blower lawsuit, according to her campaign finance reports.
Vasquez replied to Beilke,“You’re here for one reason and one reason only. That is to attack me.”
A number of residents with signs, criticizing Vasquez and other members of her board coalition were present. They carried signs calling for hers and director James Roybal’s recall.
#482 Mar 13, 2014
More on the Calderon Octopus gang
Dirty Water:‘Pay to Play Culture’ Trickling Out At Central Basin
Director Vasquez wastes no time in approving contracts for political friend and fiancé’s law firm.
“Roybal, Apodaca and Vasquez are playing ignorant like they knew nothing about these contracts.
They want the public to believe Hill just stumbled upon these Vasquez buddies by chance so it would seem”, stated Chacon.
One source who declined to be identified said “I have no doubt that Leticia is leveraging her majority team of Jim Roybal and Bob Apodaca to secure contracts for her supporters and friends, that’s how these type of people operate.
I think South Gate Councilman Henry Gonzalez said it best when he stated that Vasquez was ‘as dirty as they come’.”
#483 Mar 13, 2014
I don’t believe anyone, including Randy & Brian, could get to the bottom of the deep rooted corruption and backroom deal making that surrounds politics in the southeast area.
You mention Angel Gonzalez, but let’s not forget his sidekick in crime Rick Mayer who recently has went underground given exposure in financing two newly elected Central Basin Board Members and his revolting threats to Central Basin Director Art Chacon.
These two people make there living off of getting people elected and smearing those they want out of their way. And let’s not even go into what happens if they get yopu elected and then you develop a conscious!
It’s Mervyn Dymally politics 101 at it’s best (worse actually),
it’s “either you’re with us or against us!
By the way, Rick Mayer recently was booted from his lucrative contract at the Water Replenishment District over all the negative attention his “buying” of the Board majority at Central Basin.
Of course, thanks to LCCN Mayer is “too hot” to tap his kickbacks at Central Basin. Boy, Mayer sunk a bundle into those hacks Roybal and Vasquez and now he’s walking away with nothing but a few cases of Central Basin bottled water;,(
#484 Mar 13, 2014
April 5, 2013
This ongoing saga of Central Basin Water has become so fascinating to follow. An agency with such a pathetically long history of manipulation, abuse and corruption just can’t seem to catch a break.
For so many years Central Basin has operated under the shadow of all those shady characters that have brought such suspicion and scrutiny to a government function that has become so easily corruptible.
It is obvious that voters simply do not have a clue who or what type of people they elect to water boards and that is especially the case at Central Basin.
Montebello's own Ed Vasquez?
Crawled out from under his rock this week.
#485 Mar 13, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: Despite Denials, Director Leticia Vasquez Filed $2.75 Million Law Suit Against Central Basin Water District
Thursday February 13, 2014, 4:25 pm
Vasquez is alleging in her lawsuit that powerful law firms and political operatives hired by CBMWD received over $2.75 million from a secret ‘slush fund.’
The slush fund was initially found by COO Chuck Fuentes, Assistant GM Ron Beilke, and Arnold Glassman in 2012.
(Glassman is Montebello City attorney)
Under alleged pressure from Ernest Camacho, President of Pacifica Services and, sources tell HMG-CN, a recipient of money from the fund, Vasquez, along with Directors Bob Apodaca and James Roybal, voted to fire Fuentes, Beilke, and Glassman in early 2013.
Camacho, along with convicted felon Rick Mayer and Angel Gonzales, bankrolled Roybal’s and Vasquez’ campaigns in 2012.
The firing and slush fund were first reported by HMG-CN in February of 2013.
The details of the whistleblower lawsuit were officially unsealed by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant Deason this week.
(Thursday February 13, 2014)
"In comments left on the HMG-CN website, Vasquez also denied being a party to the lawsuit and demanded a retraction several times. She also sent text messages denying the lawsuit."
In comments left on the HMG-CN website, Vasquez also denied being a party to the lawsuit and demanded a retraction several times. She also sent text messages denying the lawsuit.
In that filing, also obtained by HMG-CN, Vasquez claims that Ronald Calderon and the Calderon Group landed a $140,000 in consulting fees, plus an untold amount in expenses during a closed session held by CBMWD Board Directors on June 28, 2012.
#486 Mar 13, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: Pacifica Services, Central Basin Officials Exchanged Thousands of Offensive Emails Bashing Obama, Gays, Ethnic Groups
Vice President Mike Sisson of Pacifica Services was leader of the email group.
Top executives at Pacifica Services and officials within the Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) exchanged thousands of highly racist emails during a three-year period that disparaged Muslims, Palestinians, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, Seniors, naked woman, obese people, liberals, immigrants, Wal-Mart shoppers, rednecks, gays and lesbians.
Hews Media Group-Community News obtained more than 2,500 emails from a public records request between Mike Sisson, a high-ranking Vice President at Pacifica Services, and several other people sent from his office computer system located at CB. The emails were written and exchanged during regular business hours, and many were also generated by Pacifica Services executive Scott Hennessey.
Pasadena based Pacifica Services is owned and operated by Ernest Camacho, a very powerful and politically well-connected businessman in Los Angeles.
Camacho donated large amounts of political cash to water district official’s campaigns all over Southern California including current CB Directors Leticia Vasquez and James Roybal.
Ironically, most of the parties involved in the “email exchange group” were also allegedly involved in the CB $2.75 Million “secret slush fund” that is now part of a massive criminal investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies.
#487 Mar 13, 2014
$2.7M ‘slush fund’ used by L.A. County water district to pay political allies, friends, lawsuit says
the lawsuit alleges former Democratic Assemblyman Tom Calderon received thousands of dollars from the secret fund.
That's the Gang of three's Montebello Planning Commissioner Tom Calderon
According to the suit, the board and general manager violated state open-meeting laws under the ruse of discussing “pending litigation.”
One government watchdog said the allegations are troubling.
(Did the "gang of three" ever hold illegal meetings???)
“If they are paying someone for services that aren’t provided, then that is a false claims violation.
People can be prosecuted.
They can be forced to return all the money,” said Gil Aguirre of San Dimas, an activist who has followed the case and has won several open-meeting law cases against public agencies.
If questions arose, then-former Assemblyman Tom Calderon,
a consultant to the district, was on call to help Central Basin craft an explanation that would sell a Sacramento audience,
according to court documents.
In his deposition Aguilar said the secret storage plan was the biggest project Calderon worked on during his years as a $12,000 month consultant for Central Basin.
Central Basin Water District,
headquartered in Commerce,
has been subject to increased scrutiny after federal authorities raided its offices as part of the investigation into Tom Calderon.
The former lawmaker, who left office in 2002, has been a consultant to the Central Basin district for many years,
receiving as much as $700,000 over eight years.
Last month, Calderon was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering by the U.S. Attorney’s Office;
his brother, state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, was charged with 24 counts of bribery and corruption involving an insurance scam at a Long Beach hospital and for taking bribes from FBI agents posing as Hollywood executives peddling favorable legislation.
#488 Mar 13, 2014
The newspaper article (see link in above post) refers to an August 2012 successful bill in the state legislature that stopped the Cental Basin water storage power grab. The secret fund that is the subject of Letica Vasquez' whistle blower lawsuit basically was designed to fund the power grab. Tom Calderon made big bucks working on that project, paid out of the secret fund. So, Montebello, why should we care? Well, other than good government, our very own Montebello City Councilman, Jack Hadjinian, traveled to Sacramento in August 2012 to speak against the legislation that stopped the Cental Basin Power Grab, joining the Calderons in that unsuccessful effort. The tendrils of the Central Basin scandals run deep.
#489 Mar 14, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Wright, Calderon are legislative 'non-persons'
MC_CALDERON_05.JPGEven as they continue to collect their salaries, the Senate's refusal to acknowledge Sens. Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, and Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, is rather Orwellian, Dan says
Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/20...
Dan Walters Daily: Wright, Calderon are legislative 'non-persons'
#490 Mar 14, 2014
Al Jazeera Bombshell: Sen Ron Calderon For Sale
KABC LOS ANGELES
From the Dan Walters video
George Orwell Was right
Senate will not call Calderon for Roll Call or votes
they are "non persons"
but they still get paid
#491 Mar 16, 2014
Recall Campaign Launched Against Central Basin Water Director Leticia Vasquez
t was also revealed that notable campaign contributors to Vasquez’ campaign included:
recently indicted Senator Ronald Calderon of Montebello,
past Central Basin vendors such as recently indicted former Assemblyman Tom Calderon,
Central Basin Director Robert “Bob” Apodaca (a staunch ally on the Board),
attorney Ron Wilson, who is her long time life partner,
Pacifica Services Inc.,
Southwest Management Consultants,
Golden State Advocacy, HDR Inc.,
Attorney Doug Wance, and C2 Group.
In addition, numerous constituent complaints have been filed against Vasquez with the District Attorney and the Fair Political Practices Committee who as recently as January 21, 2014 opened an active investigation against Vasquez for attempting to conceal campaign donations.
According to the proponent,“Vasquez took information that previous management at the District uncovered and claimed it as her own. She then proceeded to concoct a devious plan to portray herself as a “watchdog” at the District while simultaneously seeking a substantial reward.”
#493 Mar 17, 2014
Concerned Bystander wrote here March 16
Ron and Tom are not going quietly into that dark night at this time. They are reportedly backing financially a 'Recall Leticia Vasquez' campaign.
I wonder if any of the $100,000 in bribe money is going to this campaign.
Perhaps Leticia might make another FPPC complaint or file another lawsuit to find out?
#494 Mar 20, 2014
Guerra Slams Steinberg over Calderon, Wright ‘Employment’ Status
By Randy Economy
Calderon and Wright will still be collecting their taxpayer salaries and benefits package while he is awaiting trial/ sentencing.
Downey – California State Senate hopeful Mario Guerra slammed Senate Pro-Tem President Darrell Steinberg on Monday afternoon surrounding the current employment status of indicted Senator Ronald Calderon and convicted Senator Rod Wright.
Guerra, who is running to replace the termed out legislator in the newly drawn 32rd State Senate District called on Steinberg “to force” both Calderon and Wright to immediately turn in their resignation notices.
Guerra is a Republican and both Calderon are Democrats.
On Sunday, Calderon said that he would be taking a paid leave of absence while he fights federal corruptions charges that could land him in jail for life if found guilty on all counts.
Last week, Calderon was charged by federal officials for accepting nearly $100,000 in bribes in exchange for action on several legislative bills.
Steinberg last week gave Calderon until Monday to resign or take a leave of absence.
Steinberg said that if his long-time political alley refused to step down, he would have faced a Senate vote to suspend him from office.
Calderon told members of the media late Sunday in a statement that,“I will be seeking a voluntary leave of absence from my legislative duties in Sacramento.
This is not a resignation since I still have my day in court. However, due to the nature and complexity of the charges, and the discovery materials that I will have to review, I expect this to be a lengthy period of absence continuing until the end of the session in August.”
Guerra, who is a current city councilmember and a leading candidate to replace Calderon in Sacramento, told HMG-CN in an interview that,“Doing the right thing is not difficult.
There are currently two State Senators – both representing constituencies within Los Angeles County – who have refused to step-down after being charged and/or convicted of multiple felonies.”
Guerra also said,“I want to reiterate that silence and inaction are not acceptable. Our leaders must not only have character, they must lead by example. My record speaks for itself when it comes to voting for what is right – every time.
I led the drive and passed resolutions in my city asking for both Senator Wright’s and Senator Calderon’s resignation.”
Guerra added,“It is unacceptable to continue to allow Senators Wright and Calderon to be members of the Senate.
They are both continuing to be a drain on the limited resources that our great State has. Over $200,000 of the public’s money will be paid to these corrupt politicians while they take a vacation on the taxpayers’ dollar.
Voters continue to be disenfranchised with politics and this is why – corrupt politicians break the law and their peers blindly protect them. We deserve more from those who have elected.”
Calderon will still be collecting his taxpayer salary and benefits package while he is awaiting trial.
#495 Mar 22, 2014
Report on Central Basin Water District’s secret ‘slush fund’ to go to board Monday
COMMERCE – A legal firm hired by a regional water district plans to deliver its secret report on a $2.7 million slush fund that allegedly funneled cash to relatives, political allies, and friends including a former assemblyman charged in a federal criminal case with money laundering.
It remains to be seen whether the report from Arent Fox, a legal firm hired by the district more than a year ago, will be made public.
Officials paid the firm $500,000 to do an investigation into the fund, linked to former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.
The report’s contents haven’t been shared with four other members of the board because all have conflicts of interest, Roybal said.
Two media law experts said the district needs to make the document available to the public.
“It’s absolutely a public record under the Brown Act,” said Gil Aguirre, a San Gabriel Valley open-government activist.
“If they want to keep the report secret, they would have had to meet in closed session ... and then claim the report was prepared by attorneys for litigation,” Aguirre said.
The report is listed for discussion on an open portion of the board’s agenda.
Jim Ewert, general counsel for California Newspaper Association, said Arent Fox’s work is subject to disclosure.
The slush fund under scrutiny was first brought to light as part of a whistle-blower lawsuit filed against the district by director Leticia Vasquez.
Vasquez said she plans to argue Monday for its immediate release.
“The public has a right to know what happened to the $2.7 million,” Vasquez said.“We have a responsibility to the voters.”
Vasquez claims the multi-million dollar slush fund, approved by members Robert Apodaca, Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins was created to design and manage a secret water-storage program.
Former General manager Art Aguilar, who was deposed in a separate civil suit, acknowledged the existence of the program.
The district has confronted several challenges in recent weeks.
It was the subject of an FBI raid linked to a criminal corruption case against Calderon and his brother state Sen. Ron Calderon.
And, district officials have come under fire for paying off $16,000 to a woman injured in a accident with Chacon.
A resident of Commerce, Chacon has not had a driver’s license for nearly a decade, but continues to collect mileage and $600 a month car allowance from the district.
Earlier this week the district’s insurance company said it was considering pulling Central Basin’s policy due to dysfunction on its board.
Central Basin General Manager Tony Perez referred questions about the secret slush fund and the Arent Fox report to Ricardo Olivarez, Central Basin’s house attorney.
Olivarez did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Three directors – Robert Apodaca, Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins –
all voted on the appropriation of the $2.7 million and Vasquez filed the lawsuit seeking to recover for the district the money that was paid to two legal firms.
#496 Mar 24, 2014
Contra Costa Times editorial: Reforms are needed in Legislature,
but proposals so far are falling short
Contra Costa Times editorial © 2014 Bay Area News group
#497 Mar 24, 2014
Tom Calderon et all Slush fund
Report says Central Basin Municipal Water District violated Brown Act when it set up $2.7 million “slush fund”
COMMERCE – Central Basin Municipal Water District violated California’s open-meeting law when its board approved $2.7 million in what has been called a “slush fund,” according to a letter released Monday by the district from Craig Engle, a partner with Arent Fox, that has been investigating the expenditure.
In addition to paying for an environmental impact report on a water storage program, it also was allegedly used to funneled cash to relatives, political allies and friends, including former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, D-Montebello, charged in a federal criminal case with money laundering.
In his letter, Engle stated a vote on June 28, 2010 to appropriate the money should have been done in public session.
However, it is unlikely the district or board members will be prosecuted, Engle said.
“Central Basin should have had that discussion in open session but Central Basin probably would have no further action taken against them because the directors were acting under the advice of their counsel,” he said.
In addition, any action against the district is time-barred under California law, two directors who approved the move are no longer on the board and the district has voluntarily cooperated to resolve the matter, Engle’s letter noted.
Engle told the board a full report should be complete in 30 days.
Where's the audit?
Where's the funds?
#498 Mar 24, 2014
Another 80 Senate employees assumed higher-paying jobs during 2013, totaling about a half-million dollars annually.
Among those were employees of state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who was indicted on federal corruption charges in February.
Federal investigators searched Calderon’s Capitol office last June.
His then-chief of staff, Rocky Rushing, soon transferred to another Senate office.
Sometime in July, the Senate approved about $37,000 worth of staff promotions triggered by Rushing’s departure.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/03/24/6261518/asse...
#499 Mar 26, 2014
Central Basin water district violated law, agency lawyers say
Thomas Calderon, a former assemblyman and Central Basin Water District consultant, was one of several recipients of money from a $2.7-million fund set up for a groundwater storage project.(Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times)
Thomas Calderon was one of several recipients of money from the fund.
The full investigative report by Arent Fox will not be released for another month, but the firm presented a letter to Central Basin's attorney Monday that outlined some of their main findings.
The Arent Fox report reached no conclusions and made no recommendations about the vendors that were paid, their contracts or the quality of their work.
The firm said that because of "any possible ongoing criminal investigations," Arent Fox was not able to "discover all facts and or take all necessary testimony before the conclusion of this report."
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