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By HMG-CN Publisher Brian Hews
In the past week, the Editor of the Whittier Daily News and his reporter Mike Sprague have published several questionable stories aimed at discrediting Central Basin Water District (CB) Director Art Chacon, while ignoring ethics and monetary violations of other CB Directors.
Their mission to publicize Chacon’s alleged transgressions has involved, among other things, harassing Chacon’s diabetic 77 year-old mother Paula, his 80 year-old and wheel chair-bound aunt Lupe, and his nephew’s fiancé Jessica Lao.
Sources are telling Hews Media Group-Community News that former CB GM Art Aguilar, a close associate of the Calderon family and long time friend and mentor of Mike Sprague, could be behind the harassment in a behind-the-scenes power grab of the CB Board of Directors.
Sources are also telling HMG-CN that CB Directors Leticia Vasquez and James Roybal are helping Sprague in an effort to seize the majority on the board so Vasquez can reap millions by voting for the Qui Tam “whistleblower” lawsuit she filed against the embattled agency.
As exclusively reported by HMG-CN last Friday, Vasquez filed a last-ditch amendment to the whistleblower complaint, with the final hearing to occur Oct. 10, 2014.
How did Sprague obtain Lao’s number?
Lao has no idea how Sprague got her cell number. She did spend the night at Chacon’s house last week. Sprague was seen parked in front of the house at the time.
The next day, Lao got a text from Sprague that said, “My name is Mike Sprague, I’m a reporter at the WDN. I understand that you know Art Chacon, a member at CB, can you call me at 562-567-7537?”
Sprague also e-mailed her several times harassing Lao to the point that she threatened to file a police report.
Granted Chacon’s history is by no means spotless, but neither is Vasquez’ or Roybal’s.
But the WDN and Sprague have published Chacon’s history ad-nausea, using Vasquez, who was recalled from the Lynwood City Council in 2007 and who was accused of jury tampering in the Paul Richard’s corruption case, as their source.
No less than five articles-and today an Editorial-have been published in the last six days slamming Chacon.
The editor should replace Whittier with Chacon and call it the Chacon Daily News.
So what is the motivation of the latest articles?
The first article was, “District Attorney’s Office investigating complaints about Central Basin Water District Director Art Chacon.”
The key words in the title are “investigating complaints.”
When HMG-CN called Los Angeles District attorney spokesperson Jane Robison to clarify she said, “We don’t discuss whether they’re under investigation or it’s an ongoing investigation, all we say is that we’ve received a complaint and it’s under review.”
But Sprague wrote a misleading “investigating”-not reviewing-in his article title.
Interestingly, Sprague failed to ever mention that Leticia Vasquez, his well known source for information out of CB, had several complaints filed against her in the past that are under review by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, the F.B.I., and the FPPC.
Omitted too was the fact that CB Director James Roybal is under investigation by the LAUSD’s Office of Inspector General and took over $20,000 in 8 months from CB while in “teacher jail,” a violation of LAUSD policy.
Omitted again was the fact the Robert “Bob” Apodaca recently cost the District over $600,00 in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
But Sprague chooses to go after Chacon and his $597 per month auto allowance and $16,000 payment.
Further, Vasquez was quoted as saying, “Chacon should return all auto allowance money he received to CB.”
Absent was any quote by Vasquez asking Roybal to return the money he “earned” while in teacher jail.
In that same article Sprague wrote, “DMV officials say he hasn’t had a license since Sept. 30, 2003.”
I guess Sprague did not read the CHP report relating to the 2010 accident Chacon was in that said Chacon had a license at the time of the accident, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
HMG-CN obtained Director Chacon’s driver’s license last Friday. It is clear that his license was valid since March of this year, a fact Chacon told Sprague and the CB Board several times since March of this year.
Strike one on Sprague.
But it gets worse, and HMG-CN contends that the WDN and Sprague are trying to influence the election.
Three days ago Sprague wrote an article titled, “Exclusive video: Central Basin Municipal Water District director Art Chacon, who has no license, driving.
In the article Sprague wrote, “Security videos obtained by this news organization show Central Basin Municipal Water District Director Art Chacon behind the wheel of a Mercedes he drove on district property earlier this month.”
Sources at CB tell HMG-CN that CB Director James Roybal helped Sprague obtain the video.
The video was taken Aug. 10, 2014 at a pumping station in Pico Rivera five months after Chacon obtained his license.
HMG-CN called Sprague Sunday and Monday morning asking for comment and if he knew Chacon had a valid license. Sprague did not return the calls.
Strike two on Sprague.
Last Monday night, hours after HMG-CN questioned Sprague, he wrote another article trying to cover himself, “Water board director gets license back after $16,000 payment to accident victim.”
Sprague claims that the insurance company sued Chacon for damages, not true-1.
When the accident occurred in 2010, Art Aguilar, who disliked Chacon, was GM of CB and Doug Wance was the district’s attorney.
Aguilar and Wance intentionally failed to turn in the insurance claim in a timely manner to CB’s insurance company ACWA/JPIA for payment; a claim the insurance company said it would have paid.
So the claim was not paid, the insurance company sued, and Chacon’s license was suspended in 2010.
Sprague then writes the claim was paid in February but Chacon’s license was not reinstated until August 18.
Not true-2 and Sprague knew it. Chacon’s license was reinstated March 14, 2014.
In blatant lie-3, Sprague goes on to say that there was a 3-1 CB board vote to pay the $16,000 claim.
He went so far to substantiate his lie by obtaining quotes from “experts” Gil Aguirre, an “activist,” and Bob Stern, former president of Center for Governmental Studies.
HMG-CN was able to contact one of the experts who did not want to be identified saying, “Sprague told me it was a 3-1 board vote to pay the $16,000, I am extremely upset that he lied to me about this.”
HMG-CN further confirmed there was no vote through CB spokesperson Joe Legaspi who said, “The Board did not vote on the matter. It was handled under the General Manager’s (Antonio Perez’) authority.”
CB GM Antonio Perez told HMG-CN, “the District mishandled submitting Director Chacon’s accident claim to our insurance and our attorney felt Director Chacon could have a valid legal claim against the District as a result. Paying the $16,000 was not only the right thing to do, but was also the smart thing to do.”
Strike three Sprague.
You and your Editor are out.