Former City Councilwoman Leticia Vasquez made a triumphant return to elected office Tuesday, winning election to the Division 4 seat on the Central Basin Municipal Water District Board of Directors.
Change may be coming to the Central Basin Municipal Water District with two incumbents voted out of office Tuesday.
Pico Water Board member James Roybal knocked off two-term incumbent Ed Vasquez and former Lynwood Councilwoman Leticia Vasquez defeated incumbent Rudy Montalvo of South Gate – both by a nearly 2-1 margin.
“People are pretty dissatisfied with the Central Basin Municipal Water District,” said Roybal. “I think the electorate is saying they’re tired of reading articles on what’s going on in the Central Basin.”
Directors Rudy Montalvo and Ed Vasquez lose by large margins in an election dominated by allegations of misconduct at the agency.
A proposed law designed to keep water bills from skyrocketing has passed a state Senate committee, but opponents vow to fight the measure they say is a “political power grab.”
Senate Bill 1386, authored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would remove barriers to storing groundwater in the Central Basin and would allow for underground water reserves to protect against high rates in dry periods. Area cities and water agencies have been embroiled in legal battles over how and by whom the water should be stored.
“Without this bill, continued efforts by the Central Basin Municipal Water District will lead to more and more lawsuits, create greater and greater legal bills, and result in higher rates for our region,” said Lowenthal in a written statement following the committee vote.
“Enough is enough,” the senator added. “It’s time we move forward as a region, and I believe SB 1386 provides us with the path to resolution.”
Biographical information can’t be confirmed about journalists with the website News Hawks Review, whose stories promoted the Central Basin Municipal Water District.
There seemed to be no doubt that Mike Adams was a productive journalist, even if his beat was a bit obscure: the Central Basin Municipal Water District.
In recent months, he churned out more than 20 stories on the water wholesaler based in southeast Los Angeles. He wrote about recycled water that kept the grass green on street medians and parks. About the computer system a college used to irrigate its landscaping. About a water-saving youth soccer field.
The only mystery, really, was Adams himself. The Times could not find evidence he exists.
Adams’ stories were published on the website News Hawks Review after Central Basin agreed to pay up to nearly $200,000 in taxpayer money to public relations consultant Ed Coghlan. Under the deal, Coghlan said he would produce promotional stories about the district that would be indexed on Google News.
The district, which sells water to cities and water companies in Southeast Los Angeles County and serves a total of more than 2 million residents, has come under criticism for the unusual arrangement.
Central Basin staffers, in recommending the agreement with Coghlan to the board of directors, said the stories would enhance the district’s image and would be written by experienced journalists.
And on paper, Adams fit that bill.
A biography on News Hawks described him as a former magazine writer and TV veteran who had a degree in construction sciences from Westminster College in Salt Lake City. But his background in journalism could not be verified, and Westminster’s registrar, Mindy Wennergren, said the school has never offered a degree in construction sciences.
News Hawks also presented a picture of Adams, showing a stoic man with a gray beard and a black cowboy hat. A reader notified The Times that the photo was a stock image used to demonstrate editing techniques on websites such as deviantart.com.
From there, the picture was traced to photographer Leroy Skalstad, who said he took the shot at a Milwaukee food bank last year and posted it to several photo-sharing websites. He said the subject of the picture is a man nicknamed “Cobra.”