News & Updates

The Illusionists and their Tricks of the Trade?

By Emilio, on Jun 1, 2016

 

Dad

(First, I want to explain the absence of the Fishing Report for the past few months. Of course, and as usual, the fishing season began in April. Then our good friend Mr. Dan Chauvet passed away. That took the wind out my sails. It has been difficult to write knowing that the two previous Fishing Reports were about Dan and that they would be replaced with a new one. But, here it goes.)  

I began conducting some research and a background investigation on the two candidates pictured above, Luis Alejo (for Monterey County Supervisor) and his wife Karina Cervantez (now Alejo-for State Assembly). But in the initial phase of my research (plain ole Googling) the Watsonville Fishing Report kept popping up. Boy, we can all be thankful that I decided to take up writing the Fishing Report back in 2008 because possibly many of you would still be sucking it up….hook, line, and sinker.

Their Definition of the Truth?

Karina and Luis Alejo have taken exception to a mailer (paid for by the Govern for California Action Committee) that Karina became Mayor of Watsonville “Though a Backroom Deal”. Luis came out swinging, defending his wife. In the May 14th Californian news article, Luis was quoted: “These Trump-styled lies are deplorable and false and should be rejected. I am calling on Anna Caballero to publically denounce these by her supporters.” Caballero is the Assembly candidate who will most likely send the Alejos packing to a central valley city like Turlock to reinvent themselves. But, come on Luis…Trump? You’re reaching, and desperately too.

And I am not surprised with Luis’ selective-memory-finger-pointing defense either. What, he doesn’t recall back in 2008 when he attempted to become mayor in his first year as a councilmember? That also was a backroom deal. I had been elected to the city council the same year as Luis and learned quickly how things worked in Watsonville. Then Mayor Antonio Rivas called asking to meet with me. I sensed that something wasn’t right and declined. Rivas, at least having my attention on the phone, couldn’t contain himself and said that the fix was in to select Luis as Mayor. Apparently Luis already had plans to run for the Assembly and the Mayor title would further enhance his credentials. Rivas wanted to be Mayor for a second term and proposed that if I voted for him instead of Luis, he in turn would vote for Dale Skillicorn as Mayor Pro-Tem. Skillicorn had never been selected for either Mayor or Mayor Pro-Tem although had served on the city council for years.  And now Luis is pretending that the Alejos don't participate in backroom deals in good old Watsonville?? Now, here we are today with the allegation that Karina Cervantez-Alejo was selected mayor in a back room deal. I don’t know if she was or wasn’t, but there is an ole fisherman saying (well I just made it up) if it smelled fishy yesterday, it will still smell fishy today.

Luis Alejo creating the illusion that Caballero is somehow responsible for the mailers scorching Karina Cervantez-Alejo is laughable considering his role with some mailers sent by his camp when he ran for Assembly against Janet Barnes. Boy, those were some scorchers.  The FPPC’s (Fair Political Practices Commission) Enforcement Division found that Joaquin Ross, Alejo’s campaign manager at the time, was also the principal officer for the Committee of Voters for a New California which paid for all 3 or those mass mailings, costing $28,892.00, in support of Alejo’s Assembly candidacy. Remember there isn't supposed to be a connection between the "independent committee" and the candidate (who is subject to all kinds of donation and expenditure limits) under the FPPC rules.  Well the FPPC didn't buy that the Committee of Voters for a New California was independent.  So although Luis attempted to downplay his role,  the FPPC found that he was responsible for the mailers.  Alejo claimed the FPPC “requested” he repay the $28,892.00, but I found a Memo from the Enforcement Division that they “Notified Assemblyman Alejo of his duty to “pay down” the over-the-limit portion of the contribution from Voters for a New California by making payment to Voters for a New California in the amount of $21,092 (which was the amount over the limit). And that: “On October 4, 2013, the Enforcement Division received proof of payment in this regard from Assemblyman Alejo.”  Now, does that sound like a “recommendation” as the illusionist claimed? Sounds to me like Alejo had his hand caught in the pot, and his campaign was fully responsible for those flyers against Barnes.  Must be his own "ethics" that tell him that Caballero must be behind the flyers exposing the truth about Karina.  Thus his self-serving tirade.   

 

Living Apart for the People or for Personal Gain? 

According to a January 17, 2016 Monterey Now column Luis and Karina have been living apart for 7 months since November 2016 because Luis had to establish residency in Monterey County in his quest for a Supervisorial seat and Karina because she has a legal obligation to reside in Watsonville as a councilmember. Karina claims she still resides in the same political flop-house on Carr Street that Luis claimed to have lived in when he ran for city council. If it had not been an easy District to win, I doubt Luis and/or Karina would have “moved in” to the Carr Street address. Additionally, public records indicate that Karina was residing at 162 Rio Del Pajaro Ct. in Watsonville up and until July 2012. So how did she, seemingly convenient, “move into” the Carr St. address with Luis when she ran for city council? Of that's right-where you "live" maybe not be where you "reside" in the ever famous world of Watsonville politics.    

Then there is the commute from Salinas to Watsonville and vise/versa which can be grinding and time consuming. I say this because Luis is claiming to reside at a home on E. Curtis St. in Salinas (to meet his candidacy requirement) but Karina’s name also pops ups (according to public records) as residing at the same address. Maybe that’s why, according to the Govern for California Action Committee, that “In less than one term on the Watsonville City Council (Karina Cervantez-Alejo) “Skipped at least 9 Council meetings”, “Missed 60% of County Transportation Commission Meetings”, and “Failed to show up at nearly 1/3rd of Metropolitan Transportation Board Meetings”. Has the commute from Salinas to Watsonville affected Karina’s duties as a council member? And, then there is a possible violation of the City Charter which should not be ignored by the District Attorney.  

So where do these two possible carpet baggers vagabonds actually live, or is it reside? Your guess is as good as mine, but they may be living at another Salinas address altogether. One possible way to find out is to hire a good surveillance private investigator, but then what do I know? 

 

The Gravy Train Express Stops with Your Vote

Why do you think that Karina and Luis want so desperately to remain in politics? In my opinion they are in it for the freebies, and as we all know there are no free lunches. Luis has a documented history as one of the Assembly’s highest gift recipients. A 2012 Report by Common Cause, “Gifts, Influence and Power” (Gifts given to California’s Elected Officials) lists Assemblyman Luis Alejo 5th on the list. That’s 5th out of 80 members.

Luis’s Form 700 state gifts received that range from free Disneyland tickets ($300.00), movie tickets, boxing tickets, flights, concert tickets, AT&T Pebble Beach Golf Tournament tickets, free airport parking and thousands upon thousands of dollars in free meals, to mention just a few.

A March 3, 2015 L.A. Times news article identified 25 state lawmakers who flew to Maui “to attend a conference that was partly funded by a group of special interests, but it was not until Tuesday that all of their identities were made public when they were required to file annual gift reports.” Assemblyman Luis Alejo and his wife both attended the conference. (Bet you are not surprised). And that “The nonprofit Independent Voter Project, the sponsor of the conference, pays an average of $2,500 in expenses, including $350-a-night hotel cost, for each legislator attending its conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea.” Additionally, “The group gets its money from interests including Occidental Petroleum Corp., the Western State Petroleum Assn., Eli Lilly & Co., the Altria tobacco firm, the California Cable and Telecommunications Assn., the state prison guards union and the California Distributors Assn., which represents distributors of tobacco and other products.”

 

In my humble opinion, Luis and Karina are self-serving opportunists who spin the truth for a free meal ticket. The time has come to send these two packing to Southern California.  So let's get out and vote!  

New Wings in the Forever Sky

By netboots, on Apr 26, 2016

Dan Chuvet

 

Mr. Dan Chauvet earned his forever wings on Thursday April 21st. Mr. Chauvet was a gentleman and a warrior with grit, integrity, and rightfulness. With these traits he took on City management, mayors, and some city councilmembers to protect our Airport from eventually being turned into a housing development. He prevailed with dignity, transparency, and accomplished it fearlessly.

 

Rest and Fly in your beloved Sky, Dan

Your Smart Feller friend, 

 

Emilio 

WRAP Dinner

By Emilio, on Mar 21, 2016

Mr. Dan Chauvet, Watsonville Regional Airport Promotion (WRAP) President, and recent recipient of the Master Pilot Wright Brothers Award by the Federal Aviation Association is requesting your presence at the WRAP Dinner on April 30th. Please mark the Date on your calendar and purchase your tickets early. The following is the Notice provided by Mr. Chauvet.

Thank you~ Emilio  


WRAP Dinner


April 30th is the Watsonville Regional Airport Promotion (WRAP)-PAC Dinner.  Put this one on your schedule.  

 

Watsonville Airport's Future we expect will be the subject of Charles Montoya's (new City Manager) speech at the WRAP dinner.  Q&A? Expected.  

 

When?  Saturday April 30, 2016 at 5:30 PM (1730 hours)

Where? At the VFW Hall at 1960 Freedom Blvd, between Airport Blvd and Green Valley Road. (parking in back of building).  

Why? #1 It's an informative social gathering of aviation folks and local community folks; #2 it's a fund raiser for WRAP.  WRAP supports local candidates for public office that will support, protect and keep KWVI a safe airport.

Dress?: Yes. Dan is wearing sport-coat, tie (with airplanes on it), pants and shoes.  Ladies, the usual, wear anything they want.

The Menu:  Tri-tip Beef will be on the buffet, presented by Monterey Bay Caterers, well known for excellent fare.

 

How? Sign up by getting on the attend list (RSVP), there are no tickets.  Send a check for $50.00 per each to WRAP, PO Box 2074, Freedom, CA 95019.  Or call PAC Chairman Dan Chauvet at 831-724-8256.  We need to know projected attendance ahead of time.  

 

The schedule:  5:30 pm - 6:00  Visit

                       6:00 pm sharp - Introductions:

                       6: 20 - Dinner

                       7:00 - Introduction of Main Speaker

 

In the last election year, 2014, WRAP had its most successful year.  We joined in with the Let the People Vote Group and Measures H, I & J passed by a large margin.  It improved Watsonville city government.  The council improved.  Good government=protected airport. Thanks for supporting KWVI.  

Dan Chauvet, WRAP Chairman

Grant Wrathall, Vice Chairman

Nancy Shott, Secretary-Treasurer

 

 

Note: WRAP is stand-alone, not affiliated with EAA, 99s, or WPA.  It's nonpartisan.  

City’s Response a Coincidence or an Attempt to Prevent another Audit?

By Emilio, on Feb 29, 2016

A few months ago I begin to look into Grants received by the City from both Federal and State funds. I don’t recall what prompted me to become suspicious but it may have been something I read that caught my attention. Regardless, in my first round of digging through documents I found a June 6, 2011 “Memorandum” from former Public Works Director David Koch directed to former City Manager Palacios requesting approval (from the City Council) to award the Freedom Blvd. Reconstruction project to Monterey Bay Peninsula Engineering for $1,105,767.00. As some of you may recall that project had numerous delays prompting some business owners to file claims against the city for loss of business and some moved out.

But what caught my attention was that I recalled that some work was not completed among several other issues, thus prompting me to write a Public Records Request on February 17, 2016:

From: emilio martinez [mailto:emar007@att.net]
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 3:37 PM
To:
Beatriz Flores (
beatriz.flores@cityofwatsonville.org)
Cc: Charles Montoya (
charles.montoya@cityofwatsonville.org); Alan Smith (alan.smith@cityofwatsonville.org)
Subject: Public Records Request

 

Good Afternoon City Clerk Flores

I am attaching a copy of the June 6, 2011 Memorandum (with the Resolution)  from former Public Works/ Utilities Director, Mr. David Koch, directed to former City Manager Carlos Palacios.

The Memorandum, as you can see, is regarding awarding the Construction Contract for the Freedom Boulevard Reconstruction Project. Monterey Peninsula Engineering (MPE) was awarded the contract.

Please provide Copies of the following documents:

The bid by Monterey Peninsula Engineering.

The Estimate by Monterey Peninsula Engineering.

The scope of work by Monterey Peninsula Engineering.

Please also provide copy(s) of all checks (warrants) issued to Monterey Peninsula Engineering and all checks (warrants) issued to any subcontractors by the City.

Thank you. Please do not hesitate to call me if you and/or any members of city staff have any questions.

Emilio Martinez

How Did The City Respond?

 

On the same day that I sent my email, on February 17, 2016, the City sent out letters to the Business owners on Freedom Blvd. that had been detrimentally inconvenienced before: 

letter

 

I have yet to receive a response to my Public Records Request. But when I do, I will let you know how my fishing expedition is going. Right now, I feel a slight tug on the line.

Can Watsonville Change its Spots?

By Emilio, on Feb 22, 2016

Another Audit Tarnishes Watsonville’s Image

While conducting an investigation regarding a settlement between the City and the State’s Department of Finance, I found a January 25, 2016 letter from Mr. Jeffery V. Browning, the State Controller’s Chief of Division of Audits, directed to Mayor Nancy Bilicich (who the Controller believed was still mayor). The letter stated that their audits division had conducted an Audit of the City’s Special Gas Tax Street Improvement Fund and found that the City inappropriately transferred $122,970.00 of the ear marked money for street improvements to the General Fund, and that the City also had an “Ineligible expenditure” of $4,235.00 due to work completed which didn’t qualify as “street-related activity.” Mr. Browning included a Report outlining the results of the spot-check type Audit. The inappropriate transfer of money occurred, of course, during former City Manager Carlos Palacios’ tenure.

When I read the report what came to mind were how many pot holes could have been fixed with around $127,000.00. And if the $180,000.00 spent on “tires” in a 15 month period ending last year by the City were actually for legal claims of tire damage by people that collided with pot holes on Freedom Blvd. that in other cities would qualify as sinkholes.

Additionally, Browning wrote to Bilicich that on May 14, 2014, (almost two years ago) the City’s Finance Director and some members of the public works staff were provided an opportunity to contest the matter during an Exit Interview upon the Audit being completed. According to Browning the city staff didn’t take exception and instead immediately agreed to reinstate the funds. Then, seven months after the May 14, 2014 meeting, Palacios announced his resignation on December 3, 2014 to work for the County. Why did it take the State Controller almost two years to release their Report and notify the City of its findings? Could it be because additional investigations are in process and pending? And was this Audit the finality that pushed out Palacios from his palatial office with a panoramic view of the city which with his assistance was left in financial disarray?

I don’t know how many Federal and State funds for specific uses have been inappropriately transferred to our City’s General Fund, although I do know that the California Department of Finance (DOF) was of the opinion that the City inappropriately transferred $4.4 million from the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to the General Fund upon the State abolishing the agency. The DOF demanded and recovered the $4.4 million from the City but the City fought back and filed a lawsuit against the State and prevailed (which is another story).  

As the result, I have little doubt that we have attracted the attention of Auditors both from the State and Federal level as we have a documented history of improper use of funds received from these government agencies intended for specific uses. Take for example, the “Missing Fire Truck”. The city issued a check for $225,000.00 received from a Federal Grant in 2008. Had I not initiated an investigation to determine the whereabouts of the truck almost 3 year later while a councilmember, I doubt the City would have purchased the ladder truck. And, at a later date, I also determined that the City of Pasadena (the previous owner) only valued the truck for around $20,000.00. According to a Florida based law firm, “Using taxpayer funds designated for a specific purpose to fill budget gaps elsewhere would likely violate a number of state and federal laws”, which may be a “clear violation of antifraud laws.” The law firm referenced Modoc County, California who was “ordered to repay more than 13 million of specifically earmarked money that it illegally misused.”

What is additionally concerning to me is that it may have taken Audits, Grand Jury investigations, a missing fire truck, an inappropriate loan to a female city employee to purchase a $365,000 townhome with Redevelopment Agency funds, an inappropriate $400,000.00 loan to a private citizen also with Redevelopment Agency funds, to convince former City Manager Palacios that it was time to bolt, instead of our City Council(s) taking the appropriate action. The City Charter legally authorizes the City Council to hire, evaluate, and terminate a City Manager, yet these jelly for spines group resorted to the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, ideology.  

The Pinocchio Syndrome Continues  

On December 8, 2015, in the final city council meeting of 2015, newly Merry-Go-Round selected Mayor, Felipe Hernandez, stated that “We got our $4.4 million back to the city”. The $4.4 million that Mayor Hernandez referenced is the money the City coughed up to the California Department of Finance (DOF) after it was found they had questionably transferred this money from its Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to the General Fund when RDAs were abolished in 2012. But apparently the City filed a lawsuit and won. They were awarded a Judgement for the full $4.4 million by a Sacramento Superior Court judge. Although, according to City Clerk Beatriz Flores, who responded to several of my public records requests, the City has yet to receive one red-faced Lincoln cent. Flores wrote to one of my inquires: “On February 1st the City asked for $280,000 in its ROPS (Recognized Obligation Schedule) and will ask for additional funds next year as required by the State” What???

 

After several attempts to get a straight answer from the City regarding the full disclosure of the $4.4 million settlement without an appropriate response, I called the State’s Department of Finance. I spoke with Mr. Chis Hill who told me that the City settled with the State after the State threatened to file an Appeal when the City was awarded the judgement. He said that the State agreed to reimburse the City the $4.4 million but it would take “a very long time” before the City received all of its money. Well, if the City will be receiving $280,000 per year it will take almost sixteen years before we see the $4.4 million. That’s around the same amount of time that purportedly we’ll see the 2,000 promised jobs that the Manabe-Ow Business Park project is to produce. I wish Mayor Felipe Hernandez wouldn’t have misled the public because you know here in Watsonville they might just give him a nickname…Fiblipe?

   

Up In Smoke, or a Friend with Weed is a Friend Indeed?

Are you kidding me? The City is going to appoint an eleven member committee to approve a Marijuana Initiative and take 6 months to do it? What have they been smoking…well maybe I shouldn’t ask. And the process to select the Grass for Lunch Bunch is about as comical as some city council members were when they made this decision and almost broke out with a Kumbaya-sqe “Don’t Bogart that Joint my friend…” at the conclusion of the previous city council meeting.

 

And did you know that if you want to be selected to the Committee you first have to write a letter to Suzy Merriam of the Community Development Department stating why you should be selected. Ms. Merriam, who hopefully won’t be as selective as the department she works for, will then choose which people best qualify and send her recommendations to Mayor Fe (stop it now) lipe Hernandez who will decide who will be on the Committee.

 

I was thinking of writing a letter asking to be selected (A Parody).

Dear Suzy:

First I want to say that the Strawberry costume you wear at the Strawberry Festival, year, after year, after year, after year, has brought back some memories. I can’t remember the last time I wore one but I think it was back in the 70s. I went to a party dressed in a large Kangaroo outfit and had a great time. But, when I woke up sometime the next morning on the floor, after a bout of the spinners, I found a baggie full of buds stashed in my marsupium. Well, as you can imagine, I have had some experience with the evil weed.  Thus the reason I feel qualified to be on the Committee.

But, if you decide not to select me I would like to take the opportunity to provide you and the city council with some ideas. First you have to give the Committee a name. How about the “Bong Along to Get Along Committee”? And the City should reward the Committee with a gift bag. In it you can give out a year’s subscription of High Times, Visine, breath mints, a black light, a pack of Zig Zags, a Bic lighter of the color of their choice, and a half- ounce sample of Ethnobotanica’s finest. I know that this could prove to be costly and the City is down to stems and seeds, so maybe you want to pick up the phone and call you know who and ask which Funds can be concealed from an Audit….well, maybe you don’t want to do that unless your favorite color is orange. Hey…I know….pull 20K cash from the General Fund and say you’re going to use it to pay Bandas at the Strawberry Festival. Remember? And, you know what? In my appreciation for your consideration, I will contribute Watsonville Fishing Report T-Shirts to the Committee and City Council. They can wear them proudly. You see what a nice guy I can be?

Tu Amigo Para Siempre,

Emilio

 

Our City Has a New Name?

          I was surprised to read in the Santa Cruz Sentinel last week that Terry Medina resides in the “Pajaro Valley” in regards to him being selected as president by the Community Foundation. I have no idea who came up with the idea not to mention the “W” word……Wrong Way Watson?

 

Me? A Troublemaker?

I keep hearing rumors that a certain Community Development Department head references me as a trouble maker and that she complains that instead of portraying Watsonville in a positive image I tend to dwell on the negative. I beg to differ. This city employee may want to consider her own questionable history and our Ambassadors: the public. They are observant and render their own opinions verbally not only with other locals but with out of towners too, Except, they may not be as public and vocal; for good reason too…retaliatory tactics by this same city employed individual? Does this Community Development Department manager truly believe she can still rely on retaliatory tactics to conceal her “selective” making decisions? You know Ms. M.T. maybe it’s time for you to go too because three McDonalds may be your

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