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|""When a public
that sacred trust
promoted is the
belief that those in
in it for
and not because
they wish to serve
and make a
- Donald Thomson,
Jr., FBI Agent in
|"Actions Speak Louder than Words"
July 19, 2004
Huntington Park- On March 4, 2003, three council candidates running as a slate win city council seats: Mario Gomez
("Integrity"), Ofelia Hernandez ("Community Service") and John Noguez ("Experience"). Council Member Ed Escareño
enthusiastically endorses and actively campaigns for all three candidates. Mayor Ric Loya endorses two of the three.
The slate's themes:"Actions speak louder than words."; Working together for our Community, for Our Children, for our
In Huntington Park, a city of approximately 62,000 residents, approximately 12,000 are registered to vote. As few as
1,217 votes can elect a new Council Member in this city, which represents about 9.7% of registered voters, or 2% of the
total city population. It takes at least $24 per vote per candidate to win a city council seat, as was demonstrated during
the 2003 election year (based on public record campaign filing statements on file with the City Clerk's office).
Then U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, ex-Mayor of Huntington Park, takes time from her official duties in Washington D.C.
to attend the inauguration of the newly minted City Council members who won local elections in March 2003. Pictures of
her appear on their campaign literature while she was U.S. Treasurer. Allegedly, she took the time during some local
public appearances to single out all three candidates, seemingly geared to benefit their unified political campaign, in
light of her official duties as U.S. Treasurer. After the elections, a very grateful City Council voted and passed a
resolution to escort the Honorable Rosario Marin to the Sister City of Playas de Rosarito, with a contingency of
Huntington Park police officers in tow, all at a relatively considerable expense to Public Funds. Little did the voters
realize that a budding romance had developed between council member Ed Escareño and a local school teacher in
Rosarito, thus seemingly explaining why it had become such a darling Sister City, and the subject of frequent cell
phone and extravagant travel charges made to Public Funds by Escareño.
City Council announced that Francisco Leal of the Los Angeles law firm of Leal, Abich and Dominguez would become
the new city attorney, a decision made reportedly in closed door session under questionable circumstances. "The vote
was 3-1 with Mayor Ed Escareño and council members Ofelia Hernandez and Mario Gomez in favor and Councilman
Ric Loya opposed. Noguez was absent. The city attorney contract was reportedly awarded without going out to bid
according a report in the local Wave Community Newspaper. Mayor Ed Escareño and City Clerk Elba Romo sign the city
attorney contract on December 15, 2003. The contract stipulates a base salary of $140 per hour, not to exceed $25,000
per month in legal fees (equivalent to $300,000 per year), unless otherwise authorized by City council. Upon review of
the 2004-2005 city budget, WatchOurCity.com notes that the city allocates in excess of $1 million dollars for legal fees
to the city attorney under different departments and budget categories scattered throughout the 500 page-plus budget
On December 2003,
Francisco Leal and Robert Rodriguez of Oldtimers Foundation accompany Mayor Ed Escareño to Playas de Rosarito,
Mexico, on a Christmas 500-gift-giving mission at two local schools. Their visit was reported in Ecos de Rosarito
newspaper which stated that Mayor Escareño was having a romantic relationship with a certain local school teacher
whom is employed, coincidentally, at the same two schools where gifts were to be distributed. Rosarito is a recent
Sister City of Huntington Park. Mayor Escareño had charged Public Funds for his cell phone costs of approximately
$1,200 during December '03 and January of '04 reportedly made to a single phone number in Rosarito, according to city
records. To date, council member Escareño has not publicly justified these and other questionable charges to Public
Funds, including a seemingly lavish and unprecedented $25,001 in travel expenses since the 2002-2003 fiscal year.
Mayor Ed Escareño, Mario Gomez and Ofelia Hernandez give the residents of Huntington Park a New Year's surprise:
they quietly passed a resolution giving themselves a pay raise of $350 per month each, five days into the new year,
when it seemed nobody was watching. Ed Escareño and Ofelia Hernandez were seemingly unemployed at the time.
Council Member Noguez voted against it but still takes the extra pay raise. His campaign theme was "Honest and
Dedicated". He is employed by the County of Los Angeles as a property assessor. Council member Loya voted against
the pay raise and does not currently take the pay hike. He is employed by LAUSD.
City Council awarded a nearly $4 million Transportation Services contract to Oldtimers Foundation, along with Fiesta
Taxi. Reportedly, neither was low bidder nor best qualified according to an independent consultant as reported by the
Wave Community Newspaper. The recommendation by Ed Escareño and Mario Gomez, who make up the
Transportation Committee, ignored recommendations made by professional city staff and an independent
transportation consultant, and also chose to ignore that the cost to the city would reportedly be $22,000 more than if
awarded to the responsible low bidder.
City attorney Francisco Leal hosts a political fund-raiser at his home for the U.S. Senate campaign of Rosario Marin (an
ex-mayor of the city and ex U.S. Treasurer). Campaign-finance statements reviewed by WatchOurCity.com show that on
that date, Rosario Marin received a combined total of $28,000 in contributions from 24 individuals.
The invitation for this partisan political fund-raiser lists the following people as co-hosts: George Cole of Oldtimers
Foundation (a private non-profit 501(c)3 entity), Victor Caballero of Fiesta Taxi, and Vicente Ortiz, a prominent member of
Meta 2000. Mr. Caballero and Mr. Ortiz were appointed as Arts and Culture Commissioners on 9-2-03. On 2-9-04 the
following people donate to Rosario Marin's campaign (according to federal campaign-finance statements):
George Cole (Oldtimers Foundation), $2,000
Victor Caballero (Fiesta Taxi), $2,000
Robert Rodriguez (Oldtimers Foundation), $1,000
Francisco Leal (Huntington Park City Attorney), $2,000
Mehdi Momennasab (Fiesta Taxi), $500
John Noguez (City Council), $500 (2-9-04) + $1,000 (12-23-03)
Coincidentally, five of the six above are prominent recipients of questionable City contracts.
Mayor John Noguez, Council Members Ed Escareño, Mario Gomez and Ofelia Hernandez voted on June 21, 2004 to
hire Tigran S. Marcarian to set up a card club in the city at Leonardo's Night Club ignoring the fact that the State has
stopped issuing card club permits and a state-wide moratorium is in place against card clubs until 2010, and the last
permit holder is in jail. Leonardo's was a major campaign contributor to Noguez, Gomez and Hernandez. Mayor John
Noguez has publicly stated that the owners of Leonardo's are allegedly his relatives. They also seem to ignore conflict
of interest, or the appearance of it at least.
City Council moved to "Award contract to Oldtimers Housing Development Corporation IV to administer the City’s HOME
CHDO Program and authorize staff to prepare the agreement". City Council agenda did not indicate a contract amount.
Also on this date, City Council donates $50,000 to private business group Meta 2000 for park use for 1-day El Grito
event. Fees to the Joe Otero Baseball League are raised by 500% (from $6,000 to $30,000) and Little League player
fees are raised 100% to $60 per kid. Pre-School programs are reduced from approximately $87,000 to $20,000 as
allocated in the 2004-2005 budget report.
Actions, indeed, speak louder than words.