Central Basin Water board censures Art Chacon, keeps general manager

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A sharply divided board of the Central Basin Municipal Water District voted to censure one of its own Thursday, formally castigating Art Chacon for accepting a car allowance while not having a driver's license. The board also acted against Chacon because he identified himself as his brother after a 2011 DUI arrest

After meeting in closed session to discuss the future of General Manager Tony Perez, the board decided to retain Perez. 

Things got contentious even before the meeting began, when board member Leticia Vasquez held a news conference calling on Chacon to resign.  The press conference degenerated into a shouting match when former Central Basin official Ron Beilke started peppering Vasquez with questions about her own record; then Chacon walked up and took over the proceedings, accusing Vasquez of corruption and noting that she will be the subject of a recall.

Video: Accusations fly at Central Basin

(Note: The man in the white shirt who is speaking at the beginning of the video is Art Chacon. The woman who walks behind him to sit down is Leticia Vasquez. Ron Beilke is the man in the neck brace. Vasquez has been accused of directing Central Basin contracts to friends in the past, but KPCC has not verified those claims. She was recalled in 2007  from the Lynwood City Council.)

During its meeting, the board voted 3 to 2 to censure Chacon. Vasquez, James Roybal and Bob Apodaca voted in favor; Chacon and Phillip Hawkins voted no.

The board then went into closed session to discuss the future of its general manager, Tony Perez. In the end, the board decided to retain Perez.

In an interview with KPCC, Chacon insisted that he has a valid driver's license, but he said he would only show it to the Los Cerritos News. As of Feb. 28, DMV records showed Chacon does not have a valid license. His license has been suspended numerous times since 2011, according to the records. 

Chacon also came under fire from Vasquez because he sought and received tens of thousands of dollars in workers compensation payments — and let Central Basin pay part of his legal bills — arising from a 2010 car accident, which the agency's insurance authority said was not work related.

Central Basin is trying to persuade its insurance authority that Chacon was on agency business at the time of the accident, a position Chacon repeated Thursday.

Chacon asserted that the effort to punish him stems from an internal dispute over how to handle Central Basin's lawsuit against a former contractor, Pacifica Services.

 

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