Water district family melodrama

Like the rain from a hurricane, controversy involving two of California’s most powerful political families is swirling around the Central Basin Water District. They are the Cedillos and the Calderons. The district is made up of 44 cities and water utilities in southeast L.A. County.


Gil Cedillo Jr.

Gil Cedillo Jr. will be “relieved of duties” July 31 from the Central Basin Water District.  The Los Cerritos News reported Cedillo Jr. was paid $112,970 a year, as well as $22,000 toward his bachelor’s degree. He is the son of Gil Cedillo Sr., who now sits on the Los Angeles City Council; and formerly served in the state Senate and Assembly.

Cedillo Jr. was once the chief of staff for then-Assemblyman Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who now is a state senator. 

And more than a decade ago, Cedillo Jr. was a senior field representative for then-Assemblyman Tom Calderon, D-Montebello, who left office in 2002. Tom and Ron Calderon are brothers.

On June 5, the FBI raided Ron Calderon’s office. According to the Los Angeles Times, “[F]ederal authorities have seized records from a Southern California water district that provided contracts to Calderon’s brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon.”

Tom Calderon is a “consultant” for the Central Basin Water District and has been a familiar site at the Capitol lobbying lawmakers on bills benefiting his clients.

Tom Calderon is paid $10,000 a month as a consultant/unregistered lobbyist, and another $140,000 per year as a consultant to a subcontractor, according to the Los Angles Times. The Chicago Tribune reported this totaled more than $750,000 in consulting fees since 2004.

The FBI also searched Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and Industrial Pharmacy Management in Long Beach, companies using Tom Calderon as a consultant.

Political fiefdom

“Cedillo Jr. was rarely seen at work for the past several months by employees and elected directors of the district, but still collected his six-figure salary,” the Los Cerritos News reported. “Copies of checks written to Azusa Pacific University to cover the costs of Cedillo Jr’s.” salary were “approved by former CBMWD General Manager Art Aguilar, who is a longtime personal friend of Cedillo’s family.”

Cedillo Jr. has been working since April of 2011 as a “business development manager” for the Central Basin Municipal Water District.

Cedillo name

“It pays to have the name Gilbert Cedillo in Los Angeles political inner circles these days,” said Randy Economy and Brian Hews in the Los Cerritos News story.

When Cedillo Jr. went to work for Central Basin, a college degree was a condition of his employment. So the water district paid him $22,000 toward tuition at Azuza Pacific University. If Cedillo Jr. were to “flunk out,” he had to repay the district, according to the Los Cerritos News. Instead, termination means he doesn’t have to repay the tuition. And he will receive a severance package.

By Katy Grimes

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