|A courageously innovative, muckraking web site that focuses like a laser on the political, financial and legal shenanigans of the local government
California First Amendment Coalition
Bell's Interim City
to Rizzo and
|BASTA's owner revealed: "BASTA
will make me lots of money"
The Editor, WatchOurCity.com
August 13, 2010, 6:00 a.m.
Part II: BASTA issues
Press release criticising
Whitman's politicizing of
Dismisses BASTA as
funded by Police Union
|Why BASTA is not calling for
The Editor, WatchOurCity.com
August 12, 2010, 6:00 am
Part I: Rizzo & George
Cole & John Chiang
Donated to Pedro
|BASTA's owner Leo Briones and co-founder Cristina Garcia
using Bell's corruption saga and media attention as staging for
2nd attempt at a Bell Gardens city council campaign
The Editor, WatchOurCity.com
August 15, 2010
Cristina Garcia, BASTA co-founder, failed to disclose to the Media and to Bell
residents that Briones was her campaign manager and Pedro Carrillo's.
She also failed to disclose that Bell City Manager Rizzo, former Bell mayor
George Cole and Pete Werrlein, a felon and former Bell councilman and owner
of Western Auto, funded Pedro Carrillo's campaign, and that Pedro Carrillo was
hired first by George Cole in the Southeast Cities Schools Coalition, then
recommended Carrillo for a consulting gig in Bell as an understudy for Rizzo.
Cristina has failed to disclose that the Police Officers Association is paying for
While BASTA and Cristina are calling for resignations of Bell council members,
she conveniently does not call for Pedro Carrillo's resignation, who is a Rizzo
The State's on-line campaign contribution filings for state-wide office
candidates holds data from 2001 showing that Rizzo donated over $1,000 to
Carrillo's failed bid for the Assembly seat. Carrillo's campaign manager was
none other than Leo Briones. Leo Briones boasts on his Face Book page that
he managed Pedro Carrillo's campaign, which by the way, has been removed
since WatchOurCity.com exposed this admission on August 13, 2010. Why is
Briones hiding this resume showing his connection to Carrillo?
Another donor to Carrillo's then campaign was Derryl Roth, who is identified in
Form 460 as "Western Auto of Bell Manager", giving Pedro Carrillo $1,000
February 5, 2002 (www.cal-access.sos.ca.gov) . Roth worked for Pete Werrlein
in Bell. The L.A. Times reported on July 31, 2010, "Bell's business Ties to
Officials Probed", noting that investigators are also looking into a city of Bell
shady multi-million property purchase of Werrlein's Western Auto property back
in 2006. A direct political lineage can be traced from Leo Briones, back to Pedro
Carrillo, through Rizzo, George Cole and Pete Werrlein by piecing together
disparate public records not in direct control of Bell officials.
It is for these reasons that BASTA, Cristina, Briones and Carrillo are highly
suspect, with their agendas colliding with the public interest of Bell residents.
When the Times broke the story of nauseatingly high salaries for Rizzo, Spaccia
and Police Chief Adams, it was Pedro Carrillo who publicly defended Rizzo's
$800,000 salary before live news broadcast cameras stating that Rizzo
"earned his salary because he saved the city from bankruptcy". That
responsibility is a basic requirement of any city manager, keeping public funds
in order. Either Carrillo is so inexperienced and completely ignorant of municipal
management standards to realize that public funds of a city the size of Bell
can't afford, let alone sustain, such criminal-level salaries, or he, like Rizzo and
Mayor Oscar Hernandez, are "in" on the deal, displaying before live audiences
a completely disgusting disregard for the magnitude of the problem. Whichever
the case, Pedro Carrillo displayed a grossly inadequate ethical and
professional judgement complicit with Rizzo's agenda. Carrillo is simply unfit as
interim city manager on many levels.
BASTA defends Carrillo's character and complicity with Rizzo and Briones.
The November 2009 election results in Bell Gardens, according to the League
of Women Voters, Smart Voter report, show that Cristina Garcia came in last
place out of 5 candidates, earning just 1,051 votes, or 14.71% of the vote.
In Bell Gardens, Sergio Infanzon and Priscilla Flores won reelection as
incumbents, both running as a slate, whose campaign manager was Mario
Beltran. Beltran, the angelic faced felon twice over, is under investigation by
the FBI for deals he struck with Iranian tow truck owners for contracts worth
millions of dollars in Bell Gardens. Beltran was former Bell mayor George Cole's
favorite campaign manager as well, both working together on the March 2009
reelection campaign of Teresa Jacobo and Luis Artiga, Bell's $100,000 council
members. Beltran was also mayor Juan Noguez's campaign manager during his
2007 reelection campaign in Huntington Park.
Veteran hard-core investigative reporter Jeffrey Anderson posted reports on
Bell Gardens and Mario Beltran's troubles: (The Town the Law Forgot (Cudahy), L.A.
Weekly, February 22, 2007; Friends in High Places (Bell Gardens), L.A. Weekly, April 19,
2007; Mario Beltran's Undertow (Bell Gardens), L.A. Weekly, June, 28, 2007
Bell Gardens Police Chief & notorious towing troubles, L.A. City Beat, 1-21-09).
All these interwoven relationships and nuanced political dynamics could be
dizzying for an outsider to follow and connect the dots.
The media exposure given to Cristina as BASTA's co-founder and talking head
in Bell's tragically sickening corruption saga has a double benefit.
One, it serves to increase her profile in preparation for Bell Gardens' next
election, hoping to leverage her/BASTA's media exposure in Bell into raising her
political stock in her home turf, Bell Gardens, where she and Briones have their
eye on the upcoming 2011 elections, where 3 seats will be up for grabs.
Anyone capturing those seats will own the majority vote, and thus complete
control. Briones is home playing political calculus thinking 3 moves ahead of
everyone else. Briones and Cristina plan to kick some butt come November
2011 in Bell Gardens.....on the backs of Bell residents.
Two, Cristina and BASTA serve to legitimize and shore up Pedro Carrillo's shaky
standing as Bell's Interim city manager, who has direct first degree connections
to Rizzo, Spaccia, George Cole and Leo Briones.
In Huntington Park, mayor John Noguez and councilwoman Elba Guerrero give
a lucrative consulting contract to Pedro Carrillo for work negotiating with
LAUSD over a proposed new school site. During the official negotiations, LAUSD
requested to remove Carrillo due to concerns about Carrillo's qualifications and
lack of professional skills. Noguez reinstated Carrillo despite LAUSD's concerns.
Either instance only confirms that Cristina and BASTA are political fronts. In one
sense, the POA is paying BASTA to front for their demands. Cristina and Leo
Briones are using the POA's money to help bolster Pedro Carrillo's profile as a
reformer when he's part of the problem, but more importantly, Bell's POA
funding is being used as staging money for Briones and Cristina's upcoming
round two political campaign in Bell Gardens.
It is curious that Briones' prowess as a campaign manager in Bell Gardens was
no match to the twice convicted baby-faced felon Mario Beltran. Briones is
poised for a second attack, all on the backs of Bell Residents. The Bell
residents who stick by Briones are either promised something by Briones,
Cristina and Carrillo, have no history of Briones and think he is a knight in
shining armor, or are fooling themselves in believing that Briones is in it for the
sake of Bell residents, what with his talk of "unity" and quoting of Mandela.
Briones is a slick dude. Briones has already stated that "BASTA will make him
lots of money".
There is, however, one little rock in the way Briones and BASTA, potentially
upsetting all their plans: Nestor Valencia, founder of the Bell Residents Club.
Leo Briones has already tried to cut a deal with Valencia offering him a job in
exchange for selling out and ceasing all activity of the Bell Residents Club.
In email, text and voice messages reviewed by WatchourCity.com, Briones
comes of as nervous as he delivers veiled threats to Nestor. In one email,
Briones states "I'm disappointed in you". Another email states "I haven't heard
from you", and "Nestor, I have to wonder about your basic integrity".
It was Leo Briones' integrity which the L.A. Times questioned in its Report "As
Lawmaker Rises, Her Spouse [Briones] Prospers", written by Dan Morain, Times
staff writer on July 8, 2004. Morain stated: "As state Sen. Martha Escutia has
risen from the back bench to the Legislature's leadership, her husband has
made millions representing politicians and enterprises whose interests often
intersect with her duties." Additionally, "As it is, Escutia regularly endorses
Briones' clients. And by design or not, causes and candidates endorsed by
Escutia often retain Briones. Escutia's legislative salary is $99,000 a year.
Briones' firm, Centaur North Strategic Communications, has billed clients for
more than $3.4 million since 1997, the year Escutia began disclosing some of
his clients in her required annual statements of economic interest filed with the
state." On May 30, 2006, WatchOurCity.com reported on the positive deep and
broad impact state senator Escutia's prodigious public policy efforts in the
California Legislature had on public education, but also her dubious
involvement in local politics such as donating campaign contributions to Bell
Gardens recall efforts and donating to Huntington Park council candidates
Edward Escareno in 2001, who became mayor and campaign manager to
current mayor John Noguez, was later convicted of "Grand Theft", a felony.
If Leo Briones cannot buy you out, cannot co-opt you, then he challenges your
integrity, as he has demonstrated with Nestor Valencia. Briones admitted that
he is sole author of BASTA, created in June 2010, an effort paid for by his client,
the POA, on the heels of an L.A. Times report that Bell city council members
were paying themselves $100,000. After this first report, the news from Bell
just kept compounding with successive dizzying waves of reports causing even
more shocking nausea. Amidst all this was Pedro Carrillo, rising from the vomit,
buttressed by BASTA's Briones, his buddy and campaign manager.
Leo Briones is an ultimate Sacramento Latino Caucus insider and is now in
control of Bell through his friend, Pedro Carrillo, Bell's interim city manager, the
inept defender of Rizzo's salary. Cristina's pretty face and academic credentials
(a PhD from USC) providing cover and legitimacy.
As the L.A. Times exposed, Briones would ride the skirts and profited mightily
from his well-respected and high achieving first wife, former state senator
Marth Escutia. Briones is now riding the skirts of another high achieving Latina
for profit. Who could be more credible than a Latina with a PhD, teaching
statistical math as an adjunct professor at USC to provide cover for Briones'
profit schemes on the back of Bell residents? Cristina Garcia's remarkable
academic trajectory took a political turn, not when she ran for public office in
Bell Gardens, but when she hooked up with Leo Briones, her campaign
manager, with all his political baggage and thuggery learned from his pals.
BASTA's agenda is already in direct conflict with Bell residents. Recalling Bell's
equally inept and complicit $100 K council members is not real reform. BASTA is
now standing in the way of such reform, along with Interim City Manager Pedro
Carrillo. Leo Briones is laughing all the way to the bank with Cristina thinking
she's got the 2011 Bell Gardens elections clinched. And Bell is no better for it.
Damage to Bell's finances, its residents, Cal-PERS, bond credit ratings and the
skewed world view upon Bell has already been done, not to mention throwing
the politically savvy but professionally incompetent Pedro Carrillo in the mix.
Only BASTA sees opportunity to profit from all this, politically and financially,
discrediting whomever questions its motives or gets in the way.
|Below is an email exchange between BASTA owner Leo Briones and Nestor
Valencia of the Bell Residents Club. Email content is unedited; except for
Nestor Valencia's and Leo Briones' contact info, all other cc's have been
edited out for privacy reasons:
Sat, August 14, 2010 11:41:12
PMRE: Leo on your message
Say what you want. The fact is that you are in direct conflict with the goals of
the community in exposing the corruption.
Why did you take down your facebook page?
I am not the "Editor". In fact , before your involvement with our movement you
emailed the "editor" in 2004. You know very well that I am not the 'Editor".
The media, reporters and independent investigators are seeing the direct
conflict that exsist if residents work for the POA.
Bell Residents do support our own Bell Police Department and we plan not to
let the rank and file down. The Bell Residents have long worked for changes
and have long called for resignations.
It's difficult for an unemployed person to turn down a paying job. But, I am
turning your offer down. Let's just get the residents to the meeting.
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 21:02:02 -0700
Subject: Re: Leo on your message of this morning
Well said Leo,
Thank you for addressing the elephant in the room. Nestor we know who is
behind the attacks. Having said that I am all for unity, so yes together "BRC"
"BASTA" "RESIDENTS OF BELL" call it what you may, We are in this together
and WE should work together, but when we are attacked don't expect us to
respect you. and the more you attack us the deeper the wounds you will
create. Yes, UNITY is the key. These crooks have damaged us and It affects us
all, yes, even Cristina, and Leo, we all have to pay for these idiots retirements,
don't you see, we are all pissed off and we all are stakeholders, if these guys
don't resign (which we have asked for) or be recalled we are in trouble. they
need not to be in office and if they stay it still affects us all (in California).
Okay, and the other thing I would like to address is that people who say that
Cristina should not be here because she does not live in bell, so she should
not work with us, those people are hipocrites or misinformed and are mistaken,
because as we all know no one critizises Nestor for holding meetings in
Maywood and or all the other neighboring cities in town, no one sees BASTA
denouncing him publicly for his attempts to help his neighboring community.
so enough, I am quoting Leo
Again everyone let’s stayed unified! Resign, recall and respond BASTA! and
--- On Fri, 8/13/10, Leo Briones <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Leo Briones
Subject: Re: Leo on your message of this morning
Date: Friday, August 13, 2010, 8:19 PM
I think we are all getting off message here.
Let’s focus on resign, recall and respond (to our calls for documents and
transparency). Unity is key.
Nestor, I have to wonder about your basic integrity when you claim to respect
the accomplishments of BASTA on one side of your mouth and then on the
other side try to undermine the organization by publishing lies about myself
and Cristina on watchourcity.org and sending emails to reporters that were in
their words “strange rants about BASTA and you.”
Do you think BASTA leadership, Bell residents or reporters are stupid and will
believe that your accusations are factual without first checking with the
My suggestions to everyone is that we need to get beyond personal agendas
or the emotional need for validation and keep our eye on the prize Resign,
recall and respond!
Nestor, I will construct a joint BRC/BASTA press release when you take that
divisive nonsense off the watchourcity.org website.
Again everyone let’s stayed unified! Resign, recall and respond BASTA!
On 8/13/10 7:49 PM,
to what Marylou has said, I have nothing more to add, I will leave it up to you,
compounded by your actions to show who you really are .
On Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 6:53 PM,
I know who you are, I am sure you are a smart man and know what aliases
and ghostwriter name I am talking about., anyhow, what I mean is when you
say Basta (which is composed of bell residents like myself) which is an umbrella
of people who want to get things done. I speak for myself when I say that the
agenda I have is my family, friends, neighbors, I have met throughout close to
30 years within my neighborhood, you, your family all. Don't you get it, My
affiliation with BASTA is to improve the lively hood of my/your community, you
are short visioned, when you say we do things for the POA you are wrong and
misinformed When you say BASTA works for the POA, you are wrong, and last
time I checked my employer signs my check and it is not any of the
aforementioned it is a shame you always show up to our meetings late and/
or leave early, missing much of our message, so I truly get it why you are so
misinformed about our message and fight. so I will say that when you say
BASTA, you are incorporating all the residents who sit in our meetings and
stakeholders who have joined us. You keep missing the fact that BASTA are
the residents, and when you sly handily accuse or insinuate and use the BASTA
umbrella in your accusations you my dear are making it personal and including
many other people including myself, and some of your friends and neighbors I
am sure. So I will ask, to not make such a blanket statement. I would love
nothing more to see your efforts and attacks directed where they should be.
Remember "Credibility is acquired by the constant solid behavior reinforcing a
positive reputation." There is no reason why your attacks should be directed
at us if we are working hard to tackle this thing just as you say you are doing.
BASTA nor it's members attack you or your club. So as a gentleman, you
should do the same and let's collectively work towards the same cause to get
through this. focus your negative energy on the city council and all the crooks
in city hall. I hope you rise to the occasion as an honorable man and lead your
followers with honor and dignity as it should be, instead of mudslinging against
us. I hope to see no more spins from you. I have hope... Please don't
-- On Fri, 8/13/10, Bell Resident <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Date: Friday, August 13, 2010, 5:12 PM
Dear Marylou, (Due to email restrictions, this will arrive one day late.)
No one is insulting you. My name appears at the end of my email.
"..for them.." I meant the Bell Residents, us. I am not shy about giving credit
to anyone's accomplishments.
There is a good reason why all these years while we fight for the community,
we remained underground. It is called "retaliation". You can understand that,
right. I am out in the open and have been in front of the council and Rizzo and
George Cole and others before the Times decided to finally carry it.
My request is simple and message too.
I am Nestor Valencia, a Bell Resident with other Bell Residents, including you. I
do not speak for you or BASTA, unless we are in agreement in that respect.
My concerns remain. Asking the questions brought us to this point. No need
to take offense.
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 16:56:32 -0700
Subject: Re: Leo on your message of this morning
Mr. Bell Resident,
I find your coments and attempt to play with words insulting. Your statement
"BASTA has done a great job for them and has sought demands upon the
council" is taken out of context in our mission. Allow me to explain, As I speak
as a resident and stakeholder of bell. BASTA has done a tremendous job for
the people of Bell, my interest and those of us working hard is that we demand
on behalf of the people not the POA. I am stating to you in no uncertain terms,
that when you spin your words to hurt BASTA. I am BASTA. Therefore, I take
personal offense when you spin your words. You are insulting my integrity.
And no one, not even you has the right to do so, under no circumstances or
ghostwriter alias. CAPISHE????!!!!!!!!!!!!!
--- On Fri, 8/13/10, Bell Resident <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Bell Resident <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Leo on your message of this morning
To: "leon briones poli" <email@example.com>,
Date: Friday, August 13, 2010, 4:17 PM
Dear Mr. Briones,
If a press release is what you are planning, as I mentioned before, let's look at
I propose it includes: BRC supports ejecting these officials from office. While
BRC supports this recall effort, BRC will not cease to demand their immediate
resignation. Its time for them to go and spare the community more costs and
As we discussed last week, my concerns, and others, on the conflict of interest
persist. The movement is a Bell Resident focus movement, which I realize can
be used in other parts of CA or USA. BASTA current focus is on the recall.
Again, Bell Residents and I support our own police department. If your client,
the POA, is concern about that have them speak to me. BASTA has done a
great job for them and has sought demands upon the council.
Can I have a copy of the recall intent with the supporting signature?
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 12:35:39 -0700
Subject: Re: recall posting cost
On 8/13/10 12:32 PM:
We need to focus on following the process closely and legally with a minimum
amount of error. My intentions are to have justice and not go in circles like
history has shown. In order to end corruption we MUST pull together with a
minimum amount of conflict between one another. We need to avoid drama &
pull together to get the city council members out!!! We need to take control of
Call me if you have an issue with my e-mail reply.
On Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 9:06 PM, Bell Resident <bellresidentclub6330@hotmail.
com <http://hotmail.com/> > wrote:
It was mentioned last night, the fact that it costs $5,000.00 to run the recall
notice in the local paper.
I am not sure they we have to do that.
The State recall process (handbook), pg 15, SECTION 3. Publication states:
A copy of the notice must be published at the proponents' expense
at least once in a newspaper of general circulation. The publication
need not include the information listed in Section 5(d) below. If
such publication is not possible, the notice shall be posted in at
least three public places within the jurisdiction of the officer sought
to be recalled. Posting is allowed only if there is no newspaper of
general circulation able to provide timely publication in the
jurisdiction of the officer whose recall is being sought.
(Government Code §6000, et seq., §11022)
|The Editor, WatchOurCity.com
Sunday, August 15, 2010, 6:00 a.m.
Center For Investigative
Reporting California Watch
Exposes BASTA as a front for the
Police Officers Association; Leo
Briones Confirmed BASTA is his
Invention, will make lots of
Lance Williams of the Center for Investigative
Reporting posted this report on its website,
www.CaliforniaWatch.com, on August 2, 2010,
connecting BASTA with the city of Bell's Police
Officers Association. What Lance did not know is who
Bell's POA hired to create the fake grassroots group
now known as BASTA. On August 12, 2010,
WatchOurCity.com posted a report connecting the
dots between BASTA, Interim City Manager Leo
Carrillo, Rizzo, George Cole, and Leo Briones. Then
on August 13, 2010, WatchOurCity.com reported that
Leo Briones admitted that he alone created BASTA,
stating that "BASTA will make me lots of money",
(see full report & link)