Saturday, June 30, 2012

SGVCOG Executive Director Nick Conway Arrested on "Multiple Felony Counts of Conflict of Interest"

So it really can happen in the San Gabriel Valley. A corrupt public official can be investigated, arrested and hauled off in chains for his crimes. Of course, it doesn't happen automatically, and more and more in this part of our world it takes the blood, sweat and tears of determined citizens to make it happen.

Here is how the Pasadena Star News broke this story yesterday on their website. The story is in today's edition. You can access the shorter on-line version by clicking here:

Nick Conway, the executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, surrendered Friday on a felony warrant alleging multiple counts of conflict of interest regarding his time with the COG, officials said.

Conway, 60, was recently placed on administrative leave in his position with the COG. His arraignment for the charges was set of July 23. He was released on $100,000 bail.

Conway is accused of having his personal business, Arroyo Associates, Inc., gain financially from contracts obtained for the COG, according to a Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office statement. Conway's company is contracted with the COG to serve as the joint powers authority's staff.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office alleges Conway's company received "more money to manage specific state and county grants, which prosecutors allege Conway obtained as executive director. As a result, the COG was charged an additional $143,000 in one fiscal period, according to the statement.

Sierra Madre is one of the member cities in the SGVCOG, and as anyone who reads this blog knows, Conway's corruption of the COG for his own personal aggrandizement was no secret. Repeated calls by residents for us to get out of this organization were met with anything from indifference to stonewalling by City Hall. With City Council liaisons Joe Mosca and Nancy Walsh repeatedly assuring us that all was just fine there, and that continued membership was vital to our interests. How wrong they were, and on so very many levels.

So now that the guy who ran the SGVCOG all of those years has been dragged off to Justice, maybe we as a City can finally take off the happy glasses and look at "The COG" for what it really is?

I received an e-mail last evening from the man whose hard work and personal sacrifice won us some justice in this case, Gil Aguirre. I had requested his take on yesterday's stunning events, and as always he has been glad to oblige. Apparently there is more work that needs to be done. Gil has been very generous to this blog, with The Tattler being the place he went when he had new information to reveal to the world. It was quite a privilege for a little blog from Sierra Madre.

The current COG representatives, and their legal counsel, have known about these conflicts for months if not years, and done nothing. And they continue to do nothing. Conway's company still has the staffing contract and Conway is getting paid anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 per month in taxpayer dollars. I think it is time the COG be dissolved, but at a minimum, each and every member city should fire their current representative and place someone new on the Governing Board. (Mod: the list of COG representatives can be found by clicking here).

Further troubling is the response received from the SGVCOG legal counsel related to the security of the current SGVCOG public records including vital financial documents. NO ONE is securing those records and Conway continues to have unfettered access to these records.

It really is shameful that our elected officials have allowed Conway to use the SGVCOG as little more than his own personal piggy bank. I believe that the current crop of SGVCOG officials are responsible and should be held accountable for the abuses they have allowed to occur. My research indicates that there are still more issues that should be addressed at the SGVCOG, including some COG representatives holding incompatible offices. We will have to see if the COG survives this fiasco, but hopefully the current batch of representatives will be replaced by their member cities.

Gil's point is a good one, and at least Nancy Walsh should be asked to vacate her position as one of our two SGVCOG liaisons. After all, it was Nancy who so famously declared that "the distractions at The COG are over" when residents last demanded we get out. Now that the COG's buffet master has been dragged off by the DA's office in cuffs, maybe even she can see the how false her words were. Maybe not.

One more point. Justice is not automatic in the San Gabriel Valley, and a parasitic criminal enterprise can apparently live off of the taxpayer dime for years without our vaunted forces for justice lifting a finger. And had not the likes of Gil Aguirre and Tom King worked so hard to bring all of this to light, Conway would still be in power at The COG, and still pocketing our tax money unhindered.

Here in Sierra Madre we have an ongoing situation, one that is going to take determined private individuals to remedy. Certainly we cannot depend on government to take care of it, because in this case government is largely responsible. Our City Hall, working on the behest of invested private interests, is engaged in an attempt to undermine Measure V, thereby stealing our right to a legitimate vote on over-sized downtown development projects. Clearly the law is on our side, and should the Mayor and his cronies attempt to steal our vote, they would be engaging in clear criminal behavior.

Yet justice will not automatically intervene here. The City Attorney, along with her firm, Colantuono and Levin, are apparently not working for us. Rather they are on the side of the private developers and Realtor corporations, along with the City Councilmembers they control, who aim to steal our vote. And in order to do this they have created an enormous bluff designed to give the appearance that Measure V somehow doesn't apply to the Kensignton project, when it so clearly, and legally, does.

It is time for Sierra Madre to follow the example set by Gil Aguirre and Walnut Mayor Pro Tem Tom King and call them out on this bluff. This is not North Korea, and the public's right to a legitimate vote is a very serious issue. Going into the 4th of July weekend we should not be sitting idly by while the very freedoms we celebrate with our parade are being stolen by some extremely shady interests. Interests that are using our tax money against us.

As we saw in the case of Nick Conway, justice can prevail. But it takes determined individuals who are willing to put it all on the line to make it happen.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. "nothing to report on this week..."

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    Replies
    1. Nick Conway's enablers, Joe Mosca and Nancy Walsh.

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    2. "Conway's company is contracted with the COG to serve as the joint powers authority's staff."
      How did that ever happen in the first place? Dereliction of duty by the cities' reps, including ours.

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  2. Follow the money. Who received kick backs from Nicky Con-u-outa your money-Way will be in the paper trail.

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  3. Moran makes it out that he is the one who gets to decide what kind of vote we will have on the Kensington, or if we will even have a vote. Who up and made him Kim Jong Il?

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    Replies
    1. lets not forget that Moran said after being elected that he had every intention of using his position to appoint his friends and supporters to city committees

      and he once called for a boycott of Sierra Madre businesses

      he can not be trusted for one second

      he admitted publically that he was going to use his position to benefit himself and his friends

      what a classy guy

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    2. He thinks this is Paraguay... pobrecito...

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    3. Josh Moran - El Supremo.

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    4. Real Estate Uber Alles

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  4. Remember Stockley's "Save the library" signs on the 4th, even though there was NO danger of the library closing? How about Save Our City, Call for a Measure Vote? signs along the parade route this year?

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    Replies
    1. "Josh Moran! Don't even think of stealing our vote!"

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  5. While I have doubts it will happen, his enablers like Doyle, Buchanan, and others should be investigated for the roles they played in Conway's little corruption scheme.

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  6. While Nick was in jail arranging his bail, was he getting paid some of that monthly $40-80,000?

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    Replies
    1. Will the taxpayers be forced to pick up the costs of Nick's defense attorney? Again?

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    2. Who posted bail? Whose money was it (assuming it was taxpayer funded, like everything else Conway has done for the last several years)

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    3. Bail was $100,000, so if I've got it right. Nick had to hand over $10,000. Easy amount with all the 'profits' he's made.

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  7. Ugly chickens coming home to roostJune 30, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    This recession has forced some very shady players out into the open, including former Vernon official Eric T. Fresch, who was under subpoena when he had his fatal accident last Thursday.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0630-fresch-20120630,0,2654541.story

    It's unfortunate that government checks and balances don't work when there's plenty of money slushing around. Lots of folks working the system, still, as Gil Aguirre points out.

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    Replies
    1. Dead men tell no tales, I am thinking. My spidey sense is saying this was not an accident or suicide.

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  8. I just don't get why so many people drawn to political life seem to have no personal integrity.

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    Replies
    1. Because those with integrity that truly want to help people tend to work non profit.

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    2. That's exactly why they are drawn to politics...

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    3. The biggest pigs always try for the best place at the trough. Otherwise they'd have to work for a living.

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  9. Here is a question. Which is more corrupt, Cook County or Los Angeles County?

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  10. In today's Looney Views News Susan gives her yearly "Everybody shut up!" editorial. I guess the freedom of speech thing isn't part of her America.

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    Replies
    1. Did Susan pay the money she owes the Dunns yet?

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    2. Susan can apparently break laws with no consequences.

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    3. Susan: "Every day we seem to become less civilized in our dealings with each other, especially when it comes to idealogical differences."

      Yeah, those "idealogical" differences will get you every time.

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    4. The problem here is: What laws has Susan broken? Not paying a judgement? The Dunns can obtain legal process to collect on the debt. Misusing a credit card? Did the Democraft Party prosecute? Pad a resume? Not against the law althought a prospective employer may/may not view this in a negative light, and it might be grounds for dismissal but Susan is self employed. Overstatement? Misstatement? Slander? Libel? Don't read the paper. Break laws? Where's the prosecution?

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    5. Not paying a court judgement might be a good place to start. What do you think?

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    6. Thanks for the enable-speak, 10:58.

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    7. thanks for the reminder - I'm gonna go downtown or to the library and take a handful of her papers and toss in the recycle

      and probably do that a few times

      it's a good habit to develop

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    8. 10:58 is right. Susan Harriet Poole Henderson etc does not break the law - she flirts with breaking the law, she walks on the edge of the law, she massages the law, but she does not break it.
      It's a very calculated kind of deceitfulness.

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    9. Henderson is just a plain old fashioned liar

      always has
      always will be

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  11. The political spectrum includes a number of good willed people with both progressive and conservative political beliefs. There are many who do come from the non profit, non paid industries. There are also some people who view political life as the open door to self enrichment, free dinners, trips and more.

    The problem is that we have an uninformed electorate, willing to buy the message of slick political advertising without taking the time to really look into the background or the associations of the candidates.

    To be a assemblymember in California takes $100,000 of your own money up front, and about $500,000 in special interest money. The same special interests fund candidates in districts dominated by either party. The public seems confused by the lack of progress in real political reform. The answer is already there at the secretary of state web site which allows them to view the interests supporting the candidate.

    The other problem is that many newly elected public officials are captivated by the aura and mystique of suddenly going from who's that to who's who. They become legends in their own minds, and feel they cannot break the law, because they are the law.

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  12. Prediction: the SGVCOG will indemnify Slick Nick before they cut him loose. May be a moot point when the DA finally gets their day in court but it'll show the really slimy side of the "executives" of the SGVCOG.

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  13. They are already paying him about $70,000 a month to run the COG. He wrote his own contract to ensure that he get six months serverance. You do the math. Spence from La Canada wants to reinstate him.

    They have already paid almost half a million to fight CALTRANS and cover and help him out personally for lost income. They will go broke and then come to Sierra Madre and other cities to raise their assessments to member cities.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds to me like it is time to starve the rats out of their hiding place.

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  14. There's nothing more satisfying than to see slimy political pigs get hauled away. It's been said that post-raid but pre-arrest the COG was going to let him Nick run the grants but let a face be executive director. "That way theres no conflict" (wtf?) The COG members with this mentality need to also be investigated.

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    Replies
    1. Hopefully the DA doesn't stop with just Nick. It would be sweet to see a couple of enabling elected officials up there in the dock with him.

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    2. Justice. It would be justice.

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    3. Nick's Enablers. Sounds like a very clubby bunch.

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  15. Do I understand this correctly -
    Records have not been secured?
    Nick has access?

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    1. Shades of Sierra Madre in the last days of the Tammy Gates/Margy Tucker debacle. Much, much harder to prosecute and obtain a conviction when the records are missing. Nick is not stupid, nor is he going to roll over for the DA. Stay tuned for the continuing comic that is the SGVCOG and its Executive Director, Big Nicky Conhisway.

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    2. Arroyo Associates Inc is providing all staff assistance to the SGVCOG. Nick Conway is the sole owner of Arroyo Associates. His paid staff have access to everything.

      Nick Conway has been charged with improperly taking taxpayers money through conflicts of interest. Arrroyo is STILL taking 70 grand a month to do this. This amounts to millions of dollars. Nick will have the highest paid attorneys in the world, paid for by the taxpayers.

      Do you like the picture? Conway has a track record of threating to sue public officials, threatening to sue newspapers, and has hired a public relations firm. Conway took a leash law violation of his dog to the Court of Appeals already.

      The frightening aspect of this is that he has a cadre of elected officials who are his enablers. They are the ones behind him and that is the story that will hopefully float to the top of the toilet bowl.

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  16. Professor Goss, please explain this, it's all so complicated. Don't forget to include explanations of your endorsements. TTFN.

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    Replies
    1. "Oh, well, I don't know ha ha ha. What do you think, Josh?"

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  17. When Josh runs for reelection that picture of him with Matheson, along with the Pasadena Star News quote he gave about not knowing him, will be in every mailbox in Sierra Madre.

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  18. The District Attorney prosecutes criminal violations of State law. There are lots of other agencies charged with investigation/prosecution of these type issues, including the State Attorney General, the U.S. Attorneys office, the FPPC, the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury, etc. And of course there is always a taxpayer brought civil lawsuit which seeks to recover the improperly received funds.

    So the journey ahead for the COG, and it's former Executive Director, may be a long one.

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  19. Not a tea party member but I sure believe in their motto "Don't Tread On Me". From taking away my right to vote (on Measure V) to charging more taxes when and how they want, to trying to shut me up I say, Dont Tread On Me, Susan or Council Member, or Congress.

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  20. Next election we finish the job. Time for the tax payers to take the city back from the tax spenders.

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    Replies
    1. Watch Gene Goss, they are grooming him to run against Chris Koerber in two years, including smears, lies and whatever they can throw at Chris. Josh's tirade on Radio Fishbowl was the first salvo. Very disappointed with Radio Fishbowl for allowing such a thing.

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    2. Radio Dirtball

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  21. Shouldn't someone just stand up at the podium and call for Walsh's replacement on that board? That ought to start things jumping--Mayor Josh will likely come unglued at the suggestion. That'll put the fat in the fire.

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    1. Mayor Josh is no more qualified to appoint a liaison than Mayor Pro Tem Walsh is to be that liaison. We're led by dunderheads. Both of them should be ashamed of themselves for taking the taxpayers' stipend money.

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    2. Harabedian is the Liasion to COG. Walsh is the backup.

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    3. Harabedian has been to 2 meetings. And he actually reported the raids on Conway's homes and offices. This is quite a breakthrough by previous City Council standards. Walsh has been sitting at COG meetings for a couple of years now. Silently waiting for the buffet to start.

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    4. The suggestion from the good Dr. is a good idea - replace Walsh and Harabedian. But even better, just call for the city to leave this organization at once. We might return after they clean house - and we might not.

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    5. Good point. Exactly what is it that we get in exchange for giving our money to the crooks at COG?

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    6. Free buffets! Jeez, haven't you been listening?

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    7. They get free buffets. Not us. The price being turning their heads while Nick loots the taxpayers.

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  22. I'm wondering if Nick Conway's lapdog Michael Cano (Antonovich's deputy)has something to do with the grants being funneled to Arroyo. Is this another "THEY reached out to ME" to do this work (and make all this money). Between Cano, Barbara Messina and Crazy Dave (Spence) they seem overly protective of Slick Nick like they have something to lose if this guy goes down.

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  23. Michael Cano used to work for Nick. He has fantasies of replacing Antonovich when he terms out. I home the FEDS have been listening in to these guys. It would be nice to see them all go down.

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