The Central Basin Municipal Water District is suing a member of its board of directors, alleging she was behind the posting of online videos and the sending of letters invoking the district’s name without the authorization of its general manager or the entire board.
Friday’s Los Angeles Superior Court filing against Leticia Vasquez asks a judge to issue an injunction preventing her from taking such unilateral actions in the future.
Vasquez did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The district services 24 cities including Lakewood, Signal Hill, Bellflower, Hawaiian Gardens and others nearby.
The district has adopted an administrative code that prevents directors from posting videos or using its logo or stationery for business or non-district business, including any solicitation or other political activity, without approval from the general manager, according to the suit.
Last Sept. 27, Vasquez posted on YouTube a video about water quality in Pico Rivera in which she referred to the district, identified herself as a board member and stated she wanted “to encourage both the city of Pico Rivera and the Pico Water District to consider purchasing water from the Central Basin,” the suit states.
The video was created in association with a group dubbed Political Life – Peoples’ Media based in eastern and southern Los Angeles County, according to the suit.
Vasquez posted another video March 22, this time dealing with water quality in which she once again referred to herself as a board member and placed the district’s name into captions within the video, the suit states.
The video also was made in association with the Political Life group, the suit states. The group’s website stated that Vasquez appeared in the video after agreeing to an interview regarding the video’s subject matter, according to the suit.
Vasquez allegedly posted a third video in association with the Political Life group on April 26 regarding AB 1195 in which she also invoked the district’s name.
AB 1195, the California Safe Drinking Water Act, would provide for the operation of public water systems and imposes on the State Water Resources Control Board various responsibilities and duties relating to the regulation of drinking water to protect public health.
The videos “give the viewer the impression that (Vasquez) is making authorized statements on behalf of (the district) or that (the district) was otherwise involved in the creation of, or associated with, the videos, particularly given (Vasquez’s) direct reference to her position on (the district’s) board of directors,” the suit states.
Although Vasquez and Political Life are free to express their personal views, the use of the district’s name in public, political statements without the district’s permission is contrary to is administrative code, the suit states.
Vasquez also used district letterhead when writing in April to the cities of Santa Fe Springs, Lakewood, Downey and Signal Hill, the suit states.
The district’s general counsel advised Vasquez to stop her alleged unauthorized use of district materials, but the request was ignored, prompting the filing of the lawsuit, according to the district’s court papers.