Friday, June 3, 2011

Water district clout: Southeast Los Angeles County agency gives millions in contracts to politically connected recipients - latimes.com

Water district clout: Southeast Los Angeles County agency gives millions in contracts to politically connected recipients - latimes.com

A water district that serves southeast Los Angeles County has awarded millions of dollars in contracts to politically connected individuals and organizations, which have helped the district fight critics and avoid outside scrutiny, public records and interviews show.

At the heart of the district's political ties is the Oldtimers Foundation, a nonprofit organization that was run for many years by George Cole, a former Bell mayor and councilman who has served on the water district's elected board of directors.

In the last five years, Oldtimers has received more than $2.5 million from Central Basin. Oldtimers provides low-cost housing, dial-a-ride programs and other services to municipalities. The water district has paid it to install water-saving toilets and promote water conservation, among other services.

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