Paulette Brown-Hinds, PhD
I inherited my passion for opinion writing from my dad, Hardy L. Brown, who wrote a weekly column for this newspaper for over 25 years. And who continues to publish his opinion on issues that are of importance to the community. His recent focus, allegations of corruption and misfeasance at the West Valley Water District, has us now working together to shed light on this significant issue, and offer ratepayers and voters some direction. As part of an advocacy tradition of journalism, we don’t just report, we take positions on the issues and ask our readers to act in support of fairness, equality, and justice.
So when we started investigating rumors of West Valley Water District’s Board President Clifford Young’s abuse of power as a public official we decided to work together and present the facts. We learned quickly that not only should his behavior and actions as an elected representative be investigated, but his neighbor, the newly elected fellow board member Michael Taylor, should be scrutinized as well since he is bringing similar baggage with him to the position.
Like Young, who currently has discrimination allegations filed against him, Taylor has a history of racial, sexual and retaliatory charges filed against him.
Taylor was fired by his employer, the City of Baldwin Park Police Department, for a host of infractions including doing personal work on city time, and using department resources to research a stalking issue for graduate school research. For this his boss, Lili Hadsell, placed him on administrative leave. Eventually, the city council decided to fire Hadsell and reinstate Michael and approve an outrageous contract that makes it virtually impossible to fire him unless he commits a felony. The contract was drafted by Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Tafoya.
Taylor was recruited by his friend and neighbor Young to run for the West Valley Water Board as he campaigned to remove board member Linda Gonzalez who opposed Young’s discriminatory behavior and perceived abuse of power. When Taylor was sworn in his first order of business was to make a motion to nominate the agency’s new legal counsel Robert Tafoya (who was fired from the very same position earlier in the year) to replace Gresham/Savage who terminated their own contract. There was no discussion from the other members of the board, only support for the nomination, in what seemed to everyone in attendance to be a Brown Act violation.
Taylor’s and Young’s behavior seem to mirror each other:
Tafoya and Taylor both work for the City of Baldwin Park, where Tafoya is City Attorney and Taylor is Chief of Police. And where Tafoya’s drafting of Taylor’s contract was so questionable that the LA Times covered it in a recent article. It leaves one to wonder if Young is hoping to get that kind of protection as a Board Member.
Young routinely forced staff to hire colleagues from his former job at CSUSB, including paying one a salary of $260,000 a year with no job description. Taylor’s first motion was to hire legal counsel Tafoya his friend as legal counsel from Baldwin Park.
In her lawsuit against Taylor, Hadsell’s allegations include discrimination on the basis of gender and race, retaliation, harassment, defamation and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Compare those allegations to allegations against Young, including those by women, both past CFO’s who have accused the Board President of abuse of power, misuse of funds, and other claims by women, who worked for the agency, of discrimination and bullying.