Here’s a bit of back story on the chamber articles I’ve been writing out of Baldwin Park…
Before I go on, however, let me just preface this by saying I still have not been able to get a hold of chamber executive director David Luevano, who seems to be in the middle of a lot of this controversy.
In case you’re not familiar with the story, Greg Tuttle — who initiated a recall against three BP council members last month — claims that Luevano told him Councilwoman Marlen Garcia threatened to take Luevano’s job away during an informal meeting a few weeks back.
Garcia denies the claims, and the chamber VP — who was in on that meeting — backed Garcia up.
Now I tried several times last week to speak with Luevano about the claims, but couldn’t get a hold of him.
On Thursday, I called Luevano again. This time, I spoke with him briefly and he told me to call him back. Well, I did, three more times that evening actually, and he did not answer or call me back. His voicemail was full, so I couldn’t leave a message.
Now, moving forward with the back story: Tuttle claims that the reason why Garcia *allegedly* threatened David’s job security is over a recent vote to make local businessman Tony Mena a chairman of the ambassadors for the chamber.
Apparently, this election took place about three weeks ago and essentially pitted Mena against local businessman — and CARA member — Mark Cyr for the position.
When Mena won, Tuttle complained claiming that Mena is not a legitimate businessman in Baldwin Park.
(I should note that there is nothing in the chamber bylaws that requires an elected officer to own a business in the city.)
Tuttle said Luevano agreed this, and refused to allow Mena to take the position.
“He’s just a sham company,” Tuttle said of Mena’s business. “The thing is he’s using the chamber’s reputation to say he is an upstanding businessman in Baldwin Park — doing business in the city for 12 years, a member of the chamber.”
Tuttle claims that Mena is doing contract work and installing low voltage security systems without a valid license.
He also accused Mena of being “Marlen’s go-to boy,” and said that because Luevano agreed that Mena should not get the position in the chamber, Garcia got upset.
Now, Mena refutes all of the claims and said Tuttle has no validity to his arguments.
“Tuttle is the kind of guy, he even said it himself, he’s the lone ranger,” Mena said. “There are issues he just figures he has to concern himself with. He says he’s for the city, but he lives in Pomona. He has a business here, but he lives in Pomona … I’ve been involved with chamber for almost two years. All of a sudden (Tuttle) just pops up giving me the third degree.”
Mena said that he himself does not install security systems. All Mena’s business — Fabian Protection Services — does is find work for contractors who do the hard labor.
Mena said he was formerly running his business out of Bisno Development’s office on Maine Street. He said he was renting some space from the chamber, which was also using Bisno’s office temporarily (the chamber sold its building months ago).
When the chamber moved out, Mena stayed rent-free.
Mena has since resolved the issues with his city business license and now works out of his Baldwin Park home.
“I’m for the development,” Mena said. “There are certain people that are not too happy that I’m up there speaking … I am going to be the chairman, but they’re not happy about that. I think they just want to take over the chamber.”
At the last council meeting, Garcia made a similar comment: “I hope there is no agenda by any particular group coming into the chamber and taking over the chamber and making it something different.”
Chamber officials say they are going to be resolving the whole chairman issue involving Mena sometime this month.
In the meantime, Tuttle said he’s turned Mena into the state.