By Joe Nelson
The West Valley Water District has awarded contracts to friends of newly elected board President Channing Hawkins despite his vows to restore public trust in an agency stained with longstanding allegations of cronyism.
Since Hawkins was sworn in Dec. 6, two of his friends and their businesses — Rodney Diggs at the law firm Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt and Charles Chamberlayne of the public relations firm ChamberlaynePR — have landed contracts with the Rialto-based water district. Hawkins has been friends with the two men since their days together at Howard University, a prestigious, private black college in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, Diggs and his Los Angeles law firm each contributed $1,000 to Hawkins’ campaign for the board of directors, and Chamberlayne gave $100, according to campaign finance reports.
Diggs will represent West Valley in a lawsuit filed by former Chief Financial Officer Naisha Davis, her second against the district in the past year. In addition, he will defend the district against a complaint filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by General Manager Clarence Mansell Jr. The allegations in Mansell’s complaint are confidential and have not been disclosed.
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