Monday, December 31, 2018

Ending 2018, Forecasting 2019


The Pig by Pablo Picasso (1906)
It's been a year full of play and wonder and homecoming.  I spent eight and a half months abroad and three and a half months here at home in California. I hope that during the year, I brought you great stories, lessons, and insights from faraway lands and at home.

The year started off rough. I was almost killed in Colombia, when a a motorboat propeller slashed through my head and shoulder. Not fun.

But after recovering, I made my way to Argentina, where my hosts were amazing and hospitable. But I almost got stuck there, because customs wouldn't let me board the airplane to South Africa.

The highlights in South Africa included my days in Cape Town, seeing the Wiseman, and going to the Blyde River Canyon with my Swiss-French friends. Also, the Kruger National Park was awesome.

I made my way to the Island of Mauritius, where I got a lot of writing done. On this trip, I was able to publish three opinions in various newspapers, two in South Africa and one in Washington DC. My most recognized piece came out on Business Day in South Africa. I also talked a lot about North Korean trade in the MorningConsult.

From South Africa, I made my way to Ibiza, where I had a great time partying it up, though I was too poor to get into any clubs. Then, I enjoyed my time in the French Alps - where I reflected and meditated. Getting out was a horrendous journey, and I had to hitchhike for hours upon hours to get into Geneva, Switzerland.

I made a few friends there, and afterwards, I finished my trip in Sweden - where I got to meet old and new friends. I also think I had a better understanding of Picasso, when I visited the Modern Art Museum there.

Also, a number of my investigative corruption pieces did well. In the beginning of the year, I reported on how Baldwin Park's Council Woman Monica Garcia was receiving campaign donations from a predatory loan company. I also talked about the dirty money that former Baldwin Park Police Chief received to run for public office. Later in the year, I also talk about how the dirty Police Chief tried to sneak an extra million dollar contract for his requirement. (Thank goodness it wasn't approved.) One of my most popular articles this year was also on how to make $1.8 million a year, be Gus Romo, our former community development director. The open issue for our city is about the $50 million loan it's borrowing. The question is where is all this money going to go?

On the legal front, I argued in the Court of Appeal for Tuttle's case. I lost. That case has now been filed in California's Supreme Court. (I'll write more on this later; as it deserves it's own article.)

On the immigration front, I'm still working on getting Rafael back. The US government deported Rafael, even though he's married to an American and has two American children. It turns out that the government prosecutors that deported him were corrupt. Both ICE Prosecutors, Jonathan Love and Raphael Sanchez, were convicted of fraud by stealing the identity of those they were deporting and are now serving time. I've been thinking very hard and researching remedies on bringing him and his children home.

Financially, it's been difficult, because although I was supposed to get paid in the Tuttle case, the Court of Appeal said, "No," even though the law says, "Yes." Anyways, hopefully, the California Supreme Court takes up the case. Historically though, they only take up 5% of all cases. So the odds aren't good. But, as I've been told: "Fight, until your last breath."

Anyways, in general, it's been a great year. I've learned to be content with what I have. I'm happy to celebrate my new debt-free status. I enjoy spending time with the people, pets, and problems I actually care about. I can't stress how much I love actually doing it.

And while writing this, I realize how much I've done, how much I've experienced, how much I've learned, and all the people I met. It's been a fulfilling year. It's been time well spent. But I push on.

Regarding the future, 2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig. Traditionally, in Korean culture, pigs are a sign of luck and prosperity - probably because they can get so fat. No wonder, they say "high as a hog." Perhaps, my fortune will change, but even if it doesn't, the point of life is making the best with the handle you're dealt.

Anyways, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and because I'm back and because my profession is in the business of justice, it looks like I'll be doing some litigation for the year of 2019.

Hopefully, the commandment in Isaiah 1:17 governs the year for me: "[A]nd learn to do right. See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.”

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Noel Syers, They Followed the Star
Sorry that I haven't been updating in awhile. Currently I'm writing an important brief. Also, I'm training in boxing. Between those two things, I feel like all my time has been exhausted. I'm also spending quality time with my family, friends, teachers, mentors, and my loving pets.

I'll try to update soon. Until then - Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Thankful Poor by Henry Ossawa Tanner
(First African American painter to reach acclaim) 1894
Sorry for not updating in awhile. Besides reading, configuring my diet, cleaning the house, running, boxing, and spending time with family and friends, I haven't really had too much downtime to write. I don't have internet access either at home. My cell phone was stolen on the plane ride between South Africa and Spain. Also, I don't have internet at home to save money.

The negative is because I'm not "connected", it's harder for me to write. Nonetheless, on weighing everything up, the truth is that one of the best blessings in disguise was having my cell phone stolen. Yes, it can burden people who need to contact me for meetings, but I incidentally found that I spend my time a lot better without having internet access.

As a result, I spend more time with my family and friends and my cat Jeh Pan, who has finally forgiven me for taking such a long absence. I've also read more; the kind of thing people did when TV wasn't around. So, being without a cell phone has certainly re-tooled my time in a way I didn't expect; that's left me a lot more fulfilled, knowledgeable, and more interesting.

I can prove it. In the last two months, I learned that depression destroys neurons. An injection of young blood can regrow nerves. If senior citizens live with their grandchildren, they tend to live longer. Celebrity chefs that stay slim all approve of dark chocolate, don't eat their own food often (haha), and most of them eat-in with much simpler foods than they cook for clients. When I analyzed Bobby Flay's book on bbq, I also realized there are only generally only five ways to cook meat. See; so if you don't want to be boring, you have to read and research more.

(My commentary: I think all this social media junk is destroying the social skills of mine and the next generation. I should've taken a picture of this. When I was in Stockholm, Sweden, I saw so many younger people sitting around the table on their phones, all of them, but they were so desperate to talk to each other. They just didn't know how. If community makes you live longer, unfortunately, these people (at least according to my research) will be more prone to depression, disease, and Alzheimer. No good.)

In any event, we're going back to Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for all the lessons I've learned. I stopped by my relatives, who all said I look very healthy and attractive. I haven't seen them in two years. So that's a good sign for me.

They couldn't make sense of how I traveled the world for 15 months. They criticized me for not making lots of money. All of them! They said I need a house, a new car, and lots more money.

I gave them one answer that made them laugh and stopped their arguments in their tracks: "You only have one life." I added: "So, it's good to enjoy."

Most seniors I meet seem regretful they didn't see as much of the world as they should have. In their youth, they said they would but never got around to it. I showed my family lots of pictures of Peru and the mountains - which they seemed fascinated with. I talked a lot about the wonderful foods I ate around the world, especially in Peru and Ibiza and France.

In any event, I suppose the lesson of this Thanksgiving is to really value the relationships you have. I was reading a Chinese parable, where the king couldn't figure out the significance of life. After passing a trial - a wise old man in the mountains gives him - the wise man tells the king - "The most important time is now. The most important people in your life are those who are present before you now. And the most important things to do with your time is to spend it meaningfully with the people you're present with now."

No wonder why Jesus says that the angels rejoice when relationships are restored. In fact, he says that a restored relationship is worth more than even finding silver treasure. (Luke 15:8-10). So, for me, lots to be grateful for this year.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Did Mayor Lozano and Council Member Pacheco authorize illegal marijuana farm?

On November 3, 2018, Greg S. Tuttle, local businessman and activist, went to the industrial district at 13111 Spring Street in Baldwin Park, where he was looking to find his old supplier. But instead, he discovered a warehouse with a chain linked fence, growing tens of thousands of dollars of marijuana. He checked whether the address had a permit to do so, and discovered that the grower did not.

So, he decided to file a police report. The funny thing is that nobody at the police station wanted to take the report. After persistently escalating the matter, the police eventually allowed him to file his report. Unfortunately, it appears that the Baldwin Park Police Department knew about this illegal operation for some time now. Apparently, there was an order to "stand down" regarding the property on 13111 Spring Street.

Sources allege that Mayor Lozano and Council Member Pacheco may have collected private money in exchange for waiving licensing fees for the grower. Although the anonymous sources do not want to be named, this allegation is consistent with the Mayor's decision to defer the collection of permit fees by all the businesses awarded a marijuana license. The Mayor's decision is controversial, given the fact that next year the city's deficit could be as high as $14.5 million.

In Baldwin Park, it appears that marijuana money has become one of the main forms of political campaign contributions. Back in December of 2017, the Legal Lens exposed how Baldwin Park's Police Chief took at least $10,000 in drug money to fund his campaign for public office, and then won.

Well, for Lozano, his public debut began with being busted for trucking marijuana, and it appears he may be hauled out of public office for getting a cut of the cash crop - drug lord style.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

City of Baldwin Park authorizes estimated $10,000 in attorney's fees to collect $6.56

Ricardo Pacheco, Monica Garcia, Manuel Lozano
(From left to right)
Mayor Manuel Lozano and Council Members Monica Garcia and Ricardo Pacheco authorized an estimated $10,000 in attorney's fees to collect $6.56. After Cook filed an unsuccessful appeal, the City, through the firm of Albright, Yee, and Schmit attempted to collect $357.16. On October 30, 2018, the trial court awarded the City $6.56, which the city disputed as unfair. The judge hammered the city, stating that their wasting attorney's fees in collecting such a small amount.

The underlying case regarded two unsuccessful appeals. The City was ordered to release records under court order called a writ. The City was shown to have lied about not releasing records, but the court excused them from releasing more. Also, attorney's fees should have been awarded, but were not. The appellate court, unfortunately, did not call on the City to release more information.

Robert Tafoya, looking shameful,
for drafting the Chief of Police's questionable contract.
As a result, Lozano and the city attorney have reflected a retaliatory attitude. In an email dated on August 16, 2018 - the City Attorney wrote - "I beat you down, you appealed, and lost again, and now I am collecting fees and costs against you for Baldwin Park. I understand why you are so bitter." Well, congratulations to the City for spending wasteful thousands of dollars to get a judgment for $6.56.

Unfortunately, the problem with the vindictive and retaliatory attitude of the Mayor and the City Attorney is that they're spending other people's money and not their own. At some point - that's bound to run out. In short, it's a lot of money to spend to try to get even, especially when the City is running a potential deficit of $14.5 million this year.

Clifton Albright
Baldwin Park's poor judgment, however, reflects a bigger problem with government, attorneys, and the sordid relationship between the two. The Tafoya firm was accused of billing fraud of $127,000. Since being city attorney, Tafoya has charged about $400,000 every year since he's been city attorney of Baldwin Park. Hiring someone to be an in-house city attorney should only cost $120,000 a year, especially for a small city.

We should all be asking: How much of this money is going back to the Mayor and council members?

The City has yet to disclose how much it's spent on the Albright firm's billing. Yet, we do know that their billing specialist is an ex-convict, who has scammed victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The City of South Gate also sued the firm to recover $1.8 million from it. Albright claims that the double billing was often an "accident". Perhaps, Albright is willing to engage in this behavior, because he's over-leveraged all his properties and owes quite a bit of money on all his real estate throughout the United States.

In any event, the City's bitter defeat is a win for the people - especially because it exposes their wastefulness and nastiness. The real problem in our democracy is that we can no longer hold these people accountable and get rid of them from office.

I'd like to end with the words of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn again: “You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Court of Appeals and other updates

Tuttle's Case against Pacheco, Garcia, and Lozano.
Monica Garcia, Jimmy Gutierrez, Paul Cook, and Greg Tuttle
(From left to right).
Sorry to everyone for not updating; it's actually been a busy last few weeks. My big event was on October 15, 2018 - I had oral arguments for Tuttle's case at the Court of Appeal in Downtown, Los Angeles. I appealed the trial court, because I wasn't awarded mandatory attorney fees, after Mayor Lozano, Council Member Pacheco and Garcia, filed a meritless restraining order against my client Greg S. Tuttle. (In total, they've violated our Free Speech Rights in four instances.) But even though I won Tuttle's case, I didn't get my attorney's fees. So that was what was being appealed.

It's a bizarre world we live in, when three attorney firms are making a killing on doing evil and losing, and I get nothing for doing good and winning. That's called our modern court system. What's worse though, is that these three attorney firms are making money off taxpayer money to defend the position of destroying our right to Free Speech. In my view, this is reprehensible.

Anyways, personally, I felt like my fourth oral argument at the Second District Court of Appeals was a good experience. As usual, I learned a lot and am getting better at the whole thing. This was my first hot bench experience; I was asked probably 7 difficult questions by the justices. I was in that zone-mode; so, I don't actually remember that much of what was asked. I just remember and felt like I answered each one thoroughly and well. Sadly, the other side wasn't asked any question - as usual. I mean - the main question is: "Don't they have to pay something for being evil and wasting everyone's time?"

Other than that, I've been settling in at home. My cat's finally forgiven me for taking such a long break from home. My mother brews me my favorite Blue Mountain coffee every morning. I feel so happy after I drink it. During this time, we chat about life. There will be a time . . . That lift and drop a question on your plate.

Once, I pointed to my mug that had a painted silly owl on it. And I told my mother in Korean, like a kid: "It comes from Japan." 

Then, she said, "Are you ever going to grow up?"

I laugh.

My mom's awesome, and I appreciate her so much for planning my meals for the week. She often boils bones for two days to make a broth to keep me healthy and strong. I add saffron to make the broth glow gold. It'd be hard to find something more nourishing than that.

I've also been catching up with friends. I'm back at boxing training. And I run on the off days in the hills at night. There, an owl has taken a liking to me, and s/he greets me sometimes. It's definitely a whimsical looking creature with big bright orange eyes that shine in the moon light. It reminds me of a bird version of the Cheshire Cat. How can one be silly and wise at the same time?

Other than that, on my free time, I'm enjoying my time reading new books. Highly pleasurable.

The other day, I read a verse from the Psalms. It impacted me so much, I thought I should share. It says: "Light shines in the darkness for good people, for those who are merciful, kind, and just. . . . He is not afraid of receiving bad news; his faith is strong, and he trusts in the Lord." (Psalms 112:4 & 7 GNT). 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Lozano offers to buy votes for $50 each

Manuel Lozano, looking nervous,
as he was sued in court
On October 4, 2014, Mayor Manuel Lozano's political consultant and candidate for city clerk, Jean Ayala, offered to buy votes for $50 a pop. FoxNews broke the story. Lozano, Ayala and his team are now alleging that Danny Damian hacked her account. Nonetheless, the story confirms long standing rumors that Lozano engages in voting fraud.

Back in November of 2015, the Legal Lens ran a statistical analysis that strongly suggested voting fraud. Back then, Lozano appeared to be rigging the election through absentee votes, in which 774 votes were casted only for him. In that election, there was a historical number of voter turn out of 27%. This is consistent with Ayala's alleged scandal, in which clearly stated that the $50 to be paid is for voters to vote only for her and Lozano. At $50 a pop, the cost of rigging such an election could cost up to $38,700. This is an amount that's been alleged he collects for his campaigning.

In November 2017, the Legal Lens analyzed more irregularities from the 2015 election, which shows a highly likelihood of voter fraud by absentee votes.

Witnesses have alleged that members of Lozano's party have been caught engaging in voter fraud. For instance, a number of witnesses have seen Lozano's family members filing out absentee votes for disabled or unconscious patients at nursing homes.

Other witnesses have seen Lozano's brother, known as Junior, collecting absentee votes. Another vote harvester was caught near the Telacu apartments getting and filling out Chinese votes.

Back in August 27, 1998, the LA Times ran article - where the city clerk suspected Lozano of voting fraud.

The trend of voting fraud in working class Hispanic cities is becoming more blatant. Other cities that have had voting fraud discovered include the City of Bell, Vernon, and the City of Industry.

I emailed Lozano asking for a comment on the story. I also asked him if the allegations are true, how much time he and Ayala should serve in prison. Lozano did not comment for this story.

Desperate to not have his cash cow of being Mayor taken away, all I can say, is he's at it again.