Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Understanding the Enemy - Lessons on Strategy

The secret and real enemy in Full Metal Alchemist
On thinking about all my legal battles, I realized I made a mistake on not understanding my enemy well enough from the get go. I'm writing this, so you don't make the same mistakes I did.

Sometimes in life, we hear a proverb, but we don't realize how true it is until experience comes later and validates such wisdom. During college, I remember that Sun Tzu, the author of the Art of War stated, "Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories."

In short, it means that to win, you need to know both the enemy and yourself. It's simple to understand but harder to put into practice.

So, when I litigated against Baldwin Park, I had no idea the number of unethical tactics that would be prosecuted against me, such as when the City Attorney misrepresented my signature to the court. I didn't even know such tactics existed. I'm sure the English generals were shocked when the Germans bombed nerve gas on them for the first time in human history in World War I.

My introduction to litigation shocked me. And being shocked is not a position any fighter, warrior, or officer should ever be in. A good fighter should be able to anticipate such tactics, because he already knows his enemy. And in hindsight, I now know the information was available on my adversary, I just had to do more digging for it, which I didn't exhaust thoroughly.

Currently, I'm reading T. Harry William's novel Lincoln and His Generals, which echoes the same concept of war. In criticizing one of Lincoln's incompetent generals, Williams says that the general made the rookie mistake of expecting the enemy to do what he wanted. Think and pause about that for a second. Do you expect your adversary to do what's in your realm of possibilities?

Like that general, I made the same mistake as a young litigator. The biggest mistake I made with Baldwin Park is that I expected them to follow the rules of court.

But in hindsight, I can see it now has to be asked: Why would the City follow such rules, when cheating puts them at an advantage? Also, when the City gets caught, it goes unpunished. Of course, it would employ the most unethical of tactics, because it's in its great benefit to do so.

But over and over again, I expected the opponent to do what I wanted, instead of understanding the true nature of how he would behave. (Of course, there came a point in time when I changed my expectations of enemy, who is also the enemy of the people and the hardworking.)

So, that's a leaf from my book. If you don't know who you are, don't go into battle. If you do, then understand who the enemy is. Then, after you do that, really understand who the enemy is. And after you do that, really, really understand who the enemy is. In doing so, victory should be guaranteed. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

On Generational Curses, Legacy, and Freedom

The Holy Redwoods
Photography by GaryParker.com
Being back in the City of Baldwin Park, a city stricken by poverty, has caused me to think about the topic of intergenerational curses. Now, I know in our modern world, belief in such concepts is frowned upon. For, we tell ourselves that such ideas are superstitious and have no place in our realm of science and empirical thought. But is that really the truth?

What I've observed is that poverty, drug addictions, violence, alcoholism, self-image issues, and other vices seem to pass from father or mother to their children. And then, when I look at the grandparents, there appears to be the roots of such vices as well.

Although not logical, it appears that sometimes the grip of being born in certain families or tribes carries with it a certain predestination - whether that be good or bad. A.E. Winship, an American pastor and educator, noticed a similar pattern. He did a 150 year study on genealogy of the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards and a convict during Edward's Times, Max Jukes.

This is what he found of their issues and heirs. Jonathan Edwards’ legacy includes: 1 U.S. Vice-President, 3 U.S. Senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers and 100 missionaries.

Max Jukes’ descendants included: 7 murderers, 60 thieves, 50 women of debauchery, 130 other convicts. 310 paupers (with over 2,300 years lived in poorhouses) 400 who were physically wrecked by indulgent living.

T.H. White, the author of a number of King Arthur's legends also recognized the concept. For he penned these lines:

When shall I be dead and rid
Of all the wrong my father did?
How long, how long 'till spade and hearse
Put to sleep my mother's curse?

Really, the principles of blessings and curses is as ancient as time itself. Even our Hebrew Torah, though not a popular subject, talks about curses. The first curses are discussed in Genesis, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and in doing so, condemned all of mankind.

Exodus says this about the subject: "The Lord then passed in front of him [Moses] and called out, “I, the Lord, am a God who is full of compassion and pity, who is not easily angered and who shows great love and faithfulness. I keep my promise for thousands of generations and forgive evil and sin; but I will not fail to punish children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for the sins of their parents.” (Exodus 34:6-7).

I guess the following principle of Exodus is this. If you do good, your generations get blessed for thousands of years. If you do something evil, your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren reap the poisonous harvest for at least 150 years. No wonder why the Scripture frequently mentions that the Law brings death.

Perhaps, one might argue - that's not fair. Why should my children suffer for what I've done? Well, that logic is flawed. Yes, the Scriptures draw a line about the criminal penalties that should afflict a relative that is not involved in a crime, but a more permanent cost seems to be taxed on the family.

For instance, a father can say that his alcoholism or drug abuse  or affair isn't affecting anyone but himself. But is that true?

Of course not. Such harm penetrates through the whole family, even if it isn't brought out into the open. To say it's not fair, really underestimates, trivializes, and denies the scorching harm that evil has, which burns not only the committer of it, but those around him or her.

I don't have children; (though, I have a kitty named Jeh Pan. I don't know if it applies to him). But, it makes you wonder and think, what kind of legacy you'll leave behind by what you've done and said on this earth. Remember; it's not only about you but the next generation to come.

The bleakness of it all, begs the question: Is there an escape for one and their issues to come? In Apostle Paul's letter to Galatians he presents the solution.

Paul says that Abraham and all of Abraham's issues were blessed, not because he obeyed the Law - which brings death, but because he had believed in God and believed God. And through that belief, God has cleansed him and made him right with God.

Then Paul goes onto write:

But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, "Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God's curse." Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God. (Gal. 3:13-14 NLT)

In short, the High Priest has already paid the price that was supposed to be incurred on us. Therefore by believing in Him, all debts and blood covenants have been satisfied, because all current and past debts have been preempted by our High Priest already.

In knowing this, I suppose I have to give public notice too. Whatever blood covenants that my parents or ancestors have made, have been fulfilled and satisfied; therefore, such covenants no longer have authority over me or my issues. I and my issues are also released from any duties that remain outstanding. (Nonetheless, anything owed to me must be paid in full and with interest immediately.) This notice is effective on the date of publishing This Article, though it should've been in effect when I was baptized.

And with that, I end with this quote by Celso Cukierkorn: “Shalom is understood to mean peace, but peace is only one part of the word’s real meaning. The root shalem means completeness.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Can Cities Run Sham Nonprofit Corporations? Julian Casas Files Petition in the California Supreme Court

California Supreme Court, San Francisco, CA
After the Court of Appeal rejected reviewing Casas' appeal in his second California Public Records Act lawsuit against the City of Baldwin Park, Casas filed a petition to the California Supreme Court on March 6, 2017 for the Court to review his case. (Bit late in reporting with all that's been going on: Casas argued orally in front of the Court of Appeal last week with his first case. Nonetheless this is still an important issue.)

Here is a summary of the facts. Casas caught Manuel Carrillo, the Director of Parks and Recreation, collecting money from businesses all over the City. Then, at the end of the year, Carrillo would hold an event called Santa Clothes for poor children, in which he purchased tens of thousands of dollars of Walmart gift cards.

When Casas asked for the name of the children, Carrillo provided what looked like a fake list of children's names. So, Casas asked for more records to validate their existence. Carrillo then didn't respond to the record requests. So, Casas sued him and the City of Baldwin Park.

The City dragged out the lawsuit for two and a half years with frivolous motions, trying to wear Casas out of time and money. Casas didn't give up.

But before trial, the City then admitted to not having any records. Hence, the City finally confessed that Manny Carrillo can't account for all the tens of thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands of dollars) of money. Where did it all go?

Is this why Carrillo fired Julian, after giving him a forty cent an hour raise and a stellar performance review?

So, Casas filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, which already stated earlier, that Casas was onto something with the City's misconduct. Casas argued that he should've won the case, because even though the City doesn't have records, the City should've stated that at the beginning of the lawsuit and not dragged it out for two and a half years. Also, the City is still stating that the school district has records, and if the City is going to state that, it needs to help Casas understand how the City has this kind of knowledge.

Does it make any sense that the City won this lawsuit, when at trial, two and a half years after the lawsuit started, it just says: Sorry, we don have any records?

In any event, the appellate court denied his request for even a review. That was disappointing.

For this reason, Casas wrote in his Supreme Court petition that such a denial enabled the City to create "the perpetual unaccountability machine," by using shell alter ego corporations.

Although the City was forced to dissolve it's forty-year-old nonprofit corporation, the City Manager Shannon Yauchtzee and Manuel Carrillo, under the control of Manuel Lozano, just started up a new nonprofit called the Baldwin Park Charitable Relief Fund. Like ghouls and zombies, sham nonprofits can also be undead beings that come back from the grave and can't be killled (one reason that they're not people, like us).

What all this means is that the City can lie, cheat, and steal through its shell corporations and never be held accountable for such misconduct; this is precisely one of the reasons that a good number of people were upset with the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizen's United, which held that corporations are people too. In simpler English: In using sham nonprofits, governments can do whatever they want, and we can't do anything to stop them.

(I have an analogy for my generation on alter ego nonprofits. Do you remember playing Legend of Zelda? One of my favorite video games. (I used to be called Nintendo Boy at one point.) Remember, the evil boss was Gannon, the evil pig-wizard. Gannon had two personas, the wizard-Gannon and the Pig-Gannon, the latter was his real self. Now imagine that the Wizard self is really a ghost; so, attacking it doesn't really hurt the real boss.

Well - that's how it works folks. When you attack the shell, it doesn't really hurt the people controlling the shell. That's why all these public officials featured in the Panama Papers, like Iceland's former prime minister, revel in shell corporations; it protects their identity, while they commit evil against us.)

Back to the case. Well, the appellate court's denial of review forced Casas to appeal his case to the California Supreme Court. Now, I'm not holding my breath on this one.

In the fiscal year of 2012 to 2013, the Supreme Court granted 32 petitions for review out of 1,108 petitions. That's only 2.8%. (Do you think lightning will strike in the same place twice?)

In any event, I wanted to let the people know that I wrote the best petition I could for the Supreme Court. I also believe I've done everything I could for this case, and in many ways, I've brought it to the people's attention that it's illegal for a public agency to run a nonprofit corporation and to spend taxpayer money to run and defend such a corporation, which really is just a malignant cancerous growth. (The effects are profound, like having cancer, which forms it's own life and parasitic agenda, ultimately leadings to the death of the host organism.)

The City, through its attorney, Robert Tafoya (also known as Robert Nacionales-Tafoya), had this to say about the lawsuit: "You have lost every appeal ever taken and you have lost every CPRA filed against the City while I was City Attorney. But, keep filing and I will keep defending and we will see how that works out for you."

I have to say: I'm very disappointed with not only the City's misconduct but the results of exposing everything - which seems to be that governments can harm us and not be called out on it. Casas also had a response: "We expect people [including public officials] to behave with respect and courtesy. But when they don't, isn't that why we have law?"

Such sentiments were also echoed by the exiled Russian Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "It is time in the West to defend not so much human rights as human obligations."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

On Hope Springs Eternal - the Dark Winter is Over

Mason Bay, Stewart Island, New Zealand
Photo shot by Paul Cook
The last two weeks have been trying, literally, with an oral argument at the Court of Appeal, a filing of a California Supreme Court Petition, and a trial motion. After it was all over, the weather also started changing from cold to hot, and the sun started shining in all its glory. And the hens are laying eggs again. All the changes let me know that the dark winter was over.

Although I have a lot to say on what's happened on the court front, I want to focus in this article about my insights and lessons on this dark winter.

I told a friend of mine, who took me out for a cigar and a whiskey (after it was all over), that I believe I managed my stress best this winter. It wasn't that I had any less of it, but I had somehow learned better to bring peace and light into my mind and soul during a time of bleakness and darkness. It wasn't easy.

But every warrior, fighter, and commander at war needs to learn how to be at peace in in him or herself to truly win a war. I've been reminded of this by rereading Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

One principle that made me pause and think was this one: "The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand."

And what is this temple? The temple is in the mind and spirit.

Knowing that; how is your temple? Is it clear? It is polluted? Is it clean? Is it at peace? Does it have love and wisdom? Or does it have hatred and recklessness? Does it have worry and anxiety?

Those are the questions I had to wrestle with this winter. Those are the values I had to guard and constantly guard in my heart and mind.

It helped greatly to have loving friends and family during this time who provided support. I don't think they'll know how much their support means and meant to me.

But in the end, the strong and wise fighter has to find it in himself to confront his own vices and darknesses and vanquish or restrain them. It is not a one-time process. It continues again in a cycle that mirrors a spiral with different levels, complexities, and dimensions.

No wonder why the Scriptures say: "My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4 GNT)

In short, the passage means to suffer and suffer well, and we know we can suffer well because we have a peace and strength that endures and guards against all.

But now that the winter has gone, and the spring is here, I believe the spring will bring hope and the renewal of a new spirit. As the great neoclassicist writer, Alexander Pope said: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast . . . Rests and expatiates in a life to come."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Julian Casas Court of Appeal Case Against City; Tomorrow, Oral Argument

Tomorrow, on March 7, 2017, Julian Casas will argue in front of the Second District Court of Appeal against the City of Baldwin Park. The main issue in the case is whether the trial court was correct in allowing the City to get away with the we-don't-have-record defense against four court orders.

Here's the background of the case. The former head boxing coach, Julian Casas, who was making $8.80 an hour hired an attorney with no experience against a city who wouldn't release records. Against all the odds, Casas won, and the court issued an order against the City to release records.

The City thought it could get away with it and release records by lying about not having them. But Casas kept suing over and over again, racking up four court against the City to release records.

In response, the City kept stating it didn't have the records Casas sought. But what the City didn't know was that other people in town had them. In find these records, Casas proved in front to the court that the City was lying about it all. So, when the last court order issued, the City was forced to release records.

And why did the City hide records? Because, in the end, we found out the City was engaged in one of the largest racist scandals in California's history. The City was directing it's police officers to target Hispanic, undocumented drivers to steal their cars and sell them at auction. As a result of their little scandal, in a five year period, the City and the towing company, Royal Coaches, made over $11.9 million. But there are still more records the City won't release.

So, before the Court of Appeals is whether a city could alleged that no records exist as a defense to our public records act. (There are other minor issues that will be presented before the court, but this is the main one.)

So wish me luck tomorrow. If you can come, even better.

As James J. Braddock (Cinderella Man) once said: "I want to go out like a Champion, I want to be carried out."

Thursday, March 2, 2017

On the Battle for the Mind and Heart

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
This week, probably more than other weeks, I've become more profoundly aware that the battle is really in a person's mind and heart. When I was in high school, my youth pastor told me once that the battle is in the mind. But I didn't get what that meant, then. It's only at this point in my life I really feel like I know what that really means.

In popular culture, coaches for professional athletes are focusing on the concept of emptying the mind, which seems to be the same thing as being in the zone or the zen state. It means that one just has to execute the correct actions without even thinking about it.

Recently, I paid a visit to my former boxing coach. We chatted. He fights in the boxing arena; me, the legal one. He kept telling me that all the events in our life that weigh us down, that bring us stress, that fill us with anxiety, "blinds the mind." He went onto tell me about a fight he didn't do that well in, because his "mind was blind."

The picture in this post illustrates the Eastern concept well. Rembrandt painted the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, now missing. While Jesus and his disciples were sailing on the Sea of Galilee, they got caught up in a violent storm. They feared they were going to die.

Jesus was sleeping while the event happened. One disciple even asked him if he wasn't afraid that they were going to die. (This tells you they thought they were going to die.)

After rebuking the storm, Jesus told the disciples, "“Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?”

In one sense, we see that the outer storm reflects the inner chaos and havoc of the disciples. We see that the Master, on the other hand, was able to sleep through the storm.

The point of passage proves that no matter the external circumstance, a person could still be rested and at peace. (Incidentally, I wonder what Rembrandt was struggling and conflicted with when he painted this picture.)

And isn't that what ultimate performance requires? A stillness and a peace inside a person. But that's much easier said than done.

In any event, as the time approaches, I better learn to clear the heart and the mind, because they both need to be able to see and see clearly.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Local Businessman Sued Baldwin Park Mayor and Council Members for Bullying Him

Council Member Ricardo Pacheco,
Council Member Raquel "Monica" Garcia &
Mayor Manuel Lozano (From left to right)
Yesterday, Greg S. Tuttle, local business owner, sued Baldwin Park's Mayor Manuel Lozano; Council Member Raquel "Monica" Garcia; Council Member Ricardo Pacheco; and Water Board Member Lanet Pacheco, wife of Ricardo, ("the Gang") in Santa Barbara Small Claims court. Tuttle sued them because in a response to a temporary restraining order (TRO) they filed against him and failed in back in March of 2016. The court said it'd mail out the decision, later.

The Gang filed the TRO because in January of 2016, Tuttle was present at the same conference that they were at in Santa Barbara. There, because Tuttle was at the same hotel and restaurant they went to, the Gang felt stalked and threatened. So, in March of 2016, they asked for the court to label Tuttle as a stalker and ban him from being at the same locations as them.

Waterboard Member Lanet Pacheco 
The court, however, stated that they didn't have enough evidence to suggest that he was a danger or threat. Furthermore the court went on to say that his investigative activities were part of his right to participate in the democratic process.

So, Tuttle then effectively countersued the Gang in small claims court in Santa Barbara. He alleged that the TROs were filed because the Gang wanted to punish him for investigating their corruption and to shut him up. Also, he alleged his right of privacy was violated because Ricardo, Lanet, and Garcia took his picture without his permission at a private restaurant and at the hotel.

Although the gang submitted hundreds of pages of briefing, which the court said was not allowed, the judge didn't read it before hand. As a result, they appeared to be unprepared for their hearing.

At court, Tuttle started with his opening argument. He explained to the court that he was suing on three claims: First Amendment retaliation, invasion to the right of privacy, and malicious prosecution. He explained his background that he was an activist that took a position against the City Council after the City Council tried to steal his business by attempting to condemn his property so that they could have it (and presumably resell it to developers).

He explained all the corruption he's exposed, including that the Mayor claims he goes on city trips and only pockets money in doing so.  He then went into detail about how Monica reads his divorce proceeding aloud in the council meetings so that he stops coming to them.

Tuttle then called his attorney Paul Cook as a witness. Ricardo and Lozano objected. The court overruled them, stating Cook was only a witness.

Cook explained that the City had a "pervasive pattern" of punishing people who spoke out against them. He explained how the court already told Lozano that people have the right to protest them, when the Mayor tried to get a restraining order against him. Cook explained how the City had to settle his First Amendment claim in federal court for arresting, strip searching, and jailing him.

Finally, Cook told the court the nature of the TRO and how Ricardo and Lanet alleged he was an imminent threat to obtain a TRO without being able to present a defense. He said that the Mayor didn't even appear to his own TRO hearing, even though he was so allegedly afraid of Tuttle.

Cook stressed the point about how violating it was to have a TRO, based on lies filed against a citizen. That "these people" [the Gang] attempt to destroy the reputation of "honest and hardworking" people who speak out against them. And how the City spend taxpayer money to hire a city attorney to do so, when the citizen can't afford an attorney of his or her own.

The Gang went next and told their side of the story. In general, they appeared to feel sorry for themselves.

For instance, the Mayor said that Cook had "erratic and emotionally unstable" behavior. Lozano alleged that this was a political attack, since Tuttle and Cook really worked for the enemy Council Member Cruz Baca. Lozano crowed about how the TRO worked, since Cook no longer goes to council meetings to criticize him.

Monica went next. She said in a long monologue about how Tuttle had "alarming" behavior and was a stalker. She kept complaining that he called her a "political whore" and a "political prostitute." Monica told the court that Tuttle knew everything she was doing in her bedroom. Monica said that Tuttle knows everywhere I am, and he posts it on the internet. She said she was tired of him calling him "Honey," and that it got to the point where a TRO had to be filed.

She slipped up and admitted this wasn't her first filing of a TRO against a man. She brought up Tuttle's divorce and said he had problems with his daughter. Therefore, he is a sexist and a woman hater and that she did the right thing to file the TRO. She said, nonetheless, she respects the First Amendment.

The judge asked Lanet and Ricardo to only speak if they weren't going to repeat what wasn't already said. They said they had new facts to add.

Lanet stated that Cook was destroying their lives by publishing blog posts. She said that her daughter inquired whether it was true whether her father was really a rapist. Then she talked about how their lives are falling apart at the local Catholic church, because Tuttle arranges senior citizens to protest them with corruption signs. She said, "Nobody should live like this."

Ricardo stated that the TRO was necessary. He said that Tuttle only won the case because he went "judge shopping." The first judge agreed with Ricardo that the TRO needed to issue. Unfortunately, the second judge "didn't see things the same way."

Pacheco then stated that Cook accused his wife of being an illegal and that they had to explain that it wasn't true to their daughter. Then he accused Tuttle of organizing a senior group of coming to his home and stalking him and slashing their car tires. Ricardo said they're always being watched and followed, and that he organizes seniors to protest him at the church. Pacheco also stated that he needed to file a TRO because Tuttle said "He'd have him in handcuffs by the end of the year." Pacheco ended by stating that "This is not what this country is about."

The entire hearing appeared to be something that should've been more on Judge Judy than in superior court. The court said it had heard all the evidence and that it would need to time to render a decision. Tuttle told the court that, "This isn't about the money. Even if I won $1 that would be alright. It's just not right what these people are doing."

[Updated on Feb. 27, 2017: This article has been heavily revised to remove legalise. Thanks to my talented editor for the suggestion.]