The boxers arrived at the City Council Meeting. Yet, when Mayor Manuel Lozano saw the boxers arrive, he closed down the public comments period. A member of the audience in a green shirt was about 6 feet from the podium, ready to speak.
In protest, Cook stood up and said, "You're violating our First Amendment Rights. Public Comments is not closed yet."
The Mayor responded, "It's closed. And if you don't sit back down, I'll have you thrown out."
In response, Cook directed Erik to the City Clerk, who handed her the complaint, which is the notice of lawsuit against the City. The City Clerk asked him what it was.
To this, he responded: "A lawsuit against City Manager Vijay Singhal."
She attempted to give it back, but he refused to accept it. Instead, she walked over and gave the lawsuit to the City Manager, Vijay Singhal.
With that, the boxers walked out of the City Council Chambers. Before Cook walked to the door, he shouted behind him, "You've been sued."
Cook was upset that the Mayor chilled free speech once again. See blog post: Mayor Lozano Chills Free Speech Cook's blog also notes that the administrators have retaliated against those who speak out against politicians. See: City Attacks Boxing Activist.
Cook stated, "We live in a dictatorship. The mayor has great difficulty understanding that people have the right to free speech. His ploy didn't work. They've been served. The politicians and adminstrators knew we were coming with a lawsuit because the local paper that day wrote a story about how we were serving them." The Boxers Make the News Again This is the second time the boxers made the local paper.
Cook; Casas; the founder of the boxing program, Mike Salas;and the boxers were also interviewed by another major paper. Cook's blog has made it to 80 countries, and everyday journalists contact him about the affairs of Baldwin Park.
Local city residents have said, "You don't know how dirty these politicians are. They used to call us racist for speaking out against them. [The residents were whites.] Mayor Lozano closes public comments when he doesn't want to hear something."
Casas filed the lawsuit because City Manager Vijay Singhal refused all 22 items on Casas' records request at the time of filing the suit. Casas attempted to view these records after discovering the misappropriation of the boxing budget, the kickbacks, and the rampant nepotism and cronyism within management of the city
Asked about the lawsuit, Cook stated, "We didn't really want to sue them. But, Mayor Lozano, the Council Members: the Garcias, and the Management team think they're a law onto themselves. They don't take you seriously unless you have their actions reviewed judicially. I mean, we're just asking them to have a performance review. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently, the judges haven't been too impressed though with the performance of any of these administrators or public officials." See City Manager's 12 Violations of Law
This is the second public records lawsuit against the City. In the first one, City Attorney Joseph Pannone and the City Manager, Vijay Singhal has cost the City $90,000. Cook believes they do this because they're not spending their own personal money. So, they exercise poor judgment because it doesn't come out of their pockets. It comes out of the residents' of Baldwin Park.
The Police Association, currently, has two lawsuits against the City for First Amendment Retaliation. Robert Norse, radio host, commented on how unusual it was for the Police to be suing over Constitutional Violations. To that, Cook commented, "They [the politicians] do what they want without regard to our rights." There are talks of a non-profit filing a third public records violation lawsuit against the City of Baldwin Park and City Manager Vijay Singhal.
Cook also stated, "October 2, 2013 is a historical day for Baldwin Park. Julian Casas is a resident of the City and has been the boxing coach here for fourteen years. I don't know of any lawsuits by residents here against the City of Baldwin Park. In general, they're too poor. They make on average $11,000 per year. But here, we have a resident, suing the City, enforcing democratic rights, at a democratic meeting. It marks the beginning of the people taking back its City by the people for the people."
(Excerpts of the complaint are attached below.)
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THE CITY OF BALDWIN PARK, AND CITY MANAGER, VIJAY SINGHAL
VERIFIED PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE AND COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF PURSUANT TO THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT
[California Constitution Article I §3; Govt. Code §6258; Cal. Code of Civil Proc. §1085]
Date Action filed:
Date set for trial:
The full complaint can be downloaded here. Law Suit Against Singhal For Public Records Act Violation