I, representing the teenage boxers, ended the fourteen year political career of the soon-to-be "former Council Member" of Baldwin Park, Marlen Garcia. Garcia had the backing of powerful players like Kaiser Permanente; State Senator Edward Hernandez; the public officers from the City of Baldwin Park, Irwindale, Azusa, West Covina, and many, many more. She had campaign contributions of thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.
In stark contrast, the boxers didn't get or spend a dime. We didn't have any political support. In fact, we were laughed at because many of the boxers weren't 18, therefore, couldn't even vote. This is the story of how a small boxing club, against all odds, stood up to a political bully and prevailed.
The battle began when Council Member Garcia and her Parks and Recreation Director Manuel Carrillo, Jr. refused to give the City Boxing program a day it had cut. It amounted to four hours and was the most costly mistake of both Carrillo and Garcia's life. The reason they most often cited was that there was no money in the budget. A closer investigation by the club revealed misappropriation and extravagant salaries and perks for the few in power at the cost of the many - such as the teenagers who needed their boxing program. Both of them spoke before they thought. Over and over again, Garcia said boxing didn't matter because it was just entertainment anyways.
The road to victory seemed impossible. How was it, without any resources, were the boxers going to oust Garcia? The ordeal resembled the battle between David and Goliath, or perhaps more apt for me, Perseus and Medusa. King Polydectus assigned Perseus the impossible challenge of beheading and fetching the head of Medusa - the Gorgon who had the power to petrify men into stone. Perseus, knowing that fate favored his death, accepted the challenge without knowing how he'd achieve it.
Like Perseus, I had no idea how I was to go up against a corrupt, entrenched and resourceful system. Nonetheless, I knew the key to Garcia's defeat would be held in a grand strategy of accountability. In America, our political system is divided into three official branches and one unofficial one: the executive, the legislative, the judicial, and journalism. Since Baldwin Park had full control of the executive and legislative by a failed democratic system, which promoted electioneering fraud, citizen bullying, and the chilling of free speech, I had to rely on judicial review and writing that could expose.
This is an important point to remember: Baldwin Park was by no means ruled by the people for the people. It was an oligarchic dictatorship, in which the Garcia-Lozano regime self-perpetuated their power by intimidating the citizens and at least on several occasions was suspected of defrauding the vote by mail. Thus, dismantling the regime, especially when the boxers seemed so weak, appeared utterly hopeless.
But for the boxers, we had no choice: it was do or die. Carrillo and Garcia, for whatever reason hated boxing, and would've strangled the program if we did not prevail.
If the ancient Greek heroes sought out oracles, I had wise counsel from the living and the dead. As even the Hebrew Scriptures state, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." My mentors chimed in to tweak my strategy and draft the execution tactics.
Dead heroes and heroines like Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell, Earnest Hemmingway, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and King Solomon lent me their wisdom. Perhaps, above all else, I understood one lesson that Holmes imparted: "[T]he most far-reaching form of power is not money, it is the command of ideas." Note, Holmes doesn't say power belongs to the person who has ideas, knows them, or creates them. No; the battle belongs to the commander of ideas, who understand how to execute them to achieve his ends.
If the British launched their assaults against the Nazis by land, air, and sea, the boxers - being armed to the teeth with passion, vision, and an arsenal of executable plans - took to demonstrating, suing, and journalism.
At first, the entrenched powers found our demonstrations and organizing cute and laughable. The boxers' debut at the first city council meeting, nonetheless, was met with welcome by the citizens. The story could be found here: Baldwin Park Grand Showdown.
The publication of that story gave me hope because the story went viral and across the world. Its publication was a sign that I was on the right path. I knew then I could breach the barrier of the Garcia-Lozano regime's rubbish propaganda, which they spewed out at the local paper: The San Gabriel Valley Tribune. For four months, we published the truth against the current City Council.
The boxers also called for judicial review against the corrupt regime. Because the City Manager, Vijay Singhal, wouldn't hand us records and wanted to hide the truth, the head boxing coach sued him. Head Boxing Coach Sues City Manager Vijay Singhal.
The lawsuit was a turning point. We were no longer being laughed at. We were now being taken seriously. The lawsuit was a landmark in the city's history. It was the first suit by a resident of the city, against the city, whose lawyer was also resident of the city, to enforce a constitutional right of the common citizen.
All of our efforts were working. I know because Julian, the head boxing coach, and I would be stopped at the most random locations, such as McDonald, by people. They would tell us they heard about the high school students protesting the City. For those of you in power, whether it be in government, school, or business, it's never a good idea to go against teenagers protesting you for a legimitate injury.
Finally - the press started picking up my blog pieces. The boxers made it on the front page of La Opinion, and twice my stories made it on the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
But if Perseus had the gods and goddesses give him weapons and shields, the stars, divine intervention, and - or luck, threw the last windfalls I needed to defeat Marlen. Perhaps it is true: fate favors the fearless. And courage is and will be rewarded.
First, the Police Chief's daughter was arrested for narcotics outside Motel 6, and I was told immediately. The story was released a week before the elections: Police Chief's Daugher Arrest At Motel 6. It is my most controversial piece, but nonetheless, even without the arrest, I was going to write a piece against our "beloved" Police Chief anyways.
Lady Luck blew me a kiss before the eve of battle. Four days before the elections, an informant emailed me a list of 2,000 email addresses for the registered voters of District Three.
The incident could have came from a spy movie. The informant on the other end of the phone gave me simple instructions: "Ruin Marlen Garcia."
I replied, "I'll do my best."
I spent a few hours to set up the software to email thousands of email addresses. The first story I sent the voters was the Chief of Police's story. On the next day, I sent the viral story of the boxers' protest. On the third day, I emailed out the story in which I foiled a robbery and how the police caught the robbers. The Foiled Robbery. (The last story collaterally damaged Garcia, who has a contentious relationship with the city police.) In my mind, I imagined the thousands of emails being a barrage of bombs landing on enemy territory.
Nonetheless, I was disappointed in myself. Of the 2,000, my computer program confirmed that 300 registered voters opened my email. The numbers were confirmed because it corresponded with the new hits on my blog site. I had made the resolve to expose her, even if she won the trustee election.
On election night, I had dinner with my boxers. I was convinced Garcia had won, and it would be another six months to a year before I ousted her out of office through a forced resignation. I knew in my heart I had done my part in the war. It was the best job I could do.
But when Julian and I entered the after party at the Marriott Hotel, I saw that Garcia was losing by 151 votes. I saw my anti-campaign signature reflected in the results. And yes, I could take the credit for this (proof posted at the end of the story).
At the election party, I saw my informant and told him, "Mission accomplished." I had given him news that I ended Garcia's political career. I gave him Medusa's head.
He patted my back and said, "Good job."
The cause of Garcia's fall were mainly caused by the boxers. The factions that hated Garcia spent most of their energy supporting the challenger for the Council seat, and not trying to block Garcia from the Trustee one. Lara Santos, Garcia's rival, was outspent and out-campaigned by Garcia in all regards. The boxers didn't have the resources to promote votes, but we certainly had utilized the truth in a way to take them away.
Without having any money or political support, I outgeneraled Marlen. In response to her first political defeat, Garcia awaited the provisional votes, which only widened her margin of loss by 181 votes.
Then she lost control of her emotions at the Veteran Day's function and muttered to Santos that she only won because she had police donations. On Facebook, she released a press release, which stated her campaign was lost because she didn't do enough mudslinging by announcing that Santos was a disbarred attorney.
Really, Garcia lost because of a number of factors, but the main one was that her decisions had really left our City damaged, hurt, wounded, and crippled. Someone just had to expose it all and have the courage to carry out the ordeal.
I know now the democratic weapons of organizing, protesting, writing, and suing could overpower the regimented ones of big business, incumbent political support, and electioneering fraud. The former are democratic because they give us common people a fighting chance. The latter is regimented because they are out of the access to the average person and are designed to perpetuate those in power. George Orwell said it best: corruption is "designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." The remedy to all of this was the truth, written in simple English.
* * * *
Here's proof of the registered voters I reached. I guess some of my voters now live in new countries.
Top locations by opens
- USA298 98.0%
- Japan2 0.7%
- Mexico2 0.7%
- France1 0.3%
- Taiwan1 0.3%
Here's all the supporters that sponsored Marlen Garcia and should be associated with corruption:
Honorable Hilda L. Solis – Former United States Secretary of Labor and Congress Member
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano – United States Congress, 32nd Congressional District
Congresswoman Judy Chu – United States Congress, 32nd Congressional District
Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D. – California 24th Senate District
Former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino – California 44th Assembly District
Supervisor Gloria Molina – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, First District
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Fifth District
Supervisor Don Knabe – Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Fourth District
Governing Board Member Rosanne Bader – Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees
Governing Board Member Judy Chen-Haggerty – Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees
Governing Board Member Fred Chyr – Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees
Mayor Manuel Lozano – City of Baldwin Park
Mayor Pro Tem Monica Garcia – City of Baldwin Park
Treasurer Maria Contreras – City of Baldwin Park
School Board Member Teresa Vargas-Ong – Baldwin Park Unified School District
School Board Member Hugo Tzec – Baldwin Park Unified School District
Commissioner David Muse – Baldwin Park Planning Commission
Commissioner Natalie Ybarra – Baldwin Park Planning Commission
Commissioner George Silva – Baldwin Park Planning Commission
Commissioner Edwin Borques – Baldwin Park Planning Commission
Commissioner Cecelia Bernal – Baldwin Park Recreation & Community Services Commission
Commissioner Irma Tarango – Baldwin Park Recreation & Community Services Commission
Commissioner Martha Reyes – Baldwin Park Recreation & Community Services Commission
Commissioner Magda Torrelas – Baldwin Park Housing Commission
School Board Member Paul Solano – Bassett Unified School District
School Board Member Anthony Duarte – Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District
Councilmember Steve Herfert – City of West Covina
Councilmember Mark Breceda – City of Irwindale
Councilmember Manuel Garcia – City of Irwindale
Councilmember David Argudo – City of La Puente
Councilmember John King – City of Covina
Director Margarita Vargas – Valley County Water District
Director Mariana Lake – Valley County Water District
Director Bryan Urias – Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
Director Michael Touhey – Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
Anthony R. (Tony) Fellow, Ph.D. – Director, Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District
& Governing Board Member – Pasadena Community College
Mayor Joseph Rocha – City of Azusa
Councilmember Angel Carrillo – City of Azusa
Councilmember Robert Gonzales – City of Azusa
Councilmember Victoria Martinez – City of El Monte
Councilmember Alex Vargas – City of Hawthorne
Councilmember Marcel Rodarte – City of Norwalk
Councilmember Miguel Canales – City of Norwalk
School Board Member John Vargas – Hawthorne Unified School District
School Board Member Robert Cruz – Charter Oak Unified School District
Commissioner Don Meredith – County of Los Angeles Probation Commission
Former Mayor Fidel Vargas – City of Baldwin Park
Former Councilmember Anthony Bejarano – City of Baldwin Park
Former Councilmember Linda Gair – City of Baldwin Park
Former Councilmember Raul Martinez – City of Baldwin Park
Former Councilmember Teri Muse – City of Baldwin Park