Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hitchhiking Around Mexico

I've been hitchhiking around Mexico again. For those of you who don't know, I've done this before. Hitchhiking Around Mexico

From Cabo San Jose, I hitched a ride to La Paz. The guy who picked me was a small business owner. We engaged in a full conversation in Spanish.

I took a short break to Mexico. I needed to get some writing done. If you're into innovation or creating new goods or services, a small break is good to give your mind a reset from the business as usual and to see the world in a new light.

My father didn't approve. When I called him, he asked, "Is Mexico your new home now?"

I cracked up.

I was able to get some writing done for a new law review article I'll be submitting. It's on reforming tort law so that we can hold people like our Mayor accountable. The draft is finished.

So, far I haven't done much; except write, research, read, and eat great food. I always tell my friends that Cabo has the best Mexican food. Yes, they're parents say that it's better in the mainland, but those same parents haven't been to Cabo.

My favorite dish in cabo is called a vampiro. I don't know why it's named after a vampire, but it's grilled tortilla with your choice of meat and fresh cheese. It tastes so good. I love how they take a chunk of pork and grill it on a rotisserie. Tastes so good.

I've met some cool people: a park ranger from Yosemite, French brothers, and two Canadian college students (a guy and a girl and they both speak French). I met one person I don't care for - a young drug addict male from Northern California; he talks all the time and talks only about drugs. His mind seems possessed with only such thoughts. (That's addiction by the way.)

Other than that, have to come home soon. In Mexico - do as the Mexicans do - and go to the beach.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Companies tied to Industry ex-mayor racked up fortune - More Corruption

s financially benefited from city contracts. Above, one of the larger signs identifying the city on Hacienda Boulevard. 
A 20-year jackpot of City of Industry contracts that included $4.9 million for lawn mower rentals and street cleaning fees billed at six times a competitor's rate has enriched a handful of companies owned by the tiny town's former mayor and his family by more than $326 million, an audit has found.
The review of the city's finances showed that Dave Perez and his relatives held sway over the City of Industry — population 400 — much as they would a mom-and-pop shop, except that the returns to the family's bottom lines were corporate-sized, averaging about $16 million a year for the last two decades.
Completed this month, the audit comes 51/2 years after a Times investigation laid out the lucrative relationship between the Perez clan and City Hall. An inquiry by the district attorney's office that began in 2009 was closed in 2011 without the filing of any charges.
A district attorney's spokeswoman said there is no current inquiry underway.
Ordered by city officials sometime after Perez stepped down as mayor in 2012, the audit by the firm KPMG concluded that the outlays to the family companies were accompanied by invoices that lacked detailed descriptions, raising the question of whether the municipality was consistently overcharged for basic services.
The audit said "it is nearly impossible to determine with absolute certainty" that the billings were "reasonable, accurate and commensurate with the work performed."
The money flowed from the annual revenue the city took in mostly from the 2,500 businesses that give the place its name. Among the audit's findings:
The city paid one company, Zerep Management, $28 million for vehicle and equipment rentals over 11 years. That was enough to buy an entire fleet of the same vehicles "many times over," the audit said. The rental of lawn mowers cost the city nearly $450,000 a year. And in at least one instance, Zerep (Perez spelled backward) charged the city a rental fee for a tractor the city owned, according to the audit. Speaking for the company, Perez's nephew, also named David, said that never happened.
He said it "sounds like the audit misrepresents my billing. I would have welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with this audit to explain and or dispute any discrepancies."
It's the systems that create the opportunity. It if it wasn't the Perezes, it would be someone else.- Victor Valle, author of a 2009 book about the origins of the City of Industry
Zerep charged an average of $133,000 a month for street cleaning in the 12-square-mile city. After the city replaced Zerep with a competing company, the monthly cost dropped to about $20,000. Zerep sometimes would bill the city multiple times for the same day of cleaning. The nephew, David Perez, said all the charges were proper.
The city paid Zerep $41 million in labor costs for general maintenance over the 11 years — the hourly rate equivalent of fielding 50 full-time workers each week. Based on the available documents, the audit said, it "cannot be accurately determined" that such a number of workers was employed. Zerep also billed the city for some work that was performed without authorization.
A lawsuit filed by a former city clerk against Perez, two of his relatives and Mark Radecki, who is now running for City Council, cost the city about $1 million in a settlement. The suit alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault and battery. It accused Perez of referring to women employees as "the herd." The defendants denied the allegations.
The former mayor and the four sitting council members did not respond to requests for comment Monday. The current mayor, Tim Spohn, who is up for reelection in June, said he had no opinion on the audit, which was first reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
"It's a very small town here," he said. "Just about everyone knows everyone, and that's the way it is. The Perezes have been here since the beginning."
City Manager Kevin Radecki, Mark's brother, said Monday that the audit was commissioned after employees began to notice discrepancies in invoices from Perez companies. He said officials did not take action until after Perez left office — he cited health reasons — because they feared the reaction of the mayor, who was in office for more than a decade, including as a councilman.
"He was in control," Radecki said of Perez. "There was a lot of influence by that individual, and once he stepped down we were able to move forward without retribution."
Last year, the City of Industry terminated its contract with Zerep and removed Perez's brother, Manuel, from the Planning Commission.
Radecki said the city is reevaluating an even bigger family contract, a trash hauling arrangement with Valley Vista Services Inc.
The district attorney's earlier inquiry determined that there were no illegal conflicts because the city issued the contracts before Perez took office and he abstained from votes on subsequent deals with the family companies, office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Industry has 187 registered voters, 50 of whom live in a single city-owned nursing home. The city also owns the homes of all five council members and Radecki. The Perez family's influence extends back to the 1970s but waned after the elder David left office.
The Perezes are backing a slate of candidates that could regain a majority of the council seats in the June election, Radecki said. One is Radecki's brother.
Created to support industrial uses, cities such as City of Industry are often beset by conflicts of interests involving small numbers of power brokers, said Victor Valle, author of a 2009 book about the origins of the City of Industry, which was incorporated in 1957.
"It's the systems that create the opportunity," Valle said. "It if it wasn't the Perezes, it would be someone else. The really fateful decisions were made decades ago. Now we're living in the aftermath, and the question becomes, how do we reinject democratic principles to this form of government?"

[Note City of Industry borders Baldwin Park].

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Corruption in American Cities Prove They Want to Indenture People Into Poverty - OpEd

This week, the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded. So far, the prize that actually intrigued me the most went to local reporting. And guess where the local reporting was being done? In a small, working class, Hispanic town, called Cintinela. Interestingly enough, the same news group, Los Angeles News Group, that owns the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (who has reported on my battle with the city from time to time), won its first Pulitzer Prize. Congratulations.

The story the team broke was that a superintended of this poor school district was making $663,000 a year. On top of that, the crook had two bankruptcies, and still got a loan from the school district for almost $1,000,000 over 40 years at two percent. I can assure you, the superintendent, principal of principals, had no intention of paying off that principle.

Only, if we could all be so lucky. Jose Fernandez, I hope you go to jail for a long, long time. The intriguing series of stories can be read here: Superintendent Robs a School District

Why am I so mad? Is this really someone who just stole money from the school district? When someone steals taxpayer money, it can seem like the victims are faceless. But this is not the case. All theft has a victim.

And here, the victims were the children of the school district. To preserve his huge salary and power, Jose Fernandez fired good teachers and principals. In the end, the students suffered. All of them. Centinela has some of the worst performance on academic exams in California. Fernandez stole from the children - literally. Then, after he got caught and fired, he had the nerve to file a lawsuit against the school district.

My entire experience with the City of Baldwin Park and my knowledge of these corrupt little cities really prove that democracy has failed in local politics. I'm not saying that I have a solution to this problem, as Winston Churchill stated, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

For those of you who don't know, these Hispanic working class communities have poor democratic participation. For instance, in Baldwin Park, for a population of 70,000, only 2,000 vote. That's about 2.8%, and even then not all of them may be voting because of election fraud. In a richer city, like Pasadena, the voting rate is closer to 5%.

So, really, the people don't care what these crooks are doing and how much its hurting the citizens; or, we're not really being told what's happening. The theory is that with a higher voter participation, the public could vote out people who are committing these crimes. Well, when people aren't participating, the few in power could just take from the bank accounts to give it to themselves at our expense and our children's expense.

Even though state agencies have said that Fernandez stole at least $250,000 from the Centinela School District, he hasn't been yet charged with a crime. Think about that. If any of us stole a quarter of million dollars from anyone, I'm sure we'd be thrown into prison. You don't need a lawyer to tell you that.

But nope; he's out and free. He's actually suing the school district for even more money. All the while, there have been generations of children who haven't been educated and will probably never escape poverty. Research shows that the easiest way out of poverty is through a higher education. I don't have a crystal ball, but this suggests that a better superintendent could have made a difference for at least a number of lives in Centinela.

Without the accountability presented by democratic participation, the people have to rely on those agencies with prosecutorial discretion and hope they will bring charges against these corrupt public officials and administrators. The FBI, the U.S. Attorney General, the California Attorney General, and the District Attorney have to do a better job prosecuting these thieves. Otherwise, the people are doomed to be ripped off in taxes, while those taxes go to one thing only: lining the pockets of these administrators and public officials.

One thing is certain in Southern California and perhaps all of America: the enforcement of law against public officials and administrators of local agencies is weak. Experts agree that the weak enforcement of law against criminals almost always fosters poverty in a society. And so, now you see that this isn't about a superintended who made $663,000 USD + a year. It's about a man who indentured a community into poverty so he could live in luxury.

No wonder, King Solomon once said in his Proverbs: "By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down." We're witnessing, now, how an entire community is destroyed by the greed of these politicians and their administrators.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Be Afraid of the Police, Not the Criminals

Police raided the home of Nancy Crambert-Lopes on a false suicide alert
Photo by Aurelia Ventura - Copyright La Opinion
Family claims they were the victims of police violence and fled permanently from them. 
By: Isaias Alvarado 

Even though all eight corners of their home were guarded by eight security cameras, and they filed a complaint with the FBI, one Latino family that alleges police brutality, fled as far away as they could from the police because of fear of retaliation.

"We're not afraid of the robbers, but the police," said Nancy Carmbert-Lopez, who moved 2,100 miles away, a few days ago. 

"I feel safer here," she said.

The Baldwin Park Police Department defended the accused police officers in this controversial case.

Crambert-Lopes recalls her version of the facts: She said that everyone was sleeping in the house, when the police raided her home on a false suicide alert. They reached the master bedroom on the second floor, where the alleged altercation occurred.

While she was trying to clear the misunderstanding with the police, she explained, her husband Delfim Lopes, had taken sleeping pills after work, but when he tried to go to the restroom, the officers grabbed him and the fight blew up.

Argentina Crambert, Nancy's mother, described the incident as an attack by five police officers against her son. "They were kicking him." She remembers saying, "They're going to kill you!" His whole body was covered with fists. "He vomited. He urinated on himself," the 71 year old immigrant said.

Nancy ran to help her husband and for it, both were tackled and arrested.

Paul Cook, attorney at law, said that he believes that to cover up the brutality, the city declared the two mentally unstable (under 5150 of the Welfare and Institution Code) and locked them up in a psychiatric institute.

Nancy was discharged the next day, but her husband was kept under observation for two days.

The alleged beating damaged Delfim's spine, which now requires surgery, said the plaintiff.

The family states that they now owe $40,000 in medical bills and that because of the injury, Del cannot return to work as a driver.

"One day my husband was sleeping, the next day he needs surgery," said Nancy, who alleges that she was bruised because the "boys in blue" assaulted her too.

In late 2014, the FBI stated that it received the complaint but declined to investigate. Lourdes Arocho, FBI spokesperson, told the La Opinion, "We did not open an investigation in this case."

The City stated that they were not contacted by the FBI or other federal agencies and ensures that the police officers acted according to the law.

"The City maintains its support for the officers involved and denies any allegations of misconduct," said the police agent.

According to the police report, Lopes invited the five officers to his home, who happened to also be enraged, and was to be released only after a medical examination.

"Delfim swallowed five to ten sleeping pills because he was depressed because of financial problems," the police report stated.

According to the City, the altercation ensued because of Delfim and his wife's attitude, whom showed signs of anxiety and high blood pressure. That's why she had to be sent to the hospital too.

According to the police report, Delfim "did not complain of any pain," in a physical examination.

The Lopez family filed a complaint against the City of Baldwin Park in federal court, but the judge dismissed it on Dec. 11, 2014. 

Later, the couple changed the jurisdiction of the case, so that they wouldn't have to pay for the legal defense fees.

Nancy said that moving to the State of Georgia has brought the family peace. 

Delfim was living in fear residing in Baldwin Park because another emergency could occur and the policemen who assaulted him would return to his home.

"Although I never seen these people," Hiedi Rummel, professor of law at the University of Southern California (USC) and former prosecutor, this family's case is unusual.

"I have never heard of the police trying to hide misconduct this way [which is by diagnosing the detainees to be in need of psychiatric care,]" she said. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Should We Know About the Personal Lives of our Public Officials? - Opinion Editorial

Should we know about the personal lives of our public officials? If so, how much should we know?

I received an email from a LA Times Reader this week - who asked me why I had to bring up Mayor Lozano's bankruptcy and that he's a security guard.

It made me think: why should we know about the personal lives of our politicians?

Some professionals believe in a fictional divide between their business life and their personal life. The argument goes: it doesn't matter what I do with my free time; it has no impact on how I do on work.

Well - keep telling yourself that. It's a nice lie to believe in because it justifies behavior you don't want other people to know you're engaging in. If you're married and you're having an affair, I'm sure a good portion of your work day is obsessing about the thrilling moments of meeting that paramour.

So, explain to me - how are you concentrating on work when you're thinking about doing drugs, drinking, or having your affair? That's what I thought. It is affecting your work. And guess what, someone is paying your wages, so you're kind of stealing from them on their time.

But, sure, I get it. Affairs are private matters, and we don't need to necessarily publish it on the media. Although the media, some times does because of the sensationalism it produces.

So - why the Mayor's bankruptcy? There are times when bankruptcies are legitimate matters. And if you're a private individual, I can understand that people shouldn't necessarily be publishing this online.

But - when you're a public official, knowing about a bankruptcy matters. How is it we should trust a public official with other people's money when they can't even manage their own bank account? And guess what, the Mayor went bust. Guess who else is going bust? That's right - the City of Baldwin Park.

Just because he became Mayor doesn't mean he fixed his overspending and addictive habits. Now he's used the city money to do it. Take for instance, his little theft of the city funds recently. He claimed to take a business trip to Santa Barbara. The Mayor never went. Instead, he pilfered his allowance, which belongs to the city.

Why? Because he's desperate for it? Why? Because he hasn't changed, he spends more than he has.

Someone told me this week, well bankruptcy is most correlated to having health problems. That's not really true. From my experience and my dialogue with experts, those who have bankruptcy problems are either engaging in a sexual affair or they have a gambling problem. Bet, you don't know that?

What happens is that the person in high debt is in trapped in a cycle of addiction. They need to feed the addiction. They can't break out of it. They're hijacked by passion. Then, they end up going bust.

Does this matter as a public official? If my argument is true, we need to know that the people that are making our decisions and that are in control of our money have a motive to feed their addictive nature. Therefore, decisions will be self-interested, rather than for the people. So - there we go.

In a private sector, a board would probably catch a CEO for not making profit for the corporation. The accountability check is removed for public officials. Hence, they could keep wasting other people's money.

Why does it matter that the Mayor's a security guard? Well, me, as an educated individual care that my elected officials can think.

Another reason is that the Mayor tells people he's going to Cal State Fullerton to get his degree. He's been saying that he's still in college. In fact, he's been say it for 20 years, now. How shameful.

Mayor Lozano is just a security guard. Someone has to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

Anyways lying about who you really are is a big problem in Baldwin Park. It seems like everyone does it. And that's only going to change, if our public officials stop doing it. If people don't admit what the truth is - they're own situation doesn't get better.

I helped a high school boxer go to college. Then, he dropped out. He told me he was still going, and he put on an elaborate story to convince me it was true. I believed him. Then, I found out it was all a lie because he didn't want me to know what really happened.

I was disappointed. But without him admitting what's happened and where he's really at, we can't really work with the problem. And it's people like the mayor and council members, who misrepresent their degrees and who they are, that are condoning the practice of putting on a sham in front of others.

I tell my boxing kids - all the time - life is hard and to get to the top - it's a lot of hard work. When the Mayor spouts lies that it's easy to be where he is - I have a duty to expose this lie because the Mayor is saying its easy to get things without hard work. People need to know; he lies, and his life is a lie.

In short, sure, there is a line that journalists shouldn't cross about the personal lives of public figures. But remember, they're thrusting themselves out their in the spotlight. If they're lying to us about who they are -they're the ones putting it out there to be exposed. The people need to know the truth.

Remember, the truth will set you free.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Low Income City Scams the IRS

The City of Baldwin Park scammed the IRS out of quarter of a million dollars, $258,541.10 to be precise. And that's only for the fiscal year of 2010.

Do you know anyone who's scammed the Internal Revenue Service of Income Tax? Usually, we have a low opinion of such people. Now one usually doesn't think cities lie, cheat, and steal. But not Baldwin Park.

Shame on the City Council Members of Baldwin Park. Remember, it's really not the city who defrauded the IRS, it's the Council Members and the Mayor whom scammed the IRS because they're the ones running the show.

You're getting this breaking news from the Legal Lens first. Baldwin Park defrauded the IRS by not paying social security and potentially Medicare taxes for their employees.

Oh - but you're thinking: So, what? What's the big deal about taxes? This is where tax scams get juicy.

What Baldwin Park really did was steal from senior citizens and the sickly poor to keep their heavy salaries. How? For those of you who don't know, (such as my international audience), social security is a government bank account for retired people. You put into it, while you work and while you're young, and when you become a senior, the government gives you a monthly allowance. (In other countries, it's called a pension.) So - whatever you put in, your boss has to also put in 6.2%.

Well, once again our uneducated and unlawful City Council Members thought they were above the law. Not a surprise, right? And they withheld the matching contribution to social security. So, they stole that money from the federal government. And what does that mean?

The federal government relies on this money coming in to pay our senior citizens; so that's grandpa and grandma and grandaddy and granny. Baldwin Park just stole from them, so they could get hefty salaries.
Take a look at Manuel Carrillo, Jr. (picture below). He makes $180,000 a year. In comparison, a superstar law professor at UCLA Law, who has worked for the Supreme Court, makes $180,000 a year. But hey - they want to keep their huge salaries. And now, they're stealing from the sick and the elderly to do it. In this example, Granny gets nothing from all the money she put into social security, so Carrillo could take all.

What's essentially happening is that the City is stealing money from Granny up there, so it could give an overpaid salary to Manny Carrillo and the other highly overpaid administrators. Get it, now?
Manuel Carrillo, Parks and Recreation Director makes $180K

Here's the real kicker. This is only for the fiscal year of 2010. What about 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014? Assuming the City scammed the IRS every year that's a million the City scammed the elderly and the sick. But what do they care? As I've been saying - they only care about themselves.

That brings us to our Finance Director, Craig Graves. My probe found that he was forced to resign from the City of Palm Springs. He has no CPA license. I mean, why wasn't he being transparent and telling us that the City was scamming the federal government? Because - he was busy - covering the dirty deeds that these administrators and the Council Members and Mayor have been up to.

The solution to this problem is actually really simple. The City Council Members are stealing from everyone they can to preserve their hefty salaries of themselves and the Carrillo Administrators. Salaries need to be slashed. Thank you very much.

And if they don't like it, tell them to find another job. You people are public servants at the end of the day. (Oh wait; they can't. They're incompetent)

Happy Tax Day.


City Council Members in Love with the Money

Council Member (CM) Raquel Garcia aka Monica Garcia, CM Cruz Baca,
Terry Muse (Consultant), Mayor Manuel Lozano, Treasurer Maria Contreras,
CM Ricardo Pacheco, & Clerk Alejandra Aviles (From left to right). 

Craig Graves, Finance Director Being Probed
Rumor is that he's friends with fired Pasadena Director Andrew Green

Proof that the IRS fined Baldwin Park.








Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Get $175,000 or 50% Off Your House - Be the Mayor of Baldwin Park And Sell the City Away

Mayor Manuel Lozano
He's been exposed again! Mayor Manuel Lozano likely got a $175,000 kickback. Read how.

He purchased his home in Baldwin Park for $175,000 less its assessed value. $357,201 was the assessed value of his home on 15378 Kenoak Dr., Baldwin Park, CA 91706. $175,000 was what the Mayor paid. (Proof copied and pasted below).

Hence, the Mayor got a deal by only paying half price. He saved $175,000.

The Mayor Shocked and Exposed as a Bankrupted Security Guard
It's highly doubtful that this was a legitimate deal. A bankruptcy expert told me often times people play this kind of game to launder money or to run away from creditors. We already know that the Mayor is really a bankrupted security guard.

I suspect that this was a kickback or a bribe in some form, unless the owner of the home was "gifting" the $175,000 - which would be an extraordinary gift. Let's say you're a contractor, and you need to buy a vote from the Mayor and you want to buy his vote. Well, you don't really want to leave a money trail for people to spot. So, the owner of the home, wants to sell the house for $350,000. How about if the contractor gives him the $175,000. Presto. No money trail.

 The Mayor takes a mortgage of $175,000. Then, the contractor pays the owner of the house the rest of it.

See, how it works?

Now, it's possible that the Mayor paid $175,000 in cash for the other half, but the deed would reflect that the total he paid for the house was still $350,000. Furthermore, if he had that kind of cash on hand, how did he file bankruptcy? If he was paying cash, how did he get this money?

Also - as a security guard - how did he make the downpayment? This is all super sketchy.

Now, if all of us can abuse our position like the Mayor, we'd all have our homes half off and save $175,000. For the average American, that's five years of not having to work. It's a lot of money. Proof below.

The sad part is that people have been calling me and telling me that he doesn't live in Baldwin Park. He's been sighted often in Chino and Chino Hills; so, his residence is most likely in the 909, the Inland Empire.

Thank you "Snooper" for providing me this information.

You can read all about the Mayor's bankruptcy here. Mayor Is Really a Bankrupted Security Guard




Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter and Forgiveness

I've been reading through a lot of the opinion editorials today. In the Western World (not in Russia), it's Easter Sunday. Easter comes from the Old English Estru - which actually means Resurrection Sunday.

I know most of my readers are probably not Christian; so, if you don't want to read on - I understand. (But this isn't so much of a religious article either, it's more of a relational one.)

Easter represents the day in which a person's wrongdoing between him or herself has been wiped clean before God. God has essentially forgiven that person of all his or her debts. For us Christians, today is the day to remember how much God loved humanity, and in turn, we should let go of the wrongs others have done to us. It frees us and frees the other person.

Likewise, I decided today that I wanted to bridge any relationships that have been worn or torn. Come on, we all have them. And, I'm going to make the effort to reach out and make the relationship restored.

Life's way too short to hold grudges. If there's that friend or family member you know has been nagging in your heart, maybe you should bite the bullet, and flick that first email or make that first call.

After today, though, my usual articles will begin again.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Readers React to the LA Times Story

Rottweiler Watchdog (I picked a cute puppy because I want this dog.)
Photo by Jamie Grise

Well - the LA Times story generated attention. Great!

One reader said: They're public watchdogs, not "gadflies."

Read more here: Watchdog or Gadfly?

PS: The Times keeps saying I posted the Mayor's social security. Correction, part of it is published because the bankruptcy records - a public record- partially lists it. I did not publish his entire social security number.


Giant Asian Hornet Eating a Grasshopper
 Obviously, I think I'm more like the puppy dog up there. I don't know why the city keeps attacking me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Encouragement!

en·cour·age·ment
inˈkərijmənt,enˈkərijmənt/
noun
the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.

I suppose I could be writing on more muckraking or more horrid things that the city people are doing. But I just wanted to take the time out to encourage everyone because so many people have been encouraging me.

It's been a bit exhausting to have been on the front page of the LA Times. (I mean I never knew that fighting for our boxing gym would lead to this! Jeez!)

But all in all, I just wanted to thank everyone who has given me more hope and confidence. My friends and mentors have expressed such great support. And after the article blew over into yesterday's news, what I was left with was a sense of gratefulness that so many people care about me and issues that we've been tackling.

The article, also, really affected lawyers - and a number of lawyers just encouraged me to keep going. They want to see a happy ending to my story - our story. I really feel wealthier that people, people I don't even know, spoke such healing words into my life. When you're exhausted, the Chinese say, "Jia You" (Add Fuel). Encouragement really adds that kind of fuel to your life.

Furthermore, one of my workshop groups told me to be an encouragement to others. I just wanted to say that it took a lot of work, effort, blood, sweat, and tears to get this far in my journey. And at this point, the Times saw it as a story to be remembered. We've just made history in the City of Los Angeles.

So, if you feel beat and broken, keep going. Nothing great ever gets accomplished without hard work. And as I've learned, you might be closer to your goal than you think.

Just imagine for yourself what the next step is, and then do what it takes to get there. You might not be as far away from what you need to do as you think.

If you've been encouraged this week, by me or by others, I hope that you take the time to also build someone else up in the week. You never know how your words could change someone's life.