Saturday, August 29, 2015

Remembering Your Calling - Letter to my Boxers

Do people see you as a compass when they're lost?
Dear Boxers,

This week, I had a lot of material I could've written about, but I think what stood out most was a conversation that changed my life. I realized, so powerful was the talk, that it took priority over anything else that's happened currently.

I've been thinking and re-thinking and overthinking what I should have done when the City Attorney swore in open court - but not loud enough for the judge to hear. A part of me wishes that I stopped the judge from talking and brought it to his attention. But on the other hand, I knew that my adversary was already in turmoil and torture; I mean, his face started twisting up, his eye started twitching, and he was walking with a limp. To have put more pressure on him would have not only seemed cruel, but it could've changed me too and made me a more callous person.

I mean, in some ways, I would hope that having the judge intervene and shame him, may have stopped him from employing some of his tactics, potentially ending a prolonged battle sooner than later. Also, I am fully aware that if my adversary had the same chance I did, he would punish me with impunity. Machiavelli, the Renaissance philosopher and adviser, stated in The Prince, "Never do any enemy a small injury for they are like a snake which is half beaten and it will strike back the first chance it gets." (Modern translation.) What it means is that you're supposed to destroy your enemy completely, or else, the first chance he gets, he'll seek revenge. Nonetheless, it made me wonder, what kind of person do I'd become if I did that? I was once reminded, in fighting the enemy, make sure you don't become like him.

Now, it wasn't my self-questioning that changed my life. It was a discussion I had with one of my mentors. I brought the question to him, explained the tension of what was at stake, and asked him, "What should I have done?"

His first response was, "You know, that's a tough question." He understood the problem of wanting to end what seems like a never ending battle but at the price of losing one's sense of mercy for others.

He thought about it. Then he said, "You did the right thing. Remember, you're a professional. You're above all of that. Don't let him drag you to his level."

In that short moment in time and space, I could feel that he had such high expectations of me, and I could feel that they were so great, that he would be disappointed if I behaved any other way. Those are the memories that change you forever.

The conversation had me thinking all week. It hit on a few points. First, it made me realize what professionalism means. The root word is "profess." The two parts are "pro" - meaning forward, and "fess" - meaning confession or oath. The three traditional professions are clergy, doctor, and lawyer because they required that the "professional" state a public oath to do his or her duty to God in serving humanity - whether that be in saving a person's soul, saving a person's body, or administering justice. And although we no longer make a vow to God, lawyers are still required to swear an oath to serve justice and the Constitution.

The second thought I had was the purpose of conversations. The root word of conversation is convert. Convert means to change. And real conversations change people, their hearts, minds, and value. It made me wonder if I'm having enough conversations that are getting people to think and reflect and change too.

The third thought I had was how would the world look like, if everyone had someone in their corner, holding them to such high character expectations. How would our society be, if esteemed people held others to such expectations, the kind of expectations that the simple sentence of "Remember, you're a professional. You're above all that," impacts you so greatly, reminding you of what is required of you and reminding you of what you promised long ago to an ancient profession, which is meant to serve humanity?

So, I'm here to tell you, I don't hold lawyering as the end all and be all. You, too, have a duty to honor your own calling - no matter how small or great it appears. If you're a student, your calling is to be a scholar - and to provide insight for humanity. If you're teacher, then it is to pass on knowledge to a future generation. And if you're a mechanic, then it is to be a craftsman to engineer machines that serve your customer. Your work, even though you may not believe it, has virtue, and therefore, be virtuous in what you provide and how you conduct yourself. I believe you can meet those standards.

Now, that doesn't mean you or I won't make mistakes. I certainly have. My blog has shown that. I don't hide that. When you make a mistake, get back up. In the battle to stand strong, I hope you can remind yourself of the lessons in this letter, which reminds you of who you are and where you need to be. This is the knowledge being passed onto me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Student Struck at Council Meeting Because Illegal Contract is Not Extended

The Person In the White Shirt
Has Been Alleged To Have Struck
A Student in the Face
A Baldwin Park City Council meeting turned violent when an unidentified person allegedly struck a student in the face. The person who struck him is disputed by witnesses. The student was recording a conversation with the owner of Royal Coaches. The Baldwin Park chief of Police, Michael Taylor, was made aware of the alleged incident but did nothing. Witnesses are available. The victim, Nicholas Tomas, filed a police report.

Citizens were in shock that the City Council allowed the tow shop owner to strike a boy and not be evicted, charged, or arrested. Others have been evicted illegally out of the council chambers just for speaking out.

The protest were in reaction to the City of Baldwin Park attempting to enter into an illegal contract with Royal Coaches Towing Company. Although Royal Coaches had its contract renewed, allegedly illegally in 2013, it was seeking to renew its contract with the city for 15 years without having to go out to bid. Now, you might be thinking: So what? What's the big deal with a towing contract illegally being extended?

The answer is that this scam once again shows how the council members and the tow company were preying on the poorest of the poor to make themselves rich. The tow company already has a monopoly over city towing. What happened for a decade was that the Baldwin Park Police Department and tow company had a silent arrangement where the police would racially profile drivers, find the ones that most likely didn't have a driver's license, and then tow and impound their car for 30 days. The towing and impound fees would outstrip the value of the car. The owner of the vehicle would lose their property at auction, and the tow company would then make profit. The San Gabriel Tribune reported that in one year, the City made $1.2 million.

The scam really hurt the common person. As a young law student, I would argue impound hearings for those who had their cars illegally impounded. The most egregious case was when the father pleaded with the police that he needed his car to take his daughter to the doctors because she had eye cancer. The girl was 10. We showed the police a picture of her growing tumor. The detective had the never to say, "Life's tough." That memory scarred me.

But off the backs of the poorest of the poor, the corrupt steal their property and enrich themselves. Royal Coach is a well known political campaign contributor. Since local elections are coming up in October, Royal Coaches gave money in exchange for an illegal renewal of their contract. The politicians get their money. Royal Coaches attempted to get their contract.

But what do the citizens of Baldwin Park get? A police regime that is more interested in racially profiling drivers, rather than keeping our city safe. And the Chief of Police, like Michael Taylor, get free car repairs and body work done by Royal Coaches. Well, what can you expect from the Chief - who is gaining a reputation in the community for sexually harassing women and constantly smelling like booze? 

William Salazar told a citizen, "Well, I need my security too." It's hard to give the man any sympathy. I mean, I'm sure we'd all like a 15 year monopoly contract that promises us millions too. All of you who would want a guaranteed million dollar contract every year for 15 years, raise your hands. Well, some of us live in the real world, and there are the Salazars.

The whole scam shows us the problem of corrupt politics. Businesses steal from the taxpayer by controlling the decision maker through backdoor deals and bribes. Innocent people are hurt. Taxpayers are stuck with the bill. And the few steal an extraordinary amount from us. All the while, we have services that are aimed at discrimination and targeting the poorest of the poor.

No wonder why an estimated 100 protesters showed up to show their outrage against the illegal attempt to extend the contract. Such contracts are illegal because they can't be set for such a long time period.

Furthermore, every five years, or perhaps less, the city has to go out for bid. But Royal Coaches wanted to be above the law, and have a contract that violated it. And guess who drafted the contract? Yes, our favorite character Robert Tafoya. Wouldn't it be nice, if we could all make contracts that are in violation of the law but at the expense of the taxpayer, which promises us millions a year?

These protesters all knew someone who had their property stolen from them. If each one represented 5000 people, then 50,000 people voiced their concern at the City Council. That's quite remarkable, when you think that the city is made up of 70,000 people.

Yet, before the City Council meeting even started, it leaked that the city was trying to extend the contract for 15 years. So, over the weekend, the conditions were changed from 15 years to 10 years - and the word "Amended" appeared on the new proposal. Then, on the day of City Council - all the documents vanished.

Also, several sources have confirmed that the District Attorney's office contacted Robert Tafoya. The prosecutor recommended that the City pull the agenda item. Tafoya apparently didn't say anything about it. He also, in violation of informing the client of conversation, told all the council members about it.

In the end, before the city council meeting started, the Mayor pulled the item off the agenda. It's not clear if he removed the contract off of the agenda because he felt the pressure of the people's anger, or, if the district attorney's threat scared him into it. 

That, nonetheless, didn't stop the conflict from escalating at the City Council chambers. A student started recording a conversation with the owner of Royal Coaches, when the student was struck him by an unidentified business person. Although the Chief of Police, Michael Taylor, was aware of the battery, he refused to arrest and charge the suspect, who the police are aware of. This is despite the fact that several witnesses confirmed the striking of the boy.

Citizens also stated that William Salazar was racist in his remarks at public comments. According to them, he said that illegals deserve to have their cars towed and auctioned. Such comments only infuriated the public.

It's understandable that those without licenses shouldn't be driving, but taking their entire vehicle and selling it at auction is too harsh of a punishment. Often times, an entire family relies on one vehicle to take the children to school and the parents to work. A citation and a one day fine is a fair penalty. After all, that's the fine drunk drivers have to pay, and the statistics show that they are more dangerous as drivers than those who drive without licenses.

Mayor Manuel Lozano
Looking Sheepish For Pulling
The Towing Contract
It's clear in Baldwin Park that politicians are for sale. And when they sell themselves to the highest bidder, the net effect is harm to the hardest working and the poorest of the poor. As I've been saying, Baldwin Park is the shame of the San Gabriel Valley. And Samuel Johnson would agree, as he said, "A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization." Here, we steal from them.

Correction: The victim is not a minor, but a college student. And it was a business person, photo above, who struck him for recording Jim Salazar.

Editor's note: As of 8/27/2015, witnesses are disputing who struck the college student. Some say it was Jim Salazar. Other people are saying it was an unidentified business person. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Baldwin Park Violates Court Order By Refusing to Release Records to Paul Cook and Julian Casas

The City of Baldwin Park loses trial again for violating court order to release records to Petitioner, Julian Casas, former head boxing coach and his attorney, Paul Cook. The hearing was for writ compliance.

The hearing was brought because the Petitioner was claiming that the City of Baldwin Park was violating the court order to release records, which Cook and Casas obtained in December 2014 from the court. Robert Tafoya, City Attorney, representing Baldwin Park claimed everything was released.

The court was satisfied that 9 out of 14 counts of the court order were being violated. The City now needs to prove within five business days it has released the records or release them.

The battle was a challenging one for the rookie attorney, Cook. Only being licensed for two years, he didn't know how to manage the challenge of a city - who kept producing incorrect records, who kept alleging records didn't exist, and who kept saying that records would be released and then not release them.

In February 2015, the court ordered Cook and Tafoya to meet and discuss what records were outstanding. Tafoya failed to appear to the meeting and claimed later that his son had an emergency.

The two parties finally met in March of 2015. The City agreed to release records. Then in April, it said that it needed more time. Cook filed a motion with the court that the City was violating the court order.

The City then said that all records were available, but in May of 2015, Cook discovered that nothing new was produced. The City has been stating since September of 2013 that records are available. Two years later, records have not been produced.

The first time Cook filed the motion, the motion was moved from May to June. Then the court moved the motion again. Then Cook moved the motion to August. Hence, what should've been heard in May had to be postponed for fourth months.

Then, Tafoya filed the motion 9 days late. This gave Cook no time to respond to many of the City's allegations and accusations. The brief mainly stated that Cook was "harassing" the city. The argument was repeated a number of times through the brief.

Today, on Aug. 18, 2015 - the hearing was heard. Tafoya was walking with a limp. He looked stressed. His right eye was twitching.

The court issued a tentative decision against Cook. In other words, the initial decision of the court was to deny forcing the city to obey the court order.  Tafoya looked satisfied with himself.

While court was in session, Cook took the order and read it thoroughly. He thought through all the arguments to make in front of the judge. In the world of litigation, it's nearly impossible to have the judge change his or her mind, once a tentative decision has been issued.

He told himself, I didn't come to lose.

The parties were called. When the judge asked if Cook had anything to say, he made his argument point by point. At first, the court did not agree with the Petitioner. Then, Cook pointed out that not all records were produced.

Tafoya said, "We've produced 3,000 pages of records."

Cook pulled a stack of papers from his bag. He placed them on top of the table. He argued that the documents the City swears it produces is not in that stack. Cook then slid them to Tafoya.

Tafoya, sweating and tense, thumbed through the stack of papers and said, "These are the bank statements."

Cook said, "No, they're not. That's the vendor list."

Tafoya said, "The vendor list are like bank statements."

The court said, "The vendor list is not bank statements."

Then, the pupil in Tafoya's eyes blackened and dilated. And while the judge was talking, he made eye contact with Cook and said, "F(*& You!" He pointed to his body and said, "You want a piece of this!"

Cook was at first shocked. Then thought, Why would I want a piece of that? THAT, is nasty.

Cook ignored the comment and returned to listening to the judge. He pointed out to the court all the other documents that the City claimed were produced, but really weren't. The court agreed with Petitioner on nine out of fourteen points.

The court ordered that both parties had to return in five days, and the City had to prove it already released documents or it must release them before the five days.

At one point of the discussion, Cook stated to the court that the purpose of the Public Records Act was to determine if wrongdoing occurred and to hold those who have done wrong accountable for it.

The nine outstanding sets of records are needed to determine the following questions:

1. Did the city endanger the children of Baldwin Park by hiring unqualified life guards because they were the children of Council Members?

2. Did Manuel Carrillo Jr. steal money from the Parks and Recreation Program?

3. How much money did the City of Baldwin Park take in with their scandal, in which they towed and confiscated the cars of the undocumented?

4. How much money did the City of Baldwin Park pay to the towing company, who has the reputation in the city for greasing public officials?

For Casas and Cook, the order is a historic event. It's the first time in Baldwin Park's history that an individual won a mandated injunction against the City and an enforcement order against it. Also, it proves to the City that an individual can enforce the law against a City that habitually and intentionally violates the law. (Trivia fact, there's no Appellate Court decision showing that a City needed an enforcement order. Baldwin Park's special.)

The Public Officials and Administrators of Baldwin Park have a problem telling the truth to its citizens. This is the third injunction against it for not releasing records. Furthermore, there are two outstanding Public Records Act lawsuits against it.

Finally, think about this. The City Council and Mayor made a decision to not tell the people the truth. Theoretically, they represent the entire population of Baldwin Park, which is officially 70,000 people. And one person stood up to the power of 70,000 and said, that's wrong. You need to tell us the truth. And one person was right against the power of 70,000.

The City may have fired the boxing coach. But it was clear today, that he's still showing the public who the council members and administrators really are. It appears that getting rid of messenger, doesn't change the message that those in the power have abused it against its citizens. The spirit of the fight lives on.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On Forgiveness - Letter to My Boxers

Dear Boxers (especially Lyle, Christian, and Alex),

It's been awhile since I wrote a letter to you. I don't even know where any of you are anymore or if you're reading my letters or my blog. Maybe, one day, you'll find this letter and know it was from me to you.

In the past, I mainly stressed perseverance - the art of endurance.

This letter is a bit different. It's on something I'm actually not very good at: the art of forgiveness - to ask and to give it.

I guess the issue came up because it's something I'm struggling, have struggled, and will struggle with. Forgiving is hard.

My Christian faith says I need to forgive infinitely - that means a million times. I think that also means I need to ask for forgiveness every time I do something wrong. Either way, I'm not very good at it.

Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive someone. He proposed to Jesus, is seven enough times? Jesus basically says, No, you need to forgive 77 times (GNT). (Incidentally, 77 wasn't literal, Jesus was saying, no you forgive all the time. I'm not an expert in numerology, but from my understanding, 77 represents absolute completeness and union with the universe in Jewish understanding. I suppose Jesus came up with the perfect mathematical formula for relationships - infinite forgiveness leads to wholeness for both the receiver and the issuer - or in other words - victim and perpetrator.)

So - why am I bringing this up? I suppose the triggering event was this silent war I've had with one of the boxing coaches. Finally, it came to the point where we finally talked about things (which I have to say was better than the silence). And it came out, and he said, "Well, what about the time that you did this to me?" The details of the incident aren't that important.

I knew I was wrong. I knew what I had done, I did in anger and frustration. In that split second, where he pointed out what I did - I thought about a lecture my mentor told me about disciplining children.

He said, "Children have a way of knowing where a parents' boundaries are. And then, they do it - they push you passed that boundary. They always do it. They do it to see what they can get away with and what they can't. They do it to see your reaction. And you always get angry and upset when they push you too far."

And I said, "So - what do you do?"

"Well, you stop and don't do anything, until you calm down. And if you don't calm down, you punish them in anger and go too far. They always know - the children. And then, you'll know you went too far."

"Well, what do you do when you go too far?"

"Well, you have to ask for their forgiveness."

Now, I know this seems obvious, but I still asked: "Why?"

"Because you have to show them that it's no beneath you to do, so that they learn that it's not beneath them to do."

I understood.

I knew I went too far with this  boxing coach with venting my frustration at him. The split second only reminded me of what I needed to do.

I said, "You know, I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

And he said, "I can't believe you did that." He kept trying to go on with the incident.

I said, "You know, I just said I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

That put an end to that incident. It made me wonder if anyone ever really apologized to him. It made me wonder if anyone's ever apologized to these city administrators and public officials - whom I never seen apologize for their harms.

Now, I probably could have told him why I did what I did by blaming him. But why hurt the person doubly. And doing so - only says, Hey, I'm not in control of what I do. The environment controls me - not me. In other words, I can't change because I'm not in control. Forget that. Maybe, change is hard, but I can at least try.

The boxing coach went on to say that whatever is happening between Manny Carrillo Jr. and me should stay out of the gym.

I'd like to comment on that. It's not what's happening to Carrillo and me. It's the harm that Carrillo and Council Members have already inflicted on our boxing club. It's a sad story.

In the winter of 2012, Carrillo tried to close down the boxing gym, which was only open three days a week. The boxing club, including the coaches, took a stand against him. His staff also took a stand against him, accusing him of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. We would have lost our boxing club, if we didn't speak out against the Director of Parks and Recreation.

As a result, we got back our hours. But it wasn't enough. He gave the head boxing coach at the time a 40 cent raise after working there for 17 years. We complained. Then we discovered that he was making $200,000 a year and laundering tens of thousands of dollars in a sham non-profit corporation.

One night, we took the boxing teenagers to a Jewish Passover dinner. Even though it was during Spring Break, dinner took longer than expected. The mother complained. Carrillo found out.

Then he constantly harassed and intimidated her to come to an innocent interview. He extorted a complaint from her. He trumped the charges, painting him as a child abuser and a monster by saying, "He had an inappropriate relationship with a minor."

They called the head boxing coach in with two attorneys for another "interview". I showed up to surprise them. I ended the interview, when it was apparent that the whole "interview" was a sham to set him up to give answers to confess to harming children - which by the way never happened in 17 years that he worked there.

On those charges, they fired him on charges of inappropriate relationship with a minor by destroying his reputation as the sickest type of people our society finds. None of it was true, and now the city doesn't want to talk about it.

When the mother and teenager found out what happened, they were angry, bitter, and ashamed that they had been used in the nastiest way. Carrillo did all this, so that he could say that we weren't credible about the harm he had done to us and to the citizens of our city.

After, the city turned on me next. The City arrested me and jailed me for passing out leaflets. If that wasn't enough, the Mayor falsely accused me of being mentally unwell and sought a Temporary Restraining Order against me.

What impressed me most, was that my boxers showed up to support me. When I asked Julian, the coach, why they showed up, he said, "Because - they feel attacked too by what they're doing to you." I nearly wept when I heard that. I didn't know they were feeling the pain too.

But unlike Julian, I was lucky. I prevailed; they failed. Their deeds were exposed to the world. And the public was outraged over it.

One year later, from all of this, the wounds are still open in the club. Some obvious examples are the fact that the boxing coaches don't develop relationships with our youth. It's not safe for them. Maybe, Carrillo will trump up new charges against them.

There's also a new policy against filming in the gym. This policy was promulgated because I filmed a supervisor of the city's program lying through his teeth. (The matter is collateral.) But when I asked why there was this policy, the boxing coach said, more or less, we don't want people filming children for illicit purposes. Such a sick, city response.

Yes, that could happen, but it wasn't a concern before. It's sick because once again, Carrillo shields himself behind the protection of children and damaging the reputation of those who actually care. In reality, he has no idea how much he's hurt our youth.

For instance, to keep me in check, Carrillo hired Rene Zepeda. It appears he had an informal agreement with him to report to him anything I was doing, and in exchange, he'd have free reign over the gym. Carrillo knew Rene and I didn't get along well.

After losing their beloved boxing coach, the youth needed someone badly. They attached themselves to Rene. And since Rene's brother was a rising professional boxer, the children believed that being coached by him would also make them superstars too. They were only 14-18 in age. The only problem was that Rene had a criminal background.

The sad part was that Rene failed the job interview once. So, Carrillo already knew that he had a criminal background. And even though he knew this, his plight to maintain power, was more important than the our youth's security.

Now, people could blame me and say it was personal between Rene and me. To that, I say this isn't true. Rene had a swearing problem. I even found a complaint record against him, in which he told all the children once, "Get the f)(*& out of ring!" The complaint was sent to Carrillo. Instead of doing something, however, he hired the guy.

My view was that Rene lacked self-control, had a bad temper, and didn't respect law or rules. The youth didn't need to learn this from him. And that was and still what I believe.

Yet, after I outed Rene's criminal record to the CEO, the City fired him. The youth were hurt and violated once again. There dreams of being a superstar were crushed.

Carrillo claimed he didn't know about the criminal record. I was blamed for the firing and the boxers were upset at me.

But, I was willing to pay that price. I hoped that they would understand in the future - when they had their own children and realized no parent in their right mind would want their children to be under the influence of an angry person.

Now, the boxing gym has become a place of pain, hurt, betrayal, and great mistrust. What's Carrillo done about it?

He drafted a new policy, which says if you broke any of the numerous rules, you get kicked out. The great irony was that the first person to break the rule was another boxing coach, who I overheard swear at a member. He called him a F*&)(*& A)(*&)(*&.

I was asked to interview. I actually declined. I even told the CEO - you expect me to interview with the City Attorney after I've been through all this? (The City Attorney was involved in the firing of Julian and the filing of the TRO against me.) It was like a Jewish Holocaust survivor having to interview with a Nazi. (Where the CEO gets his commonsense from, I'm not sure.)

I asked the CEO, twice, however, "Now, if I swore at someone, can I stay at the gym too? Is it one rule for others, but another rule for me?" He didn't answer the question.

And even though some of boxing coaches would want that to happen to me, it'd actually be bad for everyone. Think about this: if a lawyer could get kicked out on some simple breach of Carrillo's arbitrary rules, what protection would they have when Carrillo gets upset at them? Answer: none.

I bring this up because once again, it just adds to the hurt of an already shattered and broken community, driven by one man's series of self-interested decisions to protect himself at our cost. This is what it all looks like, even after a year has passed.

When people ask me or you why we should care about corruption? This letter tells you exactly why. Just look at how many people have been hurt by those in power.

Anyways, I'm still coming to the gym, and I have no plans of going.

If you didn't know, Rene came back and would called me "Faggot" on several occasions in front of all the boxing coaches and members. No one did anything. I said nothing. I just endured.

In the end, I was right: Rene proved that nothing else mattered, except for his own hurts and pains - even at the cost of setting this kind of example for our youth and hurting members of our gym, like me.

The incident just shows you, Carrillo's logic, too. Rene was the kind of guy Carrillo wanted to be in the gym, and I'm the kind of person he wants to evict. Well, obviously something's wrong with that logic. And, we the members and citizens of Baldwin Park are the ones who have to pay the price for such decisions.

But I just want to let the boxers know, I'm trying. I'm trying to forgive the past wrongs, even though no one will apologize. I've stopped expecting one. I'm trying to forgive, even though I know that these type of decisions from Carrillo and the City will continue. I need to forgive Carrillo too by understanding that he's not well and addicted to his own self-survival - at all costs.

I do believe, however, that we need to come back as a community. I'm not sure how that's going to happen. As Freddy Roach, Manny Pacquiao's coach, often says: "It ain't easy."

I haven't been on a journey like this before, but I believe reconciliation is possible. And if there's anything I need to say sorry for, I'll listen, understand, and ask for it.

That's all for now.

Paul Cook

Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Underperform and Make $300,000 - $400,000 a Year - Become Baldwin Park's City Attorney

Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Nacionales Tafoya,
aka Robert Tafoya, Robert N. Tafoya, aka Robert Tafo, 
aka Robert Nacionales, aka Roberto Tafoya
Last month, throngs of law students took the infamous bar examination -which is the licensing examination for lawyers. It's reputed to be grueling and the statistics show that a great portion of people, especially in California fail. Well, this post is telling you how to make $300,000 - $400,000 a year, while not working hard or well: Be Baldwin Park's City Attorney.

City Attorney, Robert Nacionales-Tafoya has billed the city more than $300,000 a year. He won't release his attorney's bills under California Public Records law, but that's ok. I have a source on the inside that will help me put it together.

We have a hearing on Tuesday. For the third time, he submitted an opposition brief late. So, I had to write him a letter reminding him of the rules of court and conduct. It's a good read. It starts two paragraphs down.

Now, some people may criticize me because I shouldn't make these disputes public because it's between attorneys. To that, I say, yes, that's generally true. And on my blog, have I posted the bad conduct of other attorneys? No, even though I have experienced my fair share of it.

Remember, I'm a citizen and resident of Baldwin Park. I'm appalled that we spend so much money on this man. And I want everyone else to know how he behaves, because his behavior is public - as well as my letter. This is a public issue because it involves public money. Furthermore, this is the man who is the face of Baldwin Park in courts. It's not professional image of Baldwin Park.

Recently, I complained to the City Manager about the unprofessionalism and the lack of customer service in Baldwin Park - especially with the Director of Parks and Recreation, Manuel Carrillo Jr. My main complaints are generally that they break the law, are dishonest, and blame their problems on everything else. Well, it's no wonder - when you see how their legal adviser behaves and advises.


Aug. 13, 2015
To Robert Nacionales-Tafoya
Sent by email at
Robert.tafoya@tafoyagarcia.com

Re: Gentle Reminder on Rules of Court and Decorum

Dear Mr. Tafoya:

            I am writing this letter to gently remind you of the court rules and rules of decorum. It seems there has been some confusion over the matter, as your last three opposing motions have been submitted late. Yes, I can understand that the rules are a bit confusing; that is why I would like to help explain them to you

Although I usually reserve such letters for Pro Pers (those who represent themselves), I understand –as my mentor says – that we all need to refresh our understanding of basics – even when we have been litigating for 18 years. Currently, you are my opposing counsel on two cases, which I’ll refer to as Casas 1 (BS147794) and Casas 2 (BS147794).

            The Time to Submit Oppositions Are 10 Court Days

            Under Cal. Civ. Pro. Code 1005(b), you must submit your opposition 10 court days before the hearing date. For our Aug. 18, 2015 motion, you submitted your opposition only 5 court days before the hearing. This is 7 calendar days late for the court. This is 9 calendar days late for me.

            Now, I know it seems like it’s not that important of a matter to submit things on time, but it really is. The court must make the best decision possible on our hearings. And we want to respect the court, by giving the court ample time to review our work. When you submit things so late, I can’t possibly reply to your opposition in time for the court to review the work. That means there is information the court may not have. Hence, the court’s quality of work also goes down. I hope that gives you a good perspective on why you need to submit things on time. In this instance, this is the third time you’ve submitted papers late.

            Duty of Candor with the Court

            Mr. Tafoya, there is a duty of candor with the court, under the ethics rule of Prof. Conduct 5-200(B). It says you “Shall not seek to mislead the judge . . . by false statement of fact or law.” What that means, Mr. Tafoya is that you must always be honest with the court. I know that the temptation of not doing so was great for you when you intentionally misrepresented my signature to the court, but you must never do that again. The judge in Department 82 was clear to you to never file a stipulation by erasing my signature block because I refuse to sign something you want. A stipulation means that two parties agree to something. But since I didn’t agree to it, and you submitted a statement that says I stipulated to something, one can construe this as an intentional misrepresentation. This is because you told the court that I agreed to something I did not. Once again, I know the temptation to be dishonest is great, but please, as a litigator in court you must restrain yourself from time to time.

            Duty not to File Frivolous Motion

            I would like to remind you to not file frivolous motions with the court. The court is very busy, especially in the writ departments. In Casas 1, after the trial was won and the attorney’s fees were won, you filed nearly five motions for sanctions against me. All of your motions have been denied because you did not follow procedure or have merit.

I understand that the frustration was great for you, and it’s understandable that you believe that I was the cause of your frustration. Nonetheless, the court is not the appropriate venue to air your frustration. There are other channels to do this.

Now, I am not saying that you cannot file sanctions motions, but you need to have something called merit – which means good facts to support your cause. And if you have probable cause to do so, then it is in your discretion to do what you need to.

But, I ask that you at least follow the procedure rules, under Cal. Civ. Pro. Code Section 128.7. This is called the Safe Harbor Provision, in which you need to giving the opposing side a chance to cure whatever you think I am doing wrong. And if you tell why I’m wrong, and what I’m doing that is wrong, and I am wrong, I’m sure I will comply.

Furthermore, in Casas 1, you have filed a motion to tax (which is another version of sanctions), but you have filed this several months late. Also, a new case has been published that discusses that motions to tax cannot be filed in Public Records Act cases. Have you reviewed it yet? If not, I can send it to you.

Please be reminded when you file such unmeritorious filings, the court must read it. Court resources are scarce now, given the budget cuts. Therefore, I hope you can appreciate the court’s view.
Duty to Appear to Mandatory Meetings

Mr. Tafoya you must appear to court ordered meetings. The duty is imposed by the court, when the court asks us to meet.

You have already failed to appear to three of them. The first time was at the Trial Setting Conference in Casas 1. The second time was with my negotiator. The third time was in our court ordered meet and confer. In each of these instances, you’ve alleged that you’ve had an emergency – either with your son, at city hall, or with your associate (who had a fatal diabetic attack).

I know that managing your calendar can be a difficult task. I am not doubting that this happened, but it’s usually customary to send notice if this happens, instead of making people wait an hour or two – only for you to tell them later. This is because people value their time, and if you let them know in advance, they can use their time more productively than having to wait for a meeting that is not going to happen. After you give notice, people, like myself, will be more than happy to reschedule with you.

Cooperation with Basic Scheduling

            Cooperation is greatly helpful on matters, such as scheduling meetings. When I was opposing counsel with the prosecutor at the District Attorney Office, another government entity, we never had a problem with respecting each other’s schedule.

Now, I know that at times, Pro Pers believe they are “giving in” to the other side when they agree to a schedule change, but this is not so. As you’ve mentioned in your life: your son has emergencies, your associates have fatal diabetic attacks, your associates run off from you, and your associates don’t do the work you ask. Given the number of problems that have arisen, you have always expected me to be understanding of these issues, and I have done so. If you can do so for me, this would be helpful for both the court and me, because it would discharge the environment of conflict. When you do not agree to such requests, it forces me to request it from the court. And that just adds to their already full court load. I hope this perspective is helpful.

            Although you’ve been an attorney for 18 years, I know that this is the first time that you’ve been a city attorney – and so I’m understanding of the great challenges you’re facing. I’ve only been practicing for two years, and I’ve been finding litigation a completely new world. So, I understand. Feel free to email me if you need any clarification on the law. I will be happy to provide it.

Yours truly,

Paul Cook
Attorney at Law

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why Free Speech Matters To You

It's amazing to see our first president imagined this
 before the Nazis came to power.
I've noticed that the Los Angeles Times and San Gabriel Tribune are focusing on a lot of stories regarding issues of Free Speech. I'm writing to explain why Free Speech is so important.

There are two reasons. The first one regards democracy. Free Speech and democracy are intertwined. You can't have a real democracy without Free Speech and Free Speech cannot exist except in a democratic system. The second reason is that it's the people's only way to make sure that those in power aren't abusing it.

Remember, a democratic system gives every citizen the power of the vote. With that power, the majority elects a person to rule them. This is not the only system - and in comparison with the rest of human history - this is a rather novel and young system.

Probably the oldest system is monarchy - where the people have no voice in who rules them. Your ruler is determined by who is born to the previous monarch. Other systems include dictatorships, where the person with the most physical power topples the previous one. In that system, the dictator stays in power until a new one comes and overthrows them. Russia operated in this way for a number of years, with figures like Lenin and Stalin. (Some times, people like Hitler can also manipulate a democratic system to become a sitting dictator.) North Korea is a blend of dictatorship and monarchy, right? Kim Il Sung, the First Great Leader, took the country by force, and from that point on, his child and his grandchild ruled. But in a democratic system, everybody has the power to elect a voice that represents them the best.

Voting implies that people are informed. That means that people need to have information. The more information people have, the more a person is educated on who a candidate is. The holder of the vote should know as much as possible about the people they can elect, so they can chose who represents them best. Essentially, to the dissatisfaction of public officials, we have the right to know about them. This is the reason why the Supreme Court has held that public figures have less privacy rights than a private citizen. This is also why government agencies in the United States are subject to open records law, which allows the public to know what's happening with their money.

The best example of the right to vote and the right to know are seen in the Watergate Scandal. The people elected Richard Nixon by a landslide in his second term as president. But when the people found out that he was behind a burglary, that he was wiretapping, and that he was lying to the American People, the public was outraged. The Congress, the courts, the media, and the people turned against him and forced him into a resignation. Why? Because when we knew the truth - we found that he was no longer fit to be our representative.

I suppose this works because we expect our representatives to be clean. There's an ancient unwritten and written covenant with the government and its people. Before statehood existed, which means before there were official countries like the U.S.A. or Canada or New Zealand, people lived in tribes. And the tribal leader was chosen to protect the tribe. In turn, people had to risk their lives in battles and pay taxes. A state is essentially a super tribe. So, our government is supposed to protect us from, let's say an invasion from another super tribe, like when Japan (a super tribe) attacked Pearl Harbor. But part of that covenant states that those in power will not use that power to lie, cheat, and steal from us. Therefore, when we found out about what Nixon did, he breached that covenant, and we found him no longer fit to represent us.

Therefore, the Right to Know not only effects how we cast our vote, it also gives us a way to know whether those in power are living up to their side of the covenant. And if they're not, once again, our democratic power can remove them through a recall or our republican system can remove the person through an impeachment or judicial intervention. If one lives in a regimented system, like a monarchy or a dictatorship, then the Right to Know is the only way to activate protests and mass gatherings, which show those in power that the sacred covenant has been violated against the people.

Thus, when governments punish dissidents or shut up gadflies, remember, they're taking away your power. They're taking away your right to be informed. And without being informed, you cannot exercise your right to vote at its fullest and you can't express your grievance through our republican system (the courts and the petitioning of our legislative representatives).

Now, one can say, well what about gagging hate speech? One can argue that hate speech has no place in our democracy.

To that, I say, hate speech is a point of view, though a minority one. We can chose not to listen to that view, but all people have the right to a view. And once you take one away, who are we giving that power to decide what views are acceptable or not? Also, hate speech can always be countered by those who are against it and present the other view.

So, I hope you can see that when the Mayor of Inglewood or the Mayor of Baldwin Park attack a person for expressing a view, it's a direct assault on our freedom to vote and to make sure those in power uphold their covenant. As discussed above, such attacks takes our system one step closer to the edge of a dictatorship - which is what's essentially happening in cities like Inglewood and Baldwin Park.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Inglewood Mayor like Mayor Lozano Sues Activist - LA Times Repost

James Butt, Mayor of Inglewood
Inglewood Mayor, James Butt, hated being exposed by a local citizen. But instead of changing, he wasted city resources suing the resident - in hopes of shutting him up. Folks, we live in the United States of America, and our forefathers stated that we have the right to criticize our public officials without retaliation or the fear of it.

If you're new to this blog, my story is that I was a victim of a Mayor attacking me. The City of Baldwin Park arrested, jailed, and strip-searched me for leafleting and booing. Mayor Manuel Lozano then tried to destroy my reputation by filing a meritless temporary restraining order against me. Too bad, I defeated him and his lawyer, Robert Nacionales-Tafoya. It was a very violating experience and shameful for the small-minded City of Baldwin Park.

I'm writing to let you know this is happening across our country. At some point, I'll explain why the right to speak and tell the truth is vital to our democracy - no matter how foul we view what's being said.

Inglewood sues resident over YouTube videos using council footage to bash mayor
by Angel Jennings
The documentary-style videos that Joseph Teixeira has posted on YouTube under the name "Dehol Truth" are not flattering to Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr.
One opens with the mayor boasting at a City Council meeting about Inglewood's efforts to improve traffic flow around the Forum. Pivoting quickly from the meeting, the video hammers away at the mayor's assertions using voice-over, on-screen text and footage of drivers running red lights while pedestrians try to use crosswalks.
Read more at the LA Times on . . . Here

Monday, August 3, 2015

Conversations - What to do about Baldwin Park?

Dear Readers:

A reader, RY, from Southern California, wrote in about the disturbing facts about Baldwin Park. Here are my responses to his question. 

RY: [What is the City Council doing about the toxic water?] Does not the city council say they are not responsible for the toxic water?

PC: Technically, the Water Board is responsible for the toxic water. Nonetheless, the City Council needs to address issues affecting the citizens of Baldwin Park. From a health standpoint, you've hit on the issue that affects people's health the most - the toxic water. 

I've heard that parents are complaining that their children are being born mentally disabled because of the water. More investigation needs to be done to determine the causation - and an independent one that doesn't seek to exonerate the Water Board of City Council.

I mean, Council Man Ricardo Pacheco's wife is on the Water Board and so is the ex (or current) boyfriend of Raquel Garcia - Paul Hernandez. It shouldn't be too hard to get the City Council to ask them to investigate our water better.


RY: What percent of teenage girls in Baldwin park are involved the the Parks and Recs program (they are supposed to be helping these girls right?)

PC: I don't know the answer to this question. Ask Manuel Carrillo Jr., at Mcarrillo@baldwinpark.com. 

I doubt he cares too much about the pregnant teens in our city. Right now, the Attorney General is investigating how he's been running a sham non-profit, which has laundered money. Like my article addresses, since this man is only interested in enriching himself, he's not focusing on the business issues he should be.


His only concerns right now is to fire anyone that points out the problems of his management.


RY: W
hat is the role of the city council in protecting us from pollution? Has the pollution in BP improved recently?

PC: Good question. The problem of city pollution is a duty the Council should address. But as I mentioned, right now, the Council Members and Mayor are mainly concerned on making decisions regarding redevelopment. (I wonder why. Take a guess). 

What's sad is that a number of people have accused the public officials of not living in the city - which is illegal by the way. None of the directors live in this city. (What does that tell you about it?) So, it appears they don't really care that we have to breathe in the dirt; they don't have to.

The main point, which I've been emphasizing for years, is because the City Council and directors only care about making money for themselves, they don't have the time or energy or resources to fix the real problems facing our city. As a result, people are getting sick and dying from health problems. The saddest part is that people like Carrillo are trapping people in poverty, while he owns two homes and makes over $200,000 for doing so. Things need to change.

Thanks for the questions. If you ask questions, I'll try to address it in the blog's new section called - Conversations.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why Fighting Corruption Matters to You

Bread and Butter
Fighting corruption matters to you and to me. When I was in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic back in the summer of 2009, I visited the Holocaust Museum. What moved me the most was the the homes that the Jewish children drew. Our guide told us that the children drew homes because they just wanted to go back home and not be in concentration camps. Many of them perished there.

After facing the illegal misconduct of the public officials and administrators of Baldwin Park, it's made me realize that any democracy is only one step away from being under regimented control. If we look back at last year, the head boxing coach and I suffered under the same tactics that many victims of totalitarian regimes faced before us.

Take for instance, the trumped and false allegations to fire a coach that worked there for 17 years, only for speaking out and saying, it's not right that you gave me a 40 cent raise after being there 17 years. Or what about me? I was imprisoned and strip searched and on top of all that, the Mayor tried to get a restraining order against me for telling the truth: the City leaders steal money from us and have no remorse about it. It's shameful everything they've done.

This short editorial reminds us the true effects of corruption. Since, I've come back from my holidays, the newspaper has been reporting nothing but murder and theft and violence in the City of Baldwin Park. Just take a look at these headlines in reverse chronological order:

1. July 31, 2015 - Woman kidnaps son from Father of Baldwin Park Here
2. July 30, 2015 Dead Man Found Outside Baldwin Park Supermarket - Cause of Death unknown Here
3. July 28 2015 - Man shot in the head shows up to Baldwin Park Hospital. Here
4. July 22, 2015 - Baldwin Park man sentenced to death for killing a 22 month baby Here
5. July 22, 2015 - Baldwin Park home found with 1,000 marijuana plants Here
6. July 9, 2015 - Baldwin Park man hires hit on co-worker Here

And the list keeps going on.

Let's add some other facts:

-Baldwin Park is in the top ten most polluted cities in the State.
-Baldwin Park has some of foulest and most toxic tap water in the U.S.A., which has been contaminated by jet fuel effluents.
-48% of teenage girls get pregnant before 18.
-Baldwin Park's children are considered the most illiterate and least math proficient in the United States, falling in the bottom of quartile of every survey.

Then when you look at what's on the minds of the public officials and administrators, you see why this place is the way it is.

The council members only care about redevelopment projects - more likely than not because they're getting a personal gain out of it. It's been rumored a number of them don't even live in the City.

The Chief of Police, Michael Taylor, only cares about getting his raises and makes it an issue every month.

Manuel Carrillo Jr., Director of Parks and Recreation, has a laundry list of problems, but mainly concerning enriching himself through the financial misappropriation of the city's children's programs and his sham non-profit and hires criminals to work with children.

The former Finance Director, at least on two occasions, cooked the books, so that the truth of what was happening to the city money wouldn't be discovered.

The current City Manager Shannon Yauchzee often ignores the problems of financial misappropriation, has been caught in questionably ethical projects in West Covina, and allowed for the misappropriation of city funds by changing the city park into a sewage facility.

And as mentioned earlier, at one point, the administration only cared about killing the messenger, which was the boxing program and me - whom was consistently just trying to tell the public the truth.

I'm bringing all this up because you see, when the city doesn't do its business by addressing the real problems that we're facing, and instead keep thinking about how to benefit themselves - you get a city like Baldwin Park.

And you can see how this cycle perpetuates, instead of addressing the issues, the city officials and administrators attack anyone who brings them up.

I'm showing you this case study because this is what happens to a city when the citizens let corruption thrive.