Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Head Boxing Coach - Hour of the Hero

By: Paul "The Boxing Lawyer" Cook

"Men must endure their going hence."  Shakespeare, King Lear.

This isn't my story.  It's the story about the head boxing coach of the boxing gym.

I met the head boxing coach, Julian "The Powerhouse" Casas in the winter of 2012.  I had just failed the bar, and I knew that I needed to get back off my feet.  The last time I was living in a mental hell was in my New Zealand winter.  Judo brought me out of that.  I thought the American Martial Art of boxing would bring me out of my own self-pity.

Julian didn't originally train me.  Actually, at first, my boxing was so terrible none of the coaches thought I'd come back.  I couldn't bob right because my muscles weren't used to it.  I looked funny and stupid.  And by the way I was 30.

But "men must endure their going hence."  And I kept at it.  I kept on the mental training of boxing, and eventually, when they saw I was serious, Julian took me seriously.  The bond between the coach and the trainee began.

When I first met Julian, he was tired of the boxing job.  He loved training the kids and the teenagers, but I didn't actually know how terrible his situation was.  I don't think he knew either because of how long he was steeped in it.  Although he was there for fourteen years, he didn't put his all into the boxing program in that winter of 2012-2013 because there was no more hope for it.  That December, Director Carrillo had just cut a day from our program.  It was now open Monday through Wednesday.  In the heyday of the boxing club, the gym was open Monday through Saturday.  Now, it was running on 50% of its original time.

I didn't know what to make of the head boxing coach, but I did notice one thing.  He cared about the kids.  Most of the kids in the boxing programs come from rough backgrounds.  As the Chinese say, "You never know what happens behind closed doors."  Well, I'll tell you the sad reality of what happens.  Fathers leave homes.  Fathers get drunk.  Fathers beat their children and their girlfriends or wives.  Uncles molest kids.  And as hard as this is to read, this happens all the time in Baldwin Park.

Then you get angry youth.  So many gangster fathers drop their kids off at the boxing program because they want their kids to be mean little fighters.  I always feel sorry for the kids that really don't have it in them, because they're too thin or weak or not confident, to be a fighter.  Other parents bring in their kids because they get into too many street fights, and the parents have lost control of them.

This is what Julian has to work with.  So - he does his best.  On his own money, he drives the kids to the mountains to go running.  On his own funds, he buys them boxing equipment, like gloves, headgear, and mouthpieces.  Why?  Because they can't afford it.  He did this in silence, without telling others, for fourteen years.

Even for me, Julian rode out with me to the West Side of Los Angeles after an exhausting day of work.  He didn't want to go because he was tired.  We ate pizza together in the West Side. We shared a beer.  He gave me a hug and wished me luck.  He even called me two days later to ask how everything was going.

So, when he met me, he had given up hope on the program because he believed in the propaganda the director was always saying: "There's no money." I also noticed he was terrified about ever challenging such decisions.  Immediately, I noticed there was instilled in the staff a culture of terror and fear.  Culture is like pornography in some sense.  Everyone recognizes what they see, but it can't really be explained in words.  And I certainly saw this culture of fear, but it would be much later why I would understand the reasons it existed.

Julian kept telling me in the spring of 2013 that it was time for him to leave.  Usually, I would support such a decision, but I knew it was not the right one.  I told him to stay.  That the kids needed him and after our fundraising efforts that things would be better.  He didn't believe me because Baldwin Park's Parks and Recreation was run regimented.  Either you were in favor or you weren't.  Boxing wasn't in favor.

But Julian and all of us did the amazing photo shoot in which our posters were based on.  That showed him that things could be different.

He noticed that the director did seem sincere in helping our boxing program.  Sponsors genuinely wanted to give us money.  In the frozen world of hopelessness at our boxing gym, spring was coming.

I was disappointed and frustrated so often at Julian.  Although he had a good heart, the years of the cultural fears had paralyzed the head boxing coach for standing up for himself, the program, and the kids.  I shouted at him once for not taking things seriously enough.  I had to apologize.  But I only wanted to see change, and I wanted to see it.

He coached me in boxing.  I coached him in terms of another fighting.

Over time, he took on the role of taking charge of the gym and doing what was right with it.

The fear still overran him when the boxers spoke out at City Hall.  But after he saw the children, the boxers, and myself speak out and talk about how destroyed our boxing program was, he had hope.  He was inspired.  And he realized that to stand up and tell the truth was something he wanted to do, regardless of the potential of retaliation.  And if you read the last blog post - the retaliation did come.  He came to the decision - I need to do the right thing.  I need to stand up.  I need to be an example.

On day nine of the Boxers' Blitz, although not directly organized by the boxers, the part time staff at parks and recreation followed the boxers and went to City Hall.  The staff went to City Hall because under the direction of the City Manager Vijay Singhal and the Director Carrillo, the City was going to cut all their hours, so they wouldn't qualify for Obama Care.  One of the staff intercepted the secret email and showed all the part time staff.

The director that day had gotten word of the staff uprising and called emergency meetings at 3pm to try to stop it.  He threatened.  He told lies about how the budgets would be cut again.  Although a few backed down, eight staff still went and spoke the truth.  They were the salt and light of the workers.  Julian was one of them.

The head boxing coach went without the support of the boxers.  All the staff were scared to speak.  But he had made his decision.  The truth had to be told.  Of the staff, he spoke first.

He said, "Councillors and Mayor, I'm here today to address the inequalities in parks and recreation.  I'm Julian Casas, and I live in Baldwin Park.  I have my roots in Baldwin Park.  I'm not into politics.  I try to avoid it when I can.  But the time has come for me to not avoid it because I found out about inequalities and injustices that need to be made right.  I've been working here for 14 years.  But I found out that a 17 year old, the daughter of Marlen Garcia Council Member, gets hired at parks and recreation.  Even after 14 years, I get paid $8 an hour.  She makes $10.36 an hour.  That's a slap in the face.

"It doesn't just stop there.  Even her high school friends get hired.  I work another 15 years here, and I still wouldn't make as much as an inexperienced lifeguard.  The truth is I gave up on seeing a pay increase a long time ago.  But I investigated the budget.

"You see the inequality.  Aquatics gets $200,000.  Boxing only gets $30,000.  But they always tell us we don't have any money.  But according to Marlen Garcia, Boxing is entertainment.  Whenever the swim team asks for money - they got it at our expense.  It's obvious that Garcia likes the program because her children benefit from it.

"Also, everyone in management is from the swim team.  There's no one from boxing.  In fact, the only way to move up in management is to either be related or be friends with those in aquatics management.  Take for instance the fact that Armando's wife got promoted over someone who had a degree and was more qualified.  Recently Armando's wife's shopping friend got promoted too over those who have been there longer.  Did you know that husband and wife can't work in the same department under the government code?

"You know how they say they have no money.  All Director Carrillo has to do is take a pay cut.  He makes $160,000-$180,000 a year.  He gets a cafe budget of $1,200 a month.  That's $14,400 a year.  No corporation does this for their management, except for Google who expects you to work 12-14 hours a day.  By the way, the concillors, mayors, and management team all bought themselves iPads.  But there's no money for the boxing staff or the boxing club."

At that point Julian was cut off by the mayor.  What he also wanted to say was, I'm not sure how this is possible.  Because there's 'allegedly' a formal HR process, even for the hiring of Marlen's daughter.  But it seems everything is bypassed because the HR Manager, Marlen, and Director Carrillo all have an informal, closed meeting, to sort everything out.  Nonetheless, he was heard.  The mayor met with him later, but didn't do anything to increase his pay.

When I heard the audio stream on Julian's speech, I nearly wept.  When you care about someone that does good and never talks about the abuses heaped on him, how can you not?

During the spring of 2013, I saw Julian sort out an 18 year old who was hitting on one of the girl boxers, who was underage.  I saw him sort out staff.  He fought bravely in meetings with the director at the boxing program, and he's even sorted out his own staff and other volunteer coaches who were causing problems.  Julian's changed and he's risen to the occasion.  I just find it sad that he gets paid $8 an hour.  Ask yourself, does a head boxing coach, who's been there for fourteen years for the love of the job and with these skills deserve such a pay when the director of the program makes $180,000 a year?

I was most proud of Julian when I sat with him last night.  He talked to someone about our fight for the boxing program.  He told her, "Before I met Paul, I was ready to leave.  But now, I'm here to stay.  We're working hard.  We're doing all this because it's the right thing to do."

When I heard those words, I felt moved.  That's right: we're here to do the right thing.  Remember: "Men must endure their going hence."

So this is a tribute to the head boxing coach, Julian Casas.

Join the fight.  Share the story.  Help our cause.

Updated on 8/13/2013

Julian Cases received a stellar performance review.  After 14 years of service, he's received a forty cent raise. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Boxers On Their Night Out

The boxers launched a blitz against the City of Baldwin Park for ten days. They ranged from open letters, to discussions with directors, and ended with another City Hall meeting.

Perhaps, my favorite day of the blitz was on day seven.  On day seven, the director of parks and recreation tried to place strict controls on the boxing club.  Instead of working with the boxing program, he was upset that our coaches had made the cuts in the boxing a public issue, and he also wasn't too happy with our City Hall presentations.

He sent his managers to constantly watch the boxing coaches and the players, hoping and hoping there would be a moment in which we would screw up.

The boxing coaches didn't miss a beat.  They were training the kids, as they would everyday.  Nobody was messing up because my coaches care and are dedicated.  But yet, instead of the director having a supportive attitude to the program, he attempted to tighten his grip on it so that he could use it against my coaches.  No cigar.  He found nothing, except . . .

There was one point in which a staff member messed up.  She brought in balloons filled with helium.  She tied them to the ring of the gym.  Then the managers spotted the balloons.  One of them thought it needed to be taken down.  He went to go in and check with the director.  The director, who gets paid $160,000-$180,000 had nothing else better to do than to order the destruction of the balloons.  They were popped.

He came into the gym and asked the staff member what the balloons were for.  She brought them in to celebrate Jose's boxing victory in Tijuana.  You can read all about it here.  Jose's Fight in Tijuana  From what I was told he didn't look too happy about making the order about getting rid of the balloons after he found what it was for.

I walked into the gym around 6pm.  I was dressed in suspenders and a dress shirt.  The director met me and looked puzzled as to why I was dressed.

I asked him, "Are you sticking around?"

"No, I have a meeting to go to," he said.

"Oh, so do I.  Is is the fundraising event?"  I pulled out a number of yellow tickets and fanned them out.

His face brightened with surprise.  "Yeah, that one," he muttered.

"Well, I'll see you there."

"I'm glad you're supporting the city."

I could tell he was wondering what I would do at the fundraising event.  Out in the foyer, I saw my high school teenage boxers.  They were all dressed up like they were ready to go to prom.  The boys looked sharp and smart and spiffy.  The girl boxer looked very pretty in her dress.  Her skin was more earthy in tone and made her look more Indian than Spanish.  We all looked so nice.

We walked to City Hall, where the fundraiser was.  The majority of the patrons there were elderly women, as they all came from the Baldwin Park Women's Club.

While people were plating up for food, I tried to teach my teenage boxers social skills.  We went up to every person present at the dinner, shook their hands, and introduced ourselves.  The youth and myself, all dressed so spiffy, must have greeted 50-60 seniors.  The best part was when one of  my boxers said, "Hi, I'm Christian.  It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am."  He just came off as so well mannered.

What I noticed most was how neglected the elderly were.  I could tell when they held your hand longer than they should have.  But it was great to see that connection and human touch between older and younger.

Furthermore, since it was all women, they loved that we had a woman boxer in our entourage.  Nobody could believe she was a boxer.  She was certainly the star of the evening, and rightly so.

At one point, one of the woman patrons asked when they could see her box in a tournament.  I called the director over.  She asked him when tournaments would start.  He didn't have a good answer.

He turned around and asked me, "You called me all the way over for this?"

I said, "I didn't call you.  She did."

When the auction, I saw two candle holders.  When the candles were lit, it'd cast a flower pattern against the wall.  I bid and bid and outbid the other patrons.  After the auctioneer called, "Sold," I set the candle holders, which had lit candles in front of the woman boxer.  The flame pattern of flowers flickered out of the candle holders.  "They're for you and your mother."

She smiled and said, "Thank you."

Towards the end of the evening, the boxing program was given five minutes to speak.  I was told, however, by the director that I could not speak for the boxing program.  But when he saw the teenagers appear confused by the decision, he relented.

I said, "I knew we were invited to a historical society event.  But it seems more like the Baldwin Park Beauty Pageant to me."

After the chuckles, I reminded everyone about the future of Baldwin Park.  I introduced each boxer and explained their profile to each one.

The group applauded.  A lady, who sat next to the Councillor who hated our boxing program and the director asked, "What kind of law do you practice?"

I said, "Constitutional."  The two powers had a frown on their face.

After the dinner, all the boxers walked back to the community center.  There was this sense of pride all of them had.  They were recognized.  We were certainly the stars once again.

Join the fight.  Share the story.  Understand the City has retaliated against the teenagers, the coaches, and myself now.

Updated on 8/11/2013

Since the release of the post, we haven't seen management snoop around our boxing gym anymore. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Fights in Tijuana (and updates)

This is an exciting time in the history of our city.  At time of writing this, at 8:07pm on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, I feel anxious.  I feel like a general, sitting in his office, waiting to hear reports of what's happening.  The staff at parks and recreations are staging a demonstration at City Hall.  They are all speaking on the abuses they faced while working for the director.  Take for instance, that the Director has a cafe budget of $1,200 a month, $14,400 a year, but my coach who has worked there for 14 years got a 50 cent raise during that whole time.  Take for instance that the delinquent daughter of the Councillor Garcia started working at parks and recs and makes more than my coach who has been there for fourteen years.  People are fed up.  And although I did not organize the uprising, the boxers were consulted.  More to come . . .

This weekend, I decided to support our own homegrown Jose "Chon" Zepeda from our boxing gym.  Jose, now 24, has been boxing for 12 years now and started at our own boxing club.  He's a professional boxer.  I'm a lawyer.  He trained me at times.  How else would two people from such different backgrounds meet?  In fact, I guess I became his lawyer in dealing with his contracts.  I do it though because the profession is dirty, and Jose needs protection.

When Jose invited me to see him fight in Tijuana, I knew I had to go.  I never drove across the border before.  So, it was a new experience.  I never actually ever drove longer than two hours before, and I find that hard for myself to believe when I've been all over the world.

On my car ride from Los Angeles to Tijuana, I passed through Orange County and then drove through the seaside coast through San Diego.  I was thinking.  I was thinking about how proud I was of Luis and Julian, the two boxing coaches, for sending that letter to the director.  I mean, can you imagine how hard it was for them?  They're the lowest level staff, and they were making a complaint letter, one that touched on public concerns, open to the public.  You can read it here Open Letter to the Director.

When the director received the letter, he met with the two boxing coaches.  I won't divulge much from what I heard happen in the meeting because that would be unprofessional on my part.  But I will touch on two points: the Administration's ignorance regarding First Amendment Rights and the courage my coaches displayed.

When I heard their stories, it was obvious to me that the director was getting advice from someone else.  I've dealt with him before, and I know his types of responses.  The statements and questions he asked showed me he was consulting someone.  The irony of the matter was that although those two were my boxing coaches, I coached them on how to deal with their battle to come.  So, as they told me their report, I watched the living chess pieces combat each other.  Which chessmaster would come out victorious?  The city or me?

The director insinuated that sending letters was not in their best professional interests.  He forgot there's something called the First Amendment, even for employees.  And he works for the government.  So, given the circumstances and public matter, the Constitution protects my coaches.  So you could imagine the smile that lit up my face when he asked them not to send anymore letters.  And my junior coach responded.  "I'll send another one soon then."  He was certainly knocked back by their boldness.  And to me - it was the signature theme that ran through the club and ran through us: courage.

While thinking everything through, I found it difficult to drive in Mexico.  The driving rules were different.  I had just made it in time to see the fights.

The Zepeda family went into the Marquee.  Inside, I had a few beers.  The fights started off somewhat boring.  The place was only about half full.  The first fights that started with were women and teenagers.  Seeing women fight to me, as unfeminist as it sounds, wasn't fitting.  I didn't like seeing the anger flash in their face.  It was ugly to see a pretty face get bloodied.  It's not that women couldn't fight.  It's just that it didn't look right to see a face of beauty splattered with blood.  Blood in their teeth.  Blood in their hair.  Blood on the floor.

The teenagers fought but that too had a missing element.  They didn't know the game as well as more well trained fighters.

Yet, when the more professional fighters fought, it was all the more exciting.  The people were rolling in.  The marquee was getting louder.  More people were eating nachos, elotes (corn with butter in a cup), and drinking beer and tomato juice.  The men were screaming the names of each fighter.

Most fights all began the same.  It looked like two cobras testing each other out.  And as the fight progressed, one opponent would make a mistake.  The boxer would find that mistake and punch the guy's head.  It would knock back.  A crown of sweat would spray off of him.  And if he couldn't defend himself quickly enough, he'd be faced with a flurry of punches.  Blood would dribble from his forehead down like a cascade waterfall.  A eye would swell.  And he'd be knocked out soon enough.

When Jose came, the whole family stood up to support him.  I did too.  His competitor looked less fit than him, but he was more experienced.  When the bell rang, the two had it out with each other.  They tested each other out, cautiously looking for each others' weakness, like a mongoose against a cobra.  Jose's eyes narrowed into that of devil.  And suddenly, in a flash, the guy stepped too forward, and Jose punched him with the back right hand.  He went down.  We all stood up.  The crowd cheered.  I stood up too, saying "Yay!"

We sat back down.  And in round three, Jose, changed his stance from orthodox to South paw.  The switch disoriented the opponent.  And bam, wam.  That flurry of punches came, and you could hear fist smash into skull.  Crack.  Crack.  It went.  The referee stopped the match.  The doctor examined the opponent and threw in the towel for him.  Zepeda won.

At the hotel, I ordered him a champagne.  We celebrated.  Everyone was happy.

The next day I drove back.  I had to wait three hours at the border to get out of Tijuana.  I told myself, I'm never driving into Mexico again.

On my way up, little did I know that the world, from New Zealand to Russia, was emailing the city's management team and politicians about their little First Amendment retaliation stunt against me.   You can read about that here. The City Attacked Me!

Driving up, I was tired.  Waiting for so long really wore me out for some reason.  But I was still happy to go.  It was for the love of the sport.  It was for the love of my boxers.

When the director met with my boxing coaches, it was a real nice meeting.  He agreed everyone should just forget the past and move on with the future.  Apparently, he was getting a better understanding of the Free Exercise of Speech.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The City Attacked Me!

The e-management team of Baldwin Park attacked me yesterday and today.  All of you, who personally know me, you know that this is real.  I am asking, that you please email the following people and tell them: "Stop your bullying!",,,,,,,

Part of the purpose of this post is to educate other concerned members of their community.  We don't need to tolerate such behavior.  We don't need to be afraid.  We do need to stand up for ourselves, though.

Start of letter.

Re: City Attack Against Paul Cook – First Amendment Retaliation
Dear Human Resources Manager, Leticia Lara; City Manager, Vijay Singhal; and Chief of Police Lili Hadsell:

This letter is to inform you of a serious concern.  The City of Baldwin Park retaliated against me twice illegally on July 9, 2013 and today on July 10, 2013.

The underlying facts are that I contacted an ex-employee of the City who had potential knowledge of allegations of corruption about Baldwin Park.  As a result, I was told by several informants (whose identity must remain anonymous for their protection) that she stated she was uncomfortable to the HR Manager.  The HR Manager told the City Manager, who contacted the Chief of Police – who had her acting lieutenant contact me.

I made a phone call.  I found the ex-employee’s number in the White Pages.  I asked questions.  For this, I was made to feel intimidated from the Baldwin Park Chief of Police.  As a free citizen of this country of the United States of America, do I not have the right to ask questions and to call people?

Because I felt so violated, I went today to City Hall.  I wished to file a complaint against the City Manager, the HR Manager, and the Chief of Police.  When the HR Manager arrived, I informed her in an assertive manner that she had retaliated against me and my First Amendment Rights.  She told me no grievance process existed for employee complaints, except for property damage that city employees have committed.  I explained to her that she needed to be educated.  She stated that she needed no education from me.  I said that she did because she obviously didn’t understand what First Amendment retaliation meant.  She said that my assertive manner was threatening, so she was called the police against me.  Once again, I felt bullied and intimidated.

I waited.  Two police officers arrived.  They witnessed as I told the HR Manager that I have the right to make a phone call and to ask questions.  That the Chief of Police shouldn’t call me for activity that is not illegal.  She explained that she was threatened by me.  I asked her, in front of all the witnesses what I did that was threatening.  She said it was my tone of voice and how I approached the counter.  That was all.  

I explained to her that she needed to learn better about the Constitution.  That we did not live in a third world country.  That this was the United States of America and that the First Amendment protects the Exercise of Free Speech.  That what she did was retaliatory in measure.  The irony being that her second call to the police was also retaliatory of my First Amendment Right to address the grievance of her first violation and the violation of the City Manager and Chief of Police.  I finally stated that if this happens again, I will make a report to the Attorney General’s Office.

Leticia then denied that she had done any wrong.

The police escorted me down.  Asked what my point was.  I explained it simply, “To let them know I have rights and to not trample on them again.”  The male officer took my driver’s license, and justified it by saying there was a suspect that looked like me at Parks and Recreation.  I find this hard to believe, since I’m Korean-American and I live in 90% dominated Hispanic community. In any event, he recorded my driver’s license information.   I asked the officer if I was under arrest.  When he said no, I asked him if I could leave.  He said I could.

I was told by informants later that the HR Manager actually pushed a “panic button” because I told her I had rights.  What this panic button does, I’m not sure.  But I was thankful that it was broken that day and a service order was requested to fix it.

I have several concerns with this situation.  The first one is I ask that the City no longer bully me or any of its citizens for asking questions or contacting people.  We live in a free country and the Constitution, under the First Amendment prohibits such behavior clearly.

The second one is that I have concerns regarding the fitness and competence of this HR Manager Leticia Lara.  She obviously didn’t know federal law.  She didn’t want to learn it.  Furthermore, core functions of human resources are to listen to grievances, deescalate conflicts, and to respect the rights of employees, and in my case, citizens.  Here, Leticia called the police for a disagreement.  Also, she no longer has a duty that runs to an ex-employee.  The employee no longer works for the City.  Furthermore, how could there be no grievance process for City employees?  Such actions and decisions reflect poorly on the judgment of a HR Manager, especially one that is compensated at least $100,000 per annum.

 In fact, the behavior of these three in e-management team is unfitting for how they have treated me in my homecoming to Baldwin Park.  Why does a Chief of Police and City Manager have to use their time sorting out legal and warranted activity?  All I wanted to know is why the City has no money for its treasured and beloved boxing program.

The third concern I have is that there are allegations and rumors that this type of behavior has happened over and over again to citizens of my city by these three in the e-management team, who do not live in Baldwin Park.  Such behavior definitely produces a chilling effect on asking questions about the City.

I demand an apology from all three of these members of the e-management team, and especially from Leticia Lara.  I also ask that I, nor any resident of my city, ever be retaliated, bullied, or intimidated again.

This is a notice of warning.  Next time, I will have to escalate matters to the Attorney General and take further action.

This letter has been posted on several forums and emailed to the LA Times and the San Gabriel Tribune, and the National Lawyers Guild.

Yours truly,
Paul Cook
Victim of First Amendment Retaliation, Former Valedictorian of Baldwin Park, Baldwin Park Boxer, Attorney at Law, Concerned Citizen of Baldwin Park

Join the fight.  Share the story.  Send the message to stop the bullying!

Updated on 8/11/2013

As of now, nobody has apologized to me.  I criticized Vijay Singhal, City Manager, and Chief Lili Hadsell, at City Hall for violating my First Amendment Rights.  In fact, the City Attorney denied my allegations.  Two other citizens expressed concern that City Administrators violate First Amendment Rights too.  If you're outraged by this story, please continue to email the people above. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Open Letter to the Director of Parks and Recreations

Dear readers,

If you're reading this, you probably know that "The Boxers" have taken up a fight against the "The City of Baldwin Park."

Our beloved Head Boxing Coach, Julian Casas and Luis Rosales, Assistant Boxing Coach, has decided to take a stand against their own director.  Imagine how hard it is to confront the big boss of your organization.  And at first, they decided to stay quiet and to not do anything.  But after 14 years of serving, Julian realized that enough is enough.  Poor decision after poor decision.  Mistreatment of staff, again and again.  So, him and Luis took on a small issue but decided that they and the boxing program needed to be heard.  Their courage needs to be commended.  Imagine how hard this would be for you to do.

This week, the Director of Parks and Recreations has implemented changes to our program that make him look like he is fixing the problem.  But in reality, it's like an accounting trick.  We need our Thursdays back.  To make that happen, he's cut an hour from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and given us a three hour Thursday.  This is like the right hand taking from the left hand and making sure the left hand doesn't know.  The Boxers know.  We don't like this cooking-the-books kind of practice.

Below, I have provided a list of email addresses to copy and paste.  Please tell the director, Councillors, and mayor of our city that this deceptive practice needs to stop and to please give our Thursdays back.  It hardly costs anything.

Join the fight.  Share the story.  Email the people below.

* * *

Re: New Boxing Hours
Dear Manuel Carrillo Jr., Councillors, and Mayor:

Director Carillo, I am sorry that I have escalated the matter to also include the Councillors and Mayor.  Yet, as we all know, the boxers made the dying boxing program a public matter with the Baldwin Park City Council on June 19, 2013.

At that meeting, Paul Cook, representing the boxers, stated on the record that the new proposal for adding a Thursday back to the program, which was removed earlier this year, was not acceptable.  Nonetheless, Director Carrillo still went ahead and implemented this new schedule.  

All Director Carrillo has done is removed one hour from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and added three hours to Thursday.  Although it appears that we get the Thursday back, indeed, it does not solve the fundamental issue of having lost the five hours of training in the week by shutting Thursday down from this year’s schedule.  Furthermore, it is concerning that the Director of Parks and Recreation is trying to appear that he is fixing the problem, instead of really attempting to understand the program and the repercussions his decision has wrought on Baldwin Park’s boxing program and the at risk youth of the City who need it.

There are several critical problems with the new schedule.  One, the main problem is that although the coaches were told about the proposed schedule, they were not consulted in the matter.  For the record, I have coached for fourteen years for the boxing program.  I have never been consulted once by Director Carrillo on the Thursday and Friday cuts he made in the boxing schedule.  

It reflects once again on the director’s negligence in his duty to understand his portfolio of projects, in which boxing is one.  Instead, it does, however, show that Director Carrillo is trying to enhance his public image by illusorily fixing a more fundamental problem brought on by poor decision making.  

Two, the boxing staff have more work, which is uncompensated for.  It takes planning time to start and stop a class, and to do this for a three-hour-Thursday cannot justify such planning efforts, which again Director Carrillo expects us to do for free.

Director Carrillo, the Councillors and the Mayor, with the exception of Ricardo Pacheco, have intentionally ignored are many requests for help.  Director Carrillo, as well as the Councillors, have stated that the main problem with re-extending the boxing program is money. 
Therefore, I have proposed a clean solution.  1) Please reinstate our regular hours for Monday through Wednesday.  2) The boxing coaches have agreed Thursdays are important, that this program is important, and so we have agreed to volunteer our time for Thursday; hence, the City will not have to worry about the financial costs.  3) Please expedite the interview process for our third coach, since we are severely understaffed.  At times, we have had only two coaches for forty children.

May we please hear back before Monday, July 14, 2013 next week?  We know that your intention is in the best interest of the community. 
This letter has been made open to the public.

Julian Casas
Head boxing coach, boxing coach for fourteen years, and proud citizen of Baldwin Park

Supported by Luis Rosales
Assistant boxing coach, four year member of the boxing program, and proud citizen of Baldwin Park

* * *
I'm proud of the boxing coaches who wrote this letter and took a stand.

Please copy and paste these email addresses and write to those in power to help our cause.  Thank you for joining our fight.,,,,,

Updated on 8/11/2013

If you've been following the post, Carrillo has done nothing to fix our program in the seven weeks.  Sad.  In fact, we've discovered that the boxing program may most likely make a profit.  Therefore, he should have never cut it in the first place.  But then again, he doesn't practice standard accounting practices as he's conflated the boxing account in some strange general fund.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Informants Meet With "The Boxers"

After our debut at City Hall, the boxers became local heroes.  During the day, the city politicians, including the mayor and councilman wanted to take photos with the boxers.   But at night, it was a different story.  The knives came out.

The upset at City Hall sent a shock wave throughout the City, which pulsed throughout the citizens.  "The Boxers" had stood up to the City, and that message alone enabled others to have the courage to do the same.

I had a Taiwanese friend of mine tell me once - "Paul, you never know what happens behind closed doors."  It was after the following series of events that I realized this applies not only to households but to cities as well.

Julian, the head boxing coach, and I met with informants at diners and parking lots and at my house.  In one instance, we were invited to meet at the most hidden corner table at Denny's.  An informant began sharing with us about the years of history of city misappropriation of funds.  Listening to all the damning information about how the city politicians and management team spend and take our money came with a cocktail of emotions.  It was exciting and tantalizing, like hearing the most recent scandal.  And it was cool to know we were hearing it first, before it hit the press. But it was also angering and upsetting for us because all we could think about was how the City kept telling us it had no money.  It didn't have $1,500 a month for our little boxing club, but here we were being presented on the extravagant waste and theft of it.  We were talking about figures that went into the hundreds of thousands.  Even the waitress lingered around trying to snatch a piece of information here and there.  In the emptiness and solitude of that diner, she knew we were speaking of something important.

In another case, Julian and I met with another informant at a parking lot at midnight.  There was something definitely exhilarating about meeting with a secret spy who handed us a file, proving again the misappropriation of funds and again: waste.  It implicated so many of the politicians and the management team once again.

Then there were the phone calls.  People called us up to allege scandals that ranged from sexual misconduct to plain theft of city monies.  They gave us account numbers to research and funds to trace back and the businesses that were part of the racketeering scheme.  Where was the money?

I was told, by another informant, to meet with another person in the city, who then handed me another file of records.  When I leafed through it, I thought, What the hell?!!!  Are they truly doing this?  

Finally - people in the inner circle wanted to tell me things.  I felt like I was clergy.  I provided them a chance to confess their owns sins and wrongdoings and also to condemn others.  I hope absolution came to them.  I just listened and listened to the whispers of what happens in my sin city.

All this happened because the City said there was no money for our boxing program.  Why then was there so much money available for them?

Join the fight with the boxers against the City.  Share this story.

Updated on 8/11/2013:

More informants have still been coming forward since our City Hall meeting.