Saturday, August 10, 2013

Baldwin Park Grand Showdown Rematch: The Boxing Club versus The City of Baldwin Park

In a matter of seven weeks, the boxers went from asking for more money for their club to demanding the resignation of the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem, a councilor, and the director of parks and recreation.

In this time period, we’ve become known as local heroes and an inspiration.  The boxers began a fight against the corruption administered by the management team and the councillors and mayor that support them.  The majority (the Three), which enable the City’s corruption, are the mayor, the mayor pro tem, and the matron councillor.  The main two administrators of corruption are the director of parks and recreation and the city manager.

To give the new reader some context, our boxing program, in its heyday, was so popular that Fernando Vargas, Oscar de la Hoya, and Shane Mosley fought in our tournaments.  Over a period of about 12 years, the "decision makers" cut our program so badly.  We’re now operating on 50% of our original time and half the coaching staff.  Their excuse is always the same - "We have no money."  That's not the right rhetoric.

The question to ask them is where the money went.  I don't need to get into all of the examples right now and right here, but if you read the previous posts in this blog you can see where the money went.  Here’s one example.  The director has two city cars.  We have torn and worn gym bags, a skeleton boxing staff, and filthy and unsanitary boxing gloves. 

My role in all of this happened after I failed the bar.  I was a wash up - at least in my head.  I had to return home to my inner city hometown.  I took up boxing to free and discipline my mind and renew myself.  Most people move up after they graduate from a top tier law school.  But unlike them, and more like Joseph in Genesis, I was instead thrown into a dungeon. 

I was 30 and I moved back in with my mother.  Previous to this, since I was eighteen, I lived abroad and all over the world.  But as what most likely happened with Joseph, I made the best of a bad situation.  While studying for the bar and learning to box, I fell in love with the boxing program.  The coaches and the youth found a place in my heart.  Boxing gets the worst of the kids in the city.  The at risk teen, who can easily slip into drugs and or gangs and the angry and the poor. 

I, thus, cared enough and wanted the program to do better.  I wanted to raise money for the City.  The coaches and I started on a fundraising campaign, but as I began exploring, nothing seemed "right" in my city.  Take for instance, the fact that my boxing coach makes $8 an hour and has been there for 14 years.  Yet, the Director of Parks and Recs hires the councillor's daughter, (illegally by the way).  How does a high school student make 25% more than my coach who has been there for fourteen years?  (I don't need to get into all the ways I saw corruption.  You can read about it in my previous blog posts.)

As I began fundraising, something appeared to be wrong in the management of the boxing program.  Although the director of parks and recreation denies the claim that he tried to get rid of the boxing program, this was not the case.  His management slipped and told us that he wanted to get rid of one of the best programs in Baldwin Park.  Furthermore, he started stuffing the boxing gym with fitness gym equipment.

I don't know where he got this idea because there's only one boxing gym in Baldwin Park but at least 10 fitness gyms in the surrounding area (if not more).  Let's see: one boxing gym that has 62 kids (and most likely a lot more) and only two coaches or a fitness gym, which can be found anywhere.  So; these type of decisions made me question what was happening in Baldwin Park.

After passing the bar, I realized even though it was time for me to start working for a firm, I had to help out this boxing program.  Eventually, I became the free legal clinic in Baldwin Park.  When the average salary per person in this city is under $12,000 a year, they really needed help and didn't know what to do.  The people in this City, the boxers, and their families didn’t know their legal rights.

The first matter to sort out was figuring out why the City Hall couldn’t give us $1,500 a month to help our program.  It's peanut money.  So, the boxers went to City Hall.  The kids, teenagers, and coaches petitioned the Councillors and Mayor for help.  You can read all about it here: The Boxing Grand Showdown.  (The blog post went viral, please help share this post and that one.)  Although the Mayor, on record promised to meet with me and to help our program, after six weeks, we saw no change. 

So, we concluded they weren't going to do anything for us.  Coincidentally, two gym bags fell down and broke recently.  There's no more electric tape to wrap it.  But, the e-management team still get to fill up their vehicles on City Money, and it's not even in Baldwin Park!  Places include: Palm Desert, Victorville, Chino, and other out of the way cities.

The boxer’s presentation at City Hall awakened two forces in the City: retaliation and accountability.  First, the retaliation.  The administration has behaved in unprofessional and thuggish ways since the uprising.  For example, the Chief of Police (through her agent) tried to chill my speech.  The City Attacked Me!  The director of parks and recreation retaliated against the boxers and sent his management to surveillance the coaches.  His reason, in doing so was to find a reason to fire the coaches.  Boxers on Their Night Out. 

But with the retaliation, also came the power in truth and courage.  The good that has come is that the staff of parks and recreation were inspired by the teenagers and boxers and also spoke out against the director.  Read: The head boxing coach - hour of the hero.  (That post went viral as well).  Then the City Yard, a division of Public Works, said that they were going to join in on the fight.  The police association also supported the boxers and printed out our posters (the ones you've been seeing on my blog).  Even after designing these posters, the City told me it didn't have a printing budget, but the Police Association stepped up and printed them for us.  Finally – powers outside of this City have been following this story closely.  The boxers are gaining help every day. 

After discovering that we were being ignored, we took the City on for a rematch.  If we didn’t, they would think everything was fine at the boxing gym and the public would think there was no more problems.  But there’s still too many problems.

The boxing kids, all teenagers this time, walked down to City Hall.  Outside of City Hall, leaders from the City Yard came and met me.  They said, "Oh, you're the boxing lawyer.  You're Paul Cook."

At this point, I said, "Yup. But please say, 'Hi,' to the boxers."  So, they went over to the boxers and shook their hands.  I could see the high schoolers felt important.

Then the leader of the staff rebellion came.  I greeted him and also told him to also introduce himself to the boxers.  With the staff leaders and the City Yard leaders on board, the police staging a friendly community outreach event the day before, and the boxers speaking out, it was and still is obvious that the members of public are in open rebellion against the City’s Administration and decision makers.

After greeting these leaders, I opened the doors of the Council chambers and told the kids to seat in the front row.  Our numbers, us being dressed in gym clothing, and our courageous spirit announced our presence to the assembly and to the management team and to the politicians.  We sat in the front.  We wanted to watch them.  We wanted them to know: the boxers were here.

The Three (these are those who oppose the boxers: the mayor, the matron councillor, and the mayor pro tem) pulled a dirty trick this time.  The last Council meeting was a circus.  In the last one, the staff cried out against the abuses heaped on them for at least a decade.  The members of the public cried out against The Three.  Apparently, it was a bit of a circus.  These are our politicians.

Thus, the mayor brought in a small child of eight to ten, to stand next to him and announce the processions of the meeting this time.  I thought: what a dirty bastard, hiding behind a shield of a small child so that the people wouldn't be heated and speak out against him.  A good politician should have the courage to listen to the people and admit when he is wrong.

When public comments opened, an elderly gentleman spoke out first.  He complained about the First Amendment violations that the City committed. 

I couldn't help it.  I go to church.  I never say anything when I listen to sermons.  But when he said, "We have First Amendment Rights," I cried from the audience, "Amen."  We do. 

This older man had nailed it.  He said, "This City sends the police and send code enforcement whenever people speak out against the Councillors and - or Mayor."  Also, he mentioned how it wasn't right that the matron's daughter gets paid more than the boxing coach who has been there for over 14 years. 

I thought, Yes, the town's people now know

He also said that the mayor doesn't let people from other cities speak during public comments.  I was thinking - Seriously?  Is this real?  Not only is that a violation of the First Amendment, but it could even fail rational review under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Another lady went up there and also complained that there were Constitutional violations.  I think she was referring to the fact that the Police Association picketed the Matron.  When the picketing officers’ promotions were coming up, she overreached in her role as a councillor and acted as the Chief of Police and halted their promotions.  All because they picketed her.

I watched the kids' eyes light up as they saw they were understanding the problems of the City.  They were engaged.  And I prayed to God - Oh, I hope one of you, when we're gone, will know what to do when this happens in your generation.

Julian, the head boxing coach walked in at this time.  He sat next to me.  The coach and trainee were now together.

Then I heard something disgusting.  Some background first, though.  There's a battle within City Council over whether to keep the local police force or to go with the Sheriffs.  The Three want  the sheriffs. 

So – it appears The Three asked this mother up to speaking at the public announcement time.  It appears they wanted her to talk about how her son may have been potentially molested by one or more officers of the City’s police department. 

I would have been fine if this lady chose to do this from her own free will.  But like the mayor using the child to shield himself from hearing the truth, The Three were using a mother to air her family’s personal and shameful story to further their own political agenda.  Why I find it so awful is that after The Three get what they want, do you think they'll be in touch with this woman or follow up with her or do they even care about her? 

From the staff uprising party, a parent spoke out against the director of Parks and Recreation, and how run down the programs have become.  I could see that the director could now see that the barrage would begin against him.

Myra, a black female, went first.  Last time she spoke against how the department lied to her.  To get her out of the department, the director’s manager lied to her about a promotion available at another department.  She transferred.  There was no promotional position.  She was so upset and betrayed, she had to quit.

Although she had a bachelors in recreation, she was passed up for promotion after promotion.  She worked for parks and recreation for 11 years.  The people that received promotions didn't even have degrees. 

Therefore, at this council meeting, she announced to the director and the assembly that she had filed a discrimination claim against Housing and Urban Development, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a claim against the City for a breach of contract.

She then said, "Director Carrillo is abusive and under delusions of grandeur.  I have no respect for him after how he's treated his staff."  She stormed out of the Council Chambers after finishing.  Speaking about it all brought back the bad memories.

The mayor thanked her.  But in her own words (and not mine), his dismissive tone felt to her that he just wanted her to shut up and leave.

Alfredo, the leader of the staff uprising spoke out too.  He talked about how he was being retaliated against for speaking out against the staff abuses in City Hall at the previous meeting.  He found out that the director openly announced to his managers to find reasons to fire Alfredo.  They scrutinized if he was wearing the right shirt, whether he was coming in on time, and his general performance.  This upset him because other managers go shopping on City time, such as Nikki Hendricks, who recently got promoted because she was shopping friends with April the wife of another manager.

Alfredo then spoke out against another staff.  In this case, the City Manager and the Director plotted against her.  Trumped up a charge that was three years old.  They then put her on administrative leave, without a hearing.  And now that staff is fearful of her job because she has children and can't lose it.

He also mentioned how the City Manager and the Director were plotting to cut their hours so they wouldn't be eligible for healthcare.  The outrageous thing about this is that the executive management team have a cafe budget (which apparently isn't for food but is additional tax free money for their healthcare) and a stipend for their healthcare too.  How much healthcare do they need versus how much do their staff need?  Alfredo had more to say but he was cut off by the Mayor.

Julian - the head boxing coach - went up.  He's worked there for fourteen years.  He's up put with their abuses.

He spoke on how he received a stellar performance review and that he was grateful for it.  He thanked them for the forty cent raise.  But he still makes far less than the matron's daughter.

I heard two gasps from the audience.

Julian then discussed how the director is scrutinizing those who spoke out against him.  But on City time, he picked up a notebook computer from Royal Coaches for the matron's daughter, but he's a director of parks and recreation, not a babysitter.  (Royal Coaches is a tow company that has a reputation for corruption in sponsoring The Three.  NBC's Joel Grover is currently investigating them for crime.)

He stated, "The boxing program is actually self-sustaining because it makes revenue.  So why the cuts?"  The director has followed unprofessional accounting standards and conflated the boxing program with other accounts; and thus, he takes from the profit of the boxing, places it into his failing programs, and then cuts the boxing program more.  Does this sound like sound decision making?

He then mentioned how the director undermined him by trying to pay the new coach $13 an hour.  This is a 62% increase of what the head coach is currently making.  The reason the director offered such a high pay to the new coach was that he would give him such a high pay (and potentially the head coach position) if this new coach could shut the boxers up.  Guess what?  We found out.  Is that the real way to fix the problem of bad decision making?

He then talked about how the City most likely paid for the supervisor's Rudolph Galindo's MBA at Cal State Fullerton.  (Julian didn't mention; however, that they are still potentially paying for his PhD).  That's $33-$45,000 a year.  (As of the time of this record, the City doesn’t want to release the public records, which I’m entitled to by law.)  Let's put that in perspective.  The total boxing budget is $23,000 annually.  One person gets the benefit of the MBA.  The boxing program has at least 62 kids, and definitely more.  His MBA costs more than the annual budget of the boxing program.  One person benefits.  Sixty two kids loses out.

What he said next, I wasn't prepared for.  Julian said, "For all these reasons, I ask Director Carrillo to resign.  The person who should replace him should have ethics, a vision for the program, and a spine to stand up against self-interested directors."

I looked at the director.  He looked like he went "mimis" (knocked out in boxing lingo).  I think all of us were asking, Did Julian really just demand that?!  A silent shock pulsed through the room.  I felt the adrenaline pump in me too because it was such an intense atmosphere.  Then the claps and cheers resounded in the chambers.

I then went up to the podium, again wearing my boxing clothes: gym shorts, and a grey tang top.  I brought out my hand wraps, and in front of the politicians and assembly, Julian wrapped me.  It showed the assembly the relationship between coach and trainee.  We walked to the side of the podium.  Together, we remained standing.  Together, we were there to show our stand against the corruption of the City.

At that point, the matron councillor showed body language that said she was going to tune us out.  Her face went behind her computer, and her eyes looked like she was either playing solitaire or surfing the internet.  She wasn't interested in what the boxers had to say.  Can you imagine all the work we put into this, and our elected official is looking like she's playing solitaire on the computer?

The first boxer, Eric went up.  Eric just recently graduated high school.  He’ll be attending a four year college, and he’s interested in becoming a politician.

He was nervous because it was his first time speaking at the Council.  Nonetheless he had something to say.

He talked about how he noticed that the director of parks and recs was sending his management team to "hostilely scrutinize" the coaches.  That this wasn't right.  That this was a good program.  And that this behavior wasn't helping anybody.

At that point, I grabbed the microphone.  I said, "Marlen Garcia, please be respectful and pay attention to what the boxers are saying."

She said in a flat tone: "I am listening," but went behind the computer again.

The kids looked at me, like wow-he-just-did-that.  You could imagine a row of teenagers just sitting there and watching the councillors and mayor.

I asked some other kids to speak, but this time they weren't so prepared to speak.

Zach, our newest fighter, talked about how this is the best boxing gym he's ever been to.

After Zach, Rene, one of Julian's fighters, came up.  He said, "Marlen, pay attention to us.  You staring behind that computer is really disrespectful."

I was wowed by that.

The last of the fighters spoke.  My time had come.  Unlike last time, I wasn't as smooth because there was so much adrenaline pumping in me.  It was such an intense environment, and remember: Julian just asked for the Director's resignation.  That left the room with that silent shock.

I said, "Hi, Paul ‘The Boxing Lawyer’ Cook here.  You all know me.

"Director Carrillo said he's fixing the boxing program.  So, I'm not here to talk so much about the boxing program.

"Someone in the room quoted Scripture and said he didn't know it that well.  Well, I do know Scripture well.  Proverbs 19:5 says, 'Whoever pours out lies will not go free.'

"Mayor, last time I was here, I said I was disappointed in you because you didn't meet with me.  Now, I say I'm disappointed in you because you didn't meet with me again.  And last time, you promised me on record that you would.  You had a Spanish saying for me last time.  I have one for you, 'Palabras.  Palabras.  Solamente palabras.'  Words.  Words.  Only words."

I paused.

Then continued, "Well, it's clear to me, that you don't value your words.  You said you'd fix this boxing program.  But you didn't.  So, I say on record now, 'I don't want to meet with you anymore.'

"I'm glad people brought up the Constitution today.  My First Amendment rights were violated by the Chief of Police Lili Hadsell and Leticia Llara and City Manager Vijay Singhal."

The Police Chief Hadsell took off her glasses to express her disapproval.  I wanted to say, put your glasses back on so you can see me clearly. 

Instead, I replied: "Chief Hadsell, you have better things to do to get your agent to call me under your name.  Go check out the LA Times.  There's been shootings in our City.

"This City has a problem following the law in general.  I made a Public Records Request and there were two violations of law.  When I pointed it out, the Mayor responded and tried to fix it.  I was happy about this.  But after they tried to fix the problem, there were three more violations!

I mean you have a City Attorney right there.  You hired two law firms.  You still don't know what the First Amendment is.  Since this Administration has a problem with the First Amendment let me quote it to you.  '[The government] shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.'

"For all the pain and problems and corruption in this City, Mayor Lozano, while you have your freedom and dignity, I ask that you resign.

"Mayor pro tem Monica Garcia, or should I say your real name, Raquel Monica Garcia," (Raquel Garcia never uses her real name for some reason, "I have a file that has evidence of your self-dealing and your stealing from the public's money.  For this, while you have your freedom and dignity, I ask that you resign."  She responded with an arrogant smile.

Finally, I turned to the one who controlled them all and hated the boxers and our program.  I said to her, "You take kickbacks.  $10,000 from the Walmart project.  You violate law.  You hire family over good candidates.  You don't do what's right.  For this, while you have your freedom and dignity, I ask that you resign."

The matron shook her head again and again in anger.

I said, "I want to end with Proverbs 28:28, 'When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.'"  

My speech was finished.  I went back to my seat with Julian.  I had so much adrenaline in me that I can't remember of people were cheering or not or clapping.  I think they did.

We sat back down with the kids.  Then the matron's groupies, made up of mainly family members and friends, started using the public comments time to talk about how she was a victim.  At this point, I told my boys it was time to go.

And like an organized military, we all stood up at the same time.  We marched out.  We entered with a presence.  We exited with a presence.

After the Council meeting, I got messages on my phone that The Three wanted to sue me.  They called me a bad person because I was being litigious and that's the reason the Mayor wouldn't meet.  The Councillor defended why her daughter she get paid so much.  I got another text that said they all feared for their lives because of me.  I couldn't understand why.  After all, it was "words, words, only words," that the boxers said. 

After we left the Council chambers, I said, "Hey Julian, we should treat the kids out."

He said, "Of course."

So we treated our boys to the Baldwin Park Pizza Company.  We purchased them some really yummy pizza.  All of us talked about what was happening, why they were important, and that we're going to change the future.  I guess, it's official.  The boxers have declared war against corruption and those administrating it.  The leader of the staff uprising stopped by the Pizza Company and congratulated the boxers.

This was a longer story.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If you did, you know what you need to do.  The Three have ran corruption under the guise of secrecy.  Even the local paper, the San Gabriel Tribune is not accurately reporting on what’s happening here.  The main focus of this article is that Ricardo Pacheco called Marlen Garcia an ass.

Now, ask yourself, what’s more important to read: What the boxers are exposing or hearing about the Matron being called an Ass?  I hope you enjoyed this read.  It took me three hours to write, and another two hours to edit.  I'm doing all this because these administrators of corruption need to be called to resign by you and me.

If you did enjoy it, please share this story with your friends and family.  We need your help.  We need people to know what’s going on in this City – this corrupt City.  

The boxers have become the salt and light of this community.  In antiquity, salt was thought to be the element needed to purify evil.  We the boxers are committed to driving out the evil in this city.  One photon, only one, can pierce the darkness.  We're nobody.  Think about how a washed up coach, a bar flunkey, and the lowest of the low of teenagers are taking on the city.  But remember, the Holy Scriptures state: "God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

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

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