Friday, October 11, 2013

Potential Violation of Brown Act Again: Mayor Lozano, Council Member Marlen Garcia, and Raquel Garcia - Corruption Corner

A private investigator caught Mayor Lozano, Council Member Marlen Garcia, and Council Member Raquel Garcia potentially having a secret meeting together.  Under the California Brown Act, public officials cannot meet in secret and discuss official business.

The private investigator took this picture on September 24, 2013 at a restaurant called The Lazy Dog.  This evening session took place after the special council meeting, which discussed the city budget, which was released in September.

To the left is Mayor Manuel Lozano and Mayor Pro Tem Raquel Monica Garcia.  On the right is Council Member Marlen Garcia.  The three of them currently make up the majority voting block on the council.  Those who are not present are Council Members Susan Rubio and Ricardo Pacheco, whom make up the minority faction of the Council.  The prior are trying to get rid of the Baldwin Park Police Department, and the latter are trying to prevent the police from being ousted out of the City.  In the picture, Mayor Lozano and Raquel Garcia look tense after the budget meeting, while Council Member Marlen Garcia appears relaxed.  Council Member Marlen Garcia will no longer be holding a Councillor position, as she is running for the Mount San Antonio College Board of Trustees, which serves the San Gabriel Valley.

Typically, municipal budgets are released in July.  But, Baldwin Park is special.  Craig Graves, Interim Financial Director, prepared the budget and released it in September.

It is alleged that Craig Graves advertises on craigslist as Graves, Craig.  Furthermore, unlike other municipal finance directors, he lacks a CPA license.

Several members of the community aired their complaints that the City should make more prudent decisions, rather than hiring a Finance Director, who earns $130,000 a year and doesn't have a CPA license.  The previous finance director resigned ten days later, after a small business owner threatened to out her for fraud and financial misappropriation.

The City Attorney, Joseph Pannone, attempted to intimidate the small business owner to release the documents to prove such allegations, which was a near or perhaps actual violation of a citizen's Fourth Amendment right to have protection against unwarranted government search and seizure.  The small business owner threw Pannone's letter away in the trash and said, "The Hell with him."

This wouldn't be the first potential violation of the Brown Act that Council Member Marlen Garcia has engaged in.  (See blogpost: The Boxer's Adversary.)  In that instance, Marlen Garcia walked into the room, trying to disrupt public conversation regarding the status of the police department in the City, which is a city matter.

The private investigator wouldn't give out much personal information, but s/he did mention that she served all of the factions that currently are opposing the current majority voting bloc.  No information could be gathered about what else the private investigator knew.

The boxing club has stated on record several times that something is seriously wrong in Baldwin Park.

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Join the fight.  Share the story.  Save our boxing club.

Post Script: After the boxer's La Opinion article was published, Rudolph Guilando, program supervisor of the boxing program, instead of helping make the program better, has began retaliating against it. Cook also witnessed how upset he was the day La Opinion article was published.  He began raising his voice against Cook.

Cook was surprised at this behavior.  Cook is just a participant in the program.  He is not an employee.  And Guilando had no right to do this to him.

Guilando insinuated to Casas there might be more budget cuts, implying that the boxing program might be cut again.  Julian Casas stated, "What do we need more cuts for?  We have enough money in our boxing budget for the hours we're asking for.  Does he even understand his own boxing budget?

"They act like we should be grateful.  They forget it was them that stole the program from the Boys and Girls Club in the first place because they felt they could run it better.  Look at them now.  You have to twist their arm just to get any attention from them."

Although the City of Baldwin Park hasn't given Julian Casas a raise for 14 years, and he's been making $8.40 an hour, the City of Baldwin Park has paid for Guilando's MBA tuition.  With perks, as of 2011, Guilando makes close to $80,000 a year.

Cook observed Director Manuel Carrillo Jr. several times since La Opinion published its piece.  (The piece could be read here: La Opinion Article).  He commented, "The man looks like a wreck.  I just can't understand why he didn't fix our boxing program.  He's brought himself to the brink of ruin.  We only asked for $1,000 to $1,500 a month.  But in actuality, we didn't even need that.  Director Carrillo, because of poor accounting practices and poor performance, didn't even understand that boxing was self-sufficient on the budget it had.

"Now he has to go through a public performance review, which shows how he's ruined a prize winning city program, in which Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley participated in.  It was the best thing Baldwin Park had." 

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