Wednesday, December 18, 2013

City Manager Caught Forging The Budget

On Monday, December 18, 2013 Craig Graves, interim finance director, revealed that former City Manager Vijay Singhal defrauded the citizens of Baldwin Park by forging the budget.

Under the command of the Garcia-Lozano regime, which was led by the ex-Council Member Marlen Garcia, Singhal demanded that Graves "cook the book," otherwise known in the industry as "creative accounting."  The previous finance director resigned after a small business owner threatened to report her to the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Board for forging documents.

As a result, Singhal learned his lesson and this time hired a finance director who didn't have a CPA license.  This way, there was no way he could fear losing something he didn't have.

The phony budget and the actual one both showed that the City of Baldwin Park is losing one and a half million dollars a year; every year.  A big portion of that cost comes from the large management team salaries and two lawsuits the City was held liable for: a breach of contract claim by the Hilton Hotels and a business tort claim by the City of Rosemead.

The Singhal version of the budget, however, lied about a key fact.  The Lozano-Garcia regime stated that the Police Department cost $21 million a year.  In contrast, the Sheriffs department cost $17 million a year.  Therefore, as the propaganda went: the City would save $4 million a year in costs that it so desperately needed.

Really, the Baldwin Park Police Department cost $17 million a year.  Singhal increased the cost of the police on paper by adding $980,000 of cost from Community Development, which is responsible for animal control and street crossings.  He then added in another $3 million dollars of the retirement payout of former police officers that the City is responsible for.

What Singhal and the Lozano-Garcia regime didn't state was that the City would still be responsible for the $3 million dollars, which it owes in retirement benefits, even if it fired all the police officers and replaced them with the Sheriffs.  The other million would still have to be paid, even with the Sheriffs, because it's a community development cost and not a police-associated one.  Therefore, bringing in the Sheriffs would result in a net savings of nothing.

Sadly, ex-Council Member Marlen Garcia, Mayor Manuel Lozano, and Council Member Raquel Monica Garcia directed Singhal to lie about the law enforcement cost to rid themselves of the police.

To validate the lie, Singhal outsourced the Vasquez account firm, which the City paid $21,000 to during June to July.  Singhal also published the budget in September, when it was due in July.  Therefore, the budget was three months late.  The actual figures only took only three days to compile and present.

Mayor Lozano and the two Garcia Council Members misrepresented these facts to the citizens of Baldwin Park.  Thus, when the actual figures were presented, Mayor Lozano and Council Member Garcia said almost nothing.  Instead, Raquel Garcia buried her face behind her notebook computer.  And Lozano constantly looked at text messages, which told him what to say to calm the public's anger. 

The underlying reason for "cooking the books" is that the regime was attempting to bust the police association, which held it accountable by speaking out against its illegal and self-dealing decisions by picketing, protesting, and asking questions about them.  The Lozano-Garcia regime has eliminated almost all organizations that have challenged its power.  It stole the sports programs from the Boys and Girls Club, refused to appropriate money to the Chambers of Commerce, and aired its propaganda through the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

In defense of Singhal, the Mayor stated that former CEO amassed $7 million in reserves.  This too was a lie.  One, it is only $5.2 million.  And two,  the ex-CEO did so by confiscating these funds by not depositing them into employees' pension accounts.

Now that the truth has been revealed, the City will have to recover from being inflicted by Lozano-Garcia Disease.  The primary symptom is that they've run out of other people's money.  The secondary symptom is that the community has incurred great harm for the benefit of the three people who have used their public office to enrich themselves individually: Manuel Lozano, Raquel Garcia, and Marlen Garcia.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baldwin Park City Council Fires Its CEO, Chief of Police, and City Attorney

Baldwin Park's CEO, Vijay Singhal; Chief of Police, Lili Hadsell; and City Attorney Joseph Pannone were fired at the special council meeting on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

At the meeting, the Council Members had told the three, "You've been dismissed."  Singhal held his head low, while the council bailiff escorted him out of the chambers. Lt. Reynoso walked Hadsell out, where she broke down in tears. Pannone left, acting as if nothing happened.

Baldwin Park's City Council is formed by a new majority.  After a bitter battle for the swing vote council seat, Cruz Baca was sworn into her position on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by great crowds in the council chamber.  The story can be read here:  Overthrowing a Municipal Regime.

Six days later, a special meeting was called, in which the new majority, made up of Council Member Pacheco, Rubio, and Baca, fired the three administrators.  The terminations happened after more than 85 percent of the members of the Baldwin Park Police Association voted they had no confidence in Hadsell or Singhal.  A number of other city employees have also resented Singhal.

The old regime, which was in the majority and now in the minority voting bloc, is comprised of Mayor Manuel Lozano and Council Member Raquel Garcia.  The two objected to the firing of their appointed administrators.  Former Council Member Marlen Garcia, who has been ousted out of public office, posted on Facebook that the firings will cost the City at least a million dollars.

CEO Vijay Singhal has been a controversial figure in Baldwin Park.  Before becoming CEO of the City, he was CEO of the desert City of Hesperia.  And before that post, he owned a business that busted. 

His legacy has been one of abuse: both of the finances and the city employees.  He created a pyramid organizational structure for the employees, in which the base of employees were comprised of poor part-time workers, whom were mainly Hispanic.  This way, he could deny them healthcare, raises, and hours.  Their part-time status left them vulnerable to termination without cause.

Singhal also unsuccessfully attempted to fire all the police and have them replaced with the sheriffs.  Finally, he had a reputation for using unauthorized force to intimidate and bully citizens from speaking freely or filing complaints against the public officials or administrators.  Three law suits are still pending against him.

The Chief of Police Lili Hadsell has committed numerous acts of self-dealing and gross negligence.  This includes advocating for the firing of all her officers, free speech retaliation, and unmerited promotions within the force.  There are two pending lawsuits against her.  More can be read about her here: Chief of Police's Daughter Caught With Narcotics

City Attorney, Joseph Pannone, illegally extended and renewed illegal contracts.  Extension of Illegal .Contracts.  Although such behavior seems innocuous on the surface, the renewal of these contracts have allowed for businesses like Royal Coaches to make millions (it's alleged to be $20M in a year) off the invidious towing of the poorest residents of the city: the undocumented Mexicans.  The money has ended up back in the pockets of the public officials.  For instance, witnesses have confirmed that Parks and Recreation Director, Manuel Carillo Jr. would pick up clothes and computers for Marlen Garcia's daughter at the Royal Coach's office.

Lozano and Garcia defended Singhal by stating that he increased the City reserves from $250,0000 to $7,000,000.  What Lozano and Garcia didn't mention; however, was that Singhal did so by withholding employees' retirement payment from being deposited into their pension accounts.

When asked why the City Council made such a swift decision, Council Member Ricardo Pacheco stated, "We did what we had to because the people wanted change.  And that change is here now."  He also stated, "There's going to be a lot of broken pieces to be picked up."

Regarding brokenness, one rumor that keeps surfacing is that Baldwin Park is financially broke.  And it appears it may become even broker.  Those fired are claiming that they were terminated without cause.  As a result, Hadsell will receive a three month payout.  Singhall will receive a six month one, even though he wrote his own employment contract.

Some, however, believe not enough administrators were fired.  Employees from Parks and Recreation have demanded the firing of Director Manuel Carrillo, for employment abuse, sexual harassment, and gross negligence.  Director Of Parks and Recreation Misappropriates Funds

Julian Casas, head coach of the boxing program, for fourteen years stated, "He's a parasite on the City of Baldwin Park, and he sucks the life out of our youth programs."

The rapid execution of these decisions foretell of more changes to come for the City of Baldwin Park.