Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From Honolulu to Tokyo

I took the midnight train from the Tokyo airport to my hostel. The summer rain is falling on Tokyo now, hiding it in a mystifying fog. I haven't been to East Asia in 10 years.

I had less than five hours of sleep. So, I'm going to take it easy today. Perhaps, I'll go to downtown, read a book, and eat some Japanese food.

In Honolulu, I had to take care of some errands. The California Supreme Court called me and said it accepted filing but wanted an extra copy of the petition. Now, remember that little small claims case with the Mayor and me. If you don't here's the link: Mayors can file TROs illegally. I petitioned the Court of Appeals to review it. When they said no, I went to work and put together the Supreme Court Petition. That's the last stop. After that, can't do anything about.

In any event, the odds aren't very high the Court will grant review. It was good practice anyways to learn how to file a Supreme Court Petition for Review, nonetheless. And even then, the 7 justices of our Supreme Court can now know what kind of mayor we have, what kind of city attorney we have, and what kind of City Baldwin Park is. Exposure is always good.

In Honolulu, I bought clothes that were 50% off. It's the first time I bought any clothes in a year.

I also ate some poki, which is raw fish cooked in lime, ate over rice. It tasted decent. But everything in Honolulu is 30% more than it is in Los Angeles. So, for instance, a $3 coffee is $4 there.

I got my apple charger too. That's good. 

My host, an owner and captain of a ship, took me to the airport. 

I flew business class from Honolulu to Tokyo. I put some pictures of the nice drinks and food they gave me. I had guava juice and champagne. I also had raw surf clams in miso sauce for my appetizer. In fact, they gave me a four course meal, raw surf clams, udon soup and seaweed salad, BBQ pork, and sweet potato Japanese pie. All of it tasted exquisite.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do in Tokyo. After getting out of the airport, I took the midnight train to my hostel. What I noticed was that the train was full of men in worn suits coming back from work. It was midnight, not 6 pm or 7 pm. They all looked haggard and miserable. Tomorrow, they'll wake up again in the morning and being work again until midnight. I wondered how their family lives are if they work so many hours. 

I was on the train for an hour. I had a map. I was able to make my way to my hostel. Once my host welcomed me in, I paid. Then, I took a quick shower. 

I tried to sleep, but because of some jet lag and the lingering stress from getting lost a few times in the street, it took probably 30 minutes to fall asleep. There was so much on my mind. 

Petition for Review Against Mayor Lozano

Brand New Business Lounge, One of the First Guests

Guava Juice and Champagne (I had two)

Raw clams in miso sauce with red wine (my favorite meal on the plane.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Los Angeles Today - Honolulu Tomorrow

Me at the American Airline Admiral Lounge
Well, I'm at the airport lounge at Los Angeles Airport. I'm on holiday for a little while.

I'm so fortunate to have tons of miles. I used my miles this time to book some flights in the Pacific. I'll be laying over in Honolulu tomorrow and sleeping on a fishing boat.

I'm also really lucky because I got a free upgrade to First Class! Wow!

How many people get that? I'll take some pictures of what its like inside.

What am I going to do, while away? Read. Watch some series: Game of Thrones and True Detective are up there. I'll probably write a lot, which I always do when I'm away.

I was in such a rush, I forgot my computer charger and a rain jacket. I also forgot to say good bye to my kitty Jeh Pan (Trial in Korean.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Anniversary of Exposing Baldwin Park

The closer you get to the buried truth, the darker and lonelier it gets.
-Paul Cook
This month marks a number of anniversaries in my life: becoming a lawyer, my birthday, having a father, and the anniversary of taking a stance against the public officials and Manuel Carrillo Jr. of Baldwin Park. It's bittersweet because I'm also reminded about how Carrillo cruelly trumped up charges against the head boxing coach last year of an "inappropriate relationship" (without specifying any details) and fired him. He worked there for 17 years and in that time, he got a forty cent raise an hour. Carrillo, who was hired from Norwalk along with a former money laundering manager, got a $40,000 raise in one year. All we ever asked for was that the boxing program be extended to its normal hours and that the boxing coaches received the same wages as they do elsewhere - not $8.40 an hour. The City responded by firing the boxing coach, and then the Mayor and the police arrested and jailed and had a woman strip search me for telling the people the truth.

Since then, our boxing program, though some of the hours have been restored, has become more a training program from a dictatorial regime, such as the Nazis, Stasis, or the Soviet Union. The boxing coaches don't build a relationship with their boxers anymore because of the fear of getting fired. Because of the boxing coach's firing without cause, there's a deep mistrust that the employees have of the City Council, the administration, and Manny Carrillo. And anybody knows without a good relationship, there cannot be good mentoring.

It's almost like the program has turned into something from George Orwell's novel 1984. If you haven't read it, it's a novel that shows a world in the complete control of the government. As a result, you are not allowed to love or fall in love with anybody. Big Brother is always watching, and if you chose to love, bad results will happen, where the government will make sure that won't happen.

A year later, this is what Manny Carrillo has done. This is what happens when government has too much control of our basic rights, such as the right to have relationships with one another, to meet together, to eat together, and to stand up for people we care about. Is this really the function of a Parks and Recreation Director? He and the City Council have made the boxing club an unsafe place.

It hasn't been all gloomy. The boxers won a lawsuit against the city and got paid out. The newspapers and the media have also taken an interest in this little city and what's really happening here.

But, recently, I've done another public records act request. I've asked for all the loans the city has given out. I mean, shouldn't the citizens know who the city gave loans to, for how much, and under what conditions. Baldwin Park has now allegedly says it has no documents reflecting such loans because it gave it out to a private records retention corporation. One, this is of course illegal. Two, I don't believe them. How much money did these people really take from the city?

But what can you do? I guess we can always sue again.

I did a records inspection today on the vendor's list, which I have a copy of for one year. The City knows what I want. Instead, it asked me to look at a nonsense Excel Spreadsheet. Keep in my mind that Baldwin Park's been sued four times on the Public Records Act: two of which they've lost on and two of which are pending. You would think by now, they would to the right thing.

In any event, my assessment is that everything has changed in the game against the City of Baldwin Park. They've seemed to have resorted to new tactics. They've ratcheted up retaliation. And if anything, they still refuse to treat people with respect and dignity. In the end, the final ends of any government is not to combat terrorism or go to war or to stop drug trafficking, it's about upholding the rights and liberties of its citizens, so that we can live in harmony, peace, and freedom.

But the battle is tougher, and when it gets tougher, the more it calls on you to be strong. I read the most amazing note out of Wilbur Wright's notebook. (In case you don't know, him and his brother invented and crafted the first airplane in their garage). While obsessively studying birds and their flight, he said, "No bird soars in a calm." It means, without resistance, a bird cannot fly high. Now, think about that.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tribune Chimes in on My Lawsuit

Dear Readers,

Sorry, I haven't been in touch for awhile. I've been quit busy with court filings. Lot's has been going on, and I haven't been able to report on it. Here's a funny story.

After meeting with my legal mentor, he told me you have a lot of work to do on this brief. I thought, Oh no.

If you think you're having bad day at work, you can read this story. I was working on a court filing from 9 am to 3:15 am. At about 2:30 am, being so tired, I knocked over my drink and spilled it on the keyboard of my notebook. 

Because I didn't sleep much, I locked myself out of my car the next day. I called AAA to open the car. I asked the locksmith to give me a ride from the parking lot to the court of appeals. (He wasn't supposed to). 

The filing went fine though, as I've filed a writ there before on my crim case - except that wasn't as nearly complicated legally as this petition.

The cost of fixing the computer came out to $360. It's ok; I had insurance, which my brother forced me to get. That was smart. Buy insurance on your electronic products you use often if its worth money. Square Trade is awesome! 

So, because my computer was in repair, I wasn't able to write for awhile.

A summary of events has been that the Tribune has written an opinion about my lawsuit. I've copied and pasted it below. I'll try to update you more often, soon. Thanks for being patient. 

I just wanted to add a note regarding the Tribune article. Keep in mind when you're reading it, the question is why I was being annoying to these public officials? Why?

The most important point is that I know what they've done and did, and it's bad. I want the world to know. For it, they punished me; so, I'd shut up and go away. Sorry, that didn't happen.

Baldwin Park’s thin skin vs. free speech: Opinion

By the Editorial Board of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune

When it comes to free speech, for all but the purest of us, there is the theory and then there is the practice.
We can agree that the First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech,” and be ever so glad that our nation is one of the few in which such a gold standard defending personal expression of views exist.
And then when the drunken heckler stands up at our daughter’s wedding spouting nonsense, we can punch his lights out, all in good conscience.
Yet you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the Bill of Rights where it speaks to politeness vs. being a total cad. Perhaps that’s why they had to invent lawyers, and courts.
Baldwin Park activist Paul Cook is a lawyer himself, though not necessarily of the polite, establishment variety. He has a beef with City Hall, and he wants to tell the world about it. Cook represents a local boxing coach he says was treated unfairly by the city, which he says has not produced public records he has requested in the case. Mayor Manuel Lozano has filed a restraining order against Cook, which Cook has said is frivolous and unnecessary. Then, last July, at a public event in the city’s Morgan Park, Cook was arrested by Baldwin Park police when he booed Manuel Carrillo Jr., the city’s director of recreation and community services, when Carillo briefly stepped onto the park’s stage.
Isn’t a simple bellowed boo or two free speech of the guttural kind?
Not according to City Hall and the Police Department, which arrested Cook for disrupting a public event.
Cook says he was taken to jail and strip-searched for his alleged crime, and last week filed a federal lawsuit against the city for violating both his First and Fourth Amendment rights.
Guess who’s going to pay the legal bills for the city of Baldwin Park’s thin skins? Its working-class citizens will — no matter that the suits inside City Hall’s air-conditioned offices will claim most of the cost is covered by insurance. The citizens buy that insurance, and not to see it abused for the personal whims of politicians. This is a simple case of harassment by the Baldwin Park establishment of a citizen they would rather see go away. In a city with troubled youthpoor-performing schools and a desperate need for economic development, Baldwin Park officials have more vastly important jobs to do than arresting a booing activist.
The original article is found on:

Friday, June 5, 2015

This Just In - Los Angeles Times Runs My Story on Suing Baldwin Park For Violating My Rights

Booing activist sues, saying Baldwin Park cops wrongfully arrested him after protest attempt
By: Ruben Vives
Essentially, Paul Cook says, he was taken away by a Baldwin Park cop for booing at a city official.

When he returned to the city’s Morgan Park to exercise his right to protest, the lawyer and activist said he was arrested.

On Wednesday, Cook filed a civil rights lawsuit at the federal U.S. District courthouse in Los Angeles against Baldwin Park and a police officer, alleging his constitutional rights were violated, according to court records.  

Attorney Activist Sues City For Arresting, Jailing, and Strip Searching Him For Leafleting at the Park

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Paul Cook, attorney activist and blogger, filed a lawsuit on Apr. 3, 2015, in the Los Angeles Federal District Court based on his arrest and jailing last July at a public event while engaging in expressive activity where the  Baldwin Park recreation director and mayor were present during a city-sponsored event.  Cook was subjected to a strip search by a female office. The claims are based on Cook’s Right to Free Speech and Privacy, under the U.S. and California Constitution. The complaint seeks that the court issue a statement that the City of Baldwin Park violated Cook’s individual rights, as well as damages and attorneys’ fees.

Two months ago, the federal appeals court held that similar activities by activists on Skid Row were protected expression in a case similar to Cook's. In CPR for Skid Row v. the City of Los Angeles, the court held that activists creating noise as part of a protest on the streets could not be arrested under California’s misdemeanor law of disturbing the assembly (Penal Code Section 403), the same law used to arrest Cook. Also like Cook’s case, the California Supreme Court decided In re: Kay, 45 years ago, that clapping and shouting at a city park during a city-sponsored event could not support an arrest under this statute.

The lawsuit is one of many that have recently flooded the City of Baldwin Park. In October of 2014, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued the City for falsely imprisoning its plaintiff because he was undocumented. Cook also has cases against the City. He is the attorney on record for two Public Records Act lawsuits, currently pending with it. Already, he has obtained a court order against the City to release records, but the City continues to willfully disobey such orders. Last month, California Aware, a non-profit dedicated to enforcing open records law, also filed a Public Records Act lawsuit against the City of Baldwin Park.

Cook’s aim of the lawsuit is to enforce the right of the people to criticize public officials and administrators openly and without fear of revenge. Cook stated, “The City of Baldwin Park is like the Wild, Wild West. They do whatever they want. But, I’m glad I got the best gunslinger in town to protect my right to talk back.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Baldwin Park's Finance Director Resigns

Craig Graves - Finance Director of Baldwin Park
Yesterday, June 3, 2015, the city attorney announced that Craig Graves - Baldwin Parks Finance Director and the Secretary of the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation, a non-profit corporation - resigned. Questions are being asked.

Craig Graves became a permanent hire around December of 2013 to January 2014. After working about 18 months as the permanent finance director - he's resigned.

Rumors abounded on Friday that the City Council was ready to fire him. Rather than have that on his record, the director just resigned. This is the second person who has left the employment of Baldwin Park within the last two months. Something's happening that we're not seeing.

The resignation comes during a sensitive time, where the non-profit entity is being investigated by the California Attorney General.

The City is not stating the official reason of why it wanted to fire Craig Graves. Four theories have been proposed. The first one is that Craig Graves was fired for falsifying the budget - which showed that the Chief of Police, Michael Taylor and the police could get huge raises. After certain Council Members discovered what he did - the deception incited them. The second theory is that the City can blame Craig Graves for all the financial impropriety it's been involved in. The third one is that with Craig Graves gone, it'll be more difficult to get information from him, while investigations are being conducted. The fourth theory is that Roger Hernandez, California State Assemblyman, and his wife, Council Member, Susan Rubio, want to put one of their own friends in. Perhaps, getting rid of him, meets all of the above too.

I've stated that he was no good for a long time. Forced to resign by the City of Palm Springs, Craig Graves wasn't qualified for the job. He wasn't even competent enough to pass the exams for becoming a Certified Public Accountant.

The City, needing someone who would falsify books, heard about Graves through the desert networks. The Council Members, Mayor, and former City Manager Vijay Singhal hired him on contract, until they could trust him.

One of his first assignments was to falsify the budget, to make it look like the City was in dire straights because of the Baldwin Park Police Department. Then, the City wanted to fire all the police officers and bring in the Los Angeles County Sheriffs.

After a new Council majority was elected, however, the new Council voted for the police to stay. Under the control of then acting city manager, Michael Taylor( now Chief of Police), and Council Member Ricardo Pacheco, Graves was asked to falsify the books once again in the self-interest of Taylor. Taylor wanted the biggest raise he could get.

Yet, when the Police Union discovered that Graves had lied to the police about how much Baldwin Park could afford, anger erupted within the police force. They weren't going to get the raises promised to them. It was then, Graves was already asked to look for another job.

I always found him to be a sketchy character that couldn't be trusted. I told the council and mayor and city manager on a number of occasions to find someone else, but they liked him because he falsified the books for a hefty salary.

Before he was hired permanently, it was discovered that Graves removed evidence that the City made payments to him as a contractor. It was suspected he did so, so that the IRS wouldn't receive proof of the amount of money he received. So, what the IRS doesn't know, he doesn't have to report (not the law by the way). And what he doesn't have to report, Graves doesn't have to pay in taxes.

It's still not clear, however, if the city submitted a 1099 (proof of payment) to the IRS regarding all the money he made. And let's not forget that earlier in the year, the IRS fined Baldwin Park dearly for not matching the social security and medical payments for its employees.

Well - good riddance to bad rubbish. Getting rid of him, however, is not enough to hold this man accountable for the harm he's done to the community. That's why, I'm not dropping him as a defendant in my pending lawsuit against him. Well, another one down. Who's next?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Washington Post Takes Story on Mayor Suing YouTube Activist

James Butt - Mayor of Inglewood - Who Goes Around
Suing Activists
Well - Eugene Volokh writes again about Mayors who go around suing activists for posting YouTube videos of him. Again, it's another classic case of small minded city officials bullying the voice of dissent.

City sues critic for supposedly infringing city’s copyright by posting city council video clips (with commentary) on YouTube

Eugene Volokh

The city of Inglewood is suing a longtime critic of the mayor and city officials, alleging he violated copyright law by using footage of council meetings in videos blasting them for abusing their power.
Joseph Teixeira, who calls himself Inglewood’s Watchdog, is being represented pro bono by a defense team led by First Amendment specialist Tom Burke, a lawyer in Davis Wright Tremaine’s office in San Francisco.
(Peter Scheer (First Amendment Coalition) seems to have first broken this story.) Three of the videos are herehere, and here:
I’ve looked at Teixeira’s motion to dismiss and Inglewood’s response, and it seems to me the city is going to lose. First, County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) suggests that California law generally does not allow cities to claim copyright in public records; and while the city claims that this provision is trumped by federal copyright law, I don’t think the city is right — federal law treats local governments as political subdivisions of the state, and a state has the power to control what its subdivisions do (including which federal rights they claim).
[Read the rest on the Washington Post. You have to get to the end of the article to see who pointed out the article to Volokh.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mayor of Inglewood Tries to Punish a Citizen for Talking Back

James Butt - Mayor of Inglewood
Face of Free Speech Suppression
The Mayor of Inglewood - a city in Los Angeles County - files a suit to punish a citizen for posting YouTube Videos of him - portraying him as a liar and hypocrite and for being stupid. I criticized the Mayor of Baldwin Park too - for being a liar and incompetent and wasteful with the City's money. As a result, Mayor Lozano filed a meritless temporary restraining order against me.

I guess Mayors all over the Los Angeles area hire lawyers on taxpayer money and sue activists to shut them up from telling and investigating the truth. This activist is more than likely onto something, and something smells rotten in the City of Inglewood - another poor - low income stricken city.

Shame on Inglewood. Using copyright as a muzzle, the city files suit to censor a local critic

On Access by Peter ScheerBY PETER SCHEER–Inglewood CA doesn’t have much to commend it. To the various reasons not to live there–like high crime rates and bankrupt schools—the city government has added this threat: if you criticize the mayor or other officials, the city will hire lawyers to censor you.
That is the clear message to be drawn from Inglewood’s recently filed lawsuit in federal court against one Joseph Teixeira, a city resident. (City of Inglewood v. Teixeira.) Teixeira, who has a low opinion of Inglewood’s mayor, James Butts, shared his criticisms of the city’s chief executive in a series of videos. Posted to YouTube, they consist of Teixeira’s commentary interspersed with clips from the official recordings of Inglewood City Council meetings.
The  city’s lawsuit seeks damages, an injunction barring further airing of the videos on YouTube, plus payment by Teixeira of the city’s attorney’s fees—all for having the audacity to criticize his local government’s policies and leadership. Inglewood’s legal theory? That by incorporating into his YouTube videos segments of the official recordings (both video and audio) of council meetings, Teixeira infringed the city’s copyright. Seriously.
Now, copyright and freedom of speech coexist uneasily in the first amendment ecosystem,  as legal scholars have long noted. But putting that rather esoteric issue to one side, the real question here is more political than legal: How could Inglewood officials and their lawyers possibly have concluded that suing one of their more outspoken critics, in hopes of unplugging his unflattering videos, was an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars?
This is America, not Iran. Inglewood’s citizens are free to criticize government–openly, loudly, even offensively. (This is sometimes also referred to as “politics.”) Teixeira was exercising his birthright of US citizenship, the most fundamental of rights in a democracy, enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution. If that amendment means anything, it means that government is powerless to use the legal system to suppress political expression that the government dislikes.
Inglewood’s city council members, however, didn’t get the memo. And their attorneys apparently missed their law school classes on the first amendment.
Although Inglewood no doubt will argue that censorship was the furthest thing from city officials’ thinking—that the city sued Teixeira only to protect the value of Inglewood’s “intellectual property”—that is utter nonsense. The commercial value of the city-made videos of City Council meetings is zero. In fact, it’s hard to imagine video content with less audience appeal–and therefore less opportunity to sell ads or generate other revenue—than a bunch of council members sitting at a council meeting, alternately checking their email, checking the clock, and dozing off.
The only reasonable conclusion is that this lawsuit was cooked up to shut up Teixeira.
Back to the copyright issues for a moment . . . The city’s copyright claim must fail because the city council videos are public records subject to California’s Public Records Act. By enacting the PRA, the state waived copyrights to government-created records (except for the few that the Legislature specifically designates as copyrighted). Otherwise, the PRA would be meaningless, since local governments and agencies could assert copyright over any records they don’t want to disclose, regardless of the availability of PRA exemptions.
Copyrights, because they impose restrictions on expression, are in tension with the first amendment’s protection for free speech. We nonetheless have copyrights (in fact, they are mentioned in the Constitution) on the theory that they provide needed incentives for content creators–authors, artists, computer programmers and others. But this rationale makes little sense when a government entity, rather than a private individual or company, claims ownership of a copyright.
Copyright protection for recordings of Inglewood’s city council meetings won’t stimulate the making of more or better recordings; it will not cause the city to have more, or more productive, city council meetings. It serves no purpose other than to give city officials a club with which to suppress dissent.
Inglewood’s censorship suit deserves to be tossed out of court at the earliest opportunity. And Inglewood’s voters hopefully will make known their disapproval in the next election. Voting out the mayor and council members would be a powerful reminder that their job is to serve citizens,not sue them.