Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Student Struck at Council Meeting Because Illegal Contract is Not Extended

The Person In the White Shirt
Has Been Alleged To Have Struck
A Student in the Face
A Baldwin Park City Council meeting turned violent when an unidentified person allegedly struck a student in the face. The person who struck him is disputed by witnesses. The student was recording a conversation with the owner of Royal Coaches. The Baldwin Park chief of Police, Michael Taylor, was made aware of the alleged incident but did nothing. Witnesses are available. The victim, Nicholas Tomas, filed a police report.

Citizens were in shock that the City Council allowed the tow shop owner to strike a boy and not be evicted, charged, or arrested. Others have been evicted illegally out of the council chambers just for speaking out.

The protest were in reaction to the City of Baldwin Park attempting to enter into an illegal contract with Royal Coaches Towing Company. Although Royal Coaches had its contract renewed, allegedly illegally in 2013, it was seeking to renew its contract with the city for 15 years without having to go out to bid. Now, you might be thinking: So what? What's the big deal with a towing contract illegally being extended?

The answer is that this scam once again shows how the council members and the tow company were preying on the poorest of the poor to make themselves rich. The tow company already has a monopoly over city towing. What happened for a decade was that the Baldwin Park Police Department and tow company had a silent arrangement where the police would racially profile drivers, find the ones that most likely didn't have a driver's license, and then tow and impound their car for 30 days. The towing and impound fees would outstrip the value of the car. The owner of the vehicle would lose their property at auction, and the tow company would then make profit. The San Gabriel Tribune reported that in one year, the City made $1.2 million.

The scam really hurt the common person. As a young law student, I would argue impound hearings for those who had their cars illegally impounded. The most egregious case was when the father pleaded with the police that he needed his car to take his daughter to the doctors because she had eye cancer. The girl was 10. We showed the police a picture of her growing tumor. The detective had the never to say, "Life's tough." That memory scarred me.

But off the backs of the poorest of the poor, the corrupt steal their property and enrich themselves. Royal Coach is a well known political campaign contributor. Since local elections are coming up in October, Royal Coaches gave money in exchange for an illegal renewal of their contract. The politicians get their money. Royal Coaches attempted to get their contract.

But what do the citizens of Baldwin Park get? A police regime that is more interested in racially profiling drivers, rather than keeping our city safe. And the Chief of Police, like Michael Taylor, get free car repairs and body work done by Royal Coaches. Well, what can you expect from the Chief - who is gaining a reputation in the community for sexually harassing women and constantly smelling like booze? 

William Salazar told a citizen, "Well, I need my security too." It's hard to give the man any sympathy. I mean, I'm sure we'd all like a 15 year monopoly contract that promises us millions too. All of you who would want a guaranteed million dollar contract every year for 15 years, raise your hands. Well, some of us live in the real world, and there are the Salazars.

The whole scam shows us the problem of corrupt politics. Businesses steal from the taxpayer by controlling the decision maker through backdoor deals and bribes. Innocent people are hurt. Taxpayers are stuck with the bill. And the few steal an extraordinary amount from us. All the while, we have services that are aimed at discrimination and targeting the poorest of the poor.

No wonder why an estimated 100 protesters showed up to show their outrage against the illegal attempt to extend the contract. Such contracts are illegal because they can't be set for such a long time period.

Furthermore, every five years, or perhaps less, the city has to go out for bid. But Royal Coaches wanted to be above the law, and have a contract that violated it. And guess who drafted the contract? Yes, our favorite character Robert Tafoya. Wouldn't it be nice, if we could all make contracts that are in violation of the law but at the expense of the taxpayer, which promises us millions a year?

These protesters all knew someone who had their property stolen from them. If each one represented 5000 people, then 50,000 people voiced their concern at the City Council. That's quite remarkable, when you think that the city is made up of 70,000 people.

Yet, before the City Council meeting even started, it leaked that the city was trying to extend the contract for 15 years. So, over the weekend, the conditions were changed from 15 years to 10 years - and the word "Amended" appeared on the new proposal. Then, on the day of City Council - all the documents vanished.

Also, several sources have confirmed that the District Attorney's office contacted Robert Tafoya. The prosecutor recommended that the City pull the agenda item. Tafoya apparently didn't say anything about it. He also, in violation of informing the client of conversation, told all the council members about it.

In the end, before the city council meeting started, the Mayor pulled the item off the agenda. It's not clear if he removed the contract off of the agenda because he felt the pressure of the people's anger, or, if the district attorney's threat scared him into it. 

That, nonetheless, didn't stop the conflict from escalating at the City Council chambers. A student started recording a conversation with the owner of Royal Coaches, when the student was struck him by an unidentified business person. Although the Chief of Police, Michael Taylor, was aware of the battery, he refused to arrest and charge the suspect, who the police are aware of. This is despite the fact that several witnesses confirmed the striking of the boy.

Citizens also stated that William Salazar was racist in his remarks at public comments. According to them, he said that illegals deserve to have their cars towed and auctioned. Such comments only infuriated the public.

It's understandable that those without licenses shouldn't be driving, but taking their entire vehicle and selling it at auction is too harsh of a punishment. Often times, an entire family relies on one vehicle to take the children to school and the parents to work. A citation and a one day fine is a fair penalty. After all, that's the fine drunk drivers have to pay, and the statistics show that they are more dangerous as drivers than those who drive without licenses.

Mayor Manuel Lozano
Looking Sheepish For Pulling
The Towing Contract
It's clear in Baldwin Park that politicians are for sale. And when they sell themselves to the highest bidder, the net effect is harm to the hardest working and the poorest of the poor. As I've been saying, Baldwin Park is the shame of the San Gabriel Valley. And Samuel Johnson would agree, as he said, "A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization." Here, we steal from them.

Correction: The victim is not a minor, but a college student. And it was a business person, photo above, who struck him for recording Jim Salazar.

Editor's note: As of 8/27/2015, witnesses are disputing who struck the college student. Some say it was Jim Salazar. Other people are saying it was an unidentified business person. 

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