Saturday, October 29, 2016

How Baldwin Park Police Picked on the Poorest of the Poor for Profit: To Protect and Serve or to Harm and Steal

The Legal Lens discovered that the City has a secret bank account called the Baldwin Park Franchise Fund, which it used (and may still use) to collect profits from Hispanics by racially profiling them. For years, the Baldwin Park Police Department would racially profile Latino, mainly Mexican drivers, to pull them over, in hopes that they didn't have a license. Then, they would impound the car in storage for 30 days. Because the drivers were often too poor to pay the fees, the cars would be sold at auction to eager buyers. Essentially, the police department and the tow company stole the cars of tens of thousands of Latinos and reaped in millions of dollars.

After three court orders, (the City didn't want to comply with the first two,) the City of Baldwin released records showing that the from January of 2009 to July of 2013, the City made a profit of $2.3 million. During that period, they towed 15,247 cars. The tow company, Royal Coaches, alleged to have made $11.6 million.

The money the City received went into a secret bank account called the "Baldwin Park Franchise Fund," as opposed to the City's regular bank account called the General Fund. The Legal Lens asked for the City to release the bank statements for the fund; so, that we could see who took the money.

The City Clerk, Kristi Russell, said that the Finance Director, Rose Tam said no such records exist. But, that the City could provide summaries of how much was in the funds. That was agreed upon.

Apparently, the City had a large meeting with the directors and the chief of police to discuss what records were going to be released. They decided to give the matter to the City Attorney Robert Tafoya. Tafoya stated that no such records exist, even after the finance director admitted to having some records.

This leaves us citizens of the City left with two questions. One, who took all this money? We want to know who would be cruel enough to pick on the poorest of the poor to enrich his or her own bank accounts. Tell us.

Secondly, it questions the effectiveness of the California Public Records Act. Having a law that says cities need to release records should be enough. Moreover, having a court order should be plenty. Having three court orders is overkill. What's stopping a city from just lying and saying: "We don't have records." This is precisely what Baldwin Park's been doing.

Fortunately, the court stated that if Julian Casas wanted the bank statements, he could send an order to the bank to release the bank statements. So, yesterday, Casas's lawyer did precisely that, and subpoenaed the City's bank - Bank of the West.

So, let's see what happens.

This City is living within a nightmare conceived by the greed and brokenness of the Mayor and Council Members. It is all of our jobs to purify and drive out such disease and uncleanliness from ours homes, which rots away at our conscientiousness and festers, especially if we do nothing. As Kurt Cobain once said: "The duty of the youth is to challenge corruption."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

On making decisions; Back to the grind.

Sorry to my readers that I haven't written in awhile. I took some time off to make some important decisions. During that time, I also wanted to take time off from writing on my blog too, to see if it helped. (Not sure if it did or didn't.)

One of the biggest life choices before me was whether I should continue to litigate. All my cases are in appeal now, and what that means is that they're coming to an end.

It's not like asking me to work for someone. If I worked for someone, then I believe I'd have a moral or ethical duty to work at least 2 or 3 years. Some of these cases can last up to 5 to 10 years. Look at Julian Casas's case; even though I've already won, we're going on passed three years. I had a lot of thinking to do, if I wanted to continue on in the game of litigation or change jobs.

Although I've done remarkably well as a rookie lawyer, I've also been disappointed with some of the court's decisions. Let's not forget that they didn't discipline the City Attorney for forging my signature or his outburst when he tried to punch me. I think often about it. If I had done those things, I'm rather certain I'd have charges or be disciplined.

I was also unhappy about how the Mayor had nothing happen to him for filing false charges against, alleging I was dangerous, with his temporary restraining order stunt.

Also, the court refused to pay me for defending my client Greg Tuttle, who the council members and Mayor sued to shut him up. The attorney on their side made $52,000 in taxpayer money. I got $0.00.

While I was away, though, I met a young Italian doctor. He was telling me how he spent thousands of dollars to be back with the love of his life, emptying out his savings. Then he said that he had to give it everything he has, so that he can live without regrets, knowing that he tried.

I think that conversation changed my life; as, I never met anyone who was so willing to really give everything he had to be with the person he loved.

Another mentor told me that I was young and right now, fate, luck, and skill are on my side. So, with those thoughts in mind, I decided that I need to continue to litigate, at least for awhile longer. As it's been said in King Lear: "Men must endure their going hence." (Simple English: To be a man, one has to last through suffering.)

I learned many things on my break from reality. I met a young, beautiful English witch. She told me that she knew how to take on the spirit of birds. She also took frankincense and lit it and said a prayer to her gods. I watched and found it interesting.

I met an herbalist, who taught me how to cure various ailments with different plants.

I, also, met a youth, who ran away from home. The thing is, several years ago, he met me once, at another place and time, and he instantly recognized me. He brought us over some spirits; we drank some and told stories about our lives, under the stars. That was really nice.

I finished a lot of reading. I learned more on how to improve my speaking. I picked up a few more skills. And I made some really important decisions.

All in all, it was an awesome break.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Thoughts This Week - On Simplicity

This is one my favorite pieces by Pablo Picasso.
Note: how it only took him a few lines to represent
a rooster. That's simplicity for you.
This week has been slower than usual; so, not too much that's been exciting, except I've been working on simplifying and decluttering my life. I would say I'm about 80% done.

I knew I had a problem with having too much stuff, when I opened my luggage one day and I couldn't find the conditioner. I could, however, find three small shampoo bottles, three toothbrushes, several toothpaste tubes, and a number of hand lotions. (I collected most of these from the hotels, where I stayed, and they were all in such pretty little bottles.) If my luggage represented my life, I realized, I had a problem. This was too messy to go on this way. I was in Mexico City then, when I realized I had a problem, and I jotted it in my head, note to self: fix when you get back.

Back in Los Angeles, I asked my friend Joy, who is perhaps one of the most organized people I know, I have too much stuff, and I'm disorganized. (This is opposed to myself, who is absent minded, loses stuff all the time, and is disorganized.)

Well, bingo, I asked the right person for advice. She was an avid disciple of Marie Kondo, who wrote the best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Not to generalize, but women tend to love this book. I really mean love it. (I have to admit, I can't understand why they love it, but even I highly recommend it for people who need more organization. It's the first book of many that I read that actually worked for me.)

I picked Joy's brain and figured out what I had to do. I had to throw things away. Basically, you can't even begin organizing, if you have too much junk.

This was hard for me, especially coming from a poorer family - who always told me not to waste anything. It was also hard because I just got used to having items around forever, like notes I took in college 14 years ago. I don't know why, I had such a hard time letting go. But I had a problem, I had clutter, and I wanted my life to be simpler.

I also found it challenge to get rid of books. No matter how poor my parents were, my father put in over time if I wanted to buy books. (So, I had a lot of books as a child, which is probably why I don't watch TV today.) My parents raised me to believe books were precious and sacred. And although that's true, I had to come to peace with the fact that most books (fiction being excluded) is basically just information. And many of my books, especially my college ones, were outdated and the information was no longer good. So, the entire change in thought was difficult.

The number one rule that Kondo says, is basically throw out everything that you don't love or doesn't bring you joy. My college notes on organic chemistry, I neither loved nor did it bring me joy. It was out, and so was so much other stuff.

Going back to all the toiletries in my bag, I basically put all the extra toiletries in storage and kept what was needed. So, when I used up, let's say my shampoo, I'd just grab another one out of storage to replace it. See, that simplified everything.

In the end, I donated 6 boxes of books and 6 trash bags full of stuff. I felt tired. It was mentally tiring to really think through each item and ask if it brought me joy, if it needed to be tossed, or if I really, really needed it in the future.

I had to go through the decluttering process twice. Twice I got rid of old clothes, some of which were from high school (but still fit!)! Twice, I got rid of books, some of which were also from high school. In short, I cut out the junk accrued, from 20 years of living.

Like magic, I felt a great burden lift from my spirit. It was such a freeing process to cleanse my life of all the unnecessaries. It made me realize that the curse of the American way of life, is that the American Way tries to convince you that you can't be happy without having stuff. But there's such a heavy weight in holding onto such useless objects, I didn't even know it, until I got rid of it. And when I did so, I realized what's really most important in life, and it's not having stuff; that's for sure.

Like the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once said, "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How Democracies Fail

In Southern California, it's becoming clear that democracy is failing, at least in cities where the poor live. Four cities that prove this is the City of Maywood, the City of Bell, the City of Industry, and the City of Baldwin Park. The result is that public officials are in the business of laundering taxpayer money back to themselves. The end result, however, is that people stay poor, and there is no future for our residents.

What all these cities have in common, are they're all comprised of Hispanic, poor people. On average, the residents of these cities make $15,000 a year. These cities also have an unreported percentage, of undocumented Hispanics, generally from Mexico.

Generally, what happens is that poor residents are busier thinking about how to pay the rent and pay the bills, then in understanding what local governments are doing. The undocumented, generally, are afraid of retaliation. The two factors create a system, where the public officials of these cities learn how to rig the votes, to stay in power, so that they can take money for themselves, in eternity.

Take for instance the City of Industry. The LA Times just popped them for awarding millions of dollars in contracts unaccounted for. What this implies, is that the money went back to the pockets of the public officials.

What the Times also discovered is that the 400 people who voted, all lived in housing owned by the City or the public officials' family. See, how public officials control the vote?

Maywood's finances are in dire straights right now. You would think after an attorney general review and a state audit, they'd do things right? Nope. They're now $18 million in the hole, and they'll never get out of it. Looks like the public officials are still more interested in their limo rides and their stipends then fixing the situation.

Many of us know about the story of the City of Bell. The City Manager was making a million a year. The residents couldn't stop them. A number of the public officials and administrators were convicted and are staying in prison now.

Finally, Baldwin Park's election fraud is obvious in one precinct called 600028A. It looks like it was done by vote by mail. I wrote an entire analysis on what highly looks like voting fraud in Baldwin Park here. Ex Felons Hijack the Election

My solution is not to deport these people. I believe, like someone once said, that the poor will always be with us. So, the solution is not to outcast the poor population even further. They've already been outcasted. They live in Baldwin Park, of all places. Baldwin Park is already the City of No Hope.

I'm also not advocating a new type of democratic system. Winston Churchill may have been correct when he said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

I'm only pointing out that democracies are more vulnerable into transforming into dictatorships in poorer cities. And, we as a society need to be aware of this.

I used to believe the solution was for more oversight from independent agencies, like the prosecutor's office. But, I don't think that works either. We already have an LA County District Attorney, with a public corruption division, that hasn't been achieving much.

Really, as I've said before, the only people who can remedy this situation is the common citizen that cares about his or her community. And remedying it, requires that if someone cares enough, they have access to the truth. The solution has to be, stronger enforcement of open records laws, to get to the truth. And with the truth, one can tell the community what's really happening.

No wonder why Justice Brandeis once said, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thoughts This Week: Serving Food and a Fever

Earlier this week, I had chills. Although I felt cold, I knew I was hot. I had stabbing pains in my right shoulder blade. I pulled the blankets over me; I sweated, until my blankets were soaked.

My mother came in and asked: "What's wrong?"

"I think I have a fever."

She felt my head and said in anger, as if it was my fault: "How'd you get that?!"

"I don't know."

Truth be told, it's been a long time I've been in bed with an illness. So, I kind of liked it, especially because it didn't feel too serious.

In bed, since I had a fever, I read John Donne's 17th Century poem, The Fever. It's about a guy, who is watching his lover die from a fever.

My favorite lines are as follows:

These burning fits but meteors be,
Whose matter in thee is soon spent ;
Thy beauty, and all parts, which are thee,
Are unchangeable firmament.

It means: "Your burning, fever, spells are like meteors, and like meteors, their stay in your body is temporary. But your beauty and everything, which are you, will remain, like the foundations of the earth."

Knowing Donne, a metaphysical poet, I'm sure that the poem represents more. Probably something about how the fever cleanses one's soul and brings one closer to God.

At the time though, I wasn't in the mood to analyze the entire poem about how illness, lovers, and the world brings one closer to God. After all, my body was ablaze inside.

I fell asleep for 12 hours. The fever broke at some point. I felt better in the morning. And after a few days, I felt much better.

We're still trying to figure out what that fever was about and what brought it on. We're guessing it's food poisoning. But, we'll never know for sure.

I have to say, I felt cleansed, just like the poem said I would be.

It almost felt like a heavy and ancient, evil spell came out of my soul, and I was released from its caster.

In the latter part of the week, I cooked for my friends, who just recently had a baby. I tossed the spices in a warm pan and stirred it.

He asked, "What are you doing with the spices?"

I answered, "You should always roast them before using them. It brings out all the flavors."

Soon, the kitchen burst into smells of warm and hot spices, as if we were in an Arabic mother's kitchen. I loved it.

I made them a meatball recipe that came from Jerusalem. It was enjoyable for all of us. We paired it with lovely and full flavored wines. The food was so good, we were picking at the food, before we sat down and ate. When I came home, I wish I had more to eat.

That was all for this week.