Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Year in Review for 2017 - Live a Beautiful Life

This post wants to highlight the Len's achievements of the year. This year, we brought you a combination of investigative stories and cases. Let's start with the stories then the cases then the travel articles.

Investigative Pieces


There's no doubt that the Legal Lens was the first to break the story that Baldwin Park's Chief of Police took drug money (and what appears to be bribe money) to fund his public office campaign of the West Valley Water Board. It also found his little scheme to defraud the Californian taxpayer and CalPers with an incredible retirement package, drafted by Robert Tafoya, resulting upward of more than a million dollars in retirement.

Is Mayor Manuel Lozano an Undocumented Criminal from Mexico?

According to a newspaper article in the Brownsville Herald, Manuel Lozano, in his delinquent youth was an undocumented criminal who attempted to smuggle over 500 kilograms of marijuana across the border. We need to ask more questions about his history and past and when he was naturalized, and if he's from Texas, why he has a California social security number belonging to a class of visas that allowed for migrant Mexican workers. Also, is it possible that he's using multiple social security numbers? Anyways, you can read about it here.

Baldwin Park Shows Irregularity in Voting

The title sums it up, but it looks like there's high irregularity in voting regarding the vote by mail (or absentee) votes. Read about it here.

How governments steal from us?

This piece was a popular social commentary that shows how governments tax us to enrich themselves.


Free Speech Victory in Federal Court - Court Strikes Down Baldwin Park's Sign Law to Protest them

In a victory for the people, the federal court struck down Baldwin Park's sign ordinance - saying it's ok for us to put up signs that mock and humiliate council people. Greg Tuttle put up a sign that depicted Council Member as an ass and labeled him corrupt. For it, Pacheco tried to fine and destroy Tuttle's credit. The court dissolved the law, and said you people have to write a better law that allows for Free Speech. Victory for the people. Read about it here: On Free Speech

Casas v. City of Baldwin Park (Casas I)

Although the Court of Appeals ruled against us, we fought really hard to try to get financial bank statements from the City of Baldwin Park. Sadly, the court stated that it was ok for the City to lie about not having these statements, when it actually did. It also ruled that the City doesn't have to release documented under the California Public Records Act or court order. It was a sad day for us all, but we fought hard and did our best and that has to be commended. Court of Appeals Rules Against Casas (Sadly, Julian, a boxing coach for 20 years, lost his job over this case, because Carrillo, et. al. fired him.) In any event, some times what counts is telling truth to power and fighting with your heart, soul, and strength.

The Supreme Court Filing: Casas v. City of Baldwin Park (Casas II)

In another disappointment with the case, we filed a petition that should have reversed the Court of Appeal and trial court for letting the City to withhold records with their scam nonprofit. You can read the story - here.

In this story, the boxers discovered that the Parks and Recreation director was running a scam nonprofit called the Baldwin Park Community Corporation, which it sued for records withheld. The Court of Appeal said that the trial court needed to order the City to release records, but the trial court dismissed the case. (How that happens, I don't know?) And the Court of Appeal didn't want to bother to force the trial court, and the Supreme Court didn't take the case. Another sad day for the citizens, but once again, we tried.

In any event, we were successful in getting Carrillo's nonprofit shut down. (Unfortunately, he started another one called the Baldwin Park Charitable Relief Fund.)

Local Business Owner: Greg Tuttle Sues the Mayor and Council Members for Malicious Prosecution.

Local business owner, Greg Tuttle sued the Mayor Manuel Lozano and the Council Members Ricardo Pacheco and Monica Garcia and Water Board Member Lenet Pacheo, for filing a frivolous restraining order to shut him up. (Incidentally, the Mayor tried this with me too.) We tried to sue them in small claims court, but the case again was tried and they didn't have to pay anything. Again, another disappointment, but it doesn't mean we stop and let these people run over our right to protest and speak out against their corruption. You can read about the story here.



My most popular travel piece was my time in Jamaica (though it wasn't my personal favorite).


I also brought you to Peru - where I spent five months. Readers enjoyed about reading about ancient wind swept ruins of ancient Incan people.

They also enjoyed reading about time in about learning to surf in Huanchaco. I also brought you with me to Cusco and Machu Picchu, where my trip ended.


Then I headed off to Colombia and am enjoying the food and sun and beach of the Caribbean Coast from Cartagena.


This year, I encouraged readers and myself to be radically generous and to think about what they're life will stand for when they're gone: What would you do, if you had a year to live?

Personal Reflections for 2017

I've been gone now for six months from home. So, half the year I was in Baldwin Park, and the other half I was traveling. I guess the best way I can look at this question is to ask myself: What contribution I made to your life by my writings this year? In one of my posts, I ask: "What's more truer than truth?"

It's a story. But what's more truer than a story?

It's living a beautiful life. Who can contest or argue against someone who does that? I've tried to do that this year, and I hope I've left some of you with that thought.

The biggest life change for me this year, without a doubt, was getting out of debt totally and completely. It lets you be free in your spirit and life. So, that's been my greatest joy this year.

So, Happy New Years for 2018, from Cartagena, Colombia.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Making Fish Curry in Cartagena, Colombia for 11

Jay and me, with the vegetables and fish for curry.
We're watching a UFC match at the bar, with workers,
on a Friday - around 05:30P.
I made fish curry for 11 South Americans yesterday. So, I'm staying in a "safe house," by the Caribbean Coast, and the girl in charge ordered me to cook for the Argentinian and Chilean gypsies. So, I agreed. The owner of the house, Jay, and I went to the fish market, which you could smell from far away. I bought vegetables and 4 large fish - which ended being very bony.

I thought curry would be easy to make, and it generally is, but it's a lot more work (no matter the dish), when you're cooking the dish for 11 people. When I was in Huanchaco, I had more help. But here, not really.

Let me tell you about the 11, generally. They're mainly buskers - you know? Those people who play music on the street and panhandle for money. So, at night, or in the afternoon, they juggle, play the guitar, or play drums to make money. Most are from Argentina, a few from Chile, the owner is obviously Colombian, and I'm the only English speaker.

I have a hard time understanding their Spanish. But I guess, after spending enough time with them, I've definitely learned to hear the different accents to pick out where people are from.

Yesterday, we had 28 people stay in the house. Can you believe that? It's a big house but not that big. Thank goodness, I have my own room.

There's definitely a language barrier - as everyone speaks way too fast for me. And they use a lot of slang and different words. But I remind myself, I should stay. I know I need the immersion, but with the TaylorGate investigation pending, I haven't put a lot of time into studying my Spanish.

Then, there's a lot of drama with the usuals. I don't think I can post about it. But I told you one story - where a guy stole a copper's helmet, and we got raided.

Here's my story. One day, I met a little kitty, who couldn't have been older than 6 weeks old, by the bridge that connects me to the old city. It was cute. So, I petted it for awhile. I looked around for his mother, but the mother wasn't around. After playing with him, he followed me and wouldn't leave me alone. Then, I felt bad and sorry for it. I felt like I couldn't abandon him.

So, I picked it up and in the middle of the night I put him in the house. And that's how the kitty ended up living with us. He just mysteriously appeared one day, and no one knew why. Nobody objected to him. And the owner and the manager seemed to like him a lot. He was such a cute fur ball; I'll have to take a picture of him.

Then one day, I was sitting with Facundo, an Argentinian guy. Then I told him in Spanish, "I have a secret."

He asked: "What is it?"

I told him, "I brought the kitty to house."

Then he started busting up laughing and saying, "Seriously?" But everyone heard him laughing so loud, I'm sure in the morning, he told them I brought the kitty. I don't think the owner knows the story yet.

Back to the curry. It came out divine, and it really was one of the best curries I had or made, though I don't make curry often. I guess I knew to make a fish curry, because when I lived in commune in New Zealand, over 10 years ago, I made a Jamie Oliver fish curry, which everyone loved. People asked me for the recipe. It's not something you would think would turn out to be a hit for a big group.

I know I could make it better, but here, in Cartagena, I didn't have access to all the spices I needed. And on secret ingredient, I spent a few hours boiling the fish bones into a rich and strong and hearty fish broth. It was certainly a process, especially on roasting the spices - which I always find to be a spiritually purifying and uplifting meditative act. The roasting releases all the rich smells of spices into the air, and it's wonderful to smell. And I'm sure that and the rich broth was what made it taste so heavenly and divine. Needless to say, there were no leftovers.

Anyways, that's my current report from the Caribbean. I'll make sure to go to the beach today; it's desperately needed.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas from the Caribbean!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Caribbean Coast of Cartagena, Colombia. Feliz Navidad!

-Paul Cook

Saturday, December 23, 2017

From Bogota to the Caribbean: Colombia, Colombia!

Me in Cartagena, Colombia
I stayed one night in Bogota; ate at a vegetarian restaurant, which was very good; and then I took a flight to Cartagena, Colombia - which lies at the Caribbean. I had a terrible flight with Viva Colombia. I cannot recommend them, as they employ predatory and potentially illegal methods to make profits. (They forced me to pay an extra luggage fee, even though my luggage fit in their guidelines. They said or else - we don't let you board; it was a form of blackmail.) The passenger next to me tried to calm me down, but when she started asking me personal questions - I got upset again and shut her out.

When I got off the plane, I breathed in the air, which was was balmy and hot, and I felt good and happy. I was finally at a place with heat and sunshine. It was the first time in months that I could wear shorts and flip flops again. Taxis were expensive into town, but a motorbike offered me a ride. He wanted $2, but I had to place my luggage on my lap as he rode into town. Imagine being on a bike with your carry on luggage on your lap.

Once I got to the hostel, the hostel owner lied about the room I was getting. Then the owner starts arguing with me over chat. I was not having a good day. Not a fun start to my trip.

I called my German friend Tobi over my iPhone camera. He smiled to see me and that made me smile too. I just told him how everything was going wrong today, and he started laughing and that made me laugh and calm me down. That helped a lot. Laughing is a good thing.

And all wasn't that bad. Breakfast was good.

There, I met some bikers from America, who offered me some rum. That was nice of them. A few were from Oregon. One was from Florida. Apparently, they were all riding their bikes down from the United States all the way to the bottom of Argentina, where the boats leave to Antartica. Because they were nice, I gave the Oregon group my tour book for Peru - where they were headed off to. We were a little American group, and I haven't had that experience on this trip.

I moved to a hostel across the street, which was inhabited by Argentinian gypsies. I liked it better there. The owner and I have a coffee every day and talk. It's a good way to start the day.

But one day . . .

The police raided our place. This was because one of the gypsies hates the Colombian cops, who harass him for juggling on the streets. So, he stole a copper's helmet, and the copper got tape of him entering the hostel. So, they decided to raid it.

I saw the owner with the cops talking outside. I asked the guests what happened. They told me. I researched Colombian law and founded they needed a warrant.

After introducing myself as an American lawyer (something I don't remember doing once in my Sabbatical) - I told them that they needed a warrant, unless it was an emergency. And losing a helmet is not an emergency.

We got into a discussion. They knew they were wrong, but being Colombian coppers - they didn't leave. One cop said that the stolen helmet constituted an emergency. The other one, who was more cleve,  said that the house wasn't totally private, because it was open to rent to guests. I didn't know if we could film them but that would have been best, as I told them again they needed a warrant. And once the helmet was recovered, that's it. The investigation was finished. Anyways, they shut down the gypsy house for five days.

In any event, I was eating every day at French Restaurant in the district of Getsemani, which used to be the area slaves lived in. (Getsemani gets its name from the garden in which Jesus suffered so much that the Gospels say he sweated blood.) It's now where all the tourists are. I order the shrimp ceviche - which is divine with mangos and coconut milk. I can't imagine shrimp being cooked any other way now - as acid preserves the delicate texture of the shrimp.

I called my mom and told her that I spend too much on shrimp ceviche. She told me that I only live once and to enjoy. I smiled at hearing that.

She also told me Jeh Pan has a new best friend named Jeffrey (another cat), who comes over every day. Apparently, Jeffrey wants to play with Jeh Pan every day, but Jeh Pan bores of him.

Back to Cartagena. Cartagena has a rich history, but I haven't learned about it yet. I know that it was one of three cities in Latin America, where the Catholic Church and the Spanish could conduct its Spanish Inquisition - the other two being Mexico City and Lima. It also seems like the place is full of bling, bling, money, cocaine, and prostitutes. (It's also hard for me to believe I'm only three hours away from Florida.)

What do I do here? When I'm not investigating the corrupt City of Baldwin Park - I go to the beach and swim in the warm Caribbean water. The only thing I don't like about this place is that the sun sets early here - around 6PM. The one thing I love and will always remember is the gentle and fresh sea breeze that blows throughout the streets.

I guess I won't be coming home for Christmas. I'll be spending it with gypsies. I'll tell you how that goes.

a Jeh Pan tattoo

Best chicken I ever had - look at the texture inside. Cooked blackened - Caribbean style.

Me at the beach again
Shrimp Ceviche with plantain chips

Me happy writing in a cafe.

Me at the beach again

Cartagena at night, note all the yachts

Cartagena at sunset 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

TaylorGate - Did Chief of Police Michael Taylor Take More Dirty Money to Become a Public Official?

Chief Michael Taylor in uniform
(C) LA Times
Did Baldwin Park Chief of Police, Michael Taylor, take even more drug and contraband money to fund his campaign to become an elected official on West Valley Water Board? After investigating Taylor's political campaign contribution form filed on September 26, 2017 - The Legal Lens discovered that Taylor was taking money from an individual named Bershatski, who subsequently received a marijuana grower's license. The Pasadena Star has also confirmed this finding. According to the Star, Bershatski refuses to comment on the affair.

It gets worse, however. Upon investigating Taylor's 460 form filed on October 25, 2017 - it appears that Taylor may have accepted more anonymous dirty money to run for office. What is our democracy coming to when a police chief has to accept drug and contraband money to become a public official? Come and see the dark underbelly of elections.

According to Taylor's second 460 form for 2017, he received $7,000 from a CA Education Coalition PAC (Id # 1397125) Pasadena, CA 91117. A PAC is a political action committee that collects money from various individuals, who can give money and hide their identity to donate to a candidate. But what is this organization?

Taylor misrepresents that the CA Education Coalition PAC is located in Pasadena with a zip code of 91117. After doing a search on the California Secretary of State's website - we discover that the PAC is actually registered in Baldwin Park.

Oh???!!! That's interesting.

Isn't this where Taylor is Chief of Police? It's often said that all roads lead to Rome. In this case, all roads of corruption appear to lead back to where? That's right: Baldwin Park.

The PAC's agent is listed under the phone number 626-337-9615. Who is this?

Another search then shows that the number belongs to a K&C Altadena Dairy doing business as Patel C. Kaushik (aka Kaushik Patel). The business is located on 14042 Ramona Blvd, Baldwin Park, CA 91706. (Anonymous sources say that Taylor has alleged that Patel is his campaign manager. But Taylor's 460 form lists a Robert Rego as his treasurer signatory.)

What this means is that whoever donated the money allegedly gave it to Patel or K&C Altadena Dairy as to hide their identity. But why would someone want to remain anonymous in donating to Taylor? And what's the link to Pasadena?

Going off the theory that Taylor likes to reward those with his position as Chief of Police, which may have happened with Bershatski, is there anyone in Pasadena who received a marijuana grower's license?

The question, thus, to ask: Is out of the 10 businesses selected for a license, are any of one of them located in Pasadena?

Bingo. Organic Management Solutions, LLC is registered to a DOUG BOULWARE, who is located at 3579 E FOOTHILL BLVD #737 PASADENA CA 91107. The zip code 91107 is similar to the zip code that Taylor put on his 460 regarding his PAC.

Ok, but that still doesn't answer where the money comes from? Another question may answer that: Where will Organic Management Solutions, under Doug Boulware, be doing business? 14837 & 14841 Ramona Blvd, Baldwin Park.

And who owns that property? Ramona Park Inc., which is owned by the Salazar family, who operates Royal Coaches Inc.

Royal Coaches Inc., which is owned by the Salazar family, is an old and familiar and long time campaign contributor to Baldwin Park politicians, candidates, and administrators. (It also won't be the first time that Taylor has received benefits as a police officer from Coaches.) Legal Lens has often argued that the Salazars have been a blight and a cancer in Baldwin Park.

Remember my report on how coaches used to steal the cars of the undocumented to rake in at least $12 million by stealing from the poorest of the poor. The Los Angeles Superior Court has also issued a report on how Baldwin Park has been the worst offender of violating individual constitutional rights to make huge profits by stealing cars. (Now that they're funding has run dry, looks like the Salazar brothers are looking for more fertile ground. No pun intended.)

So, I'm going to simplify my theory of Taylor's second funding source in this easy diagram:

Royal Coaches ----> $$$$ ----> Individual 1 ------> Individual 2 -----> CA Educational PAC -----> Michael Taylor for Water Board.

Royal Coaches <------ Marijuana license approval <------- Michael Taylor.

See now?

According to the Pasadena Star, after Taylor was confronted about receiving money, he blamed it on his campaign manager. It's ironic that by alleging his campaign manager did it, Taylor, a police chief, resorted to one of the most common defenses used by murderers, which in the criminal defense world is called SODDI (Some Other Dude Did It).

More investigation needs to be done. Can a candidate accept $7,000 and $10,000 from one organization? Also, is Taylor's filing a form of fraud?

Nonetheless, a few things are clear. Taylor has not only soiled the image and reputation of Baldwin Park and the Office of the Chief of Police, he has also shown us the ugliest side of our democratic system. Dirty money funneled anonymously. (No wonder why people are upset at the ruling of Citizen's United.) A Police Chief accepting drug and contraband money to abuse his position in office. Politicians behind the scenes receiving undisclosed benefits. And a police chief who lies and is full of deception on his campaign filings to run for office. Sadly, it appears in our system, that taking dirty money, lying, and cheating is a sure fire way to get into public office. As they say, there's no honor amongst thieves.

Really, it's time for an entire overhaul of  the system, one that promotes honesty and holds deceivers and plunderers of public funds accountable. In this case, what's happening is that the blood money of the undocumented, the poorest of poor, went into funding Taylor's campaign. In other words, money from the oppressed went to the ugly oppressor to continue his oppression.

In any event, there is more to come. Also, if you have any information on Douglas Boulware or Kaushik Patel or Robert Rego, please come forward and email me. Stayed tune to the ongoing coverage of TaylorGate brought to you by The Legal Lens, writing on TaylorGate since May of 2014.

Editor's note: Thanks to GA for his comments and feedback in editing this article.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Did Chief of Police Michael Taylor Accept Drug Money to Fund His Public Office Campaign?

Baldwin Park's Chief Michael Taylor
(Obviously, fitness isn't a criteria to be chief.)
Photo copyright of the LA Times.
According to Michael Taylor's campaign contribution form (called 460) for the West Valley Water District submitted in September of 2017, Taylor accepted a $10,000 contribution from a Sharone Bershatski. Is it any coincidence that a Shaun Bershatski at 14824 Ramona Boulevard is applying for a coveted marijuana growing license at the upcoming special meeting on December 20, 2017?

I think not.  (These licenses are highly coveted, because the council has restricted the number of people receiving them - creating an artificial monopoly on marijuana distribution.) Can anything be more ironic than a Chief of Police accepting drug money to become a public official?

Such poor judgment reveals the incompetence and moral failings of this Chief. It further damages the reputation and the the Office of the Chief of Police in Baldwin Park.

Such unsound thinking calls into question whether Taylor received such money to influence the council people as to whether Bershatski could receive a vote. Furthermore, even if an official license doesn't issue, Taylor could order his officers to look the other way regarding prosecution of illegal marijuana growing with Bershatski. If all this is true, it calls into question whether Taylor has already violated the law. Is this the reason that he has no firing clause, unless he commits a felony? (I think so.)

In any event, the only respectable thing left for this Chief to do is to resign and to take his corrupt character out of Baldwin Park, for the people, for the City, and even for himself. We've had enough.

In the words of Marge Simpson: "Well, the courts might not work anymore, but as long as everyone is secretly videotaping everyone else, justice will be done." (More to come on the corrupt Chief. Please support me in calling for Taylor's resignation from public office and the position of the Chief of Police! For the good of the people!)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

From Lima, Peru to Bogota, Colombia

Me at the Lima Art Cafe
At my last day in Lima, I went to their main art museum; when I stayed in Lima the first time, I actually stayed in French mansion near the museum. But I was in no mood then to see it, then; I was really grumpy and unhappy - probably because the weather was also bad then. Now, I wanted to go.

From Cusco, Peru - I caught a flight that took an hour and a half into Lima. I stayed with a local in Lima. The airlines served me peanuts and instant coffee. I stayed there before, but this time, I had a better time. I was more awake and more alert.

I told the family all about my travels in the South - from Arequipa to Machu Picchu. They enjoyed hearing about my travels. I brought them a bottle of my favorite South American wine, and we drank and chatted through the night.

The next day, I went to the art museum. I had a good time exploring and looking at everything. (Scroll below to see my favorite pieces and my commentary on why I liked them.)

I had a terrible time with the public transportation in Lima. It reminded me how stressful it would be to live in Lima - with people pushing you and touching you and blocking you from getting a seat. I hated it. A guard and I at the Metro station got into an argument too. Public transportation in Lima is stressful.

From Lima, I booked a cheap flight to Bogota, Colombia for only $140 USD. But, be careful! I don't necessarily recommend Viva Colombia. They're very predatory - and they tried to charge me for a ticket out of Colombia - thankfully I already bought a ticket out of Colombia. And, they try to charge you for extra baggage, and if you don't have a boarding pass, they'll charge you $30.

I got into an argument with a lady in Bogota, later with Viva Colombia. (But on that later.) We're still in Lima - in this part of the story. It took 3 hours to get into Colombia, but I arrived late. There was no public transportation available.

Thankfully, I met a kind couple - who I didn't know. She asked her papa to take me to my host's place. And that was it. I was done with Peru. I've been there five months; it's probably the third longest place I've stayed in my life for an uninterrupted time. First is Los Angeles. Second is Wellington, New Zealand. Third, is now Peru.

Enjoy my art photos. P.

Even though this is an ancient piece - pre-Colombian,
the artist seemed to have a sense of humor with the monkey.

This dragon monster is holding an
offering cup; it's about the size of an index finger,
but the details of it are extraordinary. 

Traditional shawl covering, no longer in use
I like this painting, because it depicts everyday life.
The two groups are carrying their cocks to a cock fight.
I appreciate that the artist chose to photograph an indigenous person.
Most photographs were taken only for the wealthy class. 
There's something interesting about this ID photo.
Notice the number of it.
It's hard to tell the class of the subject for me. 
This is the hallmark piece of the museum. It's the capturing of
Atahualpa in Cajarmca. He was the last Incan King.
This painting is so large, when you look at it, you feel like you're
a witness to the capture.
This is supposed to be a representation of Madonna.
Never seen an indigenous version of her.
This is one of my two favorite paintings of the museum.
It's theme is equality. You can see a black girl, an Indian girl,
and a white boy all playing cards. Note the women and the
minority have their faces showing, while the boy's identity is obscured.
It's a typical European painting, but I found the subject, and light, and skill extraordinary.
I really like this modern painting. It's one of my two favorites.
The artist died very young but potentially was one of the best
art students in Lima. 
This was painted in water, around 1800. It's rare
to see black people in art, during this time.

Friday, December 15, 2017

LA Times Paint Chief Michael Taylor and City Attorney Robert Tafoya as Corrupt and Incompetent

You can look be this porky
and be Chief of Police in Baldwin Park
(c) LA Times.
This just in! Well, the Los Angeles Times finally wrote up Taylor's corrupt employment contract drafted by City Attorney Robert Tafoya; it's the first contract anyone has ever heard of, in which you can only be fired for committing a felony. That means that Taylor has to commit a crime like murder, rape, or commit grand theft to be fired. Baldwin Park just keeps degenerating into the abyss. Like I said, this is happening because these people (Council Members and administrators like Carrillo and Taylor and Tafoya never get punished for being bad.) This is just like the City of Bell - de ja vu.

In any event, here's the LA Times article.

"When Baldwin Park rehired Michael Taylor as its police chief, the city included a provision in his contract that makes him exceedingly difficult to fire. Taylor can only be terminated from his $234,000-a-year job, according to the agreement, if he commits a felony."

. . . This police chief can only be fired if he commits a crime. It has to be a felony

Robert Tafoya - not a surprise -
On file at LA Superior Court - you can see
he misrepresented by signature in court.
(c) LA Times
(Let's hope - for everyone's sake - some kind of justice happens.)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Disease of Baldwin Park Corruption Spreads East to San Bernardino with Taylor and Tafoya - a Case Study

Tafoya forcing HR Director to Hand over keys
(c) San Bernadino Sun
So two of Baldwin Park's notorious characters, Chief of Police - Michael Taylor and City Attorney Richard Tafoya aka Robert Tafoya aka Robert Nacionales-Tafoya, spread the disease of corruption East to San Bernardino. (Doesn't anyone find it interesting, that Tafoya, who wrote up Taylor's incredible employment contract in Baldwin Park, Taylor's incredible employment contract in Baldwin Park, also gets hired by the Water Board, where Taylor just won a seat?) This is a case study to show how the corruption cycle starts and continues. (As I've wrote: our democratic systems are in crisis.)

After Taylor's election to the West Valley Water District, Taylor hires Tafoya - who then begins to fire the whistleblowers. Taylor lost the election two years ago. But after being able to receive funding from a number of sketchy players (list soon to come), he was able to win an election.

The corrupt have to fire honest people immediately, because they are a threat and a challenge to the corrupt's will to steal public resources. In this case, Taylor and the board and Tafoya fired the employees, who were complaining about the stealing of such funds, such as when Michael Taylor was using a fire hydrant this summer to operate a slip and slide. You can read the excellent article here, titled: Shake-up at Rialto-based water district leads to firing, suspensions amid misconduct allegations.

This is the modus operandi of Taylor and Tafoya. Remember how these two colluded to fire Julian, all because he choose to speak the truth about getting paid $8.40 an hour by Manuel Carrillo for twenty years. These two, along with the Mayor, also arrested and jailed and strip searched me. Unfortunately for them, the City lost the lawsuit against me and paid $67,500 to my attorney.

In a corrupt system, truth and honesty and the exposure of it all is the greatest threat. That's why in Baldwin Park - Council Member Ricardo Pacheco illegally fought to keep out signs that accused of Pacheco being corrupt.

Hence, one of the first steps that the corrupt must establish right away is to get rid of people who tell the truth. And that's the sad story playing out again in San Bernardino. (As an aside,I don't think it's an accident, the two most vocal people against the malfeasance of the waterboard funds were women. A PhD expert told me at UCLA Law once that women officers were shown to speak out against corruption in a police force more often than men.)

The second step will be to create a system where records will not be created, nor available.

The third step will then be to devise a number of ways to launder money, e.g. fake invoices, nonprofit corporations, and outrageous perks. This is how the corrupt steal public funds.

The fourth step will be to raise the water rates (or taxes in the case of other local agencies.)

And so it continues, until the public gets fed up with it.

That's the lifecycle explained.

In my view, currently, our system has enacted too many laws and regulations in favor of the corrupt. Hence, at the present time, there's no way to solve this problem - except by making other people aware of what's happening and what will happen.

It's a sad day for the residents that under the authority of the West Water Valley District.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Last Days in Peru

After being in Peru for five months, I made the decision that it was time to move on. It wasn't easy for me, but it was time. I could feel it. So, I made plans to go to Colombia.

In Cusco, I changed accommodation, which was popular with bikers. I met two bikers - who were on a five year tour with their motorbikes - to see the six continents, no Antartica. I also met some German push bikers - who were also in South America.

I caught a cold for four days in Cusco. I think it was because I got wet and cold in Machu Picchu.

It was good for me though. It gave me time to think and reflect on life and forced me to slow down and not just move onto somewhere else. I recovered quickly.

After; though, I made the decision to go to Colombia. First, I would have to layover in Lima. From there, Bogota.

I think I'm going to miss Peru. I've been here five months. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Democracy in Crisis - Day 161 of My Sabbatical

"Follow Your Dreams, Cancelled" - Banksy
I've been on sabbatical for five months now, and somehow on this part of the trip - I've concluded that our democracy is in crisis. Not just in the United States, not just in California, not just in Los Angeles, but globally. And what I mean by crisis is that our system no longer works to serve the majority - as it's designed. Our system has become one of blatant stealing of resources and labor by politicians and their corporate sponsors. We have entered into the Age of the Corporate State.

I'm in Cuzco, Peru now. It's raining and thundering and flashing lightning outside. I'm in the center. It's mostly Europeans and Americans. There's some Japanese and Koreans sprinkled in the mix. But very few locals or other South Americans.

One reason I left on sabbatical was I was tired, tired of fighting against politicians and local administrators - who could blatantly and overtly do evil. (Remember when the City Attorney forged my signature, and the court just told him - Don't do it again.) Coming here, I've tried not to see or hear evil, but almost everywhere I look, I see evil and hear evil.

Machu Picchu is a good example. Machu Picchu is the ancient relic of a city. But who does it belong to? The Peruvians or foreign business people?

It's supposed to be the people's resources. Nonetheless, foreign powers here have created a monopoly of everything - such as the roads and railways, so they get all the profits. The Economist stated in 2010 that foreign companies make $13million by owning the monopolies of Machu Picchu. Economist Article

Although on the surface, you can say - so what? No. It's the people's resources, and that money should be reinvested for the people by the people into bettering their lives. But instead, some politicians were most likely bribed to sell those rights away to the highest bidder. Now that money gets skimmed off to some foreign offshore account. (I think life was easier when I was naive, as the saying goes: Ignorance is bliss.)

And the effect of corruption corrodes the lives of the people here. The people aren't educated. In fact, the local Andean people become porters and are hardly paid anything. And even though I could have tipped more, which I should have, the entire "democratic system" isn't serving the majority. It's degenerated to become an instrument for the rich, by the rich, now (and perhaps even before). It's sad.

But the same is happening at home. I was raised in a city called Baldwin Park - where the average person is making about $12,000 a year. Half the girls drop out of school, because they get pregnant. The school system ranks at the national bottom of in testing. The water is filthy and polluted by industrial chemicals. And yet the news media likes to tell us everything is all good, because children are learning to cook because of Kaiser Permanent. How Baldwin Park Unified is teaching kids to love broccoli and cauliflower pancakes A few cooking lessons will fix their lives, even though they're trapped in the unskilled labor class. This is propaganda at it's finest. Why don't the papers tell us the truth about our school districts and the children's performance?

And yet while all these problems are happening, our elected officials in Baldwin Park are only concerned about how to maximize their profits in issuing marijuana dispensary licenses. The Chief of Police is only interested in defrauding public funds, including Cal Pers, to retire a rich man, and get a million more a year than he should. (Remember, how much the average person makes in the City?)

Ask yourself this question about your politicians: Are they spending their time making decisions for us or for themselves? No matter where you are, this is the ultimate test to determine whether you live in a corrupt political system. Are the decision makers spending their times on self-interested decisions or time on making decisions for the interest of the most people? (That'll give you your answer.)

When you answer that, you'll understand why I say democracy is in crisis. And the biggest reason it is in crisis is because currently, it appears there's no way to fix this broken system. Replacing one bad politicians with other ones, doesn't fix the systematic problem.

I believe the root issue starts with voting fraud, which those in power are loathe to admit. But I've already shown a high pattern of voting irregularity in Baldwin Park. In our last mayoral election, 50% of the votes came in by vote by mail. Baldwin Park that year had a historic jump of 27% of voters from 2011, all by absentee vote. 774 voters only filled a ballot for the Mayor and nobody else. Furthermore, a number of these votes appear to come from nursing homes - where the witnesses have come forward and told me personally that the Mayor was present during this time. Was vote harvesting occurring?

I'm not the only one who discovered such type of fraud. In Houston, an activist group found that vote harvesting was happening in half way homes. Citizens' Group Helps Uncover Alleged Rampant Voter Fraud in Houston

If the fraudsters control the vote by manipulation, then the democratic system is broken. We can never vote them out; therefore, they don't have to do what's in our interest. Hence, in perpetuity, they could steal our resources and make decisions in their own interest. It turns into an authoritarian or dictatorial regime - which is what Baldwin Park is.

The problem with our system is complicated by the fact that it's incredibly difficult for a common person to investigate voting fraud. One activist told me that it's become a lot more difficult to get the Social Security Death Index File, which is needed to determine if dead people are voting. And it's all these broken checks and balances that are contributing to the downfall of a political system - which is no longer functioning.

The last resort is supposed to be the courts. But as we know from the Casas cases, that didn't work. I was able to get four court orders against the City to release records - who in the end decided that those records weren't going to be released. The courts didn't enforce it. I mean, you would think it's not so outrageous to ask to see how our money is being spent - but that was a no-go zone for us.

Till this date, we still don't know how many bank accounts Baldwin Park has? What happened with all the federal housing fund they received? How much money was received in the Baldwin Park Franchise Fund (at least 12 million)? Where did it go? What about Manny Carrillo's sham nonprofit bank accounts? What about his new sham nonprofit bank account? What'd he do with all that money? This is incredible.

And it's not only Baldwin Park. Even Donald Trumps Cabinet shows how far we've fallen from grace. A democratic system should represent the demographics of the people. And for decades, if not at least a century, minority groups have been fighting for a voice in the decision making process.

Well, the best color to get you a place on Trump's Cabinet isn't black, yellow, or white (though being white looks like it helps); it's green. Get this: Trump's Cabinet had an inflation-adjusted net worth of about US$250 million.

I don't know about you, but people with that much money don't represent how I grew up, saw the world, and struggled to fight for a place in higher education. But like I said - it's no longer for the people; by the people. It's for the rich, by the rich, with the use of sophisticated levels of deception.

There's no simple solution for this problem. I'm writing this article, so people are aware. That's what travel does; it lets you escape the world of propaganda, baseless entertainment, and the drudgery of menial work to see the world you're in and the world you're from in a different perspective. Awareness has to be the first step in fixing such a broken system. And all of us have to be more critical in our thinking, more skeptical of what people in power tell us, and we must no longer let ourselves be victims of deception.

I write this because I believe that being the salt and light can fix can eradicate such evil, because that's what the intrinsic nature of salt and light does.

No wonder why Jesus said:

“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.

“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16, NLT). 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Will Michael Taylor - Baldwin Park's Chief of Police - Be Making Over a Million More in Retirement?

Mugshot of Michael Taylor
Before his plastic surgery
Will Baldwin Park's re-instated Chief of Police, an alleged public servant, be making over a million more in retirement? Imagine if you could retire a millionaire by showing up to work drunk, no showing to work, being fired, and generally having appalling performance? Welcome to Baldwin Park.

We have to ask more questions and get to the bottom of what the City Council and the Chief of Police are scheming. Those involved need to be prosecuted. This article wants to use Chief Taylor's little scam as an example of three points: (1) Public officials and administrators are stealing our resources; (2) There's no transparency in local government; and (3) Corrupt public officials and administrators need to be prosecuted.

Taylor was rehired officially for one year on December 1, 2017. Taylor was fired by the City Council in September of 2016. An interim chief took Taylor's place. On March 13, 2017, the City Council hired his replacement, David Salcedo. After 49 days, the City Council then fired Salcedo, who then fired an employment lawsuit against the City. (There are questions as to why he was fired, and then rehired, and then given such a lucrative employment contract.)

After being rehired, Taylor requested that the City approve his contract, drafted by the City Attorney, Robert Tafoya. Regarding it, there's a strange clause on page 2 paragraph 3(c), which states, "Taylor's employment seniority shall be restored for accrual and compensation purposes to reflect an uninterrupted employment tenure as of December 10, 2013.  The previous gap in Taylor's employment tenure commencing on September 21, 2016 shall no longer bear on accrual or compensation." Taylor won't have a performance review.

So, what does the badly drafted contract say? In plain English, it states that Taylor's current position and status shall start on December 10, 2013. Furthermore, no matter what, Taylor will not be having a performance review. In other words, he wants and will have no accountability.

What a joke. Imagine, you getting paid upward of $400,000 (with perks a year), and your boss won't check on your work. Only in Baldwin Park.

So what does this contract really mean, and why is it important for you to understand? It means one of two bad things for the citizens, or a combination of the two. One, the new contract impacts his retirement and two, potentially requires backpaying Taylor.

First, by pretending that Taylor was a big shot Chief on paper since December 10, 2013, he's going to report to Cal Pers that he deserves about $50,000 USD a year more. If he lives 20 years after his retirement, bingo: He just made a million more in his lifetime off of taxpayer money.

Think about it. This is a big scam. Cal Pers has rules about the amount you can retire off of, but Taylor didn't like it. So, now he's making up the fact that's been a big shot Chief for four years; so, he could get a bigger pay.

Second, does reinstating his status back to 2013 also give him backpay? If so, a conservative estimate of his backpay would be $420,000. This doesn't include non-salary perks. When those are included, Taylor could be receiving a $600,000 bonus check. (This sum is calculated by taking the difference of Taylor's current salary and adding up all the differences year to year.) It's hard to say what the actual figure would be, because Mayor Lozano and the City Council and City Manager and City Attorney have over and over again refused to release records to show what's really happening.

Assuming Taylor will make over $650,000 this year, let's look at Charlie Beck - Chief of Police for the City of Los Angeles. Charles Beck makes $372,714.52, which includes all his benefit. Taylor will get nearly twice Beck's salary. Taylor works four days a week, if that. But Beck serves 4 million residents in Los Angeles. He has 9,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilians. In contrast, Baldwin Park has 80,000 (or 50 times less the) residents and about 80 (or 112 times less) sworn officers  and 0 civilian employees. What reason can Baldwin Park have for justifying such a large pay? 

The reason all of this is a big problem, is that that's money that should be reinvested in our city to make it a better place. A good analogy would be to see all that money as actual resources. So, let's say Baldwin Park was a fertile place, with a great river and trees and minerals. Those resources belong to the people. But instead, Taylor and the public officials (mainly from Texas and Arizona) are stealing it all and pocketing the profits for themselves. (I mention these places, because it appears that these public officials and administrators are transplants from a bigger crime ring that appears to originate from Texas. Also, its questionable whether these people see these cities as their home.) Hence, where does that leave the future generation?

(I'm convinced it's people like Mayor Lozano and Taylor and our other corrupt officials that destroyed a whole society like Easter Island. They too just ran out of resources and died. But why? Because of people like this consumed everything, and told the people everything was going to be ok.)

A second problem is what about the other employees of Baldwin Park? Manuel Carrillo, Director of Parks and Recreation, told Julian Casas, former boxing coach, before he fired him, that he could only get a 40 cent an hour raise after working there for 20 years, because there was no money in the budget. The same reason is given now to the other employees of the city. If that's the case, where did the City Council find all this extra money?

Finally, this case shows that our democratic system is truly in crisis. When lying, cheating, and stealing are the way for people to rise in a system like this, how can we ensure that our resources are best being used to serve the public and the citizens?

It appears that regardless of public records law, which the court has declared Baldwin Park to have violated at least 5 times, transparency doesn't exist in such a system? And finally, this isn't the first scam concocted by Mayor Lozano and the City Council. The problem is that the guilty constantly escape prosecution and conviction - which only encourages the ongoing theft of public resources.

The solution has to have at least two parts. First, our societies need to discourage and punish dishonesty. Only in that way, can the public have a fighting chance of knowing what's really happening with our moneys. Second, public officials and administrators need to be prosecuted and convicted for intentional theft, perjury, and other felonies. If we can't lie to the government, then the government also should be held accountable for lying to us.

As George Orwell said, "The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history."

PS: For you Baldwin Park Officials and Administrators reading this. I just wanted to quote some Hemingway for you. Education is always good. “I'll fight them until I die." - Old Man and the Sea

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Machu Picchu - Day 5

Me at Machu Picchu
When the morning light dawned on Machu Picchu and drove away the darkness, whispers of mist rose from the dead and skeletal and secret city. It looked like the light was expelling ghosts from their graves. It also felt eerie and phantasmagoric and surreal. After being in Peru for nearly five months, I realized I finally made it to Machu Picchu.

We woke up at 04:00A instead of at 03:30A, because none of us set the alarm. The Germans took a shower first; then, I did. I woke up happy though. I slept well - really well - because I slept early.

We were late. Our group left at 04:00A already.

Outside, it was raining. It was more than a drizzle but not a downpour. Tourists were walking from Aguas Caliente to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

Those who had money, or couldn't hike much more, could wake up later and take the 05:00A bus to the entrance of the ruins. Around 04:30, we found our group. They told us to get to the back of the line; they didn't seem happy that we got more sleep than them.

Around 05:00A, the guards let you hike to the entrance of Machu Picchu. It takes an hour, and it's really steep. It just goes all the way up. A number of times, tourists had to take a break from being short of breath. (I don't think it's altitude sickness though, because Machu Picchu isn't as high up as even Cuzco. The stairs are just really steep to the entrance.) Around 04:30A, you could see the buses taking the tourists, who paid, up to the entrance. We had to walk in the rain.

The rain started pouring heavier. Our group was the last ones at the entrance. It was around 06:00A when the gates open. We met with our group in the entrance, and our tour guide Leo was there, waiting for us.

I don't know how, but I was drenched inside and out. My rain jacket wasn't working, but it always worked. Now, the rain jacket was trapping the water to stick to my body - without me being able to dry out. When the wind blew, it would chill me. I felt like a sad and wet street puppy or kitty - shivering. At least, the stray found his way to Machu Picchu.

Some background on Machu Picchu. The Incans built it around 1450AD. It took 80 years but was never completed. The Incans abandoned Machu Picchu, but nobody knows why.

Machu Picchu housed about 800 people. Half of them were servants, and the other half were nobility and priests.

Machu Picchu can only be entered via one road. Because of where it's placed, to enter it form another direction would require you to scale vertical mountains. For sure - this was done for defensive measure from other enemies. (I researched this on my own.)

Scholars almost all agree that Machu Picchu was the Incan King's holiday home. But, I think they're wrong.

Human sacrifices were found in Machu Picchu. Unless we had a sociopathic or cruel king or some weird cultural holiday home - human sacrifices are not done in holiday homes. Given the fact that there are many religious rooms - like the Temple of the Sun - I think Machu Picchu was some kind of temple. That's also the reason there are so many rooms for the priests of Machu Picchu.

Also, the entire place is designed to worship the sun and moon. It's purpose appears to be more religious than recreational. Paul Cook's theory is that Machu Picchu was where the priests and royalty sacrificed people and animals to the sun god and moon goddess on behalf of the people in Cusco. There's also plenty of evidence of worship, sacrifice, and the fact that Cusco was the main place of residence for those who went to Machu Picchu. (I might not be an anthropologist officially, but the summer home theory is rubbish, in light of all the mummies and human sacrifices found at Machu Picchu.)

That's my background. Around 06:30A, Leo began his tour of the different parts of Machu Picchu. Mainly, he talked about the "Re-discoverer" of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham. I think he's worth mentioning, at least the dishonorable things he did.

Hiram Bingham was a Yale lecturer (maybe a professor), looking for a lost city of gold. He raised money and went to Peru. He asked the locals - and a boy who played in Machu Picchu - led him to Machu Picchu. (The locals, as usual, knew about the ruins - but not their significance.)

Since there was no gold, Bingham wasn't interested in Machu Picchu, but coming up empty handed in his expedition he returned to Picchu to reclaim it. Too bad another German engineer J.M. von Hassel beat him there as the first Westerner forty years ago. When Bingham found another European's name etched on the stone, he destroyed it and declared himself the discoverer of Machu Picchu. (We should all roll our eyes now. I told you guys about the other German who measured the largest waterfall in Peru - then he claimed he discovered it, even when all the locals already knew about it.)

Anyways, Bingham took a lot of treasures home to Yale (some would call this looting). Peru and Yale fought over this for awhile, but about five years ago, Yale returned most of the artifacts. There just seems to be an undeniable Western trend for Westerners, generally males, to claim and name places and locations already found and known to the locals. (I encountered this a lot in New Zealand too.)

To Bingham's credit though, he could probably be said to be the first person to introduce Machu Picchu to the West and popularize it. The Hollywood Director Charleston Heston boosted it's popularity by filming The Secret of the Incas in 1954.

After about two hours of lecturing us, Leo looked tired. He was with us throughout the whole trip. He looked like he wanted to go home. So did the other guide. So, they left us, and we wandered Machu Picchu.

The sun came up after Leo's lecture. Since I had my stuff on me, I took out a towel and took off my shirt. I dried myself with my towel and changed into drier clothes. I stopped shivering. That felt better.

After the guides left, our group explored Machu Picchu and took pictures. (I posted them below). When the clock struck 11:00A, I had to leave, as Cinderella did when the clock struck midnight.

I had to walk three hours to catch my bus back to Cusco. My bus left Hidroelectrica (a town three hours away) at 03:00P. I had to leave.

I hugged everyone and said goodbye. If I could do it again, I would have stayed one more night in Aguas Caliente and left the next day. I didn't think there would be so much to see at Machu Picchu. I also thought I had enough time, because I started at 06:00A. I assumed wrong on both these points.

I hiked out of Machu Picchu down to the base below. It was a steep walk down, and it wasn't easy, because I had to carry my stuff now.

I walked slower to Hidroelectria than I came, because I had my pack full of stuff now. I arrived into Hidroelectrica at 02:30P. The walking and tougher group was already there. Some were already there an hour early, but most of us arrived around the same time.

At the restaurant, I ordered a glass of red wine and fried chicken with rice. The soup, once again was good.

At 03:15P, we left Hidroelectrica to Cusco. It was a six and a half hour ride back. If I had the money to spend, I could've paid $60USD and took a train directly from Machu Picchu to Cusco, and it would have only taken 3 hours. Also, I wouldn't have had the extra 3 hour walk back. We had already hiked 100 kms; so, it certainly would have been easier.

But I didn't feel that exhausted or tired. I felt strong and fit still. This trek was a lot easier, because most of the weight was carried by the mules.

We arrived into Cusco around 10:00P. I found a new place. I checked in.

I did it. I finally made it to Machu Picchu - another world landmark checked off the list. I also felt a little bit closer in understanding another and different universe - one that I otherwise would have never known.
Morning mist rising from Machu Picchu

More morning mist of Machu Picchu
Do you see the green parrots in the background?

Me with Machu Picchu

Selfie with Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu - the Jewel within the Andes -
Shot by Paul Cook

Me and Machu Picchu
Claudia and me with Machu Picchu

Our group with Machu Picchu

Selfie with the lamas of Machu Picchu
Che Guevara in Motorycycle Diaries

Gael Bernal portraying Che Guevara