Monday, September 24, 2018

Baldwin Park Police Chief tries to sneak through an extra million dollars for retirement

Michael Taylor, BP Chief of Police
(Trying to show off his "good" side)
Fearing a new city council with the upcoming local elections, Baldwin Park Police Chief, Michael Taylor, tries to sneak through a contract that would guarantee him about an extra million dollars in retirement. Does the alcoholic, underperforming, bankruptee police chief ever stop with his schemes?

At the last two special council meetings, Taylor demanded a $50,000 raise; another week or two in vacation time, which would push his vacation time to be around 2 months, and a clause where he could only be fired for committing a felony - such as grand theft, murder, or pedophilia. According to the LA Times, no one has ever heard of this type of contract for a police chief.

Taylor and his wife could be retiring at an extra million. This is because, if he retires for 20 years, at an additional $50,000 - that comes out to a million dollars. In 2016, according to, the average salary of an individual in Baldwin Park is about $18,000 - meaning that almost 50% of the residents live around the poverty line. Taylor persists to ask for huge raises, even after he fired a boxing coach for complaining that a forty cent an hour raise was not enough for working for the City for 20 years.

Taylor was fired in September 2016. After being rehired though, he's been the center of a number of corruption scandals in East San Gabriel Valley and in his hometown of Rialto. Besides the Grand Jury reporting that Taylor impounded cars illegally for $11.3 million, Taylor accepted drug money to run for public office at the West Valley Water Board. Although about $10,000 was accepted, evidence points to it being more.. In exchange, it appears that Taylor granted a convicted felon a marijuana license.

The bankruptee Taylor also cost the City of Baldwin Park even more by condoning First Amendment retaliation. In my case, after ordering me strip searched, Taylor cost the City of Baldwin Park $68,500 and cost Baldwin Park even more by code enforcing Greg Tuttle by putting up critical signs of Ricardo Pacheco. It appears, in Baldwin Park - the more corrupt acts you commit, like Taylor, the bigger your paycheck becomes.

Witnesses have seen Taylor's personal problems seep into his professional life. It's been reported that Taylor drinks up to 22 beers a night and then not report into work the next day. Divorce records confirm his rampant alcoholism. The bankruptee's spending sprees on city money are notorious, including the purchase of furniture that cannot be found. In other words, some the furniture purchased is not on site.

Was actual furniture purchased, or were the furniture invoices doctored? The Baldwin Park's former HR Director and other anonymous witnesses have alleged that Taylor sexually advanced on them inappropriately. (Them too.) My source that told me about the former police chief's daughter being caught with narcotics with a strange man at a hotel, allegedly originated with Taylor - who pushed for the publication of this story. (Later, he instigated the police department to vote "no confidence" for the former police chief. Sounds like Iago from Othello to me.)

I've emailed Taylor, asking him to confirm or deny the kinds of new benefits he's pursuing with his new contract. (His previous felony-clause-contract was approved by Mayor Lozano and Council Members Ricardo Pacheco and Monica Garcia.) I've also asked why he thinks his pay (including benefits) should total $300,000, when a Police Chief of Los Angeles gets paid $300,000 to $350,000. A Los Angeles police chief serves 4 million residents with 9,000 officers and 3,000 civilian officers. In contrast, Baldwin Park has officially 80,000 residents and about 80 full time officers. Taylor has refused to comment on the matter, even though tax payers will be paying him millions in retirement.

Doesn't this remind anyone of the City of Bell?

"Men should be what they seem." But in Taylor's case, as long as he remains chief, the Baldwin Park residents have a deceptive, morally and financially bankrupt public servant, who is a cancerous problem for us all.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Day 0 - At Home in Los Angeles

Duk-Guk (Bone broth and rice dumplings)
When I came home, my cat Jeh Pan looked at me confused. Did he come back from the dead?  He thought. He let me pick him up and recognized my smell, but it took him a day to accept the fact that I was indeed back.

He has a new friend named Jeffrey now. There's a new chicken, but my favorite one died. Other than a few more cobwebs being in my room, home looked almost exactly the way I left it. It made me feel like I almost never left on such a big trip.

The next morning, my mother made me Korean chicken soup with rice dumplings. It was awesome, but I still had some jet lag and woke up at 4AM. I woke up feeling groggy, even though I slept enough hours.

It felt like I entered into a time warp - where time flowed much slower. There were no new people to meet, no new places to see, no exotic animals, no exotic foods, or new environments. Generally, people appeared to follow the course of the life they set themselves on, before I left.

How do you tell someone in one conversation how much your life has changed on such a big trip? How do you tell them about how much of what you've seen, experienced, tasted, and learned changed how you now saw the world? How about the fact that my communication skills in other languages also improved? That's why I felt like I entered into a world - where time was so much slower.

I had a boxing coach who always said that everything has a beginning and an end; so I guess coming home is a new beginning marked at Day 0. I traveled for 443 days, starting on July 1, 2017. My journey ended on September 18, 2018. I started and returned from and to Los Angeles. During that time, I was in 9 countries: Peru, Colombia, Argentina, South Africa, Mauritius, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Sweden. I've probably met over 1,000 new people. I've traveled an estimated 73,600 km or 46,000 miles. And during all that time, I lived out of a small suitcase and a backpack.

And that's it folks. My 2017-2018 sabbatical is official over. It's time to start a new chapter in my life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Playing in Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden
After 15 months of traveling, I was coming home from Stockholm, Sweden. It was my last chance to play in Europe; so, I was going to stay one week to live it up with the Swedes in their glitzy and creative and elegant capital. On my flight home, not only was I impressed with Stockholm; I was so sad to go.

I stayed at the Generator Hostel and chose it because of it's reasonable price and it's close location to the central metro and train station in Stockholm. It's one of those new and trending hostels that cater for backpackers looking to meet people like themselves from other countries.

After checking in, I met my roommate from the Netherlands, a Dutch guy name Daan. We got to talking, and later we sat in the lobby - where I met a number of Germans and other Dutch people. We'd often have breakfast together downstairs with the other guys and meet again for dinner. During the days most of us did our own thing.

Swedish meatballs at Mom's Kitchen
During the days in Stockholm, I drank beautiful coffee and ate good food and went to several museums. Swedes love their coffee, and I was particularly impressed with JOHAN & NYSTRÖM, which served a unique and aromatic aeropress coffee.

I told the owner, after I drank it, "It makes me feel so happy." He said, "That's what we aim for." So of course, I went a couple times a week, where I would write and read and do research.

For food, Daan and I ate local Swedish food often at a place called Mom's Kitchen. Although everything is expensive in Sweden, the food is at an awesome price for amazing food. The first night - Daan had meatloaf, and I had fried herring (a fish) with lingonberries, which is a kind of Swedish berry. The second time we went, we had Swedish meatballs in cream sauce with mashed potatoes.

A Picasso in Moderna Museet
For museums, I went to the Moderna Museet (Modern Museum). The museum is divided into the modern art gallery and the architecture exhibits. I don't know much about architecture, but I loved some of the Picassos at the museum. There hasn't been a Picasso I haven't liked though. (Guernica is still my favorite in Madrid.)

But I think more than the museum, I'll never forget the amazing walk from central station to the museum - where you must cross through the richest streets in Sweden and where we could view all the elegant and tall buildings on the waterfront. The sun shone, and it was pleasant, which in turn made all the people on the streets pleasant too. It's also fun to walk across the bridges to the different islands. Stockholm is capital made up of different islands - which are connected by bridges.

I also met with my friend Ivan - a Swedish friend I met from a different time and place. He wanted to become a doctor and was taking their standardized test. I haven't seen Ivan for awhile, and so when we met me at the metro stop, he gave me such a big and warm hug. Ivan, was super tall and big too and had blue eyes and long blonde hair tied in a ponytail. Back in the days, they would've hired him as a raider on a viking ship.

View in walking to Moderna Museet
He took me to an Indian restaurant, where we both ordered butter chicken. There, we caught up about our lives. I told him, it was cold and rainy. He said, "You should've come in the summer."

I told him, "I came the day the summer ended." And we bought laughed at hearing it. I gave him a big hug and said let's catch up again before we left.

On another day, Ivan and I met again at the subway stop. We took a ferry to the Swedish king's former hunting island. There, Ivan asked if I'd like to go to the ship museum or the aquarium.

Yellow sea horses
we saw at the aquarium
I choose the aquarium. I felt like we were kids again on a field trip. We saw the Amazonian fish, the tropical aquarium, and the native Swedish fish - both fresh and saltwater. The best thing at the aquarium was there frog exhibit - where they showcased frogs from all over the world. For the first time, I saw those brilliant and gem-like poison arrow dart frogs I've seen in books. They looked like little rubies and sapphires and amethysts that could jump. They looked very cute, but I heard one drop of their poison into your blood could kill you.

Some of the frogs looked like they came out of Jurassic Park. For instance, one of the frogs' claws had fingers that looked like sticks. It was a very bizarre but interesting creature indeed.

After, Ivan and I talked at there cafe, where I ate a shrimp salad. They told us the aquarium was closing down in two weeks. So, I felt like I made the right choice to pick it over the ship museum. We sat at a place that overlooked the water into the skyline of the city. I told him how much I enjoyed Sweden over Stockholm and how friendly the people were. I told him a story.

Daan, Me, (Portugese guy), Remi, and Belinda in Stockholm
(From left to right)
One day, while Daan and I were walking to get dinner, we passed by an art gallery, and I was taken by the watercolor paintings of cats and mice. A dignified elderly lady told me, "It's a book signing for a children's book. Go in and look." I told he we had to get to the restaurant before it closed, but we chatted for a good 10 minutes about our lives. She told me her children were coming to Los Angeles and wanted to see Mexico.

I don't know why, but I made a choice. I should offer my place. So, I did. When we left, she gave me a hug too; I didn't even know her. I told her, "Oh, you're a lot friendlier than the Danes." She said, "You can't trust Danes. They have an ugly language." I started laughing so much.

Ivan smiled. And I said, "Congratulation Ivan. You're not like the Danes. You don't have ice in your blood."

Ivan and I took a walk back towards my hostel. When he went as a far as he could, we said good bye. I told him to keep in touch.

Later at the hostel, as I walked out of my room, a Dutch guy said, "Hey - you're the American guy. You sat our table."

I remembered and said, "Oh, yeah. What's your name?"


"Oh, that's such a cool name. It's the name of my favorite X-Man." Then I said it in the French way - "Reh-mi!"

"The French way is way better than how the Dutch say it," Remi said. "You were at our table with the other Dutch guy [Daan]. I was sitting at the other end." Because Daan was so tall, Remi sometimes called him the "Dutch Michael Jordan." Remi made me laugh a lot.

"Oh, yeah. But I couldn't see you."

Later, we all started hanging out. Remi was really into organizing outings. He created a WhatsApp group and let people in or blocked them out. Remi kept complaining about a dumb guy who wanted in, but Remi wouldn't let him in.

On the last night, we were all going to a night club. Before going, Daan and Remi and Belinda from London and I all ate at a French restaurant nearby. We all ordered cocktails. Daan and Remi ordered quail in truffle sauce; they booked looked happy with their food. I ordered a foie gras taco. Belinda ordered a number of tapas. Remi was really into the waitress, who was cute and gorgeous and kind. We all talked about how the Swedes are beautiful and have an elegant and dignified vibe about them.

That dinner cost, but it was so worth eating outside - where the people envied us having a good time. The beautiful blonde girls who walked down the rich street did little stunts that forced us to stare at them - such as twirling their hair with their fingers while they passed us. Even the table next to us seemed full of happiness and said "Good bye," but we didn't even know them.

We went back to the hostel to drink. We picked up two other guys, one from Germany and one from French-Canada (which is a bad place, because it's second to both the U.S. and France). The German was grumpy.

When we got to the nightclub, there was a long line. I tried to ask the bouncer if he'd let me and skip the queue. He wouldn't, but I knew I almost got in. So, I brought Belinda with me. We said it was her birthday. He didn't believe us, but it was. He checked her ID and then mine, and he let us skip the queue. Unfortunately, we still had to pay. (I still wonder if I could have got in for free, had I done more. Hmmm...)

At the club, I sat down with Belinda - waiting for the rest. Two Swedish guys immediately joined us. We chatted. They bought Belinda drinks for her birthday. One was in the army. The other was a university student. They were very kind. It was the first time I met some new Swedes their age. They were from the country up North.

After our friends came, and everyone partied and danced until closing time at the club, which was 3AM. We ordered a taxi. I said good bye to everyone. I slept two hours. Then, I checked out and made walked to the metro station with my luggage. I was going to the airport. My sabbatical was over.

Well as Zara Larsson said: "My dream is to have a bed of my own in Los Angeles and one in Sweden."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A night in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland
If getting into the French Alps was difficult to see my friends, getting out was even harder. It took over 3 hours to hitchhike out of the Alps and into Geneva, Switzerland. Then, from the edge of Geneva, I had to walk 5 miles to my hostel with all my luggage. Although it was a beautiful sunny day, the kind where everyone comes out to enjoy the sunshine, the weather and walk left me sweaty and sticky and tired.

I had to wait one hour to get a ride from someone in a village in the middle of nowhere. He was the owner of a car dealership, and even though he was a French white guy, he could speak Mandarin. I was surprised. He actually thought I was Chinese at first. He dropped me off by the freeway.

The second person to pick me up was an older hippie guy with a half African child. He smelled of weed, and he didn't take me to where he said he was going. I got kind of scared, because he was driving me closer to Italy than to Switzerland. He explained however he had some business for his kid there, and then he drove me 5 miles away from the Swiss border. I exited and walked to the freeway entrance to Geneva.

The third people to pick me up were an Indian guy from Madagascar and his wife. They were very pleasant and kind, and I was really happy to talk to them. They dropped me off five miles from the city center.

It was far. So, I stopped by a Swiss cafe called Pauly. I remember a documentary about it. The documentary showed how this baker wanted to make the best bread in the world for the world. But, the croissant was $4, and that was incredible! It tasted good, but it tasted just as good as my 50 cent croissant in France. This was crazy to pay so much for bread.

From the cafe, I got directions and walked toward the fountain and then across the bridge and to the only hostel in town on Rue Rothschild. The Rothschilds are some of the richest bankers in the world, and they are often behind conspiracy theories of world domination. Well, they obviously have enough money, if they have a street in central Geneva named after them.

When I get to the hostel, I'm glad I made a reservation at the hostel, because it was booked out. What I noticed here, was that so many people in their 40's to 60's were booking at this hostel, because Switzerland is so expensive! It was $36 to share a room. Incredible again.

The first night a few people wanted to talk, but I wasn't in the mood. I was tired from hitchhiking, baking in the sun, and walking 5 miles with my luggage. I didn't feel like talking to anyone.

For dinner, I had a sandwich. It cost $11! Prices in Geneva are actually unbelievable. And it is a lovely city, a lovely city indeed. But to me, it reeks of corruption. I saw all these rich people from other countries. I wondered if all of them came to open or access their secret Swiss bank accounts.

In the morning, I talked to an English guy and a Flemish guy and that was nice. Then, I took the train into the airport.

I was going to Stockholm, Sweden and then, home! It's been close to 15 months. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Exiting France and arriving at the Swiss Border

A town by the Swiss border
It was difficult getting out of the mountains. My French host nearly cried when I left the Alps.

My host drove me to a secluded village an hour away. He had fun driving through the twisted and serpentine road in the fog and the rain.

He said it was like driving through a race course. There, I stayed at a hippy community for one night. The people were happy to have me, and they fed me good food and nice red wine and gave me free housing.

The leader of the commune asked me to come to his place and to have a drink of sherry he made with green walnuts.

The next day, we threshed seeds from radishes.

After, the lady who invited me took me to the next village.

I had to get to the largest town by 4PM, because there, I had a ride I paid for, who would take me to the Swiss border. And at the Swiss border, I had a French friend - who nobody knows about. I feel so fortunate to have some friends in Europe - how I know them and how I met them - only God knows.

I hitchhiked. But there were no cars. It was so difficult. Even though I gave myself an hour of being late, it looked like I wasn't going to make it.

No one was traveling through the Alps. One car took me to the next village. Then I waited for 30 minutes there. No one took me. I had someone take me to the village after that.

I waited by a bridge, and a retired French couple took pity on me and said they would take me rather far. I requested they take me to the large town, because I was running late.

They were from Paris but retired in the Alps. They felt bad for me and agreed. They called my ride and told them I'd be late.

It turns out he was late too. I made it to the large town. They gave me their email. I would email them later and thank them.

My ride was late. Very late. He took me to the border of France and Switzerland. My driver found me a hostel at the border of Switzerland. He said there was no way I was going to hitchhike to see my friend tonight, because he was in the middle of the French Alps - where nobody goes.

Several people wanted to talk to me at the hostel. But I wasn't in the mood. I was tired, especially from the stress of almost missing my ride.

For dinner - I ordered a kebab. I asked the cashier if he spoke English. He said, "No." So, I ordered in French, which made them smile. (I mean - of course I can order a kebab now in French. I've been here for over 2 months.)

It came out perfect. He smiled, and so did the owners.

I emailed my friend and said I wouldn't be able to see him tonight. It was late, and no car picks up a hitchhiker at night.

The next day, I got lunch in the village. I had a bit of culture shock, because I wasn't used to seeing traffic lights, cars, or even a shopping center. I was in the mountains for too long.

At lunch, I found a traditional French restaurant. The people next to me were locals, but I couldn't eat all the food next to me. So, I gave some of it to them, even they were strangers. They both thanked me, but it made everyone around me happier, as they watched me share my food.

The Grandmothers behind me asked if I wanted to try their dessert. I declined, but I said, "You look really happy," in English. And she said, "Always, when I'm eating good food." The old lady was talking about how she was tending her garden, and how much she enjoyed it.

Because, I didn't eat enough food, I felt tipsy from the wine. So, I rested at the hostel, before I had to hitchhike to see my friend.

I was very worried, because he was in the middle of nowhere, at the top of the Alps. And I had no idea how I was going to get there, especially because there was no public transport. I wrote down all the villages I had to pass through.

I hitchhiked for 10-20 minutes, when a car got me and took me to my first point. They were a young couple, and when they had such happy and bright smiles. They were going to the Alps for a wedding.

Then I hitchhiked for another 10 minutes, and then a car took me to the point after that. She was a middle age lady returning from work to the village.

Then, 10 minutes later, a guy got me, but he felt bad for me and took me all the way to my friend's village. He was a divorcee, who was picking up his son as per their custody deal.

He dropped me off at the local village bar. There, I told the bar owner I'm looking for my friend. The bar owner called, and my friend came with children! Then he took me in his car to his friend's place.

They had a big party that night. Everybody was impressed I had come to see him. It was really a mission. Maybe I'm the first person that visited from Los Angeles.

It was good seeing him and his family again, especially after 7 years. For dinner, his friends made a Thai dish. We drank wine and ate salami and nuts to wait. A lady friend of his sat next to me for dinner. We talked a lot.

The next day, after eating a wonderful breakfast, my host took me to the river with his children, and we swam in the river of the forest, with mountains behind us, and people fly fishing in the river.

It's been a long and hard journey. But I'm glad I made it to see my friend. He seems to appreciate and know how hard it was for me. I wish I could tell everybody who picked me up - how much it meant for this family that I made the effort to see them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Day 431: My last days in France

Hiking through the French Alps
I feel conflicted about leaving France soon. I'm not going to lie: I fell in love with France. And I believe she loves me too. (Soon, I'll say that I know she loves me too.) This is my third trip in France, but it's in the Alps that the people won my heart over with their kindness and hospitality. It's been said that the kindest people in France are in the North; that they have big hearts there. I've never been. But I can say the people of the French Alps are some of the most wonderful people you can meet in the world.

I love my local butchers too. He has the best lasagne, even though it's an Italian dish. From him, I buy fresh filet mignon and cheesy potatoes. Sometimes, I buy a leg of rabbit or a quail. The quail is often sold out. His lentils with pieces of fat is also amazing. Just yesterday, I tried his smoked bacon, which was to die for.

How can you not love a people that care so much about food? It reflects their values in living an enjoyable and beautiful life.

I think the people of the village know I eat well; as they see me buying quail, filet mignon, rabbit, and the rich red wine I drink.

I've gotten to know the local baker, who has the best raspberry tarts, but those went out of season about two weeks ago. Now, he uses strawberries. He bakes the most wonderful rye bread and croissants. He speaks some English. He tells me, "You only care about food."

I smiled and laughed, embarrassed. I tell my uncle all the foods I eat every day, and he says, "You're going to get fat."

But I doubt it. I run almost every day through the Alps at sunset - when the sky becomes washed in a ruby and amethyst hue. Some of the trees are so tall and large, it seems like I'm nobody in this great world.

One time, I ran through the Alps after the rain, and it looked like clouds of steam and grayish-purple smoke were rising from the valleys of the mountains. It made me wonder if a dragon actually slept below the Alps. Perhaps, it's where the ancient Leviathan really lives. I wish I could find him and see him and then ride on his back into the heavens.

Another time, while running in the forest, I got caught in the rage of a storm. The brilliant blue lightning struck and two seconds later, the thunder roared, and the great rumble lasted for at least 6 seconds. Because I was so close the lightning, the noise was frightening. When Lucifer clashed against Michael and his angels, did the war in Heaven roar as loud as the thunder I heard that day?

A guy in a Mercedes felt bad for me, as he saw that I was wet, as wet as a stray cat in a storm. He picked me up and drove me back. That was kind of him.

Of course, you can imagine, I'm by myself a lot. I read the Bible and pray and reflect often. I do a lot of research, and if you've been following this blog - I've been writing a lot on the corrupt city. Maybe the fresh mountain air has inspired insights in me.

Some days after finishing a big pieces of research, I go to the local bar in the golden afternoon sun, take off my shirt, and bake in the Alp sunshine. My waitress brings me licorice alcohol, and I sit and think and enjoy myself. I'll sit and read my books. Of course, the locals have commented how bronze my skin has become.

If it's raining, I'll go see the baker - who'll serve me an espresso. After I drink it, I feel so happy, and I don't know why his espressos make me feel so happy.

Well, as the baker said, the summer is finished in France. It's definitely getting cooler up here, but today is nice and sunny and warm and beautiful. I should enjoy it. I have to make my way out of Europe now. And I can feel this chapter of my life closing; part of me doesn't want to let go, but part of me knows that life sometimes has clear chapters that end. Perhaps - it's more obvious for me with the end of summer in France - where everything comes alive and the people celebrate living life.

I missed and miss all my friends and family. I'll be so happy to see all of you. And I hope the cat and my friends' children remember me. I've learned: "À vaillant coeur rien d’impossible." (For a courageous heart - nothing is impossible.")