Friday, November 23, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Thankful Poor by Henry Ossawa Tanner
(First African American painter to reach acclaim) 1894
Sorry for not updating in awhile. Besides reading, configuring my diet, cleaning the house, running, boxing, and spending time with family and friends, I haven't really had too much downtime to write. I don't have internet access either at home. My cell phone was stolen on the plane ride between South Africa and Spain. Also, I don't have internet at home to save money.

The negative is because I'm not "connected", it's harder for me to write. Nonetheless, on weighing everything up, the truth is that one of the best blessings in disguise was having my cell phone stolen. Yes, it can burden people who need to contact me for meetings, but I incidentally found that I spend my time a lot better without having internet access.

As a result, I spend more time with my family and friends and my cat Jeh Pan, who has finally forgiven me for taking such a long absence. I've also read more; the kind of thing people did when TV wasn't around. So, being without a cell phone has certainly re-tooled my time in a way I didn't expect; that's left me a lot more fulfilled, knowledgeable, and more interesting.

I can prove it. In the last two months, I learned that depression destroys neurons. An injection of young blood can regrow nerves. If senior citizens live with their grandchildren, they tend to live longer. Celebrity chefs that stay slim all approve of dark chocolate, don't eat their own food often (haha), and most of them eat-in with much simpler foods than they cook for clients. When I analyzed Bobby Flay's book on bbq, I also realized there are only generally only five ways to cook meat. See; so if you don't want to be boring, you have to read and research more.

(My commentary: I think all this social media junk is destroying the social skills of mine and the next generation. I should've taken a picture of this. When I was in Stockholm, Sweden, I saw so many younger people sitting around the table on their phones, all of them, but they were so desperate to talk to each other. They just didn't know how. If community makes you live longer, unfortunately, these people (at least according to my research) will be more prone to depression, disease, and Alzheimer. No good.)

In any event, we're going back to Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for all the lessons I've learned. I stopped by my relatives, who all said I look very healthy and attractive. I haven't seen them in two years. So that's a good sign for me.

They couldn't make sense of how I traveled the world for 15 months. They criticized me for not making lots of money. All of them! They said I need a house, a new car, and lots more money.

I gave them one answer that made them laugh and stopped their arguments in their tracks: "You only have one life." I added: "So, it's good to enjoy."

Most seniors I meet seem regretful they didn't see as much of the world as they should have. In their youth, they said they would but never got around to it. I showed my family lots of pictures of Peru and the mountains - which they seemed fascinated with. I talked a lot about the wonderful foods I ate around the world, especially in Peru and Ibiza and France.

In any event, I suppose the lesson of this Thanksgiving is to really value the relationships you have. I was reading a Chinese parable, where the king couldn't figure out the significance of life. After passing a trial - a wise old man in the mountains gives him - the wise man tells the king - "The most important time is now. The most important people in your life are those who are present before you now. And the most important things to do with your time is to spend it meaningfully with the people you're present with now."

No wonder why Jesus says that the angels rejoice when relationships are restored. In fact, he says that a restored relationship is worth more than even finding silver treasure. (Luke 15:8-10). So, for me, lots to be grateful for this year.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Did Mayor Lozano and Council Member Pacheco authorize illegal marijuana farm?

On November 3, 2018, Greg S. Tuttle, local businessman and activist, went to the industrial district at 13111 Spring Street in Baldwin Park, where he was looking to find his old supplier. But instead, he discovered a warehouse with a chain linked fence, growing tens of thousands of dollars of marijuana. He checked whether the address had a permit to do so, and discovered that the grower did not.

So, he decided to file a police report. The funny thing is that nobody at the police station wanted to take the report. After persistently escalating the matter, the police eventually allowed him to file his report. Unfortunately, it appears that the Baldwin Park Police Department knew about this illegal operation for some time now. Apparently, there was an order to "stand down" regarding the property on 13111 Spring Street.

Sources allege that Mayor Lozano and Council Member Pacheco may have collected private money in exchange for waiving licensing fees for the grower. Although the anonymous sources do not want to be named, this allegation is consistent with the Mayor's decision to defer the collection of permit fees by all the businesses awarded a marijuana license. The Mayor's decision is controversial, given the fact that next year the city's deficit could be as high as $14.5 million.

In Baldwin Park, it appears that marijuana money has become one of the main forms of political campaign contributions. Back in December of 2017, the Legal Lens exposed how Baldwin Park's Police Chief took at least $10,000 in drug money to fund his campaign for public office, and then won.

Well, for Lozano, his public debut began with being busted for trucking marijuana, and it appears he may be hauled out of public office for getting a cut of the cash crop - drug lord style.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

City of Baldwin Park authorizes estimated $10,000 in attorney's fees to collect $6.56

Ricardo Pacheco, Monica Garcia, Manuel Lozano
(From left to right)
Mayor Manuel Lozano and Council Members Monica Garcia and Ricardo Pacheco authorized an estimated $10,000 in attorney's fees to collect $6.56. After Cook filed an unsuccessful appeal, the City, through the firm of Albright, Yee, and Schmit attempted to collect $357.16. On October 30, 2018, the trial court awarded the City $6.56, which the city disputed as unfair. The judge hammered the city, stating that their wasting attorney's fees in collecting such a small amount.

The underlying case regarded two unsuccessful appeals. The City was ordered to release records under court order called a writ. The City was shown to have lied about not releasing records, but the court excused them from releasing more. Also, attorney's fees should have been awarded, but were not. The appellate court, unfortunately, did not call on the City to release more information.

Robert Tafoya, looking shameful,
for drafting the Chief of Police's questionable contract.
As a result, Lozano and the city attorney have reflected a retaliatory attitude. In an email dated on August 16, 2018 - the City Attorney wrote - "I beat you down, you appealed, and lost again, and now I am collecting fees and costs against you for Baldwin Park. I understand why you are so bitter." Well, congratulations to the City for spending wasteful thousands of dollars to get a judgment for $6.56.

Unfortunately, the problem with the vindictive and retaliatory attitude of the Mayor and the City Attorney is that they're spending other people's money and not their own. At some point - that's bound to run out. In short, it's a lot of money to spend to try to get even, especially when the City is running a potential deficit of $14.5 million this year.

Clifton Albright
Baldwin Park's poor judgment, however, reflects a bigger problem with government, attorneys, and the sordid relationship between the two. The Tafoya firm was accused of billing fraud of $127,000. Since being city attorney, Tafoya has charged about $400,000 every year since he's been city attorney of Baldwin Park. Hiring someone to be an in-house city attorney should only cost $120,000 a year, especially for a small city.

We should all be asking: How much of this money is going back to the Mayor and council members?

The City has yet to disclose how much it's spent on the Albright firm's billing. Yet, we do know that their billing specialist is an ex-convict, who has scammed victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The City of South Gate also sued the firm to recover $1.8 million from it. Albright claims that the double billing was often an "accident". Perhaps, Albright is willing to engage in this behavior, because he's over-leveraged all his properties and owes quite a bit of money on all his real estate throughout the United States.

In any event, the City's bitter defeat is a win for the people - especially because it exposes their wastefulness and nastiness. The real problem in our democracy is that we can no longer hold these people accountable and get rid of them from office.

I'd like to end with the words of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn again: “You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”