Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Baldwin Park Sued for Fining Activist $12,400 for Hanging Jackass Banner of Council Member Ricardo Pacheco

Anti-Corruption Pacheco Banner
On November 18, 2019 - Plaintiffs, Baldwin Park Free Speech Coalition and Robert Elhers - filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Baldwin Park, because the City fined Elhers $12,400 for hanging a jackass sign of Baldwin Park Council Member Ricardo Pacheco - accusing him of being corrupt, a liar, a bully, and an abuser. First and foremost, the complaint alleges that the City's law is attempting to control Free Speech, by retaliating against those who would criticize the city's politicians. Second, the complaint alleges that the City has violated Due Process by blocking Elhers from a fair chance to make his case on why his banner is not violating the law. Third, the complaint alleges that the City is excessively fining Elhers $12,400 - which is grossly disproportionate to the alleged crime of hanging a banner.

For these reasons, a court order (called an injunction) will be sought against the City's sign law again. This is the third Free Speech lawsuit in federal court against the City. In the second lawsuit, also involving Ricardo Pacheco, the federal court declare Baldwin Park's sign law illegal, not just once, but twice.

On or around March 17, 2019 - Elhers hung the anti-Pacheco banner on his commercial property. Elhers felt compelled to do so, after a jury found that Pacheco had sexually and racially discriminated against the former police chief - Lili Hadsell - costing the City around $9 million, which is unprecedented in the City's history. (This includes damages and attorney's fees.)

The allegations of Pacheco's corruption continues. Around June 18, 2019 - Ricardo Pacheco was accused of directly or indirectly charging his water board credit card at strip clubs.

On or around November 8, 2019, it appears, as a result, that Pacheco was suspended and pushed out from his job as assistant general manager at the West Valley Water Board. The Board paid him for three months of suspension and six months of severance pay. Pacheco makes $190,000 a year.

For hanging this sign, from March 17, 2019 until now, the City has cited Elhers in various amounts ranging from $200 to $2,000. The total amount the City has fined Elher is now $12,400.

Also, twice, the City has threatened to place a tax lien with California's Franchise Tax Board.

Elhers believes that by displaying the anti-Pacheco banner he is doing his duty for the public, by notifying them of Pacheco's belief and values. He hopes that if enough citizens see the banner, that they would vote him out of office and vote for someone, who is more honest and public-focused.

The lawsuit also seeks to have the City permit people to present their case to the city manager, in the event that they're fined. In doing so, the City could dismiss fines it issues in error. According to the complaint, city administrators actively blocked Elhers from defending his citations.

Finally, Elhers seeks to stop the practice of the City making up outrageous fine amounts for petty offenses. $12,400 for hanging a sign is excessive.

Regarding the spirit of this case, George Orwell had it right when he said: "Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

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