Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Ending 2019, Forecasting 2020 - the Year of the Metal Rat

One line drawing of a mouse by
Pablo Picasso
As of writing this article, I've been back home for 15 months from my sabbatical. If 2018 was about "play and wonder and homecoming", this year has been about being re-transplanted, re-rooted, and plowing the ground. Hopefully, there will be a harvest. One day? Some day?

In settling in, I feel like I've come full circle. I told myself I was never going back to litigation, and here I am, back in litigation. So, I have to tell myself that it's not a circle but more like a spiral, because even though I've come back full circle, I know there's a deeper dimension and understanding in returning to my old job: the lawyer. Hence, I'm in a spiral, not an infinite hopeless loop.

From September 2018 until July 2019 - I was reconnecting back with old relationships. I didn't know leaving so long would create such a vacuum with people. I had to re-establish a sense of consistency and presence for my my family (including my cat Jeh Pan - who was upset at my long absence), my boxing club, my friends, and even church. Also while being back, I went back to litigation and investigative journalism.

Here are the notable achievements of my nonprofit, Plousiouv En Pistei ("Wealthy in Faith" in Greek) and my labor this year.

1. The big story this year, was we got rid of that crooked Baldwin Park School Police Chief, Jill Marie Poe, who was an ex-felon, fraudster, and serial sexual predator. Although I tipped the media to it, nobody took it up. But after Legal Lens featured it - the school board ran her off the campus. Good riddance to bad rubbish. And not bad, to remove a police chief from office with one news story published on my blog.

2. We sued the City of Baldwin Park to strike down their evil practice of fining an activist over $12,000 for hanging a political banner that depicts a council member as a jackass. In fact, just two days ago, on December 30th, 2019 - we filed an injunction against the City in an attempt to invalidate their sign ordinance, which we believe violates the First Amendment.

In short, Baldwin Park's ordinance sponsors censorship - which means they want to be like our parents telling us what we can and cannot say. Sorry; we have a constitution that gives us the freedom to criticize our elected officials. So, let's see what the future holds on this one.

3. I was also able to feature my client's story - who was deported - on the front page of the Seattle Times, Sunday. Unfortunately, the deported man is still in Mexico.

4. For a member of my boxing club, I was able to clear up his record. This should give him more freedom in his future and life. I was really happy to take up this case.

Personally, I liked this case because it aligned with one of my values. I believe my God gives us second chances (if not way more). I need to put that in practice more often to make that happen for others.

5. In terms of exposing corruption, a lot has happened this year. The City of Baldwin Park is finally being audited for their corruption. Also, we discovered that Mayor Lozano and his family have been cheating the City and County of Los Angeles of money by pretending his dead father is still alive. He expects us to pay taxes, but he doesn't want to. More to come on this story.

6. And I want to say in my own personal life, I believe I've matured. This year, I decided to forgive more people and let go of past wrongs and be more understanding of others.

Looking back, 2019 has been one of my more challenging years, probably because it involved the transition from roaming the world to being settled in. I was living a fast paced lifestyle to a slower and more predictable one now.

Really; I feel like I've been uprooted and planted back in Los Angeles' soil, which is what I didn't want. But it happened, and I've learned to accept it (as one does in grieving). So, it's going to take some time to have my roots grow back and to be grounded.

Today, the year of the earth pig in 2019 has left us, and the year of the metal rat is ushered in for 2020. According to legend, the rat was the first animal to arrive at Buddha's birthday. It tricked the ox to carry it to the party, but once there, it jumped off the ox and ran first to meet the Buddha.

Another legend says that cats didn't appear at Buddha's birthday, because the rats drowned the cats by crawling over them, while the cats were fording a river. That's why the cat is not one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. (I don't think Jeh Pan would be happy to hear this story; so, I wont' tell him.)

Both stories have a theme of shrewdness and maximizing a position of weakness. Although cunning was involved, what I like about both stories is that the rats didn't let their lowly position or their small size prevent them from obeying their calling to go. They went, and when challenges came, they improvised, right?

But I want to return to the Christian scriptures. In reviewing what I've learned this year, this particular verse impacted me perhaps the most. "God turned [evil] into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened." (Genesis 5:20, GNT).

Hopefully, that theme carries out for 2020. Happy New Year, everybody!

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