Friday, June 19, 2020

City of Baldwin Park Fails State Audit; Corruption Exposed

Manuel Lozano, outside court parking lot,
being sued personally
California's State Controller's Office published a report, which states that the City of Baldwin Park failed the audit because of corrupt practices. According to the report, the City has “serious'' lack of internal financial control measures, “resulting in poor contracting and accounting practices and a questionable pay increase for a top city official.'' Almost 50% of the city's internal controls are not functioning. In other words, city officials and administrators are treating the city's bank account like their own personal one.

For instance, city officials and administrators ran up credit card expenses over $153,820. Imagine if you had a credit card where you can run up $10,000 a month and not have to pay for it. Of that money, the auditors discovered that about $9,000 of that money was spent on "meals, hotels, online retail-store purchases, and other miscellaneous expenses without itemized receipts or descriptive invoices." Former Council Member Ricardo Pacheco has been known to max out government credit cards as well at strip clubs.
Unemployed Council Member Pacheco in his new
Mercedes Benz
Other problems are that the Council Members and Administrators want the City to pay for incredible lifetime benefits, even when they stop working for the City. For instance, although former Chief of Police, Michael Taylor was already making the maximum amount as chief of close to $200,000, he still demanded an extra $41,233 increase, rendering his pay closer to $250,000. This way, Taylor and his wife will get paid exorbitant paychecks, even though he's already been fired from Baldwin Park (twice, actually). (In fact, Taylor admitted to marrying his wife, so she could receive benefits, to screw over Baldwin Park financially for firing him.)

As an aside, Taylor paid back Pacheco to vote for his lucrative pay raise. After Taylor was elected on West Valley Water, he created a new job for Pacheco as an assistant general manager, but Pacheco was exposed for maxing out credit cards at strip clubs. Instead of punishing Pacheco, Taylor voted to pay Pacheco over $142,000 for spending government money at strip clubs.

Amongst a slough of other problems, the audit discovered that millions of dollars have gone missing. $507,176 went into a project that was discontinued after a year. $3.4 million is unaccounted for with a contractor called AAE, owned by Sid Mousavi. Did this money go back to the public officials and administrators? In total, that makes closer to $4 million missing.

Proof of Lozano's personal bankruptcy,
note his social security number belongs
to an undocumented farm worker p. 1
The City Manager, Shannon Yauchtzee, disputed the audit's findings. Even though millions of dollars are missing and the City is and will be paying extravagant bonuses to him, administrators, the Mayor and Council Member, Yauchtzee said that the problems were of "non-conformance" and not problems of "serious deficiencies" as alleged by the auditor.

Clearly, Yauchtzee and the City Officials are in denial that the findings are valid and raise concerns.

The audit only covered the years of 2016-2018. Therefore, it didn't pick up on the fact that in 2019 - the City Council voted to budget themselves approximately $6,700 a month for going to two meetings a month. Imagine getting paid $3,350 for going to a meeting and voting.

Currently, the Mayor has alleged the City is in a financial crisis. Thus, the parks and recreation program, including athletics and the senior center are closed. And although there is nothing for the Director of Parks and Recreation, Manuel Carrillo, to manage, he continues to get paid over $250,000, if not closer to $300,000 when benefits are included. (It's been alleged Carrillo hasn't even graduated form high school.)

Now; it appears that the extravagant costs of the administrators and public officials, like Mayor Lozano, are getting paid so much that the City can't pay for its basic services to the public. In other words, the City's brass is getting paid incredibly more, while doing almost nothing. This is the logic of the Lozano administration. Only if we can all make millions for kicking back.

For these reasons, the public protested Mayor Lozano and Council Member Garcia and Hernandez, accusing them of being corrupt and demanding their resignation. Lozano is asking for a federal bail out of $6 million to solve the problem.

Such thinking has led to his own personal bankruptcy once, if not more times. Because a bankruptee is leading the City, it's not surprising the it's moving in the direction of a municipal bankruptcy rapidly.

The solution to the problem is that the public needs to know where all this money went. For this reason, U.S. Supreme Court Justice stated, "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."

Friday, June 12, 2020

Baldwin Park City Council Member - Ricardo Pacheco Resigns

Baldwin Park Council Member looking angry for losing
Free Speech lawsuit
After 23 years of being an elected official, Baldwin Park Council Member Ricardo Pacheco finally resigned around June 10th, 2020. Pacheco's resignation follows an investigation that exposed him for maxing out a government credit card at strip clubs. The expose also forced him to resign at West Valley Water as assistant general manager - a position that Baldwin Park's former Chief of Police created just for him. Pacheco's tenure as council member has been marked by corruption, retaliation against Free Speech, and huge financial damage to public agencies and the places he's worked. Pacheco leaves behind a legacy of harm.

In an unprecedented lawsuit, which was adjudicated in March 26 of 2019, Pacheco cost the City over $9 million, because a jury found that he sexually and racially discriminated against the former Chief of Police - Lili Hadsell.

Pacheco also cost the City significant legal costs for retaliating against citizens for criticizing him. In his first lawsuit, he sued local businessman Greg Tuttle, who was investigating Pacheco for soliciting donations from lobbyists in Santa Barbara. The court warned him that citizens have the right to Free Speech; nonetheless, he persisted in retaliating against those who criticized him.

In his second lawsuit, Pacheco fined and enforced a collection agency against Tuttle, because he hung a sign of Pacheco depicting him as a jackass and alleging that Pacheco was corrupt. The federal court awarded damages to Tuttle, holding that Pacheco and the City's retaliation was unconstitutional.

Sign that's triggered another First Amendment Lawsuit
A third lawsuit is now pending, in which Pacheco sought criminal charges against a citizen and resident for hanging a jackass sign, alleging Pacheco to be corrupt. Pacheco also fined the citizen $12,400 for hanging this sign.

Also back in the spring of 2014, Pacheco voted to fire boxing coach Julian Casas for complaining about receiving a forty cent an hour raise, after working at the boxing gym for 20 years.

These First Amendment lawsuits have been estimated to cost the City about one million in legal costs and damages. Currently, the Mayor of Baldwin Park is alleging the city is now in a budget crisis. But Pacheco pursued these legal actions, because in his mind the taxpayers, instead of him, were paying for it. Now, the State of California's Controller's office has finished its audit and will soon release its report.

Pacheco's career history has a wake of forced resignations, in which taxpayers were seriously harmed. In 2003, Pacheco was forced to resign from the City of South Gate as city manager, after being accused of sexual harassment by an employee. The taxpayers ended up paying him $93,000 to resign, which after adjusting for inflation, is closer to a $150,000 today.

At West Valley Water, Pacheco was paid approximately over $142,000 for being forced to resign, after being exposed for using a government credit card at a strip club.

Pacheco, unemployed, in his new white Mercedes
And even though he's resigned, Pacheco and Mayor Lozano voted to have lifetime benefits for being elected officials. The estimated costs for these life time benefits is over $1.5 million to the taxpayers.

The reason for Pacheco's resignation have not been confirmed, but there have been allegations that the FBI is investigating him. Pacheco was asked if he had anything he'd like to contribute to the story and whether it was true the FBI was scrutinizing him. Pacheco provided no comment.

Pacheco's resignation announces the beginning of the end of a generation, in which Baldwin Park has suffered financial and civic harm for over twenty years. But as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Chief of Police accused of brutality and racism; Chief alleges retaliation for refusing to cancel standardized tests for Mayor's favored officers

Council Member Ricardo Pacheco, Council Member Monica Garcia,
and Mayor Manuel Lozano (from left to right)
Yesterday evening, Baldwin Park's Chief of Police, Steven McLean openly stated, "Mr. Mayor, Mr. City Attorney, Mr. Hernandez, Mr. CEO I'll see you in court. The corruption stops tonight. . . .Your time is up."

Mayor Manuel Lozano responded, "Ok; I don't know what that's about." The City Attorney, Robert Tafoya also echoed that ignorance.

After being employed as chief for six months, McLean is now on stress leave, unable to make any official police decisions. The Chief is fearful that he'll be the target of attacks from protesters after an anonymous officer accused him of police brutality and being a racist.

Earlier in the evening, the City Clerk, Jean Ayala read a 10-minute anonymous letter from an officer in the police department during public comments period (46:53-56:37). The letter stated that the chief had no character or ethics. Allegedly, the Chief "endorsed aggressive police tactics. Use of force incidents are at an all time high."

The accuser stated that the Chief has a helmet that was affiliated with the crime gang Bandidos and gave preferential treatment to some officers, which amounts to discrimination, because the Chief "needed a caucasian on the team." (McLean's origin however come from both Honduras and Costa Rica. McLean considers himself Hispanic.) The anonymous accuser asked for Chief McLean to be removed from office.

According to McLean, the letter and his stress leave are really retaliation for not cancelling standardized testing for three officers that Lozano wants to personally promote. McLean stated that when he first became chief, he interviewed all 102 officers. According to the majority of them, the largest problem in the Baldwin Park Police Department was corruption regarding police promotions. For this reason, McLean wanted to implement standardized testing for promotions.

About 90 days ago, McLean designed the standardized test Allegedly, the test was approved by the police association, the human resources department, and the city manager.

But according to McLean and a number of other police officers, three officers, Frank Real, Sgt. Cetina Gonzales, and Lt. George Huerta, were promised to be promoted by the Mayor, even though they lacked the experience or the qualifications for it. All three have been vocal about opposing standardized tests.

Chief Steve McLean
Even after being approved by the CEO, Shannon Yauchtezz, about a month ago, allegedly called up McLean to tell him that the Mayor pressured the CEO to cancel testing because of Baldwin Park's budget crisis. The CEO told the Mayor that the tests weren't too expensive, that they were already purchased, and that the Mayor should be reminded that the City had to settle a lawsuit for over $100,000 once, because the Mayor interfered before in the police promotional process.

Then a few weeks ago, Council Member Paul Hernandez visited the chief at the department and told McLean that the test didn't need to be followed. Hernandez stated that the chief could pick somebody who was bad at testing but "good at leadership" and possibly promote them over three or four other officers, who scored better in the exams.

McLean responded that the number one problem that the officers perceived in the department was nepotism and that he was going to make the process fair for everyone.

To that, Hernandez said that the Mayor and him wanted to meet with him at the Guadalajara Grill at 10:30A tomorrow in Baldwin Park.

McLean stated that would be fine, but that he would ask the Mayor and the Council Member two questions. One, do they want a fair, legitimate, and transparent process? Or do they want the promotion process to be designed to promote a select few?

At their 10:30A meeting, McLean stated that the issue of testing was never brought up.

Afterwards, the City Attorney texted McLean that he was being accused of insider cheating and that he was giving the answers to the test to some officers and not others. To this, McClean responded that he was giving tutorials to officers and the notes were from a lecture he was giving on test tasking. Furthermore, at that time, McLean couldn't have given answers to the test, because it hadn't been drafted yet.

Frank Real, one of the officer seeking a promotion and opposes testing has a bad reputation in the force. The last acting chief also refused to promote him. Furthermore, Real was named in a sexual harassment lawsuit (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC333571) which looks like it settled. Finally, according to the Chief, Real and his family were used to structure over $20,000 in donations to the Mayor's political campaign. If true, this is a form of laundering money and evading campaign contribution reporting requirements. It also suggests a pay to play scheme within the police department.

The Mayor was asked to comment on Real and his family members contributing money. No comment has yet been provided. Furthermore, the CEO and the City Attorney have asked to confirm the facts in this article. They too have not commented either.

Currently, the decision of implementing testing has been left with the Human Resources Department, and not the police department. The department is determining whether testing has been compromised.

If fired, McLean would be the seventh police chief hired and fired in seven years in the City. Currently, there's a judgment of over $9 million being appealed against the City and a stack of pending lawsuits against it. The City's insurance deductible has been raised and the premium has already doubled from $350,000 to $700,000 a year because of them. But the Mayor has never mentioned lawsuits as a reason for the City's "budget crisis".

McLean has already stated that he's lost his reputation because of the Mayor and would like to be made whole again.

The controversy of Baldwin Park's police promotion process re-ignites the debate of cronyism, standardized testing, government accountability, merit, and affirmative action. According to Sunjay Adelaja, author of Mountain of Ignorance, “At the root of every form of ungodliness, injustice, nepotism, selfishness, every rivalry and competitive jealousy, is the monster called greed.”