|Rose Tam, Finance Director|
On January 19, 2021 - Rose Tam, City of Baldwin Park's Finance Director, filed a temporary restraining order against attorney, Paul Cook, alleging racism, harassment, and being terrified for her life. Tam alleged this against Cook based on an email, in which Cook told Tam that Tam should tell us the truth about what was happening with the City's money. Tam also stated that the articles Cook wrote against her alleging that she's very likely cooking the books and laundering money was putting her life in jeopardy.
Tam, and her attorney, Maribel Medina, accused Cook of also distributing fliers, which accused Tam of fraudulent activity. No evidence of this has been presented. (Cook denied this allegation, but does wish he had the resources to make such fliers and distribute them.) The court denied the temporary restraining order and scheduled a preliminary restraining order hearing on January 29, 2021.
At the preliminary restraining order hearing, Medina accused Cook of breaking into Tam's car; however, Medina presented no evidence of this either. The temporary judge couldn't hear the case, because Cook was an attorney, and repeated this to Medina three time. Nonetheless, Medina requested for another temporary restraining order - which the judge denied again. In all, Medina's asked for four orders to protect Tam. Two are still pending.
Cook filed a special motion to strike against the City (which dismisses a case when the filing is frivolous) Tam, and Medina, because the case is so obviously frivolous. The judge continued everything until February 23, 2020.
Medina and the City are Retaliating, Because Cook Received Two Court Orders to Depose Tam
Cook believes there are two reasons that the City (under the direction of Robert Tafoya), Tam, and Medina are filing a frivolous temporary restraining order and preliminary restraining order against him. The first one is that the City is retaliating against Cook for obtaining two court ordered depositions of Tam in two public record act cases. A deposition is when a party gets to interview someone to get information regarding a case.
Currently, key players of the City, like the City Attorney, Robert Tafoya, are under FBI investigation. Hence, there are people who don't want Tam talking about the City budget and how money was moved around.
The second reason is that given all the frivolous filings by Medina, it appears that Medina has virtually a blank check to charge the City for any kind of work (unethical or otherwise). Since the judge issued the first order compelling Tam's deposition, Medina has already filed a temporary restraining order application, a second request for a protective order, a preliminary restraining order application, and a request for sanctions with another request for a protective order. (This money could be better spent on providing housing vouchers to residents and the growing homeless problem in the City.)
In total, Medina has filed four orders trying to get Tam out of this deposition. Medina terminated the last deposition when Cook, attempting to establish Tam's identity, asked what her name was at birth and where Tam was born. The judge hearing the case ordered a deposition referee for Tam. Nonetheless, both Medina and Tam still refuse to go through with the deposition.
Former City Council Member Pleads Guilty to Bribery Charges; Same Council Member Voted to Appoint Tam as Finance Director.
The public officials and administrators of the City Baldwin Park have been engaged in corruption. It was one of those facts everyone suspected and knew, but a difficult allegation to prove until now. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that former Council Member Ricardo Pacheco plead guilty to charge of bribery. At his house, $302,900 of dirty money was seized. The federal judge can sentence Pacheco up to ten years in prison.
Tam is linked to Pacheco, as Pacheco voted to appointed Tam as the new finance director on January 20, 2016. Pacheco has already proven that his votes generally come at a cash cost. For instance, Pacheco voted on the approval of the police contract for $37,900.
The question is what Tam had to pay Pacheco for his vote. In another lawsuit, a former employee sued Tam, alleging that Tam cooks the books, misappropriates funds, and forces people to sign off on fraudulent paperwork. According to Ruelas, money that was meant to go to poor for housing instead went into accounts to give the public officials and administrators raises to themselves.
Tam's Attorney with Questionable Ethics - Maribel Medina.
The accusations appear to be true. According to the article, "Medina was forced out by the El Rancho Unified School District in Southern California, after it was discovered that the contract she wrote for Del Terra included millions of dollars more in bond money than the school board had requested. She resigned before the board voted to terminate her contract."
Regarding the current cases with Baldwin Park, Medina has no problem lying to the court. In Ruelas v. City of Baldwin Park, the court already sanctioned Medina $8,500 for filing a frivolous motion. In City of Baldwin Park v. Steven McLean - the court found that Medina filed at least one frivolous cause of action. In Cook's cases, Medina was also found to have filed several meritless motion.
In Medina's recent attempt to obtain a restraining order, Medina not only filed a frivolous temporary restraining order application, which another judge denied, but she also falsely accused Cook of breaking into Tam's car in order to obtain a protective order. The judge called it "speculation".
For such unethical misconduct in these cases, Medina is being investigated by the State Bar of California, currently.
History of Retaliation Against Critics with Temporary Restraining Orders Applications.
The City has a pattern of filing meritless temporary restraining orders against critics. Former mayor, Manuel Lozano filed a temporary restraining order against Cook for booing him at the park and confronting him about how he liked strip searching, arresting him after booing the Mayor. The Mayor's temporary restraining order application was denied on July 29, 2014, because Cook had a First Amendment right to protest.
Then around March 15, 2016 - Council Member Pacheco filed a temporary restraining order against Greg S. Tuttle, another local critic, who was investigating their lobbying activities in Santa Barbara. Once again, the judge ruled that Tuttle has a First Amendment right to be involved in local politics and to root out corruption.
At the hearing, Tuttle admitted that he wouldn't stop investigating Pacheco until Pacheco was put behind bars. Around five years later, that happened.
The above case proves the types of reform required to live in a democratic society. There are two problems here. One, the current checks and balances do not permit members of the public to know how their money is being spent or misspent. Two, attorneys need to be disciplined more for such unethical behavior. Reform is required.
The court denied the permanent restraining order against Cook on February 23, 2021.