Cinco de Mayo’s Legacy for Indigenous Peoples


 

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Benito Juarez

Cinco de Mayo went down in history as a great victory against imperialism.  The holiday commemorates the victory in the battle of Puebla of Mexican liberals under Benito Juarez–a full blooded Zapotec–over the Mexican conservatives and monarchists who had supported Emperor Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, an Austrian liberal duke who was suckered into accepting the throne by French interventionists in Mexico.  But a victory over European imperialism in hindsight may have been a disaster for Mexico’s indigenous population.

Juarez and the liberals’ program known as “La Reforma” and the Mexican Constitution of 1857 defined Ejidos–the system of collective ownership of farmland by Mexican indigenous tribal villages–as “corporate holdings” along with the large haciendas owned by the rich.  It is important to understand (and people who automatically reject the notion that a “corporation” is not a “person” should heed the Latin origin of the terminology to understand why modern conservatives have a different point of view on the issue) why there was a controversy over the application of this law to Ejidos.  As Wikipedia puts it:  “The word ‘corporation’ derives from corpus, the Latin word for body, or a ‘body of people.’”

The rich latifundistas could bypass the law by simply dividing up their large landed estates with title granted to their families for lots of small portions of property.  If the ejiditarios divided up the land and gave individual title to each indigenous family, the danger was — as in the United States — that unscrupulous investors would buyout or rip-off through tax liens the real estate titles one by one.  Another problem of land reform in Mexico involved a question of gender discrimination and would surface during the Mexican Revolution:  should land be distributed to all “heads of households” or to all “male heads of households.”

Maximilian I

Maximilian — to the dismay of the Mexican conservatives who wanted to reverse land reform in its entirety — kept in place many of the liberals’ reforms, including freedom of the press, amnesty for political prisoners, and living wage laws.  While he pledged to respect the agrarian land ownership reform laws, the effect on the ejidos under Juarez and his liberal predecessors had already resulted in many indigenous people losing their land to the latifundistas, precisely the opposite of what was supposed to happen.  Consequently, many of the indigenous people sided with Maximilian’s forces.

One prominent full blooded indigenous leader who rallied to Maximilian’s cause was General Tomas Mejia.  The conservatives were not particularly pleased that Maximilian elevated Mejia to a generalship because of his indigenous heritage, but that did not deter Maximilian.  Mejia proved his worth in battle, personally leading cavalry charges including an effort to break through the Juarista siege lines to enable Maximilian to escape from Queretaro.

General Tomas Mejia

Following a court martial trial, Maximilian and Mejia were both sentenced to death.  As they were being shot by a firing squad, Mejia shouted his last words, “long live the Emperor.”


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Jury Nullification by Aram James


 

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The original article can be found, along with comments, at:

http://paloaltofreepress.com/why-a-fundamental-understanding-of-jury-nullification-is-so-critical-to-taking-back-our-criminal-justice-system/

Why a fundamental understanding of jury nullification is so critical to taking back our criminal justice system

May 1, 2012

By

On April 19, 2012 New York federal Judge Kimba Wood dismissed an indictment against 80-year old Julian P. Heicklen for alleged jury tampering in the case against him for handing out materials to members of the public regarding the right of jurors to apply the historic doctrine of jury nullification.

Nullification is the right of jurors to come back with a verdict of not-guilty even if the jurors believe that the defendant in fact technically violated the law, but the jurors conclude that the law in question is an immoral or bad law or a reasonable law applied in a discriminatory fashion.

In dismissing the case Judge Wood commented that a person violates the jury tampering law only when they try to influence a juror in a specific case pending before those same jurors– but not for merely handing out informational materials (protected First Amendment activity) to members of the public who come to the courthouse for a variety of reasons–not necessarily related to jury duty.

The right of jurors to veto or nullify an unjust law—or a law that may be fair on its face but is being applied in a discriminatory fashion–is critical to our democracy and to our ability to serve as citizen jurors while being fully informed of our rights and options as decision makers. These rights are essential when our government calls us to sit in judgment regarding the guilt or innocence of our fellow citizens and community members

In an era where our government is increasingly cracking down on dissent (consider the response of the government to the occupy movement or to high profile whistle blowers such as  Bradley Manning or Julian Assange) the decision by a federal judge to toss out an indictment against an 80-year-old citizen advocate for handing out materials to members of the public in front of a courthouse is a powerful rebuff to the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to intimidate and steal from its citizens the right to think and speak freely and to exercise their independent judgment in the context of their jury service.

The judge’s decision to toss the indictment goes a long way to prevent—or at least to mitigate– jury tampering activity by judges and or prosecutors who – on occasion — purposely attempt to leave jurors with the wrong and intimidating impression: that to do anything other than to convict the person on trial is itself a criminal act.

Historically brave and courageous jurors refused to convict those charged with violating the Fugitive Slave Act and other immoral laws despite the best efforts of prosecutors and judges to steer jurors towards a conviction.

In the contemporary setting, if more jurors were fully informed of their right to disregard immoral or discriminatorily enforced laws—such as California’s “Jim Crow Drug Laws” and the racially motivated three-strike law—they would undoubtedly refuse to convict many defendants charged under these morally repugnant and frequently discriminatory laws.

The bottom line is that any grassroots organization attempting to reform or rebuild the criminal justice system from the ground up must understand and be willing to educate members of the public regarding their basic rights as jurors—including the right to veto or nullify bad laws.

Failure to educate the public in this regard is to assist and aid the state in wrongfully convicting members of our own communities. Knowledge is power and it’s time we go out into our communities and spread the word—we can just say no to bad laws.

Judge Kimba Wood’s action in dismissing the indictment in the Julian Heicklen case is cause for wide celebration-since we now know we are on solid legal ground when we decide to organize our communities around fundamental concepts of justice and our desire to take back our criminal justice system.

We can take back our criminal justice system from the forces that would prefer that justice be administered and understood for the benefit of the few to the detriment of the majority of  people.   The majority of people who must interact daily with the intentionally maintained mysterious and often baffling criminal justice system.

In California –pursuant to the holding in People v. Williams 25 Cal. 4th 441 (2001), jurors are explicitly precluded from exercising the doctrine of jury nullification. In fact, if a judge discovers that a juror is refusing to apply the law to a case–he or she may be discharged from the jury.

On the other hand, if the judge is unaware that the jury has engaged in nullifying what they perceive to be an unfair or bad law—the double jeopardy clause would prohibit retrial of an acquitted defendant. In Sparf v. U.S. 156 U.S. 51 (1894) the U.S. Supreme Court—in a 5 to 4 decision—held that federal judges are not required to instruct jurors on their right to nullify bad laws.

Understanding the power of jury nullification is one way to even the odds of obtaining justice for all. To learn more about the power of jury nullification check out the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA).

Aram James is a retired Santa Clara County deputy public defender—and a co-founder of the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP) –a grassroots legal advocacy organization—located in San Jose, CA.

*In a future article the author intends to discuss the provocative and controversial use of race-based jury nullification. The doctrine of race-based jury nullification has been popularized by Law Professor Paul Butler.

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This entry was posted on May 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm and is filed under Business, Community Posts, Featured, Fire and Police News, Legal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


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Lawsuit Alleges Insurance Fraud by Mount Kellett Operatives


 

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Case No. 12-3611, Zaldivar vs Keybank etc & et al has been filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California which alleges, amongst other things, that Evoq Properties Inc. operatives put in place by Mount Kellett Capital Management engaged in violations of Section 1871.7 of the California Insurance Code.

According to the suit:

Defendants made a claim for insurance benefits for the repair of a property that had been damaged by rain. Defendants falsely misrepresented and exaggerated the amount and extent of the damage to the building on the property to receive a larger than necessary payment from an insurance company. When Plaintiff exposed this fraud to businesses that had been ejected from the property as part and parcel of Defendants’ fraud, Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff in a mixed motive scenario involving both discrimination and whistleblower retaliation, by cancelling Plaintiff’s agreement and withholding payments that Plaintiff was due under that agreement.

The inside word on the suit’s allegation is that rain damage to a wholesale produce mart with exclusively minority and immigrant businesses and employees was purportedly blown out of proportion in order to get a huge insurance settlement.  Instead of repairing the damage with the insurance funds, Evoq Properties instead kicked out all of their business tenants and kept most of the money received for repairs.

The suit also alleges that:

In doing the acts and omissions alleged herein, Defendants engaged in a pattern and practice of discriminating against immigrants, non-Caucasian ethnic persons, and most egregiously against individuals and entities who of Latino/Hispanic descent and/or ownership. Defendants Evoq and R7 violated the rights of Plaintiff and its owners and employees under Article I, Sections 1 and 7 of the California Constitution, and Sections 51 and 51.5 and of the California Civil Code.

Complaints are being prepared to the California Department of Insurance and the Los Angeles Building and Safety Department regarding these allegations.

To see the lawsuit:  http://www.janbtucker.com/files/Mario_Z-Federal_Suit_-_LA0001.pdf

 


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Goldman Sach’s Greed Could Doom Low Income Housing


 

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The following was submitted by Harbor area activist Ernesto Nevarez.  It’s another example of the indifference of Hedge Fund operators to the human consequences of their profit-making activities, as I have chronicled with the ex-Goldman Sachs boys of Mount Kellett Capital Management (who frequently act in concert with Goldman Sachs)  in Los Angeles and Baja California:

There has been a take-over at the public housing project in Harbor City but now the tenants are meeting unfair resistance by the Goldman Sachs/Ricardo Hong slate.  All of the peoples’ votes were cast in person and proxy while the administration/status quo slate was done by mail. The election was conducted by the League of Women Voters due to a court stipulation.  However, the opposition that agreed to handle the arrangements did the mailing of the ballots.  Some of our supporters that showed up to vote in person didn’t bring in their ballots because they never received them in the mail.  The League of Women Voters informed them that their ballots were received in the mail already!!!

Despite the fraud WE still won 3 of the 5 board seats!!!!  Counting the 48 proxies which were all ours WE took the entire board.  The people at Harbor Village are all poor, seniors, physically or emotionally handicapped but they are GREAT!!!!  WE beat Goldman Sachs and Mayor Villaraigosa’s stooge, Ricardo Hong!!!  The company that we are fighting is Related Co of CA, a subsidiary of The Related Management Co LP of NY of which Goldman Sachs is the main partner.  The property was to convert to the tenants at the end of 15 years.  WE are at 14 1/2 years.  At issue, about $1,000,000 in assets in the Tenant organization, the NTCC.  The NTCC is the managing General Partner in the Normont Terrace LP with Related the other General Partner.  The Normont Terrace LP is the “Landlord” but for 14 years The Related Co. has ran the partnership at will.  The tenants didn’t even know that they were partners!!!!   Last Aug 29 I began helping, my dtr lives there, and I found out that there was a partnership and that WE were the main partner.  There are 400 units with an average estimated value of $250g each.  WE took control of it but they will fight us to the end and WE need help.

Hedge fund predators like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs and Mount Kellett exemplify what Abraham Lincoln was talking about when he said “These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people.”


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Aram James on the Trayvon Martin Case


 

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Aram James is an old and dear friend and retired Santa Clara County Public Defender.  This is a recent article he wrote on the Trayvon Martin case:

Open letter to the family of Trayvon Martin and Prosecutor Angela Cory (reprinted from the Palo Alto Free Press)

April 10, 2012

By

Angela Corey

I support the call for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family. I want the truth of this case to be pursued–in a public courtroom for all of America–and the entire world to see.

I am a retired public defender and spent 25 years in the courtroom representing indigent individuals charged with crimes–to the best of my ability. I know all too well–up close and personal–just how broken our criminal justice system is.

Here in Santa Clara County–California –the home to the best and the brightest innovators in the high tech world (Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, et al) and with some of the  greatest institutions of learning  in the world (Stanford, UC Berkeley and others) we have still not come to grips–or been able to do away with–a criminal justice system plagued by racially discriminatory practices–at all levels–from the raw exercise of police powers in the streets–at the arrest stage–to the filing patterns of our prosecutors–to the disproportionately  long sentences given to African–Americans—and other people of  color–by our judges.

The system has made some small efforts to change–but we still have miles to go before we will truly see anything close to the equal application of the law.  We are–here in Santa Clara County–if I am to speak the truth–part and parcel–of what author and Professor Michele Alexander calls The New Jim Crow“.

In my experience prosecutors potentially wield extreme and extraordinarily subjective power over the lives of all of us–by way of their exercise of prosecutorial discretion—and it is incontrovertible –that here in the center of the high tech world– race still matters and plays the crucial and central role re who is charged with a crime and who is not.

Black men in particular are charged with crimes that whites are much less often charged with–and on the same facts–and there remains a huge disparity in the severity of sentencing that Black men–and other men of color–receive as compared to whites. And–sadly– the same racial divide applies to women in the criminal justice system.

When I request justice for Trayvon Martin, from the state of Florida–I am not pointing a finger at you.  I don’t need to travel to Florida to find injustice in our criminal justice system—injustice based on race–happens just the same way here in Santa Clara County—everyday.  So when I call-out for justice for Trayon Martin–I call out for all of the Trayvon Martin’s of America. All of the Trayvon Martin’s of Santa Clara County.

As a fellow member of the legal profession–I call on you prosecutor Angela Corey to look carefully at the evidence in this matter–ask yourself–if the race of the alleged victim and the alleged killer were reversed–would charges have already been filed? I think we both know the answer. So–it is time for you–Prosecutor Angela Corey–to do the right and thing–file murder charges against George Zimmerman.

Once charges are filed make certain that a jury–that represents a cross–section of the community is selected–and that the case is tried by a prosecutor with a track record for fairness to all parties involved.

I ask that Mr. Zimmerman–if he does not have money to employ the private attorney of his choice–be appointed the most able public defender available–one who will provide Mr. Zimmerman a zealous defense–and one who will ensure Mr. Zimmerman–and all of us–that he/she will act through-out the legal proceedings with an undivided loyalty to Mr. Zimmerman’s cause.

I know that Trayvon Martin’s family wants nothing to do with a lynch mob mentality directed at Mr. Zimmerman–this would not further the cause of justice for any of us–or honor the memory of their son–Trayvon Martin.

In the end, it will it will be incumbent on the legal profession, the community–Trayvon Martin’s family–and all of us–to all come together–to ensure a fair and fully transparent jury trial in this matter. That’s all I ask for. America can ill afford anything less.


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Unite Against War on Women – a New Beginning


 

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For Background:  http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/27/rally-against-the-war-on-women/

This is what I posted earlier today in the aftermath of yesterday’s Unite Against the War on Women Rally in our Facebook organizing page:

Sherry, Nanette, Kelly, Katie, Becky, Gemma, and everybody else: just wanted to say that as you can imagine, I’ve been involved in a lot of protest demonstrations for more than 4 decades and what you made happen in such a short time span was outstanding. The effect it had on all the participants is part of a new wave of feminist activism whose effect will be felt for many years to come in the movement. Past rejuvenating waves like this I saw in 1989 after the Supreme Court’s Webster decision and again in 1991 with the Anita Hill – Clarence Thomas hearings. You all can be very proud of your role at this historical moment.

New Activists, New Friends

There are occasions when you know instantly that you’ve met people who will become friends for the rest of your life.  Yesterday was one of those days.  The women I met yesterday are exemplified in spirit by Joe Hill’s (famous Industrial Workers of the World organizer) song about Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (which I first heard when sung by my old friend Joanna Cazden):

There are women of many descriptions
In this queer world, as everyone knows.
Some are living in beautiful mansions,
And are wearing the finest of clothes.
There are blue blooded queens and princesses,
Who have charms made of diamonds and pearl;
But the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

CHORUS:
That’s the Rebel Girl, that’s the Rebel Girl!
To the working class she’s a precious pearl.
She brings courage, pride and joy
To the fighting Rebel Boy.
We’ve had girls before, but we need some more
In the Industrial Workers of the World.
For it’s great to fight for freedom
With a Rebel Girl.

Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor,
And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl;
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

So who are the new Rebel Girl’s I’ve met and worked with:

Attorney Sherry Lear:  in a sequence of serendipitous events beginning a few years back, a private investigator buddy refers Sherry to me as she needs to some work nearby (we both operate out of the Los Angeles South Bay).  I’d never met her in person; everything was over the telephone or by email.  So a few weeks ago, I get an email from Sherry about my being in the National Organization for Women and can I help with getting support for the Unite Against the War Against Women rally.  Can I ever!  Haven’t had this much fun since last year’s Los Angeles Slutwalk [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/06/06/new-face-new-wave-of-feminism/]!

Sherry Lear (L) Nanette Harrison (R)

So Sherry has hooked up with Nanette Harrison, Kelly Lett, Katie German and a whole bunch of other fabulous feminists out of pent up reaction (revulsion maybe?) to all of the seriously sick and twisted attacks on women, from MCPs (Male Chauvinist Pigs) like Rush Limbaugh calling a woman who supports birth control a slut to the Republican majority in the House of Representatives that have attacked everything from birth control and women’s health services to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA, authored originally by then-Senator Joe Biden).

Old Friends in a small world….

L to R, Gemma, Cheryl, Becky & Janice working security at the 4-28-12 rally

So naturally I get on the horn and beat the drums to see who I can get to help out with the rally and my private investigator friend and colleague Becky Altringer steps up to the plate to help with event security and on top of it all, brings in Gemma Beristain, a private patrol operator who gets her employees to work the security detail with us.  Gemma’s company is PBI–Picore Beristain Initiative, Inc. and she’s got a great crew of people.

When I see who also shows up at the rally, it starts to seem like a reunion of sorts with political blasts from the past.

Blase Bonpane

Blase Bonpane

One of the slated speakers was Blase Bonpane, founder of the Office of the Americas, a human rights group that deals with issues throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Blase and I go way back.  I was his grad assistant in 1978 while working my way through graduate school.  Blase also covered for me as my professor, when I needed an excuse to obtain the home addresses and contact information for the employees of a guard service I was working for (I was an organizer for Local 1 of the American Federation of Guards) on the pretext that I was going to do a survey for my term paper.

Blase is a giant of a figure in history.  As a Maryknoll Priest in Guatemala in the 50s, he was organizing the indigenous and oppressed until the progressive regime of Jacobo Arbenz was ousted by an Eisenhower ordered CIA overthrow of the government.  When he refused to stop supporting the progressive forces, Blase was ordered defrocked by the Catholic Church and expelled from Guatemala.  He then went to Peru, where he administered Catholic sacraments, prompting the Pope to order him excommunicated.  Having nothing left to lose, he married a nun, Sister Teresa, and that really pissed off the church!

Carol A. Downer

Carol Downer

There’s a lot I can say about Carol Downer but the bottom line is, she is the founder of the pro-choice and women’s health activism movement in Los Angeles, and that doesn’t come close to saying it all.  Check out the Wikipedia article which says it better:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Downer

Angel Luevano, Natl Vice President of the National League of Latin American Citizens

Angel and Argentina Luevano (Argentina is Natl VP Far West of NLLAC) joined me at the rally and staffed our Same Page/Misma Pagina Coalition (SFV/NELA NOW, California League of Latin American Citizens, California LULAC Institute, and Todos Unidos) table, signing up potential members and volunteers and distributing literature.  Angel spoke to the assemblage about his experiences working for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs of the U.S. Department of Labor and how his lawsuit resulted in the “Luevano Consent Decree” which established equal opportunity standards for women and minorities in federal employment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu%C3%A9vano_v._Campbell).

L to R: Argentina Luevano, Jan Perry, Jan B. Tucker

Jan Perry

Jan probably doesn’t remember this but I met her around 1998 when she was in charge of the Census 2000 Outreach Project for the City of Los Angeles at a monthly breakfast of the South County Labor coalition of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.  Today, Jan is the only woman on Los Angeles’s 15 member City Council and a candidate for Mayor.  Yesterday, she was the only City official to personally show up to demonstrate her support for our movement.

Heather Martin

There’s much to tell about Heather [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/01/20/update-on-her-royal-majesty/] that you’ve just got to check out the link to my last blog about her.  It’s great to have followed Heather’s progress in life from passionate high school feminist activist to where she was yesterday, covering the rally for the Los Angeles Post [http://www.thelosangelespost.org/about-us-3/contributors/].

In Conclusion

There really is no conclusion to this blog posting because what happened yesterday is a new beginning in a new wave of activism.  If there is one thing I can suggest however, is that if you think you can be complacent about your rights and your liberties without being an activist, guess again.  There is a war going on in America.  It’s a great cultural war in which control freaks and religious fanatics are trying to turn the clock back about 60 years, if not more.  You can enlist in the cause of women’s liberation or you can stand on the sidelines and watch as your right to control the uses of your own body slip away.

 

 


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Mount Kellett’s Book of Revelations–Chapter Two


 

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The first time I blogged about Mount Kellett [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/16/romneyizing-los-angeles/] I noted that a couple of the “hole cards” we were holding in the legal game being played out between Mount Kellett Capital Management and the companies they were targeting in Los Angeles were that:

  • Their lawyers didn’t bother to read the fine print in the pre-existing contracts they’re litigating before filing unlawful detainer suits (or alternatively, they did read the fine print and gambled that we wouldn’t catch them in a serious legal problem);
  • Somebody kept the proverbial “two sets of books” and probably didn’t bother to tell their lawyers

After the following blog postings this post will come full circle as these revelations are now filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in a Demurrer to the Complaint filed in Case No. 12 U 04551.

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/04/21/mount-kelletts-book-of-revelations-chapter-one/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/04/11/mount-kellett-out-of-control/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/04/06/will-mount-kellett-ever-learn/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/23/what-is-mount-kellett-thinking/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/20/mount-kelletts-war-on-workers/

Forgery and Perjury

There are some very juicy tidbits in the Demurrer filed in this unlawful detainer action:

  • If there is one thing that is clear and unambiguous about the pleadings in this matter it is that they cannot possibly be reconciled with each other. Assuming arguendo that neither of the signatures on the verifications is a forgery (which this Defendant only assumes for the sake of demurrer since Defendant has obtained a voluntary handwriting exemplar from one of the purported signers and already knows that one of the signatures is a forgery in violation of Section 470 of the Penal Code) then at least one of the signers has committed perjury in violation of Section 118 of the California Penal Code.
  • In the 1st complaint (BC479498 – Feb.28.2012) the Plaintiff attached a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, contended that the Defendant had not paid rent since March 1, 2011, and claims the amount due and outstanding as being $1,200,245.00.

    In the 2nd complaint (12U04551 – Apr.6.2012) the Plaintiff now contends that Defendant owes $200,000.00 and not $1,200,245.00, and states that the amount of $200,000.00 is amount due thru April 2. 2012.

One really  has to ponder, maybe wonder, just what Evoq’s lawyers knew and when they knew it.  The California State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 5-200) states in pertinent part:

In presenting a matter to a tribunal, a member:

(A) Shall employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to the member such means only as are consistent with truth;

(B) Shall not seek to mislead the judge, judicial officer, or jury by an artifice or false statement of fact or law;

Likewise, there are two important California Business & Professions Code Sections of interest:

Section 6068 (in pertinent part):

6068.  It is the duty of an attorney to do all of the following:
   (a) To support the Constitution and laws of the United States and
of this state.
   (b) To maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and
judicial officers.
   (c) To counsel or maintain those actions, proceedings, or defenses
only as appear to him or her legal or just, except the defense of a
person charged with a public offense.
   (d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided
to him or her those means only as are consistent with truth, and
never to seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an
artifice or false statement of fact or law.

Section 6128 (in pertinent part):

Every attorney is guilty of a misdemeanor who either:
   (a) Is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any
deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party.

COOKING THE BOOKS

Revelation 20:11-15

New International Version (NIV)

The Judgment of the Dead

 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

The discrepancy in the figures that Evoq Properties was claiming in the first lawsuit and in the second is probably explained by my posting of March 16, 2012 (Romneyizing Los Angeles) suggesting that we knew that somebody had been keeping ‘the proverbial “two sets of books’ and probably didn’t bother to tell their lawyers.”  Kind of interesting that just ten days later, March 26, 2012, Evoq Properties dismissed the lawsuit…and inquiring minds want to know whether Evoq’s management panicked because somebody figured out who forged a signature and/or who was keeping two sets of books.

Inquiring minds also want to know what went on between Mount Kellett and its current attorneys and who knew exactly what and when.  Rule 3-600 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the California State Bar is instructive on what the lawyers were supposed to do.  To see the full rule, go to:  http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Rules/RulesofProfessionalConduct/CurrentRules/Rule3600.aspx.  Two especially relevant sub-sections of the rule are:

(B) If a member acting on behalf of an organization knows that an actual or apparent agent of the organization acts or intends or refuses to act in a manner that is or may be a violation of law reasonably imputable to the organization, or in a manner which is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the member shall not violate his or her duty of protecting all confidential information as provided in Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (e). Subject to Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (e), the member may take such actions as appear to the member to be in the best lawful interest of the organization. Such actions may include among others:

(1) Urging reconsideration of the matter while explaining its likely consequences to the organization; or

(2) Referring the matter to the next higher authority in the organization, including, if warranted by the seriousness of the matter, referral to the highest internal authority that can act on behalf of the organization.

(C) If, despite the member’s actions in accordance with paragraph (B), the highest authority that can act on behalf of the organization insists upon action or a refusal to act that is a violation of law and is likely to result in substantial injury to the organization, the member’s response is limited to the member’s right, and, where appropriate, duty to resign in accordance with rule 3-700.

When working with businesses where a legal Complaint is required to be “verified,” meaning that somebody is swearing under penalty of perjury that the allegations are true or that at least they believe them to be true, an attorney usually asks the company to provide him/her with the signature on the verification form from some company official who has the appropriate knowledge.  So did somebody from inside Evoq provide a forged signature in this litigation and who knew?  Who did the forgery and why hasn’t the company and/or its attorneys had that person arrested?

See the demurrer filed in the Merco Group Case:  http://www.janbtucker.com/files/Aztlan_Demurrer-1_4_19_12.pdf


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Mount Kellett’s Book of Revelations-Chapter One


 

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For background on this posting:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/04/11/mount-kellett-out-of-control/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/04/06/will-mount-kellett-ever-learn/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/23/what-is-mount-kellett-thinking/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/20/mount-kelletts-war-on-workers/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/16/romneyizing-los-angeles/

A lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 19, 2012,  in which the record of Mount Kellett Capital Management and Evoq Properties, Inc. (Mount Kellett’s target of a successful hostile takeover orchestrated in Bankruptcy Court) is at issue.  Amongst the allegations against Mount Kellett are some real gems:

  • The disparate impact against minorities and immigrants was in part instigated in connection with a “mixed motive” scenario, in which higher management from Mount Kellett Capital Management directed the managers of Evoq to engage in a course of conduct designed to eliminate or at least restrict the cash flow into Evoq to drive its stock price down and thereby enable Mount Kellett to get more control over the stock of Evoq at a cheaper price.
  • Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the effort to obtain more Evoq stock cheaply was in turn, part and parcel of a scheme to merge Baja Mining, a British Columbia corporation and potentially other entities and assets into a new corporation.

  • Another motive in the mix which precipitated discrimination against minority owned firms was a scheme that enabled the conversion by Evoq of the proceeds of an insurance payout that was predicated upon the need to repair roof and water damage to minority owned businesses; instead of making the repairs, Evoq constructively evicted the tenants to avoid making the needed and necessary repairs.

  • One of the managers brought into Evoq by Mount Kellett engaged in quid pro quo sexual harassment and sex discrimination by insuring higher pay for at least one (and maybe more) women who were sleeping with him and/or keeping quiet about his affairs.
  • The new management brought in by Mount Kellett fired an employee for no other apparent reason other than that he was Gay.
  • The lawsuit alleges that Mount Kellett’s management directed the managers of Evoq to cease hiring employees who spoke foreign languages and to take discriminatory action against minority owned business contractors that Evoq had longstanding relations with.

The Intrigue of Securities Fraud Litigation

Perhaps most intriguing about the lawsuit is the Twelfth Cause of Action for Declaratory Relief re Securities Fraud as defined in 17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5.  If the allegations are true, the implications are that the Bankruptcy court’s ouster of the Meruelo – Maddux management (Evoq was formerly “Meruelo Maddux Properties, Inc.”) is invalid.  The suit alleges that an unlawful stock dilution effectively robbed secured creditors who held claims against the common stock of Evoq of their assets as well as control of the corporation and its subsidiaries.

MOUNT KELLETT’S STRANGE BEDFELLOWS IN LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE

Strange Bedfellows

As noted in my past postings on Mount Kellett, COO Jonathan Fiorello contributed to Rep. Michelle Bachmann on the very day that she accused then candidate for President Barack Obama of being a socialist, while CEO Mark McGoldrick gave $50,000 to John McCain while McGoldrick was living in London.  So some might think it unlikely that a company with extreme right wing leanings (like Bachmann supporters at the helm) would get into bed for a real estate deal with a company headed by a liberal Democrat….but amongst the 1%, as Bob Dylan once sang, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”

Rising Realty Partners bought the PacMutual (Pacific Mutual) building at 6th & Olive with financing from Mount Kellett.  CEO Nelson Rising is a big and regular contributor to liberal Democrats, who one might think would be appalled at jumping into a financial bed with a company that is alleged to have discriminated against women, minorities, immigrants, and Gay people, but that seems to be precisely what happened here.

In 2011 alone, Nelson and Sharon Rising gave $35,800 each to the Obama Victory Fund 2012.  They also gave $30,800 each to both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee in 2011.  The Risings have also contributed to Representatives Adam Schiff, Howard Berman, Janice Hahn, Xavier Becerra, Jane Harman, and Nancy Pelosi; Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California and Senator Jon Tester (Montana), and even my friend Assembly Member Anthony Portantino.

Saul Alinsky once said that “Power goes to two poles:  to those who’ve got the money and to those who’ve got the people.”  Contact me to find out how you can enlist on the side of the people–the 99%–against those who’ve got the money (the 1%):  callac@janbtucker.com

 

 


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Mount Kellett Out of Control


 

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

For background on the continuing saga of Mount Kellett Capital Management:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/04/06/will-mount-kellett-ever-learn/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/23/what-is-mount-kellett-thinking/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/20/mount-kelletts-war-on-workers/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/16/romneyizing-los-angeles/

A Battle Won, the War Continues

Big news in our fight with Mount Kellett:  a week ago, on April 3, 2012, the proxy battle between Mount Kellett’s usurpers and Baja Mining’s existing management came to a head when Mount Kellett lost 51% to 49% in its quest to throw out two existing Baja Mining directors and elect two of it’s own flunkies to the Baja Mining board.  With a vote that close, and judging by the volume of behind the scenes email traffic I’ve been getting from Baja Mining stockholders, I imagine that Mount Kellett must be wondering whether my blogging made the difference and what they should have done (or not done) to piss me off.  There’s probably no way of knowing if I made the difference or not, but Mount Kellett sure went to extraordinary lengths to try to knock my blogs off of page one searches for “Mount Kellett.”

A Shake Up or an Earthquake?

Up until recently, the Mount Kellett representatives on the board of directors of Evoq (formerly Meruelo Maddux Properties Inc) were Andrew Axelrod and Albert Ho.  Within the hierarchy of Mount Kellett, Axelrod was senior and Ho junior.  In the wake of the Mount Kellett’s Baja Mining debacle — which has got to have really cost them a lot of credibility (not to mention “face”) in the investing world — Ho is now out and has been replaced by somebody senior in the MK hierarchy to Axelrod (I’m told his name is Kevin McCarthy).  If Ho had been replaced by somebody similarly subordinate in the MK hierarchy to Axelrod, I’d characterize it as a simple shake up.  When somebody is brought in from higher up in the hierarchy, that’s an earthquake.  The sociology and psychology of the action indicates that there is a lack of confidence in the existing representatives to fend off problems and make money for the company.

Some earthquakes can trigger avalanches and that avalanche is just coming over the horizon for Mount Kellett and Evoq.  The key thing to watch for is what Mount Kellett does between now and July 25, 2012.  That is when a $10,000,000 payment is due on Evoq debt.  Where exactly do they intend to come up with the payment?  Nobody can really answer that question since they haven’t bothered to provide either the SEC or their own shareholders with any financial report.  As I’ve pointed out before, they’ve made a mess of Evoq’s finances by cancelling leases and licenses to deprive the company of all of its primary income streams.

Another reason that they probably haven’t filed reports with the SEC might have something to do with the board’s refusal to provide Ernst & Young, the company accountants, with formal representations that their figures are accurate.  Consequently Ernst & Young have refused to issue an audited statement for use with SEC reports that need to be filed under penalty of perjury.

Mount Kellett can’t even dot i’s or cross t’s

Today I went over to 1099 S Grand Ave in Los Angeles where United Paving Company (a dba of Superior Paving Company of La Mirada) was busy paving a lot so that it can be used as a parking lot.  There were several problems apparent with the project:

  • I asked the construction workers and their foreman on the site if they had a paving permit and/or a land use permit enabling the property to be used as a lot.  They didn’t have one.  They’re required not just to have taken out these permits, they’re supposed to have them on-site in case the City Building & Safety Inspectors drop by.  The foreman got me on the telephone with their head office and they confirmed that they hadn’t obtained one and expressed from vague belief that maybe their client had gotten the permits.  This isn’t just a technical problem:  a construction engineer who had observed how they were paving over the lot indicated that they weren’t bothering to compact the asphalt.
  • As an “oh by the way,” the lot they’re paving for parking was permitted to be developed into a twenty story building, not a parking lot.

FRP Sandwich Panel

Then there’s the problem of 788 W 8th Street Los Angeles.  Mount Kellett/Evoq received $1.2 million in an insurance settlement due to water damage and a collapsed roof to fix the facility, which included a cold storage unit.  The building had been utilized by about thirty (30) produce vendors which the Mount Kellett/Evoq folks decided to throw out, destroying their businesses and forcing their employees out of work.  If our calculations are correct, then here’s what these clowns probably did:

  • Terminated a perfectly competent minority contractor who’d begun work on the facility and promptly brought in a higher priced bidder.
  • Ran the project until it ran out of money so that it could not be completed for the amount of the insurance settlement.
  • Stiffed people who’d already worked on the repair project.
  • Ignored the specifications that have already been permitted by City Building & Safety.
  • Used materials that were specifically inferior to those that were permitted, i.e., instead of using FRP insulation (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) in a way that was sandwiched as metal – Styrofoam – metal they’re using nothing but Styrofoam as insulation.  The problem of the way they are using it is that when used like this around the cold storage unit (amongst other structural problems) it will cause condensation which in turn will encourage mold growth which leads inevitably to destruction of the roofing material.  At the risk of making an ad hominem (abusive) comment, this methodology may indicate that some of the people currently involved in the project and those who accepted their bid are real idiots.

This brings up one of the patterns we’re seeing consistently throughout the management of Evoq brought in by Mount Kellett.  If there’s one thing they seem to be consistent about it is replacing ethnic minorities and immigrants (whether employees or independent contractors) with white people and paying them more, whether they’re worth it or not.  At the risk of leaving you dangling, there will be more about this latter topic later, but to whet your appetite, here’s what’s to come:

  • Which employees are paid more than others simply because they’re having sex with one of the people that Mount Kellett brought in to manage Evoq?
  • Which employee was fired solely because he was Gay (and does that make you wonder whether Mount Kellett’s C.O.O.’s support for Michelle Bachmann was just because she called President Obama a socialist or does he also like her and her husband’s homophobic attitudes)?
  • Ted McGonagle was let go by Mount Kellett recently….who’s head is next on the chopping block?
  • Was Mount Kellett’s Evoq managers’ disparate impact policies against minorities, immigrants and Gay people and their tolerance of quid pro quo sexual harassment and discrimination an aberation or was it actually motivated by animus towards these classes of people?

Oh yeah.  As another “oh by the way,” Evoq stock dropped another fifteen cents yesterday (down from $4.50 just the other day) to $4.00….


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Will Mount Kellett ever learn?


 

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

For background on the latest on Mount Kellett and the Romneyization of Los Angeles:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/23/what-is-mount-kellett-thinking/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/20/mount-kelletts-war-on-workers/

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/03/16/romneyizing-los-angeles/

Yesterday, after remaining static for awhile, Evoq’s (formerly Meruelo Maddux Properties, Inc.) stock price fell from $4.50 to $4.15.  As I’ve been following this company, and the de facto (as opposed to de jure) people in authority of Evoq which comes from Mount Kellett Capital Management, this little piece of the puzzle I’ve been working out just put things into perspective.  That the stock price dropped was reminiscent of leveraged buyout (LBO) strategies that I’ve seen play out before with my labor union clients when their members became innocent victims of corporate chess-masters.

A typical scenario of how this works in the real world is that a group of insiders who wants to enrich themselves at the expense of a company’s workers, shareholders, and other stakeholders (like vendors and contractors) deliberately drives the stock price down.  Of course that’s illegal, but unless you’re savvy about these matters it’ll never come to the attention of regulatory authorities.  Even if it did, whether or not it’ll be taken seriously or not is questionable, given the efficacy of how the SEC did in dealing with allegations brought to its attention about Bernie Madoff.

Here’s another piece of the puzzle.  In its recent attempt to force its way onto the board of Baja Mining, the existing management of BM said of Mount Kellett:

Mr. Lehner will have access to inside information, and obtain insights that other shareholders do not have regarding the Boleo project.  Mr. Lehner will have access to the strategic planning of the Board.  If he later resigns from the Board, Mount Kellett may use this knowledge to advantage itself, to the detriment of other shareholders. For example, these insights may help Mount Kellett to attempt to take Baja private or to bid on its own or with allies for Baja before Baja’s shareholders realize full value from the completion of the Boleo project.  Mount Kellett has made no commitment to a long-term standstill agreement that would protect other shareholders against the use of inside information. [Emphasis added]

Here’s how I’ve seen this work in the past.  The insiders drive the stock price down to significantly below the value of the physical assets of the company.  They get financing to buy the company’s stock at the artificially low price.  They take the company private and then sell off the assets piece-meal, enriching the insiders while they screw the rest of the shareholders.

The Mount Kellett behavior that suggests this scenario is that instead of trying a strategy to keep money flowing into Evoq from its tenants and license holders, Mount Kellett’s lawyers and real estate managers have been instructed to throw out those tenants and licensees so that its cash flow goes down to nothing.  Evoq has not bothered to file a 10K report with the SEC since 2009, so the shareholders can’t even get an inkling of what the company is actually worth.  With their share prices going down in the market (as happened yesterday), the non-insiders panic and sell off their stock at bargain basement prices.

In order to pull a scheme like this off, its an anything goes that you can get away with program.  For instance, Evoq’s folks got caught with their pants down having provided a lawyer with a forged signature on a court mandated document!  When they realized that we were onto their shenanigans they dismissed the case faster than Gordon Gekko could say “greed is good.”

Raj Maheshwari of Charlestown Capital

Mount Kellett is doing the bidding for their passive and silent partners:  Raj Maheshwari of Charlestown Capital Advisors LLC and Heartland Asset Management Corporation.  They were called out in a series of July 2011 letters from a creditor’s attorney, pointing out that the way that stock dilutions and other tactics had been carried out left their creditor out in the cold:

“….based on my understanding of the Plan, monies to be received on account of the Transfer are not sufficient to satisfy the obligations of the Note, the Holder does not consent to a release of the security interest in the Collateral, and any Collateral so transferred will remain subject to the security interest in favor of the holder.”

A warning to shareholders

As ominous signs of doom presaged Bernie Madoff’s eventual collapse, shareholders of Evoq should heed these warning signs that are no longer even on the horizon.  If you are a shareholder in Evoq and/or a stakeholder like the tenants and licensees that are already under attack, please contact me immediately to join the others who are uniting to fight against this economic attack.  Look at your stock ownership portfolio to see if what you think you own actually is still in your account.  Why?  One shareholder I spoke to just recently discovered that in spite of a federal bankruptcy court ruling that enabled Mount Kellett’s henchmen to take back 50% of his stock at substantially discounted compensation, they wound up taking 90% of his holdings without his consent or permission.

Click here to contact me:

pi@janbtucker.com

 

 


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