Like most people, we usually find ourselves standing in the booth on election day, looking at candidates for superior court judge, minor boards and commissions and just voting for the person with the nicest sounding name (if there aren’t any incumbents running). Face it, we just don’t ever think we will be in front of a judge and we never hear of the boards and commissions in question unless it is election day or a board member is mired in some ethical squeeze.
The other day, our good friends over at the Liberal OC wrote a story on a candidate for the Orange County Board of Education, Area 1, and why we shouldn’t vote for him. Area 1 serves a portion of Tustin. The candidate in question is none other than the well-known political blogger, Art Pedroza. The Liberal OC cites three major reasons why Pedroza is unfit to serve on the BoE. Among them are his inability to manage money and his unwarranted attacks on the Lib OC which resulted in a judgement against him for cybersquatting and redirecting URLs to gay porn and NAMBLA sites.
From the OC Liberal article:
1. Mr. Pedroza can’t manage money. Last April, he and his wife filed a Chapter 7 Petition for bankruptcy claiming assets valued at $471,518 and liabilities of $751,448, putting his total indebtedness at more than $279,000. In his filing of April 2011, Mr. Pedroza’s monthly expenses were more than $500 greater than his combined monthly family income, meaning each month, he was sinking deeper and deeper into debt. Since he doesn’t appear to have full-time employment outside of his part-time adjunct teaching position at Cerritos College, we have no idea what his family income situation is today. His mortgage is greater than the value of his home and, at the time of his Chapter 7 filing, he carried more than six figures of debt on a second mortgage while continuing to maintain a financial interest in a timeshare at a pricey Carlsbad resort.
At the time of his filing in April 2011, Mr. Pedroza still had unpaid state and federal taxes from 2008 on his filing to the tune of nearly $4,700 making him a tax scofflaw. He owed more than $73,000 in student loans to ACS Educational Services of Utica, NY (a city 12 miles from where I grew up) and another $22,000 in student loans from Nelnet of Lincoln, Nebraska.
And he had more than $13,500 in credit card debt including a lawsuit filed against him by FIA Cardmember Services of Wilmington, DE.
The Pedrozas had a combined family income of $125,988 in 2010 compared with a combined family income of $87,495 in 2009. The bankruptcy filing was Pedroza’s second and much of the debt in his filing was not dis-chargeable; it was an attempt to dismiss our November 2010 legal judgment of $17,000 but we were successful in filing a relief of stay to re-instate the judgment and his debt to us. And this was before we secured a judgment of $30,000 and another for $7,300 in unpaid sanctions for not following the orders of a federal judge in December 2011. This information is nearly a year old; for all we know, he has a well-paying new job and is current on all his bills–and there’s always that $500 million Lottery prize this Friday.
Add nearly $55,000 in the lawsuit judgment we have secured against him, and his situation appears worse today, not better.
Like we said, he can’t manage his own money. How do you think he’d do voting on taxpayer dollars?
2. Mr. Pedroza equates Gay Porn and NAMBLA, an organization dedicated to legalized sex between adult men and young boys (pedastry), as “parody” and therefore protected free speech. Mr. Pedroza filed an argument against our motion for summary judgment too late for the federal court, but we did secure a copy of his filing. In his own words, he defended his forwarding of domain names associated with our names to gay porn and NAMBLA sites as parody which is protected free speech. In his court filings, he left out the fact he was demanding significant amounts of cash to stop redirecting the URLs and only did so after being exposed publicly. Without being specific about the NAMBLA and gay porn sites, he defends his forwarding of
domains in his own words:
Clearly the sites that the Defendant forwarded the URLs to were meant to be construed as parody. And it is intellectually dishonest for the Plaintiffs to complain about
the forwarding to the NAMBLA site when they defended perverts in a post published on April 1, 2010, which is attached as Exhibit 9. In that post they ridiculed the Defendant because he had
asked the Santa Ana Police Department to investigate instances of men having sex with other men at Santa Ana’s Santiago Park. If they are so against being linked to NAMBLA, why did the Defendants appear to defend the practice of men having sex at the park with other random men – with playgrounds nearby? The fact is, none of the websites the URLs were
forwarded to contained false or misleading information. They were legitimate websites. The URLs were forwarded to these sites, again, as parody, which is protected free speech under the First Amendment.
And again the Plaintiffs argued that the Defendant profited from the URLs he purchased. He did not. In point of fact he did not have any paid advertising on those sites. The paid advertising was on the Orange Juice blog, not on the URLs he purchased. They were not used to promote any commerce or services. They were only used as parody.
(If you’ll note, our post was parody and part of our April Fool’s series of stories; there was no defense of “perverts” and our post showed a photo of the Art Pedroza doll at Santiago Park)
If you’re the parent of a school aged child, how comfortable are you with an elected official who defends the redirecting of URLs to gay porn sites and NAMBLA as “parody,” having a say in the content of your child’s education or how it’s delivered to your child’s school?
3. Is Art Pedroza fit to hold office? No.
We’ve received a share of emails from Pedroza over the past two years, the first loaded with threats and the last several begging us to drop the suit while complaining about his lot in life. We were also blamed for actions he took. He claims it was our fault he did what he did.
In November 2010, he threaded to commit suicide and was angry at us for taking him at his word and contacting the police. Due to the unstable nature of those emails, we were concerned that he might do himself or his family harm.
From our view, Art also has a hard time deciding just who he is as a person. He originally ran the Orange Juice Blog. Then when that got mired in the lawsuit, he “sold” it to a friend. He also runs the New Santa Ana blog as well as the new OC Politics blog. He has changed political affiliation more often than I change my shirt and is currently registered as a Libertarian (I shudder at the thought). And, according to the Liberal OC, he has “found the Lord”, after threatening to commit suicide. Stability does not seem to be a strong suit of Pedoza.
Neither does fairness or free speech. He has banned numerous people from commenting on his sites because they manage to come up with adequate arguments against him that would appear to thwart his view on politics. He has chided me and attempted to minimize my comments so many times that I rarely, if ever, bother to comment on his blogs anymore. Unlike most of us who understand that discussion is healthy and that we can all agree to disagree at times, Art does not appear to like disagreement.
In any case, we are glad he “found the Lord”. Good for him. But, we have to agree with Dan and the Liberal OC that Art Pedroza is the wrong person to be managing the education system in Orange County. It is unfortunate that Long Pham, our current Area 1 boardmember, does not appear to be running again. But, there are three other candidates besides Art Pedroza and I suspect I would rather have any one of them take the seat. So, this year, before you open that mail-in ballot or before you stand in that booth on election day, take the time to read the information on the other candidates and choose wisely. After all, these are the people that provide the leadership of the education system in our town Tustin.