Montclair resident Ben Lopez has been trying to get himself elected to the Montclair City Council since 2014, unsuccessfully. He tried again in 2018, unsuccessfully. Then, he tried to get himself appointed to fill the vacancy left when the beloved Montclair City Councilwoman Trisha Martinez, who had beaten him twice in 2014 & 2018, tragically died while in office in September of 2019. Thankfully, Ben was unsuccessful then too but markedly bitter. Ben’s hoping his luck will finally change some 6-years later after his first 2014 campaign, this November 3rd, 2020. I highly doubt that Ben will be successful, because I believe countless angry Upland residents are going to insert themselves into Ben’s Montclair race! The Upland Report has tried to reach Ben Lopez repeatedly for a comment for this story which involves him, but has been unsuccessful. We’ve emailed Ben Lopez twice and also left him a detailed voice mail message on Wednesday, October 14th, regarding why Lopez’s home address, his notary business address and his personal Montclair City Council Campaign Committee address, is on a political hit-piece attacking Carlos Garcia. The apparent benefactor of those hit-pieces is none other than Gino Filippi, who endorsed Lopez’s Montclair candidacies in 2018 and 2019. We’ve dug into the origin and responsible party for these hit-piece mailers like a deer tick and uncovered every juicy detail. It’s not pretty, but Upland cronyism never is.
For the past 6-years, Ben Lopez has been trying to get himself on Montclair’s City Council. Lopez lost his 2014 & 2018 bid, when he was beaten by Trisha Martinez both times. This is despite Lopez having been endorsed by Upland Councilmembers Carol Timm and Gino Filippi in 2018, who both lost their own 2018 re-election bids for the Upland City Council, ironically.
Tragically, Montclair City Councilwoman Trisha Martinez passed away on September 21st, 2019, after a heartbreaking battle with cancer. Ben Lopez then applied to fill his former rival’s shoes after her tragic and untimely death, by seeking to be appointed to the Montclair City Council, shortly thereafter. According to The Daily Bulletin in 2019, Lopez again received endorsement letters from then Former Upland Councilmembers Gino Filippi and Carol Timm, as well as, then current Upland Councilman Ricky Felix! However, in a wise and most excellent move by the Montclair City Council, they appointed Trisha Martinez’s daughter, Corysa Martinez, to fill her dearly departed mother’s city council seat.
That seriously almost brought me to tears while researching this timeline for this article. Here’s an interesting tidbit, according to the Daily Bulletin, (Corysa Martinez), “Beat out 12 applicants, however only nine showed up for the appointment. One of those was Benjamin Lopez, a consultant and notary public who lost to Trisha Martinez in 2014 and 2018 and said the two were political rivals. He took to the podium, looked at Martinez and declared he would be running for a seat on the City Council in November 2020. “I am always up for a strong adversary. I welcome the challenge,” Lopez said.
Personally, I am gobsmacked by the callousness of Lopez’s comment but I’m anything but surprised, after the sh$& Lopez just pulled in the City of Upland. On Tuesday night 10/13, I received a copy of the Garcia political hit piece, which is being mass-mailed to Upland registered voters from a (PAC) Political Action Committee, calling themselves West End Leaders PAC. I immediately went to the California Secretary of State and the California Fair Political Practices Commission websites, to research who is the Principal Officer for this PAC and who has financially contributed to this PAC. To see who in the hell is behind this political hack job, bullshit piece of junk mail.
To my astonishment, the Secretary of State and the Fair Political Practices Commission who enforces the state’s campaign financial laws, had absolutely no records of this PAC even existing! That was shocking because once you spend over $1,000 on any one race, you must register with the Secretary of State (SOS) as a PAC, which is how the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), knows you exist. From current Upland financial disclosure statements from District 3, we know mass-mailing residents in District 3 can cost as much as $10,643, each time you do it. Using the example in this linked document, that breaks down to approximately $3,102 in postage + $6,377 in printing and production costs + $900 in graphic design costs + $264 for the mailing lists and voter file = $10,643!
I called the Secretary of State on Wednesday 10/14 and spent 40 minutes on the phone with them, confirming they have zero records for this PAC! I then did the same thing with the Fair Political Practices Commission who gets their PAC records, from the Secretary of State (SOS) website. After knowing this and having no where to search for any information, I then Googled the address on this Garcia hit-piece and realized it was the address that Ben Lopez uses for his notary business. It is also the address that Lopez uses for his own Montclair City Council Political Committee, called Lopez For Council 2020 – FPPC ID # 1371786 – P.O. Box 141, Montclair, Ca. 91763.
Having no where else to turn for information, I wrote two emails to Ben Lopez and left him a detailed voice mail message on 10/14, asking for a comment for this article regarding why his address is printed on the Carlos Garcia hit-pieces, for a PAC that the FPPC and SOS have absolutely no record of. My emails to Lopez are below, along with the attachments.
Since the emails above are PDF files, you can’t click on the many links contained in them, but I assure you Ben Lopez could. You likely read the section that said, “It seems totally unbelievable to me, that you (Lopez) would choose to support Filippi and allow your address to be used in this fashion on these attack mass mail-pieces, despite his public records in the era of ME TOO & BLACK LIVES MATTERS MOVEMENTS. For the life of me Mr. Lopez, I cannot understand how as a Hispanic man yourself, the mass-mailers with your address on them are defaming the only Hispanic candidate running for the newly created Hispanic Majority-Minority Council District in Upland. Mr. Lopez, I’d like to know why you aren’t more focused on your own upcoming city council race in Montclair and instead, have inserted yourself into another city’s, council race?”
For those of you that haven’t read Gino Filippi’s public records, they are below and they are downloadable.
While waiting for Lopez to reply on Wednesday night 10/14, an Upland resident who supports Gino and is close to Gino’s 2018 Campaign Manager Linda Nani Trawnik, posted the Garcia hit-piece on Nextdoor. When I took a look at it, I realized it was an un-mailed piece, with no postmark and no redacted recipient’s name and address. I realized that it likely came straight from the source of the person responsible for sending it. Another thing I instantly noticed, is the sender’s address was now 4853 San Bernardino Rd, Montclair and not P.O. Box 141, Montclair. A quick search of that address on Whitepages.com, tells us this is very likely Ben Lopez’s home address.
This was becoming so weird and everyone knows, I love a good mystery.
There was one last thing I needed to do before publishing this report, so that no stone was left unturned, as Lopez was never going to tell us a damn thing. When you go to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters (ROV), you can search for PAC’s located in the county. The ROV’s are the ones that upload county’s PAC filing, to the Secretary of State (SOS), which is how the Fair Political Practices Commission (FTTC) finds them. The SB County Registrar of Voters website, had (2) document links show up if you searched for West End Leaders PAC. But when you clicked on those linked documents, it opened up document filings for another PAC entirely called San Bernardino County Business Owners PAC, out of Fontana.
Since both ROV linked documents for West End Leaders PAC were for an entirely different PAC, to me, there were only two possible explanations for this. The first was that San Bernardino County Business Owners PAC out of Fontana, might have changed their name to West End Leaders PAC on 10/1/2020. Or, the second possibility was the ROV uploaded the wrong filing documents for West End Leaders PAC, twice. So I called the ROV at 8AM on Thursday morning (10/15), to inquire why these PAC filing documents belonged to a completely different PAC, with a different name. What an unholy, God forsaken nightmare that was, which cannot possibly be fully explained, but I’ll surely try.
At the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters on Thursday morning, Alicia answered the phone. I explained what I was looking for and Alicia told me she had never heard of a PAC, or a Political Action Committee before and could give me no information. She had no clue how to look up that information on the ROV website. I talked her through every subsection, tab and link on the ROV site and told her how to find what I was looking at. I told her to open the documents linked under the words West End Leaders PAC and tell me why, both those docs say San Bernardino County Business Owners PAC. She did so and told me she had no idea why and that she couldn’t give me any political information.
I told her I wasn’t asking for political information, I was simply asking to see a filed document that should be accessible by everyone in the world with an internet connection. She said she couldn’t help me with anything, other than my own voter information. I said I wanted to speak to her supervisor and she said he was busy. I told her I wanted to hold for her supervisor and she put me on hold. A few minutes later she returned to the line to say her supervisor can’t help me, because he can’t give me any political information either. I told her the Secretary of State and the Fair Political Practices Commission have been contacted because this PAC is mass-mailing voters and those state agencies, have no information that this PAC even exists. I told her a local publication is now investigating this PAC (being The Upland Report) and this issue is coming to a rapid boil and I needed to speak with her supervisor and she hung up on me.
I called back and was on hold to speak to the next available human being available at the ROV. About 5 minutes into the hold time, the ROV was calling me on the other line. I answered their call and started speaking with a woman named Celina. I explained to her the problem with the ROV’s links for West End Leaders PAC. She told me she had personally made a mistake when she uploaded West End Leaders PAC’s documents. She stated she had uploaded San Bernardino County Business Owners PAC filing documents instead. She said she would correct that issue immediately and I asked her to call me once she had.
By refreshing the ROV webpage while I waited for her return phone call, I could see she had just deleted the two documents linked to West End Leaders PAC, which belonged to San Bernardino County Business Owners PAC. I refreshed the page again and saw that she had uploaded the right filing document for West End Leaders PAC. I next refreshed the Secretary of State webpage which had no records at all for West End Leaders PAC on 10/13, 10/14 & the morning of 10/15 and magically in live time, it suddenly appeared. At that very moment, Celina called me back to tell me she had uploaded the correct document and I told her I had already read it. Now let’s see who’s really behind this utter sh$& show, shall we?
Well, well, well, well, well, well, well. The responsible party is none other that Rancho Cucamonga resident and Rancho registered voter, Linda Nani Trawnik, who somehow got Ben Lopez to be the PAC’s Treasurer. I have tried to keep Linda’s name out every Upland Report, regardless of her relativeness to the content and her relationships to the cast of characters throughout these reports. That’s because only public figures are fair game for public criticism, without opening yourself up to a possible liable / defamation / slander lawsuit. At this point, the gloves are off and Linda Nani Trawnik should be considered a public figure, in our educated opinion.
Public Figures are defined as, “A public figure is a person, such as a politician, celebrity, social media personality, or business leader, who has a certain social position within a certain scope and a significant influence and so is often widely of concern to the public, can benefit enormously from society, and is closely related to public interests in society. In the context of defamation actions (libel and slander) as well as invasion of privacy, a public figure cannot succeed in a lawsuit on incorrect harmful statements in the United States unless there is proof that the writer or publisher acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity or by reckless disregard for the truth. The legal burden of proof in defamation actions is thus higher in the case of a public figure than in the case of an ordinary person.”
For those that don’t know of Linda Nani Trawnik, she was/is the President or Vice President of the Downtown Upland Merchant’s Board and obviously, she is a current board member. Linda is basically the public spokeswoman and mouthpiece for everything happening regarding Downtown Upland and the Downtown Upland Merchants Board. In 2018, Linda was Gino Filippi’s Campaign Manager and she likely still is for his 2020 bid, trying to get him back on Upland City Council after he came in dead last, in his 2018 re-election bid. Linda just made herself, the Principal Officer for a PAC that just attacked Carlos Garcia and will be attacking Bill Velto. Linda is an Upland social media “personality” and most everyone in Upland on social media, has likely had an unpleasant run-in with Linda. Linda is also the admin and moderator of a FB Group Page called Upland Community. In 2017-18, Linda received a $45K slum grant from the City of Upland, to remodel a property she and her husband own and work out of in Downtown Upland. Below is my May 5th, 2018 post about that.
After I posted the above to an Upland Facebook Closed Group Page, Linda served me with a cease and desist letter from her attorney, in the hopes she could scare me into not talking about her $45K slum grant renovation on her lovely Downtown Upland Office. Linda had two of her female friends stalk my home night and day, hoping to serve me with Linda’s cease and desist letter. Security cameras showed them in the white BMW pictured below, outside our home at random times both day and night, over the course of multiple days. In addition, there is also security camera footage of them exiting the white BMW below, with the white dog below, where they proceeded to come to our front door to knock on it incessantly.
I had no clue who these women were or why they were doing what they were doing, when I saw the security camera footage. Our neighbors saw them parked on our street repeatedly, including very late at night and thought they were casing our home to rob it. Our neighbors wanted to call UPD on the two women in the BMW, but feared they might have been my friends. In addition to the two “ladies” Linda sent to our home, Linda also had a paid process server goon, beat on our door for a week and a half, when my husband was working out of town.
Linda’s process server goon, scared the hell out of our young adult daughters, who were home alone during the times he came by. He even came to our home on Mother’s Day. Linda’s friend pictured above, finally caught up to me at the May 14th, 2018, Upland City Council Meeting, where I was planning to give a 5-minute presentation to the council at the annual public hearing about the Upland Community Development Block Grant Program. Linda’s friend pictured above, served me in front of about 100 witnesses at city hall. Undeterred, I gave the slum grant presentation anyway and questioned the council regarding how the city staff doles out their HUD slum grant monies. I questioned how such a lovely property that appeared totally slum and blight free, being Linda’s beautiful historic office seen in the 5-minute video below, could have qualified for a $45K HUD Slum Grant.
Despite being served in front of 100 witnesses at city hall on May 14th, 2018, where Linda was present and sat right next to the woman who served me, Linda continued to have the paid process server goon harass us everyday and night thereafter. He finally came around 7:30 AM sometime the following week, when I was home. I was so excited to answer the door to give him a piece of my mind, for scaring our daughters half to death for past week and a half. I filmed the whole despicable encounter and posted links to that video and Linda’s cease and desist letter, on Upland social media. The video showed Linda’s process server, taking a picture of me in my pajamas, to prove he had actually served me. The outpouring of public support for me and my family by the wonderful residents of Upland could still make me cry even to this day, some 2.5 years later. That is one of the many reasons why, I’ll be forever indebted to the greatest residents in the world, who reside in the City of Upland.
After joining Upland social media in August of 2017, I found myself in the same boat as countless other Uplanders, who are chronically harassed, defamed and serial bullied for nothing more than criticizing Debbie Stone or Gino Filippi. It is so insane, that everyone I know has to defend themselves and others (including total strangers and brand new residents), every time they log onto Upland social media. It is so insidious, I should publish my crony block list so you can see who the problem children are. Seriously, please ask around and talk to Upland residents and listen to as many horror stories as you can stomach. Luckily at this point, there’s literally an army of residents who know exactly what I’m taking about, which is why I believe the readership of this blog has the very high numbers, that it does.
Moving on…. In case you’ve never seen Linda Nani Trawnik before, she’s in the video below attacking Councilwoman Janice Elliott totally unprovoked, right after Ricky Felix beat Linda’s beloved Gino Filippi in 2018.
This current city council deserves some credit because in May of 2019, Velto, Elliott, Zuniga and Felix revised how the city staff doles out their slum grant HUD monies, so that “millionaires” and “slum lords” aren’t HUD slum grant recipients. That was a very interesting discussion, as you can see in the video below.
I have just been informed, since my unbelievable conversations with the ROV Thursday morning, that four additional docs have just been posted for our mystery PAC at the ROV website. Let’s go look and see, since Linda Nani Trawnik and Ben Lopez have been so very busy playing catch up!
In the additional four documents just filed on 10/15, they show Linda & Ben just spent $7,029 to beat up Bill Velto, in Facebook ads. We know Linda & Ben just spent another $7,029 to promote Debbie Stone in Facebook ads. We know Linda & Ben just spent $3,650 to promote Gino Filippi in Facebook ads and $1,053 on some aspect of the Carlos Garcia attack mass-mailers, that are being delivered to residents in their mailboxes as we speak. WOW! I’m sure Upland residents would like to know who on earth is giving the Linda / Lopez PAC, all of the money to do all of that!
As soon as I realized on Thursday morning 10/15, that this was Linda Nani Trawnik’s PAC, I knew she’d be coming for Velto. I can also imagine her coming for Lois Sicking Dieter too, after the bombshells Lois has been dropping all over social media about Debbie Stone, seen below. Linda Nani Trawnik would fall on a sword for Filippi and apparently, she’d do the same for Debbie Stone too.
I don’t want you to miss what resident Allen Nicely had the guts to say to Debbie Stone’s face at the last council meeting on 10/12/20, after the video is the transcript of Allen’s 3-minute speech.
The only thing I can add to Nicely’s outstanding comments above, is that Gino Filippi is guilty of every misdeed that Debbie is, because he voted in lock step with Debbie, every time, all the time. Now let’s address what Carlos Garcia is guilty of according to the Linda / Lopez PAC. Clearly, they are trying to make Garcia look bad to District 3 democrat voters, by outing him as a republican! If that’s all they got on Garcia, this is the cleanest candidate in the history of the world!
I am certain, Gino Filippi, Debbie Stone and Ben Lopez are all registered republicans. I strongly believe Bill Velto, Tauvaga HoChing and David Joshua Hazelton are too. I believe Lamonta Amos, Shannan Maust and Lois Sicking Dieter are “no party preference.” I believe the only registered democrat out of the 10 candidates running for Upland City Council is Alexander Novikov. If I got any of that wrong, I ask that any candidate contact me and I will publish an apology and an immediate retraction and correction. What I find unbelievable, is that Ben Lopez is on the SB County Republican Party Central Committee, which has endorsed Carlos Garcia’s candidacy. I wonder if the SBGOP knows what the hell Ben’s been up to.
None of the political party affiliations of Upland’s local candidates are supposed to matter, because Upland campaigns are non-partisan and there are no primaries. I’d bet money the Linda / Lopez PAC mailed their Garcia hit-pieces, only to registered democrat voters. Those mail-pieces featured a social media post that Garcia “allegedly” shared on Facebook. Sharing something on social media, most of the time, means someone shared someone else’s post, on a page or on their own profile. I’ve been Garcia’s personal friend since 2017-2018 and have been his FB friend for that long too. I get a notification every time Garcia posts or shares everything on FB. I don’t recall seeing him share a Merry Christmas post that talked about bacon, guns and Trump, etc. I’ve talked to Garcia about this “shared post” nonsense featured in the Linda / Lopez PAC piece and Garcia doesn’t remember sharing that post either.
He’s gone through his FB timeline, all the way back to 2016 when Trump was elected and he cannot find that he shared that post. Of course, the Linda / Lopez PAC gave us no information where they found that shared post, or if any Upland residents liked that shared post, or what FB page Garcia “allegedly” shared that post on. Even before anyone in Upland knew Linda Nani Trawnik was the Principal Officer for the PAC that sent the Garcia hit-piece to District 3 voters, residents took to Nextdoor to ask Linda if she created the Merry Christmas, Trump, bacon and guns post, herself! That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
Every accusation in the Linda / Lopez PAC hit-piece about Garcia being beholden to special interest developers, is a bold faced lie and applies only to Gino Filippi. In 2018, Debbie Stone made Gino Filippi the head of a task force, which sought to give a local developer 16-acres of Cabrillo Park in District 3. The taskforce Gino was in charge of was ready to allow Gino’s developer friend, to build 226-multi-family homes on the soccer fields in Cabrillo Park. Two other local developers were furious about this deal, as they certainly weren’t offered that inside opportunity and they exposed Gino in the mail-pieces below, sent to District 3 voters in 2018.
Those two furious developers, sought to have Gino replaced with anyone else and randomly picked Ricky Felix in 2018. Then they also mailed out a few pro-Felix pieces to District 3 voters. This is their exact same strategy now in 2020, since Gino Filippi is trying to get back on council again! Below are their new 2020 Anti Gino Mailers, to date.
What’d Gino and Linda think was going to happen? Garcia has not taken a dime from any developer and has not asked any developer for any money or to help him in anyway. Carlos has consistently fought against the developers trying to build the 50-acre Amazon Logistics Terminal on Foothill Blvd on the border of Montclair, Claremont and the district he lives in. Carlos has spent years building a bi-partisan coalition of residents citywide and in his own district, who have fought together side-by-side on many local issues.
If that wasn’t true, do you think Irmalinda Osuna who is a democrat residing in District 3 and ran against Gino Filippi in 2018 and almost won, because Gino tried to develop Cabrillo Park near her home, would have endorsed Carlos Garcia?
Do you think democrat Andrew Rubio who also resides in District 3, would waste his free time making videos trying to help Garcia get elected? Of course they wouldn’t and Andrew’s awesome videos are below.
The Linda / Lopez PAC hit-piece attacking Garcia is going to backfire so badly on them. I’m predicting right now that Gino Filippi will lose, as will Debbie Stone and Ben Lopez. Below is the Linda / Lopez hit-piece attacking Garcia, so you can see what these two characters have wasted their time and someone’s money on.
Garcia responded to Lopez’s personal attack on him, by posting this video below all over Upland social media pages on October 14th.
Unlike Gino Filippi, Garcia has been endorsed by the Upland Police Officers Associations and the Peace Officers Research Association of California.
Be sure to read our 2020 Meet The Candidates Report to learn countless facts and details about the 13 people running for Upland Public Office, HERE! In closing, let’s all reach out to our friends living in Montclair and ask them to post a link to this report, on their Montclair Facebook Group Pages. Let’s also reach out to the five people running against Ben Lopez and give them a link to this report. Their names are below. Let’s show Ben how we don’t take kindly to his meddling in Upland elections.
Have a fabulous day folks and remember, you can take out your frustration and disgust by filling out your ballots and in honor of the late great Eddie Van Halen, let’s do so RIGHT NOW!
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