As published on AHRC.com
EVENT AT THE PALM DESERT GOLF CART PARADE
How Afraid of Me is Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia?
I saw her walking with purpose, down the street, eyes straight ahead, makeup exaggerated but flawless, dressed all in black with a headpiece studded with a beaded design and feathers in a Mardi Gras theme – my local representative Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R).
She did not stop, nor look from side to side in her very direct route in my direction, nor did she speak with anyone. I suspect because there is no one in Palm Desert who can benefit her in any way, politically or otherwise, and so she went straight to the Indio Police golf cart parked directly in front of our golf cart, on the parade route of the annual Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade, on November 7, 2004.
I belong to the Red Hat Society, Desert Stars, a bodacious sisterhood of women, over fifty, who thrive on playing "dress up" in red hats, purple cloths and all the costume jewelry one can pile on. I had worked for days, along with four other women to decorate our purple golf cart to look like a very humorous smiling woman, topped with a huge red hat spilling over with construction paper flowers, a red boa, and even a red handbag. After five hours of waiting, fifteen women in full regalia were thrilled when I walked back from the judge's stand with the trophy for Third Place in the Humor category.
The Red Hatters are truly a respite for me from the real world of being an advocate for HOAs (Homeowner Associations), court battles, lawsuits, insurance claims for battery and abuse, and trying to keep up with my home.I watched Ms. Garcia arrive on the scene, not talking to us, but to the police officers. No one in our group paid her any mind, until, when she moved within three feet of me and I turned and said, "I am Sharon Stephens," and then said to the group, "This is Bonnie Garcia."
She seemed a bit taken aback meeting me face to face.At that point, considering she has a restraining order against me, and has put me on a "threat list" in Sacramento as some sort of "terrorist!" -- without never having met me -- I wondered at why she did not just turn around and walk away. Rather, she walked right into the group of woman, who now recognized her from her ongoing, multifarious political television ads, and up to our golf cart and posed in front with several of us for a photo shoot. I now have several photos of "me and Assemblywoman, Bonnie Garcia."
Then she said, "I am feeling claustrophobic," and grabbed a woman standing beside her and said, "I will take a photo with you." She then left abruptly, again walking with purpose, down, and across the street to her own decorated golf cart several yards away, speaking to no one.
Last year, December 2003, I had approached the office of Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia for some support with problems within her district in Homeowner Associations. I asked to make an appointment with Ms. Garcia twice, but was told, "She is too busy." It is disgracefully true that Ms. Garcia has a reputation for "doing the least for the constituents in her district."
That same month we had a Press Conference in my home with a Desert Sun News reporter, along with Pat Cooper, Senator Denise Ducheny's aide, a documentary film producer, and several homeowners from various HOAs in the area. We invited Ms. Garcia. She had an aide, Candy, call the night of the meeting, asking for directions, and saying, "I will be there," however, she never did make it. Nor did she call to apologize for not coming. It was at this meeting that we addressed primarily the problems of unconstitutional non-judicial foreclosures in HOAs, and, as a result the roots for the February Housing Committee Hearings in Sacramento were formed, and Bills were passed in the Senate to do away with this criminal and inhumane practice, however, for HOA advocates it was disheartening when it was vetoed by Governor Arnold Swartzenager.
It is wretchedly true, Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia has done nothing about HOA problems in her district.
On November 6, 2004, it was reported in AHRC News that in Desert Hot Springs approximately 150 liens were filed on the mobile homes in Desert Crest Park, against senior citizens in their 70's and 80's. One resident reports that each homeowner had to pay about $9,000, of which $6,000 went to the law firm of Peters and Freedman. The total bill is estimated at about $1,350,000. At least 50 seniors sold their homes at fire sale prices to local realtors in order to be able to pay the judgment. It is estimated that the realtors were snapping up $40,000 homes for $20,000. If correct, that would be another $1,000,000 lost by the seniors. Sadly, 20 seniors died during this heart breaking process.The seniors, in previous months had gone to every possible government office for help - the District Attorney, Secretary of State, Department of Corporations - Assemblywoman Garcia - their Senator at the time, Jim Batten - however, not one single agency did a thing to help.
In January, 2004 I again approached the Assemblywoman's office, and was given an appointment on the 29th of the month with Mary Brhel, another aide to Ms. Garcia. Prior to attending the meeting with Mary Brhel, I had an appointment directly next door at the Cathedral City Police Department with Captain Kevin Connor, and Sergeant Charles Robinson. They had called me in on a ruse, as I would discover months later, telling me they were doing an investigation of a complaint I had made against Sergeant David Hatfield for false arrest, abuse of process and abuse while in custody.
The Cathedral City Police Department has had a vendetta against me since 1999 when I reported a popular officer, Glenn Haas for not doing his job, in fact, literally "selling out" our homeowners in Shadow Crest HOA, to an HOA attorney and board members. Haas then set out to discredit me in every possible way to his fellow officers. An attorney told me, "You complained against 'The Boy's Club' and they will get you!" Over the years that has certainly proved deplorably true.
When I left this "investigation" I told Connor and Robinson I was headed over for an appointment in the Garcia Office.
Meeting Mrs. Brhel was like meeting a stern Boot-Camp Sergeant. It seemed very difficult for her to be friendly. When I explained I wanted help with HOA problems, mentioning that Hispanics were the most foreclosed on group of people in California, she curtly replied, "YOU won't get very far with that one; they don't live in HOAs!" I mentioned the seniors in Desert Crest and she ignored that. I said I wanted to discuss problems in HOAs in general, but she refused to let me address the problems of HOAs in general. Rather she wanted to hear, and insisted I tell her my "personal" story! So, I told her all about Shadow Crest, and the problems we were experiencing, including my false arrests, stalking and battery by board members, perjury, false and illegal fines, and of course the attempts made on two families for non-judicial foreclosure. She was rightly, and truly shocked, as are most who hear these stories of out of control HOA boards, unethical attorneys, and greedy management companies. She asked for the names of all of them in Shadow Crest, and for the management company owner. I gave them to her. Mrs. Brhel finally warmed up to me and we talked of other advocacies, past and present, and when I left she asked if I wanted a bouquet of flowers sitting on the floor beside a desk; she congratulated me on being an advocate, and said she would speak to the Assemblywoman.
Three days later, when I didn't hear from Mrs. Behrl, I called the Garcia Office. She was most abrupt and rude, stating; "You have caused all sorts of problems for the police and other government agencies, and have been arrested multiple times so I have put you on a threat list in Sacramento!" She then hung up the phone on me, after telling me, "never call back!"I was shocked!
A close acquaintance, and HOA advocate Madelene Patterson, was so stunned by how I had been treated that she called the Garcia Office and was told by Chief of Staff, Richard Harmon, in a most condemning voice, "We had a couple of officers in here who gave us the run down on Sharon Stephens!"
Now, don't you wonder at who these two officers were?
The Garcia Office refuses to give up the names. So, the conspiracy began between the Garcia Office staff, the Cathedral City Police Department, my HOA Board of Directors, and stretched all the way to the District Attorney's office. Why? To "save the officers" who went to the Garcia people and slandered me. Obviously when I told Captain Kevin Connor and Charles Robinson that I was going to the speak with the Garcia people, they thought I was going to complain about the police; they were going to make sure I was discredited, now to the outside world, so as to not be believed.Never once was the Cathedral City Police Department mentioned to Mary Brhel, except to say, Sergeant Laura Hanlon knew what was going on in Shadow Crest and had promised to help us.
Later, Sergeant Charles Robinson had me falsely arrested, and then worked in a conspiracy with Shadow Crest Board of Directors, and Deputy District Attorney, Gianguzi to try and have me sent to jail. The judge threw out all of their bogus filings.
All the while, Charles Robinson, Danielle Pasqual, Laura Hanlon, Melissa Holcomb, Judy Williams, and even Council Member, Greg Pettis were working in a conspiracy with the Garcia Office to get restraining orders against me, with the ultimate goal of having me put into jail. All to save police officers from discipline.
A sixty-nine  page document sent to me by the Cathedral City, Deputy City Attorney, Kendall Burkey, several months later, proved the conspiracy began in February 2004, after the ruse of the "investigation." When I asked for "an investigation into the Bonnie Garcia incident." I was then served with a bogus TRO, [temporary restraining order] by Kendall Burkey and CCPD, and from that point forward then treated as though there was a TRO in place. I was not allowed to make any police reports. I was hung up on consistently by dispatchers, particularly Sandra Hatfield and Danielle Pasqual, threatened with arrest by Sergeant Patton, and other Watch Commanders if I tried to come into the police department, and, everyone at the department was sent a memo by Judy Williams, "Do not speak with Sharon Stephens!" Williams told me, "We will take no police reports on Shadow Crest!" She added, "The only time we will come for you is if you are be killed, or need an ambulance!" My Civil Rights were totally taken away from me.
All to save the two police officers that went to the Garcia Office and slandered me.
The behavior by the police continued: violations of my civil and constitutional rights were blatant. I was falsely arrested again and abused while in custody by Glenn Haas, and then falsely arrested again for not "stepping up on the grass quickly enough!" [I had just been battered by a board member, Jose Liceaga; he went free even though I asked for a Citizens Arrest as soon as the police arrived. I was ignored as the victim.]
Police Officers refused to write police reports for me for criminal behavior by board members, and even for any one who knew me. Two women are witnesses to this behavior and have suffered because of the police vendetta against me. Even the office of Bonnie Garcia refused to return phone calls to a Shadow Crest woman in desperate need of help for her children.
For months I asked for an investigation, even going to City Council, and when I finally "demanded an investigation into the Garcia incident!" both the police department and Garcia's Office, conspiratorially filed for TROs against me on the same day. Both filled with perjury, claiming I was "a threat and dangerous…"The Garcia Office went so far as to speak with Cindy Uken of the Desert Sun and libeled me in her column, stating I had "walked into the office with a jug of brown liquid and threatened them" [no police report and no witnesses?] and, that they "had to put in a $4,000 security door because of me." [In fact, the office was built with that door.] And, that "Bonnie Garcia had spent all day in court with me. " [Bonne Garcia never came to court!]ALL of these statements, printed in the paper, were perjurious and libelous LIES!
Bonnie Garcia has done nothing to correct this story, or to clear my name. She never talked to me, but continued to tell people I was "obsessed with her, and a dangerous threat!"She reported me to the Highway Patrol, and Investigator Olavie came and interviewed me, and found me to "not to be a threat!" I have the interview on tape. That made no difference to Bonnie Garcia. When a Restraining Orders were granted in court, to both the police and to Ms. Garcia, against me, through more provable perjury on the stand by Mary Brhel, and police officers, under oath, I was truly cut off from being granted my civil rights and treated as a terrorist criminal by both the police and Garcia's office.
Cathedral City Police refuse to write any police reports for the criminal behavior of their own officers, nor will they write any for the criminal behavior of Shadow Crest Board members.
I do not have equal protection, as granted under the law.I have been in the hospital three times due to the emotional duress, even at one point thinking to just take my own life –it seemed easier than fighting lies, perjury, false arrests, treatment as a terrorist, libeled in a gay newspaper, and in the Desert Sun, slandered, and maligned in public, and all the while fighting the illegalities of my Homowner Association board, and the attorneys, and management company.
I have been battered – even hit deliberately by a board member in his car, while I was on foot, with no repercussions for him, or any board member for these batteries. All of the board members show up in court and support each other in their lies to get bogus restraining order. And, now I have illegal liens against my home, and there has been embezzlement and extortion in Shadow Crest with these liens.
There is no help from those hired to help: NO help from the police; NO help from my Assemblywoman, Bonnie Garcia; NO help from City Council – and, so far, NO help from the District Attorney's office.
Now, I have been left with no choice but to bring lawsuits against both, Cathedral City Police Department, and Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia for abuse of process, slander, libel, harassment, intentional infliction of emotional duress, and more. All have lost their immunity from lawsuits by the breaking of the law.
As I walked the parade route along side the golf cart, waving to the applause, I saw Bonnie Garcia walking in the opposite direction, on the other side of the street, alone, and looking directly at me. I suddenly felt a pang of empathy for her and her aloneness. I choose to believe the look on her face was perhaps remorse. Could it be that she sees I am not the person I was made out to be by the Cathedral City Police, and her aide, Mary Brhel, who obviously saw an opportunistic "publicity stunt" in the making. Does she maybe wonder that perhaps she ought to have looked into the allegations herself? Or, perhaps is it that she truly does recognize how much harm she has done to me?
I believe that deep within the soul of most people is the desire to reconcile, and though loving an enemy is not easy, it is necessary to building, and retaining our own character."Forgive them they know not what they do" ought to be kept within our hearts and minds always.
One parade watcher commented later to a reporter, "I thought it was really nice; the way the community comes together."
Our float winning the Third Place Trophy in the Humor category had a touch of irony for me on this day. Can it be that if we would all just laugh, seeing the humor in life, and come together, we might just have a chance at being the people we all have the potential to be? Imagine what we could accomplish.