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Fil-Am appointed Contra Costa County superior court judge

By Cesar Antonio Nucum, Jr., Correspondent
SAN FRANCISCO -- The office of the California State office recently announced the appointment of two new Bay Area County Superior Court judges.
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s new appointees as judges of the Superior Court of the Contra Costa County are Wade M. Rhyne and Filipino-American Benjamin T. Reyes II. 
A Democrat, Reyes will succeed Judge Thomas M. Maddock who retired recently. 
The 51-year-old Alamedan has been a principal at Meyers, Nave, Riback, and Wilson PLC since 2005. Prior to that, Reyes had been an associate of the same from 2001 to 2005. 
At Meyers, Nave, Riback, and Wilson PLC, Reyes handled cases in the areas of municipal and public agency law, energy, construction, procurement and elections. 
He was also the Assistant General Counsel for the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee where he chaired the firm’s Public Contracts Practice Group, and manages the firm’s redevelopment and public finance attorneys.
He had also been a City Attorney to two Bay Area cities: first with Pinole from 2004 then with Union City since 2010.
About their principal, Nave, Riback, and Wilson PLC wrote on Reyes’ overview in its website http://www.meyersnave.com/ attorney/benjamin-reyes : 
“A general counsel and city attorney, Ben has two decades of experience working with public agencies throughout the state on a breadth of legal issues. He has prepared legislation for governing bodies in areas of community preservation, land use and revenue. Ben regularly teaches seminars on the Ralph M. Brown Act (local agency open meeting law), ethics, conflicts of interest and the political reform act. He has significant experience in elections and campaign finance, and has prepared several ballot measures for local sales and transactions taxes and utility users taxes.
"Ben has subject matter expertise in public contract and procurement law and has litigated several cases involving major public works projects. He is well versed in local agency competitive bidding, design-build projects, bid protests, contractor prequalification and claims resolution.
"He has written and revised contract specifications for several public agency clients. Ben represents public agency clients in high-technology, software and information system procurement projects. Ben also serves as special counsel for several public agencies seeking to build traditional and renewable energy projects, particularly, solar system projects.”
Others positions held by Reyes include Utility.com general counsel from 2001-2001, East Bay Municipal Utility, Office of the General Counsel attorney from 1997-2000, deputy city attorney at the San Jose City Attorney’s Office in 1997, General Counsel for the Stege Sanitary District, and an associate at the Boornazian, Jensen and Garthe PC from 1993-1997, among others..
Reyes earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California in Berkeley 
He was also in the United States Army Reserves from 1983-1987. 

A painful lesson from Letty Shahani (RIP)

The country lost a most able leader over the weekend with the passing of former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani.
She could have been president were she not the sister of Fidel Ramos. She certainly had the brains and the experience for the job. Sadly, while the country has had two presidents whose father or mother had been president before them, a brother and sister both being elected chief executive is not yet politically viable.
I had always admired Letty Shahani, except for what I saw as her one shortcoming. At her urging, one of her three kids entered politics and became a member of the House of Representatives, where he accomplished little except to flex his muscle by virtue of being the son of a senator as well as nephew of the president.
When Fidel and Letty exited Philippine politics, so did the spoiled kid.
That is neither here nor there. One of the things that Senator Shahani did was to have a study conducted to determine one thing: what was wrong with the Filipino?
Like it or not, there is something wrong with us. And no, I will say nothing about the current mess we’re in due to our wrong choice of president in last year’s elections. He wasn’t the first bad president we’ve had, and I don’t think he will be the last.
If anything, the Philippines seems doomed to have lacklustre, incompetent, corrupt and clueless presidents, vice presidents, senators, congressmen, mayors, etc. Did I mention congressmen? Yes, I did but that group of scum masquerading as human beings deserves special mention.
To quote US President Donald Trump and his perception of Mexicans, some I presume are good people.
We keep harping about how well Filipinos do when they leave for abroad. When they immigrate, they are driven to succeed. Most of the time, they do.
Indeed, Filipinos are a talented people. We can excel at practically anything we set our minds to, be it the arts, athletics, business and even politics. Filipinos are prized workers because they go the extra mile and do not mind working extra hours when needed.
Why then, Senator Shahani wanted to find out, do Filipinos constantly bring themselves and their homeland down at every opportunity? Why the crab mentality? And why our failure to rise to our full potential?
For so long, the Philippines with all its natural resources and wealth of talent had been bogged down by its leadership to the point that the country was deemed “the sick man of Asia”.
The Shahani study answered the question, and nobody liked what it concluded. The Philippines and ergo the Filipino people were a damaged culture, it said.
In the few instances whenever this is brought up, a false sense of nationalism usually surfaces.
Whether in an intelligent and serious conversation, or in idle talk over bottles of beer, I would hear arguments that “the Filipino is better than the rest.” And when the alcohol starts to hit, the argument deteriorates to “the Filipino is street smart.” The Tagalog term is “ma-abilidad.”
Yes, we sure can get one over them damn foreigners, huh? Even when we are living in their countries as guest workers.
Meanwhile, this mentality has made graft and corruption perfectly acceptable in government service, as long as one does not get caught.
You think senators and congressmen have only recently discovered the beauty of pork barrel? Think again. As far back as the 50s and 60s, media, civil society, the academe and the church has been pointing out the evil that is the Philippine pork barrel system, which goes by many names and incarnations, but it’s always the same thing.
Millions intended for projects and programs to benefit the public instead go to the pockets of the country’s elected leadership.
So a group of senators have dinner in Malacanang? Whatsoever for? Why for the perks and pasalubong that the generous host is sure to give when the night ends, of course.
Another now also departed lady senator once pointed to another reason for the culture of corruption that pervades Philippine politics and society. She blamed the Chinese.
She may have been right, but she very quickly retracted her statement.
Hers may have been a claim that may or may not have been spot on, but one that is impossible to prove. I am not mentioning her name because I am still angry at her for foisting the son of a despised dictator as her running mate. She lost badly but he almost won. See how damaged we are?
Everything that’s happening now can be explained by the Shahani report.
But one thing it didn’t say was if there is still hope for the Philippines. Sorry, I don’t have the answer to that one either.

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