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Sep 28th
Home Sections NaFFAAgate Reinventing Crab Mentality (How the CRABS Turned Ben Menor into a Crab Omelet)
Reinventing Crab Mentality (How the CRABS Turned Ben Menor into a Crab Omelet) PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - NaFFAAgate
Thursday, 08 May 2008 13:56

JGL Eye Column

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By Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) --  An example of life imitating nature that is being frowned upon is having a "crabby" attitude. It evokes negative outlook that no one wants to embrace.

While it is one of the meatiest foods known to man, a crab has some very odd characteristics  -- it does not want to be left at the bottom of the pile for as long as it can cling to something that is going up.

I remember when I was fishing in the China Sea in the Philippines during my teens, when I felt that something was nibbling my bait, I would pull the line up slowly, especially if I think that the place is known for catching crabs. I would notice that while one of its pincers was holding my line, the crab was still nibbling on the bait even if I was already pulling it near the top of the seawater. When I see it, I would usually get my fish net and put my net below the crab and haul it into my bucket in the boat.


Editor’s Note: We decided to add to the title of Mr. Lariosa’s column “How the CRABS Turned Ben Menor into a Crab Omelet” as a great punning exercise. We hope that Mr. Lariosa would not mind the addition. Find out the meaning of “CRABS” in Mr. Lariosa’s instant column.If I had plenty of catch, I would notice that no matter how hard one crab goes up the bucket to set itself free, another crab below will pull it down the bucket. Hence, the expression – "crab" mentality. It is like saying, "if I can't have it, neither can you."

This term has gained additional meanings as short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than a unified, long-term, constructive mentality. It has later been referred to individuals or communities attempting to "escape" a so-called "underprivileged life." They are kept from succeeding by those others of the same community or nation attempting to ride upon their coat-tails or who simply resent their success.

But this crabby attitude is slowly but surely gaining a new meaning among the members of the Filipino-American community, especially in San Jose, California.

The architect of this new campaign, Mr. Tito Cortez, has supporters among Filipinos and Filipino Americans.

CUTTING TIES THAT BINDIt all started when Mr. Cortez had a falling out from his brother-in-law, Mr. Ben Menor, after Mr. Cortez's sister divorced Mr. Menor. Mr. Cortez once told me that the moment his sister divorced Mr. Menor, he also ceased to become an in-law of Mr. Menor.

Unfortunately for Mr. Menor, Mr. Cortez knew a lot of things about Mr. Menor's mismanagements of the Filipino American Senior Opportunities Development Council (Fil-Am SODC), a non-profit group that operates a 92-unit senior housing and community center in San Jose.

To get the Filipino Americans involved to promote his public disagreements with his former brother-in-law, Mr. Cortez accepted the challenge of Mr. Menor's friend, Atty. Rodel Rodis, who taunted Mr. Cortez's in a Philippine News column as a crab. Mr. Cortez would form the "Citizens Rebelling Against Bogus Spending," whose acronym is what else? --  CRABS. The CRABS provided the San Jose police dossier on Mr. Menor that prompted the police to raid the Fil-Am SODC.

Documents at the raid resulted in the grand-jury indictment of Mr. Menor on Count l, a felony -- filing false financial statements, and two counts of grand theft felony charges.

Mr. Menor pleaded Wednesday (April 7) "no contest" to Count 1, a felony -- filing false financial statements -- that could land him three years in jail.

OVERSTATING HOURSMr. Menor admitted overstating by 24,000 hours the amount of time he and his agency worked under contract with the city to run the Northside Community Center, a senior housing and community center on North Sixth Street in San Jose, California.

The 57-year-old Mr. Menor was also ordered to pay restitution on the two remaining two counts - $32,500 (assisted living program) and $16,000 for the NaFFAA conference. He needs to pay back over half of this amount prior to his sentencing on July 24th.

His link to NaFFAA as in National Association of Filipino American Associations makes his case very public, especially among the Filipino American public. How can NaFFAA refund Mr. Menor the $16,000 he diverted from the Fil-AmSODC to NaFFAA when NaFFAA is also having difficulties making both ends meet?

I surmise that if Mr. Menor cannot pay back over half of the $32,500 for the assisted living program and the $16,000 for the NaFFAA conference, he could likely land in jail.

If NaFFAA could not refund Mr. Menor the $16,000 or even half of it, it will be a sign of a lack of gratitude to Mr. Menor, who raised the money to hold a successful Fifth National Federation of Filipino American Association National Empowerment Conference in San Jose in 2002 that Mr. Menor chaired. It was like biting the hand that feeds you.

After settling the restitution of Mr. Menor's criminal case, NaFFAA should also brace for the civil penalties that Mr. Menor faces in the civil case. 

MORE TROUBLE COMING UP FOR MR. MENOR, ET ALIn the civil case, the City of San Jose City asked the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County, monetary damage of at least "$219,414, plus interest" from Mr. Menor and "100 other Does" and asked them to pay "treble damages," "civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each false claim," "legally recoverable interest," "punitive and exemplary damages," "damages for time and money properly expended in pursuit of the converted property," other costs, including "attorney's fees."

Lesson learned from this Menor episode: Non-profit organizations should be very selective in getting officers, who are handling money of the organizations.

NaFFAA should distance themselves from people facing indictments as what Sen. Barack Obama is now doing with Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Mr. Obama had to give away to charity the money Mr. Rezko raised for his campaign.

In the same breadth that Hillary Rodham Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign returned a $22,000 donation from a businesswoman linked by congressional investigators to a drug trafficker.

Aren't you glad there are CRABS crawling around? (

Journal Group Link International
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CHICAGO IL 60680-4112 U.S.A.
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Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2008 08:59

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