Gringo Gazette

Gringo Gazette

Sempra’s Energy Ensenada Investment Will be Decided Today

The public consultation regarding the acceptance of Sempra’s Energy 2-billion-dollar investment in expanding their current Ensenada plant, is going on today.

The exercise is promoted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who says that every transcendent decision for the country should have its citizens’ approval.

Anyone with a valid Mexican voting ID, with an Ensenada address, will be allowed to vote on the consultation in any of the booths set up for this.

Critics of the consultation say that Sempra is only missing one permit to go ahead with its expansion, and it has nothing to do with the consultation. The only license they are missing is one from the federal Energy office, and the decision of this office will be completely independent of the output of the consultation.

Several business groups and the government of Ensenada have been very vocal in their approval of the investment; as they say, it will positively improve our state’s economy.

Sempra has committed to investing 21 million dollars in public works that will directly benefit Ensenada’s citizens.

Your Electric Bill Just Got a Little Cheaper

The Mexican Supreme Court announced last Tuesday that it had declared illegal for any of the cities in Baja California to collect public lighting taxes, better known as DAP, in the CFE bill.

Each city defined the DAP tax amount, and the CFE collected the money and passed it on to each government. It ranges from $17 to 55 pesos every two months, depending on the city, and it’s supposed to maintain and pay for public lighting.

The Supreme Court deemed the charge unconstitutional since the cities cannot charge extra for this service, as it’s supposed to be paid for with the money gotten from regular taxes.

Mayor of Ensenada Armando Ayala stated that the new ruling would hit Ensenada hard, which is already known to have severe budget deficits, as they are losing 6.6 million USD every year with the DAP charge cancellation.

Tijuana Mayor Announces Leave of Abscense

Arturo Gonzalez, mayor of Tijuana, surprisingly announced that he had submitted a leave of absence effective next Wednesday because he is interested in participating in the internal process to choose a state coordinator for the Morena party.

He emphatically denied that he was leaving his post because of the many allegations by governor Bonilla criticizing his work in the city.

He stated that the governor has repeatedly tried to discredit him and uses illegal tactics to diminish his odds of winning the governor seat in the coming election.

Both the Governor and Tijuana Mayor come from the Morena party, but they have not been able to get along since May.

 

With information from: El Vigia

Jorge Salgado Ponce, "Gratitud" short film director.

Mexican Short Film Nominated for Iranian Film Festival’s Prize

Every year the organization committee of the Resistance International Film Festival (RIFF) questions and explores different aspects of social responsibility and adds new categories to the competition program. This year its definition is expanded to include dealing with the invisible threats such as viruses. A new section called  “Health Defenders” is added to the festival’s program to document and show health workers fighting the COVID-19 and thus sacrificing their lives on the path of protecting society’s health.

This festival for now is the only cinema event dedicating the biggest part of its program to this pandemic, and the organizers hope that it would help to gather different experiences in one place, and also to promote a further documentation of the recent events as it would become crucial evidence for the future generations.

Jorge Salgado Ponce, "Gratitud" short film director.
Jorge Salgado Ponce, “Gratitud” short film director.

Organizers of the festival announced that filmmakers from the United States, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Britain, France, India, Turkey, Iraq, Germany, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, Malaysia, Mexico have already submitted more than 300 films to compete in this section of the festival and thus to express their gratitude to the health defenders from all around the world.

Mexican short film “Gratitude” directed by Jorge Salgado Ponce submitted for this section has been nominated for the festival’s prize and received favorable reviews from the festival’s jury.

The 3 minute film, that is based on real events, movingly portrays the dedication and passion that health workers in Mexico put into their work, but also the ignorance that they sometimes have to fight against in the streets.

You can view the movie online, right here:

RIFF’s carefully curated program as well has earned this festival recognition from viewers and industry professionals alike. American filmmakers such as Michael Moore, Oliver Stone as well as many other artists from more than 100 different countries have participated with their documentaries and films in this festival. Also, many renowned international guests and exceptional filmmakers have come directly to present their films and interact with viewers, including, David Barsamian, Scott Frank, Rafael Lara, Darnell Stephen Summers, Yvonne Anne Ridley, Jasmin Durakovic, Robert Hofferer, Diana Kamal-al Din, Rashed Radwan, Yousef Wehbi, Ahmed Boulane, Basil al-Khatib, Saddam Wahidi Melika, Zairi Alper Akdeniz, Thomas Hayes, Daz Chandler and many others.

Resistance International Film Festival is divided in two parts that will be held on separate dates. The first part that includes “Health Defenders” section and is currently underway in Tehran has started on September 21st and the second part dedicated for the “Main Competition” is scheduled for November 21st-27th.

This year the event will go online due to a spike in the coronavirus cases in the country.

Que Pasa in Baja?

Baja prepares for Influenza. Even though COVID-19 cases have been consistently decreasing lately in our State, the regular flu season is about to begin, threatening the public with a health challenge of its own. Alonso Rico, head of the State Health Office, already announced they have been preparing for it with a fivefold strategy, which consists of vaccinating all members of the “at risk” population for this year’s influenza strain; making sure the hospital infrastructure is functioning properly: ending the exchange agreement between hospitals that allows people to go only to the facility they are affiliated to; ensuring the availability of a  consistent supply of medicines; and lastly, providing the presence of qualified medical personnel for December.

Government cracks down on fake documents. Our state government stated that it has found a great number of fake drivers licenses, mostly Type C, which are the ones needed by drivers of vehicles used for public transportation.

Officials said they are being sold in the “5 y 10” area in Tijuana, for around $2,000 pesos. This is more than what it would cost to get the real thing; however, a requisite to get this kind of drivers license is to have no criminal records, and most of the people that buy the fake ones have them. Add “Possession of a fake government ID” to that record!

Governor and Tijuana mayor clash again, this time over the closure by the state government of a storage facility where the local DIF kept the food packages that are distributed in the poorest areas of town.

The State Government closed down the facility because they said “expired candy” was found there.

Consequently, the city of Tijuana announced that about 3,500 citizens that receive a food package every week will not be able to get them.

Magdalena Bautista, head of DIF Tijuana, stated that the act was retaliation for the bad relationship that the Tijuana Mayor and Governor have had in the past.

Ensenada mayor passes the hat in Cali. In a three-day tour of the counties of Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego, Armando Ayala was able to get donations with a value of more than $2 million USD.

Among the things that he was able to get for Ensenada were two 2002 Kenworth trucks for use by the city garbage collection service, three Vactor trucks for the city water company, a fully equipped ambulance and two 32-passenger buses.

During the tour he also officialized Ensenada’s intentions of sistering the cities of Pico Rivera and San Diego.

Police Chief in hot water. Adrian Ortiz, head of the police department in Ensenada, landed himself in hot water after he jokingly stated that “after taking the weapons away from police personnel, crime rates lowered.”

Several police officers protested outside of the public security building expressing their outrage over Ortiz’s comments.

They are demanding a public apology from him, because they claim that the already beaten-down image of the police force was even more damaged and now it’s from the police chief himself.

For his part, Ortiz said it was all a misunderstanding and that he never meant the statement that way.

Baja’s COVID risk color improves to orange.  The “stoplight” that measures our risk factor was changed from red to orange this week, this means that now businesses will be able to have a 50% occupancy instead of the usual 30%, with the exception of supermarkets which are now allowed to have a 75% occupancy with the usual precautions. Kids are now allowed into businnesses also with the usual precautions.

Bars and event venues will continue to be closed.

Governor Bonilla stated that the federal government is strongly pushing towards changing the “stoplight” to green so the economic reactivation starts sooner.

Alonso Perez Rico, head of the state health office, reminded the popullation to use their masks at all times in public places, a noticeable decrease in the use of it has been seen.

California Wealth Tax, a Dangerous Initiative

As the Pandemic dried state treasuries, they desperately seek new ways to get more revenue.  Like addicts without a fix, some have resorted to extreme measures. I watch these with trepidation because the emergency makes them justifiable to legislatures. But once adopted, they tend to grow roots and become permanent, making them doubly dangerous. New York just enacted its own way of getting the “stuff”. Others will likely follow.

California’s Wealth Tax initiative -AB2088- is textbook “California”: innovative, greedy and innocuous looking from popular perspective. After all, it only applies if your net worth is over 30 million (15 if married filing separately). Read even if it still does not yet apply.

This is a “net worth” tax. Unlike an income tax, this requires you to compute your worldwide net worth to figure if the tax applies. A long list of assets are included in the mix, even if they are difficult to value family businesses, startups, farms, or others. Since cash counts, you would have to disclose its existence to California, no matter where located, even if it’s under your mattress.

If you barely met the threshold, $120,000 would be added to your annual tax bill.

In a pernicious twist, if you decide to become a nonresident, leaving that nonsense behind, you would remain subject during the next ten years, albeit at “generous” declining tax rates. Worse, it invents a new “temporary resident” category, aimed at those spending over 60 days in the state over the year. Those would prorate the tax based on time spent in California. Aimed at snowbirds, those should be very leery of these provisions. They could find themselves stuck with a California reporting obligation and tax even if they have no corresponding federal one. No tax treaty would be of help against California.

Dangerous? Well, it’s populist. It sounds good to tax the wealthy. I would generally agree, except there’s no guarantee that once enacted, that $30M “floor” won’t somehow move down to include more and more taxpayers. The compliance costs, even figuring out if you are subject, can be staggering and can exceed the tax itself. You have foreign businesses or investments or retirement funds anywhere? They go in. It can quickly get quite complex.

In my almost 25 years as a licensed attorney, I have never seen such a worrying proposal from California, the state that even figured how to tax satellites that fly far above the state.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at [email protected] Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer or WhatsApp at +17604491668. This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

Missing American Couple Found Dead

The bodies of Ian Hirschsonhn and Kathy Harvey that were reported missing two weeks ago were found at the bottom of a water well in Ensenada.

According to Ian’s daughter, they couldn’t be lost as the 77-year-old man knew the area very well, as he frequently visited since 1985.

Kathy and Ian were last seen in their truck, which was found abandoned seven days later.

On September 4, San Diego’s Police Department, where the couple was from, confirmed that the bodies were  Hirschsonhn y Kathy Harvey.

Hiram Zamora, a local prosecutor in charge of the case, said to the press that they were both murdered in their house by a drug addict who wanted to steal from them.

The suspect, who has already been identified, moved their bodies from El Socorrito (near San Quintin) to the city of Ensenada, where they were later found.

The couple rented a house near El Socorrito beach, a popular area for American retirees.

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