The Battle of Tinhorn Flats, Continued

The Burbank City Council has lost its collective mind, pursuing an obvious vendetta against Tinhorn Flats restaurant, a family-owned and operated business that has been part of the community for 50 years. Back in December, the Lepejian family made the difficult decision to defy state and local closure orders and serve food on its back patio, while following all previously established outdoor dining protocols.

Since then, lawsuits have been flying.  A judge ordered L.A. County to provide scientific evidence to support its mandate closing all dining, which the county obviously could not produce.  Yet the judge did not lift the ban on dining because Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order was still in effect.

The county then revoked Tinhorn’s health permits, and the Burbank city council then began an ill-advised campaign of governmental tyranny.  Not only did the council revoke the restaurant’s relevant permits, it got a judge to sign off on cutting the power to the facility.

Tinhorn Flats' patrons and other patriots donated generators and barbecues and the restaurant continued to serve, as well as opening up its bar for indoor dining as the state approved that activity for all establishments.

The city council then tried to padlock the restaurant’s door shut.  Lucas Lepejian, the 20-year-old who currently oversees operations at the restaurant, cut the locks.  Since then, the city has boarded up the entrances, “red-tagged” the joint as being unsafe to enter, placed a mountain of sandbags in front of the boarded entrances and surrounded the entire place with a chain-link fence.

Lucas has since been arrested three times, twice for violating a court order and the third time for “altering efforts the city has implemented to prevent entry into the establishment, due to the unsafe conditions and to be compliant with the city’s safety codes.”  That is, trying to remove the sandbags.

Burbank police have been sauntering around the establishment for a couple of weeks, shouting at anyone who gets too close.  The BPD even rolled out an entire squad of police to make sure nobody got in the way of the fence installation.

Yippie-ki-yay, you know who.

Given that the rest of the state is finally re-opening, the council is engaging in this absurd display for one reason: punishment for defiance.  Even nearby Ventura County, which also was bringing action against a handful of restaurants for defying local orders, has dropped all the cases.

The behavior of the council is not merely demonstrative of governmental overreach, but of the insidious side of handing power to a group of five citizens.  Remember, these politicians are nothing special.  They are just regular people without any particular expertise in anything.  Government should always act with prudence, yet the ferocity with which the council has assaulted this business is chilling.

So what’s going on and what is the future for the restaurant?  Is the entire council really this stupid and short-sighted? Most politicians are savvy enough to recognize potential blowback that could harm them.

It appears that it is just one city councilman that wants to escalate the situation: radical leftist actor  Konstantine Anthony. Slightly more than three weeks ago, a judge ordered the restaurant and the Council to settle the matter.  Based on interviews with Lucas on local media, the restaurant was open to discussion and apparently everyone on the Council except Anthony was ready to talk.

In a phone conversation between Lucas and Anthony, recorded and posted on social media, it appears that Anthony was the sole holdout in refusing to even discuss settlement. Why?

Normally, when a judge orders parties to talk, they talk.  The point is to resolve matters, and the Burbank council had every reason to do so.  The more protracted the battle, the more money the city must spend on it, and the more exposed it becomes to future liability from civil lawsuits.

There is only one rational conclusion to draw from Anthony’s defiance.  He wants to punish Tinhorn Flats.   This makes perfect sense, however, when one realizes that Anthony appears to be a self-described “Trotsky Communist”.

He spoke favorably of a Seattle City Councilmember who is a Trotsky Communist, and appears to tacitly admit his position in a January 26 open council meeting.  He was also endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, and is a “dues-paying member of DSA-LA.  He was also endorsed by OurRevolution, an offshoot of the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.  A social media post with his name says that his goal is to “dismantle capitalism.”

This is a sad state of affairs for the city.  Anthony himself claims to be autistic, was once homeless and claims that “my kindness is modeled after my mother’s, who emigrated from Greece in 1977.”  Anthony is not showing either kindness or grace in this matter.  He’s demonstrating his hatred of capitalism.

The road back for Tinhorn Flats will be lengthy and challenging.  Although they’ve hired the tenacious and effective attorney Mark Geragos, and have tripled their GoFundMe goal of $30,000, the legal situation is a mess.

On the one hand, an LA County judge already has ruled that the county failed to show cause for the dining closure while failing to lift the ban.  That issue has now become moot.  So the question is whether Geragos can get a ruling that the initial closure was improper, and therefore all the activities the county and city engaged in to strip the restaurant of its permits were also improper.

Depending on the specific arguments presented, there may also be a Fifth Amendment challenge for illegal takings.  If the city engages in a permanent improper closure and fails to compensate the restaurant, that may constitute an illegal taking.

Yet another wrinkle is that the city’s actions fall under administrative law, and courts generally give administrative proceedings broad authority.  The key argument in administrative actions is if they were “arbitrary and capricious.”  That in turn would depend on whether the restaurant shutdowns can be shown to have been without merit.

All of these issues will take months if not years to resolve.  In the meantime, unless a settlement is reached, the restaurant faces an uphill battle to reopen.  If the Lepejians do prevail, the city may face significant civil liability, and Anthony alone may face a recall campaign.

Meanwhile, Burbank faces fiscal problems like most other Democrat-controlled municipalities.  There is a $29 million budget shortfall, and fully a third of the budget goes to pay pensions – with unfunded liabilities amounting to over $17 million annually. Is the Battle of Tinhorn Flats really a fight Burbank wants to continue?

The Battle of Tinhorn Flats

Nowhere is the dictatorial idiocy of government on display better than in Burbank, California. It's bad enough that state, county, and city restrictions regarding businesses during the so-called "pandemic" often contradict each other.  It's far worse when a county or city engages in restrictions that are tighter than those the state, or are just simply being stupid because anyone who's been paying attention knows this isn't really a "pandemic."

Just to review, 8.5 percent of Burbank’s population has tested positive, and 0.2 percent of the population has died, and the death rate for those who have the virus is 2.8 percent.  All of these numbers are in line; L.A.  County as a whole (12 percent, 0.2 percent, and 2.2 percent, respectively), and the U.S. as a whole (8.9 percent, 0.16 percent, and 1.8 percent).  Some 80 percent of deaths are of those over age 65 who have an average of 3 co-morbidities.

The Burbank city Council of Ninnies, like most other municipal governments in Democrat-controlled states, ordered all restaurants to be shut on December 6, during the most recent "surge." This included outdoor dining, even after restaurants had invested tens of thousands of dollars each into proper safety measures and taking other steps necessary to actually serve food outside.

Need we mention the absurdity of banning outdoor dining at all?

Tinhorn Flats is a family-owned and operated bar and restaurant that has been operating in Burbank for many years.  The owners decided on December 10 to stay open regardless of any government order to shut, and has been serving outdoors since then.  Their health permit was revoked December 12.

And they stayed open!  Huzzah!

And why not?  If it’s a choice between bankruptcy and operating in defiance of a stupid and unnecessary government order, the choice should be clear.  Sadly, outside of five other restaurants in nearby Ventura County, no other operators openly defied these ludicrous orders.

Apparently, neither the Burbank City Council of Ninnies nor the County of Los Angeles knows what happens when you back into a corner. Now they are finding out exactly what does happen, and they have the scratches and blood to show for it.

From December 13 to February 9, the L.A. County Department of Health cited the restaurant for 36 separate days operating on a "suspended public health permit."

Tinhorn Flats stayed open.  Patriots like myself visited, ate food, and had beers.

On January 12, the LA County Attorney issued a cease-and-desist letter.

Tinhorn Flats stayed open. Patriots like myself visited, ate food, and had beers.

Two weeks later, the county filed a lawsuit for violating the "emergency health orders" and "abatement of public nuisance." Apparently not satisfied with simply suspending the public health permit, the county also took the extra step of actually revoking the permit.

Tinhorn Flats stayed open. Patriots like myself visited, ate food, and had beers.

Then the Burbank City Council of Ninnies revoked the conditional use permit that allowed Tinhorn Flats to operate on February 22.

Tinhorn Flats stayed open, etc, etc.

A week later the Burbank City Council of Ninnies filed a lawsuit for violating the municipal code, and the week after that the L.A. County Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order against the restaurant.

Tinhorn Flats stayed open, etc, etc.

Here's the best part: a few days ago, the Burbank City Council of Ninnies told a kangaroo-court hearing, in which it was obvious they had already made up their minds, demanding that the restaurant stop serving. A few days later, they cut power to the restaurant.

So what happened? Patriots and patrons donated generators and other gear so that the restaurant could continue to operate. And customers are still coming to the restaurant.

We’re not done yet. The Burbank City Council of Ninnies ordered the doors of the restaurant to be locked. It just so happens that Tinhorn Flats is famous for its swinging doors, like the saloons of the Old West.  They cover those over at night with two large doors – which they REMOVED to prevent them from being padlocked!

Somehow, the next day, the doors reappeared and were padlocked, and so was the side entrance. Tinhorn Flats then posted picture on their Facebook page showing the side door was open, that they were open for business, and that anyone could come. As I write this article, on the evening of St. Patrick's Day, the place is hopping and packed both indoors and outdoors. I had a wonderful burger and fries there today.

By the way, all of this followed an order by another L.A. County judge requiring the county to show evidence that the ban was necessary.  This the county failed to do,  but the judge sadly didn’t overturn the ban.  Yet it was this ruling that bolstered Tinhorn Flats’ position that every step being taken against the restaurant was illegal.

As the owner of Tinhorn Flats has publicly said, this has nothing to do with safety, but fear and control. Their mantra is "we will not comply." These four words should stir the hearts and souls of every freedom – loving American.

There is nothing special about the five petty tyrants on the City Council.  As we've learned over the past year, politicians have no special knowledge of, and absolutely no clue about, epidemiology or how to have properly managed this "pandemic." This is about fear and control, and a group of five power-mad individuals who want to assert their authority over others.

Their names are: Mayor Bob Frutos, Vice Mayer Jess Talamantes, Konstantine Anthony, Nick Schultz, and Sharon Springer.  Frutos’ bio says, “During his 28 years of public service in Law Enforcement, he learned the value of working with residents, businesses and neighborhoods in a collaborative effort to find solutions to complex community issues.”  What nonsense.

Also notable is that Anthony claims once been homeless, so his extraordinary lack of compassion for people who are simply trying to keep their business open amidst an unjustified panic places him in a particularly shameful position.

These petty tyrants don't seem to realize that they have awakened a sleeping tiger. People from all over the city are patronizing the restaurant. Support is pouring in from all over the country.

Nor do they realize that nothing will stop me or anyone else from patronizing this business.  We are the ocean of freedom and we will flow around any obstacles in our way.  The Burbank City Council will look like the idiots they are in trying to shut down this place.

Oh yeah, my sources tell me that the Burbank Police Department supports Tinhorn Flats.

A legal defense fund has been set up at this GoFundMe page and I urge you to donate. Meanwhile, this just in:

Like a desperado who is riddled with bullets but just won't stop, Tinhorn Flats remains open. The latest chapter in this saga finds the Burbank Fire Department showing up at Tinhorn Flats on Wednesday night to remove a padlock... one that city officials had placed there earlier that morning.

Why? Because as soon as officials left, Lucas Lepejian cut off a lock on a side entrance and reopened the Old West-themed restaurant and bar, reports FOX 11.

After cutting off the padlock, Lepejian let customers in and continued serving them food and drink although the front door remain padlocked, creating what Burbank officials call a "life-safety hazard."

Standing up to bullies is the only way to defeat them.