PROBE: July 30, 2001

July 30, 2001

QUESTION: The Imperial County tax collector sent me a notice to pay my property tax by June 30 or I would have to pay a penalty. The payment was postmarked June 25 and I received it June 27, three days before the deadline.

According to the statement, I owed $150. I sent the check June 30. The tax collector sent back the check, saying the amount was incorrect. Because the payment was late, I owed a penalty, bringing the amount to $167. That's state law, according to the tax collector.

If they are going to charge me a penalty, shouldn't they have sent my notice sooner? — Angry Taxpayer, Brawley

It's only $17 so send it in because your new deadline is Aug. 1. This time you will have to pay only an interest charge of $1.91.

Cindy Johnson, county tax collection officer, said you got a courtesy notice. There's no law requiring a notice.


You have to pay the late charge because state law says the payment must be postmarked by June 30. Your payment was postmarked July 6 in San Bernardino, she said.

You were paying a supplemental tax bill levied because your property was reassessed when you bought it in 2000. You were sending your second installment due last Oct. 1.

But we agree the property tax rules are unnecessarily complicated and unfair to the property taxpayer.

SPELLING BEE — We were laughing about verde lagos in the beauty shop this morning. The Calexico gourmet may know how to eat, but he can't spell. It's verdolagos, one word. That's the way we say it and I'm sure that's the way to spell it.

You can buy it at Vons. A man who used to own a small grocery says it's called "pig weed" in English. — Gourmet, Brawley

Actually we think its verdolagas. We had three calls telling us how to spell it, one from a reader who read the spelling from a learned Spanish dictionary.

You can't buy it in Vons, said Jesse Zermeño, produce man in the El Centro Vons.

"We don't carry it as a regular item but we could get it as a special item," he said.

"… No need to sell it here. It grows wild all over the place. When I was a kid, it grew between the cracks on the sidewalks in Brawley," he said.

Zermeño said, "Pigweed grows wild here, too, but it's a different weed."

He said he has never eaten pig weed.

We'll tell you how to cook verdolagas in case you get your hands on some. Talking to men, we thought you boiled it all afternoon with a hunk of salt pork or a ham hock.

Women told us differently. Pick the young and tender leaves and stir fry with small pieces of pork, chopped onion and garlic. Start with the meat. When it's done, add the vegetables one at a time. You can sprinkle in it cooked whole pinto beans to make it a main dish or serve the beans separately.

REAL BARBECUE SAUCE — I made up a new batch of barbecue sauce to see if it reminds you of home. I am from southeast Missouri, from a little town across from Cairo, Ill. That's where the Ohio joins the Mississippi River. If you don't have any pork, pour it on something else. — Cook, Brawley

We didn't have any pork so we smothered our hamburger in it. Now that's barbecue sauce — vinegar, just a smidgen of tomato and crushed red peppers! Ooo doggy! Thank you!

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