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LIFE LESSONS FROM PAULA DEEN: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on June 28, 2013 at 12:14 am

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen, her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers, her company, and the corporations that operate a pair of restaurants she owns in Savannah, Georgia., are being sued by former employee Lisa Jackson.

A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in November, 2012, claimed that she was subjected to “violent, sexist, and racist behavior” during her five years’ employment by Deen.

In the deposition she filed in May, 2013, she proved to be her own worst enemy.  Consider the following:

Speaking of her employee, Karl Schumacher, Deen said:

A.  Karl is the most judgmental person I know.  And out of every team member on our team, he is certainly the most prejudice.

Q.  Prejudice against who?

A.  You name it.

Q.  African-Americans?

A.  Gays, you name it. If you drink, you’re a bad person.  If you use four-letter words, you’re a bad person.  If you don’t think like he thinks, you’re a bad person.

Q.  Is he–?

A.  He is a one-man jury.

Stupid Mistake #16:  She admits that she had retained an employee who was openly prejudiced toward a wide range of people: “Gays, you name it.”

Q.  Is he prejudice against African-Americans?

A.  I–no, I don’t–no, I would say the answer to that one would be no.

Stupid Mistake #17:  Having already admitted the Schumacher was “a one-man jury” and “the most prejudice” of her employees, Deen suddenly claims he isn’t prejudiced against blacks. 

MackWorks, a business consulting firm, conducted an investigation of Uncle Bubba’s, which is owned by her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers.

Q.  Okay.  And in order to determine that it was the opinion of these high-priced consultants that Miss Jackson had been the victim of discrimination sufficient to give her cause to file an EEOC [U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] all you would have had to do was read that report, correct?

A.  I didn’t read the report.

Q.  Okay.  And what, if any, investigation have you done to determine if it is your brother who is lying, as opposed to Miss Jackson and Mr. Schumacher and the people at MackWorks?

A.  I know my brother.  I know his character.  If I ask him something, he would not lie to me, nor would I to him.  There was nothing to investigate.

Stupid Mistake #18:  After an independent consulting firm gives her a scathing report about her brother’s restaurant, she doesn’t read it. 

Stupid Mistake #19:  She admits she didn’t read it.

Stupid Mistake #20:  She admits she took no action to discover the truth for herself: “There was nothing to investigate.”

* * * * *

I have not searched through the entire deposition as given by Paula Deen.  But the portion I have reviewed convinces me this was a lawsuit–and a disaster–waiting to happen.

The media has focused its attention on Deen’s admission to having used the “N-word.”  But clearly she was running a dysfunctional operation–replete with alcoholism, racial prejudice, sexual harassment and theft.

Much has been made of Deen’s serving as an ambassador of Southern culture and cooking.  But if only some of the accusations made against her hold up, she must also serve as an ambassador of a South decent Americans want to forget–and forever put behind them.

That was definitely an era when blacks knew their place–which was as slaves in the kitchens or fields of the Southern planter class who owned them.

According to Jackson, those are the days Deen would love to return to.

As proof, she cited an exchange that occurred when she was appointed by Deen to handle the catering and staff for Bubba’s wedding in 2007.

When she asked Deen what the servers should wear, Deen allegedly replied:

“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around.

“Now, that would be a true Southern wedding wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”

Deen has given lip service to knowing that the days of Southern racism are past.  But according to the complaint filed against her by her former employee, Lisa Jackson, that past remains very much alive:

  • Requiring black employees to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Holding black employees to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Allowing her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, to regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Allowing Hiers to make inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Allowing Hiers to force the plaintiff, Lisa Jackson, to look at pornography with him.
  • Allowing Hiers to often violently shake employees.
  • Allowing Hiersto come to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Enabling Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Holding “racist views herself.”

Many of Deen’s supporters have claimed she is the victim of anti-Southern prejudice.

But the truth appears that only in the South could she have run so gigantic and lucrative an empire for so long in such prejucial and dysfunctional fashion.

The wonder is not that the Food Network refused to renew her contract after June, 2013.  The wonder is that she has managed to stay in business this long.

LIFE LESSONS FROM PAULA DEAN: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on June 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen, her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers, her company, and the corporations that operate a pair of restaurants she owns in Savannah, Georgia, are being sued by her former employee Lisa Jackson.

A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in November, 2012, claimed that she was subjected to “violent, sexist, and racist behavior” during her five years’ employment by Deen.

There are many lessons to be learned from the deposition Deen gave in the case in May.  Such as:

Q, Okay.  Have you used it [the "N-word"] since then?

A.  I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.

Stupid Mistake #7:  Having admitted she used it in the past, she compounds her mistake by admitting she had used it since. 

Stupid Mistake #8:   There is an entirely legal way to avoid incriminating oneself–and being prosecuted for perjury.  It’s contained in the words: “Not that I can recall.”

Q. Can you remember the context in which you have used the N word?

A.  No.

Q.  Has it occurred with sufficient frequency that you cannot recall all of the various context in which you’ve used it?

A.  No.

Q.  Well, then tell me the other context in which you’ve used the N word.

A.  I don’t know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me.

Q.  Like a joke?

No, probably a conversation between blacks.  I don’t–I don’t know.

Stupid Mistake #9:  The vast majority of restaurant kitchens are staffed by blacks or Hispanics, whose exchanges are often obscene and homophobic.  If Deen had said she had quoted such a conversation between employees, she could have legitimately claimed she did so entirely for the sake of accuracy.  She could have blamed them for using the  N-word, and cast herself strictly in the role of reporter.

Back to the deposition:

Q.  Okay.

A.  But that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on.  Things have changed since the 60s in the South.  And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior.

Q.  Okay.

A.  As well as I do.

Q.  Are you aware that your brother has admitted to using that word at work?

A.  I don’t know about that.

Stupid Mistake #10:  She had previously admitted to attending her brother’s deposition, where he admitted to, among other offenses, using the N-word in the workplace.  So this is a direct contradiction of her earlier admission.

Q  Okay.  Now, if you had learned of Mr. Hiers engaging in racially or sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace, what, if any, actions would you have taken?

A.  I certainly would have addressed it.

Stupid Mistake #11:  Previously she had been asked: “Did any of the things that your brother admitted to doing, including…using the N word in the workplace, did any of that conduct cause you to have any concerns about him continuing to operate the business?”  And she had replied: “No.”  So this amounts to yet another contradiction.

Q.  Have you ever addressed Mr. Hiers’ racially or sexually inappropriate conduct?

A. No.

Stupid Mistake #12:  She admitted to having learned about her brother’s use of the N-word in the workplace–and then admitted to having never addressed it.

Q.  And you are aware of his admitting to engaging in racially and sexually inappropriate  behavior in the workplace in his deposition in this case?

A.   No.

Stupid Mistake #12:  This directly contradicts her previous admission that she had learned of his engaging in such behavior during his deposition.

Q.  Are you aware of Mr. Hiers admitting that he engaged in racially and sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace?

A.  I guess.

Q.  Okay.

A.  If I was sitting here I would have heard it.

Stupid Mistake #13:  She admits once again to having been apprised of her brother’s offensive behavior.

Q.  Okay.  Well, have you done anything about what you heard him admit to doing?

A.  My brother and I have had conversations.  My brother is not a bad person.  Do humans behave inappropriately?  At times, yes.  I don’t know one person that has not.  My brother is a good man.  Have we told jokes?  have we said things that we should not have said, that–yes, we all have.  We all have done that, every one of us.

Stupid Mistake #14:  She admits to having talked with her brother about his offensive behavior–but she did not say she did anything to stop it or punish him for it.

Q.  You said you have had such conversations with [your brother]. When did you do so?

A.  When Karl told me he was stealing, I addressed that with Bubba.

Q.  And as a result of Mr. Hiers stealing, he received a pay increase and the money he had taken was recharacterized as wages, is that correct?

A.  I don’t know how it was settled.  I know that Karl was paying Lisa Jackson more than my brother was being paid, so if there was a salary increase, it would have been long overdue.

Stupid Mistake #15:  She admits that even though she learned that one of her employees was stealing from her, she had nevertheless retained him.

LIFE LESSONS FROM PAULA DEEN: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Social commentary on June 26, 2013 at 12:01 am

The purpose of this website is to highlight the ways public and private bureaucracies actually operate–as opposed to how they usually want others to believe they operate.

Occasionally, a case comes along that is so filled with blatant violations of law and common sense that it offers a road map of what others should do to avoid similar disaster.

Such a case is that of celebrity chef Paula Deen.

Paula Deen

Let’s start at the beginning.

Deen, her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers, her company, and the corporations that operate a pair of restaurants she owns in Savannah, Georgia, are being sued by former employee Lisa Jackson.

A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in November, 2012, claimed that she was subjected to “violent, sexist, and racist behavior” during her five years’ employment by Deen.

Jackson’s complaint describes her as a “white female” who has biracial nieces.

It was for that reason that she left Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, which was run by Hiers, in August, 2010.

Jackson’s complaint alleges the following:

  • Black employees were required to use separate bathrooms and entrances from whites.
  • Black employees were held to “different, more stringent standards” than whites.
  • Hiers regularly made offensive racial remarks.
  • Hiers made inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Hiers forced Jackson to look at pornography with him.
  • Hiers often violently shook employees.
  • Hiers came to work in “an almost constant state of intoxication.”
  • Dean enabled Hiers’ behavior by ignoring Jackson’s efforts to discuss his behavior.
  • Deen “holds racist views herself.”

The allegation that black employees were ordered to use separate bathrooms and entrances harkens back to the ugly days of the pre-civil rights South.  That was an era where most blacks knew their place–or were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

In May, 2013, Deen gave her own deposition in the case.  She denied many of the allegations against Hiers-–but ended up admitting that she was aware of his offensive behaviors:

Q.  Okay.  Are you aware–-you were here during your brother’s deposition, right?

A.  Yes.

Q.  So you are aware of the things that he’s admitted to?

A.  Absolutely.

Q.  Did any of the things that your brother admitted to doing, including reviewing–-reviewing pornography in the workplace, using the N word in the workplace, did any of that conduct cause you to have any concerns about him continuing to operate the business?

A.  No.  My brother and I, 25 years ago…each started a business and we each had $200 to start that business.  My brother built the most successful long-service business in Albany, Georgia, with his $200.  My brother is completely capable unless he’s being sabotaged.

Stupid Mistake #1:  Deen acknowledged that, if she hadn’t known about her brother’s behavior prior to his deposition, she was present during this and thus learned about it then.

Stupid Mistake #2:  Deen acknowledged that even after she officially became aware of his behavior, she did not feel there was any reason to sever him from the company.

Getting back to Deen’s deposition:

Q.  Now, does his sense of humor include telling jokes about matters of a sexual nature?

A.  We have all told off-colored jokes.

Q.  Okay.  Does his sense of humor include telling jokes of a racial nature?

A.  I’m sure those kind of jokes have been told.  Every man I’ve ever come in contact with has one.

Stupid Mistake #3:  Deen acknowledged that off-color jokes were told in her workplace, and that she was clearly aware of it.

Stupid Mistake #4:  Deen made light of the telling of jokes that the vast majority of employers would not tolerate in their workplaces.

Then came–for Deen–the most deadly part of the deposition:

Q.  Okay.  Miss Deen, have you told racial jokes?

A.  No, not racial.

Q.  Okay, have you ever used the N word yourself?

A.  Yes, of course.

Stupid Mistake #5:  She knew that the charge of racial discrimination stood at the very heart of the lawsuit facing her.  Yet, when asked if she had ever used the N-word, she replied, “Yes, of course,” as if this were the most natural thing in the world.

Q.  Okay.  In what context?

A.  Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.

Q. Okay, and what did you say?

A.  Well, I don’t remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple.  I didn’t…feel real favorable towards him.

Q.  Okay.  Well, did you use the N word to him as he pointed a gun in your head at your face?

A.  Absolutely not.

Q.  Well, then, when did you use it?

A.  Probably in telling my husband.

Stupid Mistake #6:  What is discussed between husband and wife is protected legally as marital privilege.  Her attorney should have objected and told her not to answer the question.  If she had not admitted to using it privately with her husband, she might not have been asked if she had used it since then.

HELL IN THE “RENTERS’ PARADISE”: THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on June 25, 2013 at 12:00 am

Slumlords would have everyone believe that San Francisco is a “renters’ paradise.”  A place where hard-working landlords are routinely taken advantage of by rent-avoiding bums who want to be constantly pampered.

On the contrary: It’s not renters who hold “untouchable” status, but slumlords themselves.

If you doubt it, you need only review the case of slumlords Kip and Nicole Macy.  They waged a two-year war on their rent-paying tenants to force them out of their South of Market building.

The reason: The Macys wanted to get them out of their rent-controlled apartments so they could rent these out to tenants who could afford extortionate rents.

For two years, the police and district attorney’s office stood by while the Macys aimed threats, vandalism, illegal lockouts and violence at their law-abiding tenants.

The Macys have since been convicted and will be sentenced to four years and four months imprisonment.  But this case is a rarity for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Meanwhile, thousands of San Francisco tenants have lived with rotting floors, nonworking toilets, chipping lead-based paint and other outrages for not simply months but years.

But San Francisco tenants need not be put at the mercy of greedy, arrogant slumlords.  And the agencies that are supposed to protect them need not be reduced to impotent farces.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office shcould create a special unit to investigate and prosecute  slumlords.  Prosecutors should offer rewards to citizens who provide tips on major outrages by the city’s slumlords.

And the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection–which is charged with guaranteeing the habitability of apartment buildings–should immediately adopt a series of long-overdue refirms.

By doing so, it can:

  • Vastly enhance its own prestige and authority;
  • Improve living conditions  for thousands of San Francisco renters; and
  • Bring millions of desperately-needed dollars into the City’s cash-strapped coffers.

In Part 2 of this series I outlined 14 such reforms.  In this concluding column, I will outline the remaining eight:

  1. DBI should order landlords to post their Notices of Violation in public areas of their buildings–on pain of serious financial penalties for failing to do so. When DBI orders a slumlord to take corrective action, s/he is the only person who is notified.   Thus, if that slumlord refuses to comply with those directives, s/he is the only one who realizes it.  Given the pressing demands on DBI, weeks or months will pass before the agency learns about this violation of its orders.  Tenants have a right to know if their landlord is complying with the law.
  2. DBI should launch–and maintain–a city-wide advertising campaign to alert residents to its services.  Everyone knows the FBI pursues bank robbers, but too many San Franciscans do not even know that DBI exists, let alone what laws it enforces.  This should be an in-your-face campaign: “Do you have bedbugs in your apartment?  Has your stove stopped working?  Are you afraid to ride in  your building elevator because it keeps malfunctioning?  Have you complained to your landlord and gotten nowhere?  Then call DBI at —–.  Or drop us an email at ——.”
  3. Landlords should be legally required to give each tenant a list of the major city agencies (such as DBI, Department of Public Health and the Rent Board) that exist to help tenants resolve problems with their housing. 
  4. Landlords should be legally required to rehabilitate a unit every time a new tenant moves in, or at least have it examined by a DBI inspector every two years.  A tenant can occupy a unit for ten or more years, then die or move out, and the landlord immediately rents the unit to the first person who comes along, without making any repairs or upgrades whatsoever.
  5. Landlords should be required to bring all the units in a building up to existing building codes, and not just those in need of immediate repair.
  6. Landlords should be legally required to hire a certified-expert contractor to perform building repairs.  Many landlords insist on making such repairs despite their not being trained or experienced in doing so, thereby risking the lives of their tenants. 
  7. DBI should not view itself as a “mediation” agency between landlords and tenants.  Most landlords hate DBI and will always do so.  They believe they should be allowed to treat their tenants like serfs, raise extortionate rents anytime they desire, and maintain their buildings in whatever state  they wish.  And no efforts by DBI to persuade them of its good intentions will ever change their minds.
  8. Above all, DBI must stop viewing itself as a mere regulatory agency and start seeing itself as a law enforcement one.  The FBI doesn’t ask criminals to comply with the law;  it applies whatever amount of force is needed to gain their compliance. As Niccolo Machiavelli once advised: If you can’t be loved by your enemies, then at least make yourself respected by them.

As Robert F. Kennedy wrote: “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves.  What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”

HELL IN “THE RENTERS’ PARADISE”: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on June 24, 2013 at 12:25 am

The “war on drugs” has some valuable lessons to teach the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) which is charged with protecting tenants against predatory landlords.

Consider:

  • At least 400,000 rape kits containing critical DNA evidence that could convict rapists sit untested in labs around the country.
  • But illegal drug kits are automatically rushed to the had of the line.

Why?

It isn’t simply because local/state/Federal lawmen universally believe that illicit drugs pose a deadly threat to the Nation’s security.

It’s because:

  • Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to “facilitate” violations of Federal anti-drug laws.
  • Local and State law enforcement agencies are allowed to keep some of the proceeds once the property has been sold.
  • Thus, financially-strapped police agencies have found that pursuing drug-law crimes is a great way to fill their own coffers.
  • Prosecutors and lawmen view the seizing of drug-related properties as crucial to eliminating the financial clout of drug-dealing operations.

It’s long past time for DBI to apply the same attitude–and methods–toward slumlords.

DBI should become not merely a law-enforcing agency but a revenue-creating one.  And those revenues should come from predatory slumlords who routinely violate the City’s laws protecting tenants.

By doing so, DBI could vastly:

  • Enhance its own prestige and authority;
  • Improve living conditions for thousands of San Francisco renters; and
  • Bring millions of desperately-needed dollars into the City’s cash-strapped coffers

Among those reforms it should immediately enact:

  1. Hit slumlord violators up-front with a fine–payable immediately–for at least $2,000 to $5,000 for each health/safety-code violation.
  2. The slumlord would be told he could reclaim 75-80% of the money only if he fully corrected the violation within 30 days.  The remaining portion of the levied fine would go into the City coffers, to be shared among DBI and other City agencies.
  3. This would put the onus on the slumlord, not DBI. Appealing to his greed would ensure his willingness to comply with the ordered actions.  As matters now stand, it is DBI who must repeatedly check with the slumlord to find out if its orders have been complied with.
  4. If the landlord failed to comply with the actions ordered within 30 days, the entire fine would go into the City’s coffers–to be divided among DBI and other agencies charged with protecting San Francisco residents.
  5. In addition, he would be hit again with a fine that’s at least twice the amount of the first one.
  6. Inspectors for DBI should be allowed to cite landlords for violations that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Health.  They can then pass the information on to DPH for its own investigation.
  7. If the DBI Inspector later discovers that the landlord has not corrected the violation within a designated time-period, DBI should be allowed to levy its own fine for his failure to do so.
  8. If DPH objects to this, DBI should propose that DPH’s own Inspectors be armed with similar cross-jurisdictional authority.  Each agency would thus have increased motivation for spotting and correcting health/safety violations that threaten the lives of San Francisco residents.
  9. This would instantly turn DBI and DPH into allies, not competitors.  And it would mean that whether a citizen called DBI or DPH, s/he could be assured of getting necessary assistance.  As matters now stand, many residents are confused by the conflicting jurisdictions of both agencies.
  10. DBI should insist that its Inspectors Division be greatly expanded DBI can attain this by arguing that reducing the number of Inspectors cuts (1) protection for San Francisco renters–and (2) monies that could go to the general City welfare.
  11. The Inspection Division should operate independently of DBI.  Currently,  too many high-ranking DBI officials tilt toward landlords because they are landlords themselves.
  12. DBI should create a Special Research Unit that would compile records on the worst slumlord offenders.  Thus, a slumlord with a repeat history of defying DBI NOVs could be treated more harshly than a landlord who was a first-time offender.
  13. Turning DBI into a revenue-producing one would enable the City to raise desperately-needed revenues—in a highly popular way. Fining delinquent slumlords would be as unpopular as raising taxes on tobacco companies. Only slumlords and their hired lackey allies would object.
  14. Slumlords, unlike drug-dealers, can’t move their operations from one street or city to another.  Landlords aren’t going to demolish their buildings and move them somewhere else.

HELL IN “THE RENTERS’ PARADISE”: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on June 21, 2013 at 12:01 am

To hear slumlords tell it, San Francisco is a “renters’ paradise,” where obnoxious, lazy, rent-evading tenants constantly take advantage of hard-working, put-upon landlords.

Don’t believe it.

And in case you’re inclined to anyway, consider the story of Kip and Nicole Macy, two San Francisco slumlords who recently pled guilty to felony charges of residential burglary, stalking and attempted grand theft.

Kip Macy

Nicole Macy

Determined to evict rent control-protected tenants from their apartment building in the South of Market district, they unleashed a reign of terror in 2006:

  • Cut holes in the floor of one tenant’s living room with a power saw–while he was inside his unit.
  • Cut out sections of the floor joists to make the building collapse.
  • Threatened to shoot Ricardo Cartagena, their property manager, after he refused to make the cuts himself.
  • Changed the locks to Cartagena’s apartment, removed all of his belongings and destroyed them.
  • Created fictitious email accounts to appear as a tenant who had filed a civil suit against the Macys–and used these to fire the tenant’s attorney.
  • Cut the tenants’ telephone lines and shut off their electricity, gas and water.
  • Changed the locks on all the apartments without warning.
  • Mailed death threats.
  • Kicked one of their tenants in the ribs.
  • Hired workers to board up a tenant’s windows from the outside while he still lived there.
  • Falsely reported trespassers in a tenant’s apartment, leading police to hold him and a friend at gunpoint.
  • Broke into the units of three tenants and removed all their belongings.
  • Again broke into the units of the same three victims and soaked their beds, clothes and electronics with amonia.

The Macys were arrested in April, 2008, posted a combined total of $500,000 bail and then fled the country after being indicted in early 2009.

In May, 2012, Italian police arrested them and deported them back to America a year later.

Having pled guilty, they will be sentenced in August to a prison term of four years and four months.

How could such a campaign of terror go on for two years against law-abiding San Francisco tenants?

Simple.

Even in the city misnamed as a “renter’s paradise,” slumlords are treated like gods by the very agencies that are supposed to protect tenants against their abuses.

The power of slumlords calls to mind the scene in 1987’s The Untouchables, where Sean Connery’s veteran cop tells Eliot Ness: “Everybody knows where the liquor is. It’s just a question of: Who wants to cross Capone?”

Many tenants have lived with rotting floors, bedbugs, nonworking toilets, mice/rats, chipping lead-based paint and other outrages for not simply months but years.

Consider the situation at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, which is supposed to ensure that apartment buildings are in habitable condition:

  • A landlord is automatically given 30 days to correct a health/safety violation. If he drags his feet on the matter, the tenant must live with that problem until it’s resolved.
  • If the landlord claims for any reason that he can’t fix the problem within one month, DBI doesn’t demand that he prove this.  Instead, it automatically gives him another month.
  • A slumlord has to work at being hit with a fine—by letting a problem go uncorrected for three to six months.
  • And even then, repeat slumlord offenders often avoid the fine by pleading for leniency.
  • That’s because many DBI officials are themselves landlords.

But the situation doesn’t have to remain this way.

DBI could:

  • Vastly enhance its own prestige and authority
  • Improve living conditions  for thousands of San Francisco renters, and
  • Bring millions of desperately-needed dollars into the City’s cash-strapped coffers.

How?

By learning some valuable lessons from the “war on drugs” and applying them to regulating slumlords.

Consider:

  • At least 400,000 rape kits containing critical DNA evidence that could convict rapists sit untested in labs around the country.
  • But illegal drug kits are automatically rushed to the had of the line.

Why?

It isn’t simply because local/state/Federal lawmen universally believe that illicit drugs pose a deadly threat to the Nation’s security.

It’s because:

  • Federal asset forfeiture laws allow the Justice Department to seize properties used to “facilitate” violations of Federal anti-drug laws.
  • Local and State law enforcement agencies are allowed to keep some of the proceeds once the property has been sold.
  • Thus, financially-strapped police agencies have found that pursuing drug-law crimes is a great way to fill their own coffers.
  • Prosecutors and lawmen view the seizing of drug-related properties as crucial to eliminating the financial clout of drug-dealing operations.

It’s long past time for San Francisco agencies to apply the same attitude–and methods–toward slumlords.

In my next column I will lay out how this can be done.

RACE AND CRIME: PART TWO (END)

In Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 20, 2013 at 12:00 am

“How effective is a police officer with a blindfold on?”

That’s the question posed by an ad sponsored by the Captains Endowment Association of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The ad will appear in the June 20th edition of the New York Post, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.  And it will appear in response to an upcoming bill proposed by Democrats on the New York City Council.

This latest foray into Political Correctness “will ban cops from identifying a suspect’s age, gender, color or disability,” Roy Richter, president of the Association, told the Post.

“When we have wanted suspects and patterns of crimes, those are very important descriptive terms to let officers know who to look for.”

Under this bill, police could describe a suspect only in terms of the color of his/her clothing–or risk being sued for profiling.

And, according to the Post, the bill is on a fast track–it’s being sent straight to the floor for a vote versus going through the “normal committee process.”

Ad of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association

The timing of the proposed bill may have been prompted by the release of the NYPD’s report on “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” for 2012.

It outlines the racial makeup of the city’s crime population–both that of its victims and its perpetrators.  And it reveals that crime is centered overwhelmingly in minority-group neighborhoods

During the first six months of 2012, 96% of shooting victims were blacks or Hispanics–and in 97% of all cases, the shooters were other blacks or Hispanics.

Blacks and Hispanics comprise 89% of murder victims–and 86% of murder suspects.  Of felony assault victims, 81% are non-whites, as are 88% of the suspects.

Thus, while Blacks make up 22.8% of New York City’s population, they comprise

  • 51.4% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 48.6% of its rape arrests;
  • 62.1% of its robbery arrests;
  • 52.3% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 52.0% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 75.0% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.3% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 52.5% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 66.0% of its violent crime suspects;

While Hispanics make up 28.6% of the city’s population, they account for:

  • 36.7% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 42.8% of its rape arrests;
  • 29.0% of its robbery arrests;
  • 33.6% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 28.5% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 22.0% of its shooting arrests;
  • 40.0% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 28.9% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 26.1% of its violent crime suspects;

Blacks, Hispanics and their liberal allies have long claimed that the startling numbers of blacks and Hispanics arrested, convicted and incarcerated only prove that racist white cops, prosecutors and judges have rigged the system against them.

But this ignores a fundamental–and ugly–truth: The vast majority of victims of black and Hispanic criminals are other blacks and Hispanics.

But pretending that crime doesn’t flourish in black and Hispanic neighborhoods hasn’t stopped the police from making arrests there.

So now members of the City Council have decided to prevent such arrests by making it impossible for police to identify non-white suspects.

Fortunately, several prominent black figures have dared to speak bluntly to the crisis of lawlessness within their community.

One of these is Jesse Jackson.  Speaking at a meeting of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) in Chicago on November 27, 1993, Jackson famously said:

“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery.

“Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. After all we have been through.  Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets–how humiliating.”

Jesse Jackson

During a 1998 interview on the PBS investigative series, Frontline, Jackson attacked the “criminal chic” style of dress that has become popular among young black men:

“Well, what does that style [wearing baggy britches or $200 Nike stringless tennis shoes] come from?  It comes from jail.

“That’s recycled jail culture, where they cannot wear belts because they may hang themselves or hurt themselves or hurt someone.  Or they can’t have strings in their tennis shoes.

“So when you find youth having jail culture recycled into them, it is almost as if you’re eating your own vomit.   It’s a kind of recycled sickness.”

Another prominent black who has dared to confront the realities of black criminality is comedian Bill Cosby.

Bill Cosby

Addressing the 20th National Action Network conference in April, 2011, Cosby didn’t mince words before his largely black audience:

“Tell me where Jesus would allow drug dealing on the corner?  Tell me where Jesus would allow people to shoot guns for no reason, missing and then hitting a child who is paralyzed for life?

“And we don’t do anything but have a funeral.  But let a cop shoot [a black man], and you set his car on fire and burn up the police stations.”

Until there is a sharp decline in the crime-rates for blacks and Hispanics, it will be common sense, not racism, that leads white parents to warn their children: Stay out of predominently black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

And for those parents to follow their own advice.

RACE AND CRIME: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on June 19, 2013 at 1:17 am

Are some races more prone to crime–and especially violence–than others?

It remains a hotly-debated topic.  But while the origins of crime remain debatable, the races of its perpetrators and victims can be–and have been–statistically tabulated.

And those statistics haven’t changed much during the last 40 years.

Consider this:

In 1971, Robert Daley, a reporter for the New York Times, became a deputy police commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In that capacity, he saw the NYPD from the highest levels to the lowest–from the ornate, awe-inspiring office of  Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy to the gritty, sometimes blood-soaked streets of New York.

He spent one year on the job before resigning–later admitting that when he agreed to take the job, he got more than he bargained for.

It proved to be a tumultuous year in the NY’D’s history:  Among those challenges Daley and his fellow NYPD members faced were the murders of several police officers, committed by members of the militant Black Liberation Army.

Two of those murdered officers were Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini.  Jones was black, Piagentini white; both were partners.  Both were shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves.

Writing about these murders in a bestselling 1973 book–Target Blue: An Inside’s View of the N.Y.P.D.–Daley noted:

  • Jones and Piagentini were the sixth and seventh policemen–of ten–murdered in 1971.
  • About 18 men were involved in these murders.  All were black.
  • The city’s politicians knew this–and so did Commissioner Murphy.  None dared say so publicly.

“But the fact remained,” wrote Daley, “that approximately 65% of the city’s arrested murderers, muggers, armed robbers, proved to be black men; about 15% were of Hispanic origin; and about 20% were white [my italics].

The overall racial breakdown of the city was approximately:

  • whites, 63%;
  • blacks, 20%;
  • Hispanics 17%.

Stated another way: Blacks, who made up 20% of the city’s population, were responsible for 65% of the city’s major crimes.

Or, as Daley himself put it: “So the dangerous precincts, any cop would tell you, were the black precincts.”

That was 40 years ago.

Now, consider the following statistics released by the NYPD for “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” in 2012.  Its introduction states:

“This report presents statistics on race/ethnicity compiled from the New York City Police Department’s records management system.”

Then follows this chart:

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief
Victim, Suspect, Arrestee Race/Ethnicity                                                                  

American Indians:               Victims:  0.7%      Suspects:  0.3%      Arrestees:   0.3%

Asian/Pacific Islanders:    Victims:  8.4%      Suspects:   3.2%     Arrestees:   3.9%

Blacks:                                        Victims:  36.5%    Suspects:  49.6%    Arrestees:  36.5%

Whites:                                      Victims:  28.9%    Suspects:  17.0%     Arrestees:  22.9%

Hispanics:                              Victims:   25.4%    Suspects:  29.8%    Arrestees: 36.4%

Total  Victims:      40,985       

Total Suspects:     11,356  

Total Arrests:         7,825

Then come the guts of the report:

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Victims:

  • Black (60.1%)
  • Hispanic (26.7%)
  • White victims (8.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.2%)

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Arrestees:

  • Black (51.4%)
  • Hispanic (36.7%)
  • White (9.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2.6%)

Rape Victims:

  • Black (37.9%)
  • Hispanic (36.9%)
  • White victims (19.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.4%)

Rape Arrestees:

  • Black (48.6%)
  • Hispanic (42.8%)
  • White (5.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.1%)

Other Felony Sex Crimes Victims:

  • Black (40.7%)
  • Hispanic (33.6%)
  • White victims (19.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.9%)

Known Other Felony Sex Crime Arrestees:

  • Black (42.3%)
  • Hispanic (39.8%)
  • White (12.6%)
  • Asian /Pacific Islander (5.1%)

Robbery Victims:

  • Hispanic (36.1%)
  • Black (31.9%)
  • White victims (18.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (12.8%)

Robbery Arrestees:

  • Black (62.1%)
  • Hispanic (29.0%)
  • White (6.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2.5%)

Felonious Assault Victims:

  • Black (47.8%)
  • Hispanic (33.6%)
  • White (12.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.5%)

Felonious Assault Arrestees:

  • Black (52.3%)
  • Hispanic (33.6%)
  • White (9.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.5%)

Grand Larceny Victims:

  • White (42.4%)
  • Black (25.0%)
  • Hispanic (20.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (11.8%)

Grand Larceny Arrestees:

  • Black (52.0%)
  • Hispanic (28.5%)
  • White (14.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.8%)

Shooting Victims:

  • Black (74.1%)
  • Hispanic (22.2%)
  • White (2.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (0.8%)

Shooting Arrestees:

  • Black (75.0%)
  • Hispanic (22.0%)
  • White (2.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (0.6%)

Drug Felony Arrest Population:

  • Black (45.3%)
  • Hispanic (40.0%)
  • White (12.7%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

The Drug Misdemeanor Arrest Population

  • Black (49.9%)
  • Hispanic (34.5%)
  • White (13.3%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (2.1%)

The Felony Stolen Property Arrest Population:

  • Black (52.5%)
  • Hispanic (28.9%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0%)

The Misdemeanor Stolen Property Arrest Population:

  • Black (47.1%)
  • Hispanic (30.2%)
  • White (16.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.4%)

Violent Crime Suspects:

  • Black (66.0%)
  • Hispanic (26.1%)
  • White (5.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

Reported Crime Complaint Juvenile Victims:

  • Black (43.5%)
  • Hispanic (38.7%)
  • White (11.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (5.8%)

Juvenile Crime Complaint Arrestees:

  • Black (58.6%)
  • Hispanic (32.6%)
  • White (5.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2.8%)

Appendix B of the report offers a breakdown of New York City’s racial makeup:

                                                                 Total Numbers        Percentage of the City’s Population

  • White                                               2,722,904                         (33.3%)
  • Black                                            1,861,295                      (22.8%)
  • Hispanic                                     2,336,076                     (28.6)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders                1,030,914                         (12.6%)

Thus, while Blacks make up 22.8% of New York City’s population, they comprise

  • 51.4% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 48.6% of its rape arrests;
  • 42.3% of its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 62.1% of its robbery arrests;
  • 52.3% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 52.0% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 75.0% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.3% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 49.9% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 52.5% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 47.1% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 66.0% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 58.6% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

While Hispanics make up 28.6% of the city’s population, they account for:

  • 36.7% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 42.8% of its rape arrests;
  • 39.8% for its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 29.0% of its robbery arrests;
  • 33.6% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 28.5% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 22.0% of its shooting arrests;
  • 40.0% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 34.5% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 28.9% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 30.2% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 26.1% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 26.1% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

LET ALLAH SORT IT OUT

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 18, 2013 at 12:05 am

Even confirmed imbeciles can sometimes get it right.

Or, in the case of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, partially right.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Faith and Freedom Coalition on June 15, Palin said the United States should not intervene in Syria while Barack Obama holds the Presidency:

“Until we have a commander in chief who knows what he is doing… let Allah sort it out!”

Actually, she got it half-right: “Let Allah sort it out”–regardless of who is President.

Recently, noted draft-dodger and former President Bill Clinton had different advice for President Obama.

Clinton urged Obama to intervene in Syria:

“Suppose I had let a million people, two million people be refugees out of Kosovo, a couple hundred thousand people die, and they say, ‘You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?’ And I say, ‘because the House of Representatives voted 75% against it?’

“You look like a total wuss, and you would be.”

This is truly heady stuff, coming from a man who has proudly boasted how he outwitted his draft board and thus escaped military service in Vietnam.

Apparently, it’s OK for other Americans to put on a military uniform and risk their lives in pointless missions on behalf of foreigners who hate us.  It’s just not OK for bullet-shy types like Bill Clinton to do it.

Clinton doesn’t seem aware, or concerned, that, in Syria, two of America’s most deadly enemies are now waging war–with each other.

Yes, it’s Hezbollah (Party of God) vs. Al-Qaeda (The Base).

Hezbollah is comprised of Shiite Muslims, who form a minority of Islamics.  A sworn enemy of Israel, it has  kidnapped scores of Americans suicidal enough to visit Lebanon and truck-bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, which killed 299 Americans.

Flag of Hezbollah

Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, is made up of Sunni Muslims, who form the majority of that religion.  It is intolerent of non-Sunni Muslims and has instigated violence against them.  It denounces them as “takfirs”–heretics–and thus worthy of extermination.

Al Qaeda has attacked the mosques and gatherings of liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other non-Sunnis.   Examples of sectarian attacks include the Sadr City bombings, the Ashoura massacre and the April, 2007 Baghdad bombings.

Flag of Al Qaeda

In a June 1 column entitled, “Stop the Madness,” Dr. James J. Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute, warns:

“What began as a popular revolt against a brutal and ossified dictatorship, Syria has now degenerated into a bloody battlefield pitting sects and their regional allies against each other in a ‘dance unto death.’

“On the one side, is the Ba’ath regime, supported by Russia, Iran, Hizbullah, and elements in the Iraqi government.

“Arrayed against them are a host of Syrians (some of whom have defected from the armed forces and others who have formed militias receiving arms and support from a number of Arab states and Turkey) and a cast of thousands of foreign Sunni fighters (some of whom have affiliated with al Qaeda) who have entered Syria to wage war on behalf of their brethren.”

Clinton, of course, isn’t the only one urging Obama to put American lives on the line for a cause that only Islamic terror groups and right-wing Americans find compelling.

Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain has repeatedly urged the Obama administration to militarily intervene in Syria.  He has demanded that the United States create a “no-fly” zone over Syria to deny Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad the use of his air force against his rebellious subjects.

McCain, unlike Clinton, did serve in Vietnam–as a U.S. Navy pilot.  In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese.  He remained a prisoner of war until his release in 1973.

Now McCain apparently wants today’s young servicemen to have the same opportunities he did–to be blown out of the sky and taken prisoner for another worthless cause.

Just as Sarah Palin was partially correct in urging “let Allah sort it out,” so, too, was Clinton partially correct in his “total wuss” remarks.

President Obama can rightly be called a “total wuss”–but not for keeping Americans out of harm’s way in a war they have no stake in.

He can legitimately be called a “total wuss”–for surrendering to the demands of the same neocons who lied America into a needless 10-year war in Iraq. 

But it’s not too late for Obama to recover from his mistake.

He can establish an all-volunteer brigade for those Americans willing to fight and possibly die in yet another pointless war.  And he can offer to fly them to the border of Syria so they can carry out their self-appointed “conquer or die” mission.

If these armchair strategists refuse to put their own lives on the line in defense of a “cause” they claim to believe in, Obama should have the courage to brutally–and repeatedly–point this out.

WITNESS-SECURITY: A BLOODSTAINED HISTORY: PART SIX (OF TEN)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement on June 17, 2013 at 12:16 am

Mafia Hitman Joseph Barboza had become known throughout the New England underworld as “The Animal.”

He relished his new alias and his reputation as a temperamental killer.

Everyone who dealt with Barboza—including Mafia Boss Raymond Patriarca—feared his explosive temper.

Granted an audience with Patriarca, Barboza was transfixed by the capo’s diamond ring.  Later, he bragged that he had thought of biting off Patriarca’s finger to get the ring.

“He’s crazy,” Patriarca often told his closest associates.  “Someday we’ll have to whack him out.”

Only one other mob gunman could match Barboza’s reputation for deadliness: Steve Hughes, the top triggerman for the McLaughlins.

Barboza spent more than a year trying to eliminate Hughes, until his chance finally came on September 23, 1966.

On that day, Hughes and a loanshark friend, Sammy Lindenbaum, went for a drive along Route 114 in Middleton, Massachusetts.

They paid no attention as another car—carrying Barboza and a crony, Joseph Amico—rapidly closed on them.

With Amico behind the wheel, Barboza aimed a high-powered rifle out the window and dropped Hughes and Lindenbaum in their seats.

Barboza’s moment of supreme triumph was short-lived.  His rising notoriety disturbed Patriarca, who believed in taking a low profile and avoiding the antagonism of the press and police.

Patriarca began searching for an excuse to part with his top muscleman.   He found it on October 6, 1966, when Boston police arrested Barboza and three companions.

Inside Barboza’s car, police found a loaded .45 automatic and an M-1 carbine.  Barboza, then out on bail on a stabbing charge, was shipped off to Walpole State Prison for parole violation.

There he waited vainly for the Patriarca Family to post the $50,000 bond demanded for his release.

Tired of waiting, two of his fellow enforcers decided to lend a hand: Thomas DePrisco and Arthur Bratsos began raiding Patriarca gambling dens to collect the money.

Their fund-raising efforts ended violently one night when their intended victims drew pistols and shot Bratsos and DePrisco to death.

When he learned of the deaths of his friends, Barboza exploded.  He damned Patriarca as a “fag” and swore to kill several of the capo’s top associates, whom he blamed for the slayings.

Word of this outburst reached Patriarca, who sent back a threat of his own: Barboza was a dead man, in or out of prison.

Fearing for his own life, Barboza yielded to the proddings of two FBI agents seeking evidence against Patriarca.  He agreed to act as a federal witness against his former mob cronies.

In exchange, he demanded protection for himself, his wife and young daughter, and the dropping of his parole and all charges now facing him.

Although Barboza’s terms were stiff, Boston District Attorney Gary Byrne and the prosecutors of the Justice Department felt they were getting the best of the bargain.

They saw in Barboza a dramatic, unprecedented opportunity to strike down a powerful crime cartel.

This, in turn, would enable federal lawmen to recruit new informants and witnesses for additional—and successful—prosecutions..

To achieve these goals, however, the Justice Department had to prove it could protect Barboza against mob reprisals.

As a first step in this process, Byrne released the ex-hitman to the protective custody of the FBI.  But the FBI found its budget and manpower strained by the assignment.

Realizing that a combined effort was necessary, the Bureau called in a handpicked security detail of sixteen deputy U.S. marshals.

Heading the detail was Deputy Marshal John Partington, a former agent with the IRS Intelligence Division and a specialist in organized crime.

John Partington (on right)

Equally important, Partington understood the criminal mentality: Not only did Barboza need to be protected, he needed to be kept in a proper state of mind to testify in court.

The marshals transferred Barboza to Thatcher’s Island, an isolated lighthouse station off the coast of Gloucester.  Occupied by two houses and approachable only by sea, the island seemed a perfect security spot.

Every two weeks, a new detail of marshals arrived to relieve the sixteen men on duty.  Food and supplies were regularly shipped in aboard Coast Guard vessels.

Eventually, the press learned of the security detail on ”Baron’s Island”—so  nicknamed because “Baron” had once been a Barboza alias.

The disclosure led to a series of attempts by mob hitmen to eliminate Barboza.

Thatcher’s Island

The first attempt came in September, 1967.  Patriarca ordered a 325-pound stock swindler named Vincent Teresa to take a crew of hitman, infiltrate the island and dispose of Barboza.

But the FBI learned of the plot and tipped off the security detail.

When Teresa’s $112,000, forty-three foot yacht, The Living End, cruised around the island, the hitman couldn’t find an unprotected spot to land.

Everywhere they looked they saw deputy U.S. marshals, armed with pistols and carbines, patrolling the beach.  Barboza never appeared in sight.

Then a Patriarca assassin, Maurice “Pro” Lerner, thought of making a one-man, commando-style assault on the island.  An experienced skindiver, he brought along his own scuba gear for just such an attack.

But he quickly dropped the idea: he estimated the odds of getting a successful shot at Barboza were a million to one.

Copyright@1984 Taking Cover: Inside the Witness Security Program, by Steffen White and Richard St. Germain

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