bureaucracybusters

Posts Tagged ‘SAN FRANCISCO’

I LEFT MY BUM IN SAN FRANCISCO

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 28, 2015 at 12:14 am

Yes, welcome to San Francisco–home of cable cars, Ghiradelli Square and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Oh, and thousands of stinking, disease-ridden, lice/bedbug-infested, drug-addicted, alcohol-soaked, often psychotic men and women whom Politically Correct city officials refer to as “the homeless.”

Privately, many of the police, social workers and paramedics who wrestle with this population have another term for them–DDMBs: Druggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums.

Thanks to its mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement, San Francisco is often considered the homeless capital of the United States.

Although the city spends $200 million a year on “honeless” services, the population surges between 7,000 and 10,000.  Of these, 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.

Yet mere statistics don’t capture the true intensity of the problem.  To do that, you must confront its realities at the street level.

One of those realities can be seen every Sunday, when many stores on Market Street close for lack of workday traffic.  Stroll along the street and you’ll find it crowded with passed-out drunks/druggies, ranting psychotics and aggressive panhandlers.

Another such reality is Suzie Wong, 66, who goes by the name Ling Ling.  A resident of the Nob Hill District, Wong daily gives residents and tourists a sight to remember her by.

She alights from the 27 Bryant bus from the Mission and halts at the nearby bus stop.  Then she drops her drawers to leave a yellow or brown deposit on the sidewalk.

Related image

Finally, she crosses the street, and catches the 1 California bus for Chinatown.

When she doesn’t relieve herself on Nob Hill, she often does so on Stockton Street in Chinatown.  Then she heads to her usual spot to panhandle.

Children and pets often step in her feces.  So do adults, who are preoccupied with their cell phones.  Parents vainly try to shield their kids from the disgusting sight.

Residents have lodged scores of complaints about Wong’s repeated defecations.  The Department of Public Works sent crews to clean up her messes at least 44 times in a six-month period.

Druggies Drunks Mentals Bums

Police have repeatedly scooped up Wong for a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold at San Francisco General Hospital.  But doctors usually release her before the cops even get back to the station.

Under a 5150 designation, people can be held at the hospital for up to 72 hours to determine:

  • Are they gravely disabled?
  • Are they mentally ill?
  • If they are mentally ill, do they pose a danger to others or themselves?

But authorities have repeatedly determined that Wong doesn’t fit any of these criteria.  The reasons:

  • She has a mental health case worker at a North Beach clinic.
  • She’s arranged housing and food services through the city.
  • She can use public transit.

Chalk up another win for the DDMBs.

San Francisco officials have effectively washed their hands of the problem. If local residents must put up with repeated violations of the most basic sanitation laws, that’s their tough luck.

What matters to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors is this:

The “rights” of those whose filth poses an immediate threat to public health take precedence over those of tax-paying, law-abiding San Franciscans.

San Francisco residents can be fined for feeding pigeons–but not for feeding street bums.

During the Mayorship of Willie Brown (1996 – 2004), Hizzonor proposed what he thought was a brilliannt way for residents to “contribute” to street people. Those who were somehow certified as “homeless” would be issued special electronic “cash cards.”

When someone wanted to make a “donation,” s/he would swipe a credit card against the one owned by the street bum, for whatever amount s/he wanted to donate.

But before the program started, someone at City Hall realized a blunt truth: Residents–especially women–weren’t likely to whip out their credis cards in front of a ranting, foul-smelling, probably disease-ridden street bum.

* * * * *

It’s long past time for San Francisco–and other cities–to stop catering to the druggies, alcoholics, mental cases and bums who prey on the guilt or fear of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.

The same laws that protect citizens against patients with highly communicable diseases like typhoid and cholera should be vigorously applied to those whose filthy habits threaten similar public contagion.

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL DEFIED IMMIGRATION LAWS AS D.A.

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 8, 2015 at 11:34 am

On July 2, Kathryn Steinle decided to go for an evening stroll with her father along the San Francisco waterfront.

It was the last stroll the 32-year-old medical technology worker would ever take.

Kathryn Steinle

They were walking near Pier 14–a favorite area of the city’s tourists–when a pistol shot rang out.

Steinle, hit in the aorta, collapsed, crying, “Dad, help me, help me.”

Her father immediately gave her CPR before paramedics rushed Steinle to a hospital, where she died.

Her accused killer: Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, 45, an illegal alien with a history of seven felony convictions. He had been deported to his native Mexico five times, most recently in 2009.

Francisco Sanchez

On March 26, agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned Sanchez over to San Francisco police on an outstanding warrant.

On March 27, a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed charges of possession and distribution of marijuana against Sanchez.

Sanchez was released on April 15.

ICE had issued a detainer for Sanchez in March, requesting to be notified if he would be released.  But the detainer was not honored.

The reason?  San Francisco has been a “sanctuary city” for illegal aliens since 1989.  Its civic officials–acting as though they govern a city-state instead of a small, tourism-dependent city–openly defy Federal immigration laws.

As a result, city and local money cannot be spent on cooperating with Federal immigration authorities.

San Francisco is just one of 31 “sanctuary cities”: Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles, Chicago; Santa Ana; San Diego; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Dallas; Houston; Austin; Detroit; Jersey City; Minneapolis; Miami; Denver; Baltimore; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New Haven, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine.

Kathryn Steinle died because San Francisco authorities chose to defy the legal authority of the Federal Government.

But this is not the first time San Francisco officials have defied Federal immigration authorities–with brutal consequences for American-born citizens.

One of those officials–Kamala Harris–is now California’s Attorney General.

Kamala Harris

From 2004 to 2011, Harris had served as District Attorney for San Francisco. In total defiance of Federal immigration law, she set up a secret unit to keep even convicted illegal aliens out of prison–and in the United States.

San Francisco D.A.’s program trained illegal immigrants for jobs they couldn’t legally hold – Los Angeles Times

Her program, called Back on Track, trained them for jobs they could not legally hold.

One such alumnus was Alexander Izaguirre, an illegal alien who had pled guilty to selling cocaine. Four months later, in July, 2008, he assaulted Amanda Kiefer, a legal San Francisco resident.

Snatching her purse, he jumped into an SUV, then tried to run Kiefer down. Terrified, she leaped onto the hood and saw Izaguirre and a driver laughing.

The driver slammed on the brakes, sending Kiefer flying onto the pavement and fracturing her skull.

The program, Back on Track, became a centerpiece of Harris’ campaign for state Attorney General in 2010.

Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County District Attorney (2000-2012) ran against Harris for the position.  He could have raised Harris’ defiance of Federal law against her: The Los Angeles Times had broken the story in 2009.

But Cooley didn’t have the courage to do it.

Until she was questioned by the Los Angeles Times about the Izaguirre case, Harris had never publicly admitted that the program included illegal aliens.

Harris claimed she first learned that illegal aliens were training for jobs only after Izaguirre was arrested for the Kiefer assault.

Harris said it was a “flaw in the design” of the program to let illegal aliens into the program. “I believe we fixed it,” she told the Times.

Harris never released statistics on how many illegal aliens were included since the program started in 2005.

She said that after Izaguirre’s arrest she never asked–or learned–how many illegal aliens were in Back on Track.

When Harris learned that illegal aliens were enrolled, she allowed those who were following the rules to finish the program and have their criminal records expunged.

It is not the duty of local law enforcement, she said, to enforce Federal immigration laws.

So much for her oath to faithfully defend the Constitution of the United States and that of the state of California “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

From 2005 to 2009, 113 admitted drug dealers graduated from Back on Track.  Another 99 were kicked off the program for failing to meet the requirements.  They were sentenced under their guilty plea, the D.A.’s office claimed.

Harris told the Times that graduates of Back on Track were less likely than other offenders to commit crimes again.  But her spokeswoman refused to offer detailed statistics to back this up.

When Harris became San Francisco District Attorney, she vowed she would “never charge the death penalty.” Her opposition to capital punishment would be better-suited to a public defender.

Meanwhile, Amanda Kiefer left California.  Interviewed by the Times, she said she could not understand why San Francisco police and prosecutors would allow convicted illegal aliens back onto the streets.

“If they’re committing crimes,” she said, “I think there’s something wrong that they’re not being deported.”

It’s a sentiment that law-abiding Americans agree with.  And it should go double for those who are charged with enforcing the law.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS A KILLER: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 7, 2015 at 11:52 am

If Americans truly want to end illegal immigration, there is a realistic way to accomplish this.

Arrested illegal aliens in Long Island, New York

(1) The Justice Department should vigorously attack the “sanctuary movement” that officially thwarts the immigration laws of the United States.

Among the 31 “sanctuary cities” of this country: Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Santa Ana; San Diego; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Dallas; Houston; Austin; Detroit; Jersey City; Minneapolis; Miami; Denver; Baltimore; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New Haven, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine.

These cities have adopted “sanctuary” ordinances that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce Federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to ask about people’s immigration status.

(2)  The Justice Department should indict the highest-ranking officials of those cities who have actively violated Federal immigration laws.

In San Francisco, for example, former District Attorney Kamala Harris—who is now California’s Attorney General—created a secret program called Back on Track, which provided training for jobs that convicted illegal aliens could not legally hold.

She also prevented Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from deporting even those illegal aliens convicted of a felony.

(3) Even if some indicted officials escaped conviction, the results would prove worthwhile. 

City officials would be forced to spend huge sums of their own money for attorneys and face months or even years of prosecution.

And this, in turn, would send a devastating warning to officials in other “sanctuary cities” that the same fate lies in store for them.

(4) CEOs whose companies–-like Wal-Mart–-systematically employ illegal aliens should be held directly accountable for the actions of their subordinates.

They should be indicted by the Justice Department under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the way Mafia bosses are prosecuted for ordering their own subordinates to commit crimes.

Upon conviction, the CEO should be sentenced to a mandatory prison term of at least 20 years.

This would prove more effective in combating illegal immigration than stationing tens of thousands of soldiers on the U.S./Mexican border. CEOs forced to account for their subordinates’ actions would take drastic steps to ensure that their companies strictly complied with Federal immigration laws.

(5) The Government should stop granting automatic citizenship to “anchor babies” born to illegal aliens in the United States.

A person who violates the bank robbery laws of the United States is legally prosecutable for bank robbery, whether he’s immediately arrested or remains uncaught for years. The same should be true for those born illegally within this country.

If their parents are not here legally at the time of birth, they should not be considered citizens and should–like their parents–be subject to deportation.

(6) The United States Government–-from the President on down–-should stop apologizing for the right to control its national borders.

The Mexican Government doesn’t hesitate to apply strict laws to those immigrating to Mexico. And it feels no need to apologize for this.

Neither should Americans.

(7)  Americans can start doing this by scrapping the Politically Correct term “undocumented immigrant” and replacing it with “illegal alien.”

This is actually the correct term: “Illegal” refers to their having violated the immigration laws of this country and thus being here illegally.  And “alien” describes “a foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living.”

(8) Voting materials and ballots should be published in one language: English

In Mexico, voting materials are published in one language–Spanish.

Throughout the United States, millions of Hispanic illegals refuse to learn English and yet demand that voting materials and ballots be made available to them in Spanish.

(9)  Only legal citizens of the United States should be allowed to vote in its elections.

In Mexico, those who are not Mexican citizens are not allowed to participate in the country’s elections. 

The Mexican Government doesn’t consider itself racist for strictly enforcing its immigration laws.

The United States Government should not consider itself racist for insisting on the right to do the same.

(10)  End the “revolving Mexican door” whereby deported illegals–like Francisco Sanchez–simply re-cross the border again and again.

Instead, the United States should deport them to more distant lands–such as Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s unlikely they will sneak back across the American border from the Middle East.

And these deportations should be widely publicized, to warn other potential illegals of the fate in store for them.

(11) The United States should impose economic and even military sanctions against countries–such as China and Mexico–whose citizens make up the bulk of illegal aliens. 

Mexico, for example, uses its American border to rid itself of those who might demand major reforms in the country’s political and economic institutions.

Such nations must learn that dumping their unwanteds on the United States now comes at an unaffordably high price.  Otherwise those dumpings will continue.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS A KILLER: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Political Correctness kills.

If you doubt it, ask the family of Kathryn Steinle.

Kathryn Steinle

Steinle was gunned down on July 2 while out for an evening stroll with her father along the San Francisco waterfront.  They were walking near Pier 14–one of the city’s busiest tourist areas–when a pistol shot rang out.

Steinle, hit in the aorta, collapsed, crying, “Dad, help me, help me.”

Her father immediately gave her CPR before paramedics arrived and rushed Steinle to a hospital, where she died.

Steinle, 32, had worked for a medical technology company.

And her killer?

Francisco Sanchez, 45, has a history of seven felony convictions.  He’s been deported to his native Mexico five times, most recently in 2009.

Francisco Sanchez

On March 26, agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned Sanchez over to San Francisco police on an outstanding warrant.

On March 27, a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed charges of possession and distribution of marijuana against Sanchez.

Sanchez was released on April 15.

ICE had issued a detainer for Sanchez in March, requesting to be notified if he would be released.  But the detainer was not honored.

The reason?  San Francisco has been a “sanctuary city” since 1989.  Its officials–acting as though they govern a city-state instead of a small, tourism-dependent city–openly defy Federal immigration laws.

As a result, city and local money cannot be spent on cooperating with Federal immigration authorities.

According to Freya Horne, counsel for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, Federal detention orders are not a “legal basis” for holding someone.

So Sanchez was released on April 15–without anyone notifying ICE.

Seventy-eight days later, illegal alien Francisco Sanchez crossed paths with American citizen Kathryn Steinle–and murdered her.

San Francisco does not turn over illegal aliens to ICE unless there’s an active warrant for their arrest.

“It’s not legal to hold someone on a request to detain,” said Horne.  “This is not just us.  This is a widely adopted position.”

Widely adopted, that is, by cities acting in open defiance of Federal immigration laws and their enforcers.

San Francisco is just one of 31 “sanctuary cities”: Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles, Chicago; Santa Ana; San Diego; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Dallas; Houston; Austin; Detroit; Jersey City; Minneapolis; Miami; Denver; Baltimore; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New Haven, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine.

In pre-Civil War America, Southern states claimed they had a right to ignore, or “nullify,” any Federal law they disliked.

After raging from 1861 to 1865, and costing 620,000 casualties, the Civil War established the primacy of Federal law over that of states and cities.

Kathryn Steinle died because San Francisco authorities chose to defy that primacy.

But this is not the first time San Francisco officials have defied Federal immigration authorities–with brutal consequences for American-born citizens.

One of those officials–Kamala Harris–is now California’s Attorney General.

Kamala Harris

From 2004 to 2011, Harris served as San Francisco District Attorney. In total defiance of Federal immigration law, she set up a secret unit to keep even convicted illegal aliens out of prison–and in the United States.

Click here: San Francisco D.A.’s program trained illegal immigrants for jobs they couldn’t legally hold – Los Angeles Times

Her program, Back on Track, trained them for jobs they could not legally hold.

One such alumnus was Alexander Izaguirre, an illegal alien who had pled guilty to selling cocaine.  Four months later, in July, 2008, he assaulted Amanda Kiefer, a legal San Francisco resident.

Snatching her purse, he jumped into an SUV, then tried to run Kiefer down. Terrified, she leaped onto the hood and saw Izaguirre and the driver laughing.

The driver slammed on the brakes, sending Kiefer flying onto the pavement and fracturing her skull.

The program, Back on Track, became a centerpiece of Harris’ successful 2010 campaign for State Attorney General.

Until she was questioned by the Los Angeles Times about the Izaguirre case, Harris had never publicly admitted that the program included illegal aliens.

According to Harris:

  • She first learned that illegal aliens were training for jobs only after Izaguirre was arrested for the Kiefer assault.
  • It was “a flaw in the design” of the program to include illegal aliens.
  • “I believe we fixed it,” she told the Times.
  • After Izaguirre’s arrest, she never asked–or learned–how many illegal aliens were in Back on Track.
  • When Harris learned that illegal aliens were enrolled, she allowed those who were following the rules to finish the program ahd have their criminal records expunged.
  • Harris said it is not the duty of local law enforcement to enforce Federal immigration laws.

From 2005 to 2009, 113 admitted drug dealers graduated from Back on Track. Another 99 were kicked off the program for failing to meet its requirements.  They were sentenced under their guilty pleas, the District Attorney’s office claimed.

Meanwhile, Amanda Kiefer left California.

Interviewed by the Times, she said she could not understand why San Francisco police and prosecutors would allow convicted illegal aliens back onto the street.

“If they’re committing crimes,” she said, “I think there’s something wrong that they’re not being deported.”

LANDLORDS: AMERICA’S AYATOLLAHS: PART TWO (END)

In Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 12, 2015 at 1:11 am

Become a tenant at the Windermere Cay complex in Winter Garden, Florida, and you can check your First Amendment rights at the door.

Its management wants to force new tenants to sign a “social media addendum” as part of their lease.  And if they dare to post a negative online review of the building, they’ll face a fine of $10,000.

But reaction to this attempted muzzling of freedom of speech has been one the landlord probably didn’t expect.

Yelp! has been flooded with negative reviews of the complex.

Among these:

If you are that worried about negative reviews, that just makes me ask one question: What are you hiding?

* * * * *

This complex made national news by threatening a $10k fine to residents if they share a bad review or photo. This legal bullying demonstrates either an oppressive management or a complete ignorance of social media or personal freedom.

In both cases you should exercise caution if considering them and read your contracts carefully.

* * * * *

I’ve got a great business idea. When our customers complain, instead of us fixing the problem we will threaten them with blackmail by asking them for ten grand.

* * * * *

Sieg Heil Windermere!! Gestapo much???

What century do you people exist in?? I wouldn’t live here if you paid me to. You couldn’t give these units away considering your BS threats to FINE RESIDENTS TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!

WTF is wrong with you people!! Anyone who gets a paycheck from this corporate monstrosity should be fired (or quit if they have half a brain…). Whoever came up with this super clever idea of A 10K FINE should be kneecapped.

* * * * *

Well apparently anyone who lives here will get fined $10,000 for any bad reviews, and any photos posted on reviews are copyrighted to the company by terms of the lease???

This complex is about as dishonest as it gets guys. If an apartment needs a policy like this then what else do you need to know about the quality of the management here.

* * * * *

The owners of the Apartment Complex are literally anti-free speech Nazis.  Don’t move here unless you have $10k in your bank account and don’t believe in the First Amendment.

* * * * *

This apartment complex deserves 0 stars, shame on the management company for deceiving people into signing their addendum.

* * * * *

Be cautious of anywhere that fears the residents’ honest feedback so much that they forbid them from speaking out on social media.  The energy spent on creating this stupid 10K clause could have been spent on actually creating an enjoyable living experience.

Click here: Windermere Cay – Apartments – Yelp

The sudden onslaught of bad publicity obviously caught the complex by surprise.

When contacted by Ars Technica, the online magazine that had exposed this outrage, a manager disclaimed the contract:

“This addendum was put in place by a previous general partner for the community following a series of false reviews. The current general partner and property management do not support the continued use of this addendum and have voided it for all residents.”

This despite the fact that the addendum had been given to a tenant to sign just a few days before.

Not only have these strong-arm tactics yielded a tidal wave of bad publicity, such an addendum would be legally unenforceable.

For starters, it’s a blatant violation of the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech and the press.

States have taken struck down efforts by businesses to censor the written opinions of their customers.

In his 2003 decision in New York vs. Network Associates, a judge ruled that telling customers they couldn’t publish reviews of software “without prior consent” violated New York’s unfair competition law.

Americans all-too-often take their Constitutionally-protected freedoms for granted–until they travel abroad to nations ruled by dictators.  Or until they encounter would-be dictators at home.

Harrison E. Salisbury, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, faced the difficulties of censorship during his years as Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times (1949-1954).

Harrison E. Salisbury, with the Kremlin in back

Salisbury found he couldn’t rely on the Soviet government for reliable information on almost everything.  Crime statistics weren’t published–because, officially, there was no crime in the “Workers’ Paradise.”

Unable to obtain reliable economic statistics, he plotted the rise and fall of the economy by shortages and surpluses in local stores.

Above all, Salisbury faced the danger of reporting accurately on the increasing paranoia and purges of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

“The truth, I was ultimately to learn,” wrote Salisbury in his bestselling 1983 memoir, A Journey for Our Times, “is the most dangerous thing.  There are no ends to which men of power will not go to put out its eyes.”

Censorship victimizes both those who are censored and those who could profit from the truths they have to share.

Americans may be unable to bring freedom of expression to nations ruled by dictators. But they can–and should–fight to ensure that freedom of expression remains a hallmark of their own society.

LANDLORDS: AMERICA’S AYATOLLAHS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Self-Help, Social commentary on March 11, 2015 at 11:40 am

Americans have a history of fearing what foreign dictators might do to them.

During World War II they feared that the Japanese Empire might turn them into a nation of Japanese-speaking slaves.

During the Cold War, TV ads often reminded Americans that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev once said: “We will bury you.”

Today, Americans–especially those on the Right–fear Iranian Ayatollahs will force them to wear turbans and quote the Koran.

Strangely, few Americans seem to fear the ayatollahs much closer to home: Landlords.

The power of landlords 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.

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

Many landlords are eager to kick out long-time residents in favor of new, wealthier high-tech workers moving to San Francisco.  An influx of these workers and a resulting housing shortage has proven a godsend for landlords.

In July, 2014, a 98-year-old San Francisco woman faced eviction from her apartment of 50 years, because the building’s owners wanted to sell the place to take advantage of the city’s booming real estate market.

“I’ve been very happy here,” Mary Phillips told KRON 4, an independent San Francisco TV station. “I’ve always paid my rent.  I’ve never been late.”

The landlord, Urban Green Investments, sought to evict her and several other tenants through the Ellis Act.  This is a 1986 California law that allows landlords evict tenants to get out of the rental business.

Urban Green Investments has bought several buildings in San Francisco, evicted their residents through the Ellis Act, and resold the buildings for profit.  Many of those being evicted are low income families and seniors.

Phillips vowed to fight her eviction: “They’re going to have to take me out of here feet first,” she told KRON. “Just because of your age, don’t let people push you around.”

Phillips said she has nowhere else to live, and she and her attorneys fought the eviction.  They did so not only through the courts but ongoing street protests.

Those efforts paid off in November, 2014. As part of the resolution of her case, Phillips released the following public statement:

Mary Elizabeth Phillips has reached an agreement with Urban Green Investments that will allow her to live in her apartment for as long as she likes, through the end of her life.

“Mrs. Phillips appreciates the support she has received from the community over the past year, and she requests that interested people please respect her privacy so that she may peacefully enjoy her home. Thank you.”

That case, at least, had a happy ending.  But tenants at an apartment complex in Winter Garden, Florida, may not prove so fortunate.

The Windermere Cay has forced new tenants to sign a “social media addendum” that threatens a fine of $10,000 if they give the complex a bad online review.  It also forces tenants to sign away their rights to any photos, reviews or other material about the apartments that are posted online.

The Windermere Cay

The addendum went viral on March 10 after at least one tenant shared it with the online magazine, Ars Technica.  It reads in part:

“In the event that this Social Media Addendum is breached by any or all of the Applicants for any reason, the Applicants shall be jointly and severally liable to pay Owner liquidated damges representing a reasonable and good faith estimate of the actual damages for such breach.

“Owner and Applicants agree that, in the event of a breach, Owner’s damages would be difficult to ascertain.

“Accordingly, Owner and each Applicant agrees that the amount of compensation due to Owner for any breach of this Social Media Addendum will be $10,000 for the first such breach, and an additional $5,000 for each subsequent breach….

“In the event of breach, the Applicants will pay the liquidated damages owed to Owner within ten (10) business days of the breach.”

In addition, there is this: “Applicant will refrain from directly or indirectly publishing or airing negative commentary regarding the Unit, Owner, property or the apartments.

“This means that Applicant shall not post negative commentary or reviews on Yelp!, Apartment Ratings, Facebook, or any other website or Internet-based publication or blog.”

The reaction to this attempted muzzling of freedom of speech has been one the landlord probably didn’t expect. Yelp! has been flooded with negative reviews of the complex.

One five-star review–obviously written tongue-in-cheek–was signed “Adolf H[itler]” and praised the complex for having “my kind of management.”

There will be more about online reaction to thie latest attempt at landlord censorship in Part Two of this series.

A NEW YEAR’S EVE LIKE NO OTHER

In History, Self-Help, Social commentary on January 1, 2015 at 12:16 am

New Year’s Eve, 2014, now lies behind us.

But for those who consciously lived through December 31, 1999, there will never be another New Year’s Eve like it.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time for people to reflect on the major events of the previous 12 months. Some of these are highly personal. Others have been shared by the entire country.

Some of these remembrances inevitably bring pleasure. Others bring pain.

But at the heart of every New Year’s Eve celebration is the fantasy that you get to start fresh in a matter of hours. And with that fantasy comes hope–that, this time, you can put your sorrows and failures behind you.

New Year’s Eve, 1999, was marked far more by apprehension and fear than joy.

  • Fear of Y2K–that our highly computerized, globally-interconnected world would crash when the “19″ at the start of every year was replaced with a “20″.
  • Fear of Armageddon–that Jesus, after dying 2,000 years ago, would return to destroy mankind (except for those 144,000 righteous souls He deemed worthy of salvation).
  • Fear of the Millennium itself–of ending not simply another decade and century but an entire thousand-year period of history, and thus losing our historical ties to the familiar highlights of our own (and America’s) past.

And, especially where Y2K was concerned, news commentators were quick to stoke our anxieties.

For those living on the West Coast of the United States on December 31, 1999, the day began with news reports of celebrations of the New Year in such distant countries as Australia and New Zealand.

“So far,” each of these reports ended, “there have been no reports of Y2K-related outages.”

But the underlying message was clear: Stay tuned–it could still happen. And this message kept blaring for the rest of the day and into the evening.

At 9 p.m. California time, a friend of mine turned off a VCR and turned on a local news station to watch celebrations–or chaos–unfold in New York City.

If the lights went off in New York at midnight Eastern time, then, in three more hours, the same would happen in California.

When he saw lights glittering in Times Square, he felt reasonably certain that Y2K would probably be a dud.

Long before New Year’s Eve, TV newscasters had repeatedly warned that, when midnight struck on January 1, 2000, the three places you did not want to be were:

  • In an airplane.
  • In an elevator.
  • In a hospital.

Fortunately, no Y2K disasters occurred.

Countless numbers of people in America and around the world stocked up on food, water, batteries and other essentials for surviving an emergency.

Merchants and police feared widespread rioting and violence. If Y2K didn’t set it off, then fears of a heaven-sent Apocalypse might.

In San Francisco, along Powell Street–a major center of tourism and commerce–store owners boarded up their doors and windows as New Year’s Eve approached. Many closed earlier than usual that day.

Fortunately, these fears proved groundless.

Three people I know decided to throw an “End of the World” party. They didn’t believe the world was coming to an end. But they decided to throw an “absolute last blast” party as though it were.

Among the items they stockpiled for this occasion:

  1. Country pork spareribs
  2. Yams
  3. Crabs
  4. Apple cidar
  5. Black olives
  6. Fresh cranberries
  7. Avacodos
  8. Chocolate chip ice cream
  9. Lambrusco
  10. Gin and tonic water
  11. Root beer
  12. Smoked cheese
  13. Pumpkin cream mousse cake
  14. Chocolate cake

It was definitely an unforgettable night.

New Year’s Eve 1999 is now 15 years distant. But some lessons may still be learned from it:

Each year is a journey unto itself–filled with countless joys and sorrows. Many of these joys can’t be predicted. And many of these tragedies can’t be prevented.

Learn to tell real dangers from imaginary ones. Computers are real–and sometimes they crash. Men who died 2,000 years ago do not leap out of graveyards, no matter what their disciples predict.

Don’t expect any particular year to usher in the Apocalypse. In any given year there will be wars, famines, earthquakes, riots, floods and a host of other disasters. These have always been with us–and always will be. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

Don’t expect some Great Leader to lead you to success. As Gaius Cassius says in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”: “Men at some time are masters of their fate. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings.”

Don’t expect any particular year or event to usher in your happiness. To again quote Lincoln: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

If your life seems to make no sense to you, consider this: The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once noted: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

RIDE ON AND KILL ON

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 3, 2014 at 1:32 am

San Bruno resident Sutchi Hui, 71, was visiting San Francisco when Death found him-–just before 8 a.m. on March 29, 2012.

No doubt he felt safe before he died.  After all, he was walking through a crosswalk in the affluent Castro District, one of the city’s safest areas.

And it was there that bicyclist Chris Bucchere plowed into him.

Bucchere, a software engineer, was also hospitalized for injuries in the crash. Later that day, he posted his thoughts about the accident to the Mission Cycling AM Riders Google group.

“I was already way too committed to stop.  The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions….so, in a nutshell, blammo.

“I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”

Bucchere said he lost consciousness and awoke five minutes later.  Someone told him that a 71-year-old injured pedestrian had been taken to the hospital.

“I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine,” Bucchere wrote. “I really hope he ends up OK.”

Bucchere dedicated the post to his helmet, which “died in heroic fashion today as my head slammed into the tarmac…. May she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live on and ride on. Can I get an amen? Amen.”

An “amen” would also be in order for the cause of justice.

Although prosecuted by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, what Bucchere got was the following sentence: Three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.  He would not serve any jail time.

He might as well have posted that because his helmet made “the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live on and ride on–and kill on.”

The District Attorney’s office–which has one of the worst conviction records in the country–lost no time in congratulating itself.

“Our goal is to send a message to cyclists about safety,” D.A. George Gascon said. “Just because you are riding a bicycle doesn’t mean all bets are off.  All of the rules of the road that apply to everyone else apply to you, too.”

Gascon said Hui’s family did not want to see Bucchere imprisoned.  Since prosecutors didn’t expect a judge to  sentence him to jail, they offered probation and community service in the plea deal.

That’s what the life of a pedestrian is worth in San Francisco.

In July, 2011, bicyclist Randolph Ang, 23, ran a red light on the Embarcadero–and slammed into 68-year-old Dionette Cherney. She later died of her injuries.

In March, 2012, Ang pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter, as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Ang faced up to a year in county jail, but a judge sentenced him to three years’ probation and 500 hours of community service, and ordered him to pay $15,375 in restitution to the Cherney family.

According to the website of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:

“Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way. In the crosswalk or not, bike riders and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians.”

“Stay on the Streets.  It’s illegal and unsafe to ride on the sidewalk if you are over the age of 13.”

So much for the official version.

In reality, pedestrians risk their lives whenever they use the sidewalk–especially on tourist-crowded Market Street.

And what role do police play in enforcing the bike laws?  None.

At best, a San Francisco cop might stop an law-breaking bicyclist and give him a citation. This amounts to a bicycle traffic ticket. The bike isn’t confiscated.

Most cops patrol in patrol cars. If they see a bicyclist whizzing down a sidewalk, they aren’t going to cut him off and slap handcuffs on him.

If police show no interest in protecting pedestrians, it’s largely because the Mayor and Board of Supervisors clearly favor the rights of law-breaking bicyclists over those of law-abiding pedestrians and drivers.

The greatest proof of this comes on the last Friday of every month. It’s called Critical Mass.

In this event, hundreds of bicyclists deliberately–at the height of evening rush hour–overwhelm the streets of downtown San Francisco, bringing vehicular and pedestrian traffic to a halt.

Founded in 1992 in San Francisco, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formally stated but nevertheless clear: To protest against those who use cars and public transit–and intimidate their riders and pedestrians alike.

Critical Mass riders often use a tactic known as “corking” to maintain the cohesion of the group: A few riders block traffic from side roads so that the mass can race through red lights without interruption.

Cars, buses and pedestrians are expected to wait patiently for however long these self-indulgent thugs-on-bikes flood the streets.

In March, 2010, reports in local media claimed that then-Police Chief George Gascon was considering shutting down Critical Mass.

Four years later, the bike-thuggies continue to tie up traffic and threaten the safety of any pedestrians stupid enough to think they have a legal right to stroll sidewalks and cross streets.

HALLOWEEN–PC STYLE

In Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on October 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore.

In 2014, about 70% of Americans will participate in Halloween, and will spend $7.4 billion.  Yes, that’s with a “b”.

This huge avalanche of funds will go on such items as candy, costumes and decorations.

Halloween candy alone has run up a $2 billion tab every Halloween for the past three years.

And $350 million will go for pet Halloween costumes.

Spending on Halloween has risen by more than 55% since 2005.

Here’s how those expenses break down:

Costumes – 38%

Cards – 5%

Decorations – 27%

Candy – 27%

Click here: Wait, Americans Spend How Much on Halloween? – The Atlantic

Those putting out this avalanche of money will, of course, be adults.  And a lot of those costumes will be worn by adults at parties across the nation.

This will be especially true in San Francisco.

In 1979, Halloween in its Castro District shifted from being a children’s event to a celebration among homosexuals.

The massive crowds quickly overwhelmed the streets, mass transit and due to the Castro’s location along two major transport corridors, disrupting traffic flow well outside the neighborhood.

In 2002, 500,000 people celebrated Halloween in the Castro and four people were stabbed.

It continued to grow into a massive annual street party until 2006, when a shooting wounded nine people and prompted the city to call off the event.

In 2007, 600 police were deployed in the Castro on Halloween By 2010, San Francisco had banned the event in the Castro, directing celebrants to various balls and parties elsewhere.

But there’s another force working to suppress Halloween joy among its participants: Political Correctness.

A recent article in Anaswers.com offers Politically Correct advice on how to enjoy Halloween–without hurting the Politically Correct sensitivities of almost every group imaginable.

Click here: Top 15 Major Halloween No-No’s – Answers.com

For example:

Adolf Hitler:  “There should be no need to explain why a Hitler costume is wrong. It’s offensive and upsetting to many people, especially those who survived the Holocaust and those who lost family members to it.”

Homeless Persons:  “Dressing kids up as hobos used to be cute, but now it is a no-no. It is rude to the growing homeless population in America, which includes people of all walks of life and all economic profiles.”

Illegal Alien: “Making light of the issues America faces with the constant deluge of illegal immigrants crossing the borders is not politically correct, and it’s disrespectful to the people attempting to cross the borders, or even those who immigrated legally.”

Terrorist: “With terrorism hitting the news 24/7, it is never okay to dress as a terrorist. Even worse, some parents allow their kids to dress this way.”

Others on the list of groups that Answers.com believes it’s Politically Incorrect to dress up as include:

  • Blacks (if you’re white)
  • Plane crash victims
  • Michael Brown (the thug whose shooting by a Ferguson, Missouri cop has touched off race riots)
  • “Dirty Mexicans” (features a picture of a woman wearing a mariachi outfit and a man sporting a sombrero, serape and drooping moustache)
  • Dead Steve Irwin (the publicity-hungry “Crocodile Hunter” who died when he got too close to a manta ray and it put a stinger through his chest)
  • Christopher Reeve (the “Superman” actor who was paralyzed from a horse fall, wearing a large white neck brace)
  • Pimp (“Glamorizing this type of person is offensive to all the women who get stuck in that vicious world”)
  • Naughty Priest/Nun (“It is offensive to anyone stuck in the middle of all the church scandals that became big news in the ’90s and 2000s”)

If you follow the guidelines of this article, you might as well skip Halloween altogether.

So, if you subtract all the costumes that Politically Correct mavens say you shouldn’t wear, here’s what you end up with:

DON’T DRESS UP AS:

  • Hobos, because it will hurt the feelings of bums who won’t be attending Halloween parties anyway.
  • Adolf Hitler, because you’ll offend anyone who survived the Holocaust.  (The same could be said for any actor who portrays Hitler in a movie, such as Downfall or The Bunker.)
  • Terrorists, because you might upset Islamics, who make up the vast majority of the world’s terrorists.
  • Illegal aliens, because it’s not nice to spotlight people who constantly violate the immigration laws of the United States.
  • Naughty priests, because it’s offensive to mock religious hypocrites who violate the bodies of children.

This list is potentially endless.

Yet no one objects to children–or adults–dressing up as pirates like Blackbeard, who once terrorized the oceans as modern-day terrorists menace the world.

No one objects to those who dress up like skeletons–when almost everyone has lost a friend or family member to death.

No one objects to those who dress up as witches, who have been associated with evil for hundreds of years.

No one objects to those who dress up as Satan–the literal personification of evil for millions of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The whole idea of Halloween is to momentarily step into a character that’s utterly different from you.

So if you are a terrorist, try dressing up at Halloween as Dr. Albert Schweitzer or Florence Nightingale.

SLUMLORDS–THE REAL UNTOUCHABLES: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on July 18, 2014 at 6:23 am

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

Presently, there is no bureaucratic incentive for DBI to rigorously control the criminality of slumlords.  But this can be instilled–by making DBI merely a law-enforcing agency but a revenue-creating one.

Parts One and Two of this series outlined a series of long overdue reforms at DBI.  Here are the remaining four:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

By doing so, DBI could vastly:

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

And such reforms are equally overdue at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.  Among these:

  • Creating a special unit to investigate and prosecute slumlords.
  • This should be modeled on existing units that attack organized crime, with slumlords targeted as major criminals.
  • Wiretaps and electronic surveillance should be routinely used.
  • Prosecutors should strive for lengthy prison terms and heavy fines.
  • Rewards should be offered to citizens who provide tips on major outrages by the city’s slumlords.

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.

But slumlord atrocities are by no means confined to San Francisco.  This is a crisis that needs to be confronted at State and Federal levels.

Many cities lack adequate funding to effectively investigate and prosecute slumlord abuses.  And even when the money exists for such efforts, the will to redress such abuses is often lacking.

Thus, legislation is essential at State and Federal levels to ensure that law-abiding tenants are protected against law-breaking slumlords.

At the core of this effort must be a revised view of slumlords.  They should be seen, investigated and prosecuted in the same way as Mafia predators.

Their crimes are not “victimless.”  And their victims are usually those who are too poor to effectively fight back.

And, like the Mafia, they easily buy public officials–including law enforcement agents–and/or hide their crimes behind teams of expensive attorneys.

At the Federal level, the Justice Department should designate a special section within the FBI to investigate and prosecute slumlord abuses.

Or this could be set up within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • This should be modeled on existing strike force units that attack organized crime, with slumlords targeted as major criminals.
  • Court-ordered wiretaps and electronic surveillance should be routinely used.
  • Rewards should be offered to citizens who provide tips on major outrages by the city’s slumlords.
  • Prosecutors should strive for lengthy prison terms and heavy fines.
  • Slumlords’ properties should be sold at public auctions, with the monies divided among various Federal agencies.
  • The tenants living in those properties would not be evicted.  They would instead now live under a new, law-abiding landlord.

At the State level, similar tenant-protection units should be created within the Department of Justice.

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?”

It’s long past time for local, state and Federal governments to forcefully speak up on behalf of American tenants who cannot defend themselves against predatory slumlords.

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.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,115 other followers

%d bloggers like this: