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Posts Tagged ‘SAN FRANCISCO’

SUBSIDIZING BUMS—NOT COPS, TEACHERS OR FIREFIGHTERS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 17, 2020 at 12:08 am

Huge areas of San Francisco are covered in feces, urine, trash and needles. Hospitals overflow with patients that have fallen ill due to the contamination.

And what has been the reaction of successive mayors and members of the Board of Supervisors?

A disgraceful combination of tolerance and indifference: Tolerance toward those who create such  dangers—and indifference toward those who are their potential victims.

Walk down almost any street in the downtown part of the city and you’ll find sidewalks crowded with

  • stinking
  • disease-ridden,
  • lice infested,
  • drug-addicted,
  • alcohol-soaked,
  • often psychotic men and women

whom city officials politely refer to as “the homeless.” 

And yet those officials remain in office for years. 

These are the realities now confronting tourists to this once-great city—and residents who live in it year-round:

  • You’re elderly, and walking with a cane—and must often try to negotiate your way around big tents that take up most of a sidewalk. 
  • You’re riding in a wheelchair along a sidewalk until you come to a large mattress lying directly in your path, with a potentially psychotic “homeless” man lying upon it.
  • You call the police—and are told that removing such obstacles—and the people who create them—is no longer their responsibility.
  • You find a street teeming with rats—eating the food scraps left by “homeless” people.
  • You walk into an underground Municipal Railway bus station—and find it littered with derelicts passed out or shooting up heroin in plain sight. Naturally, they don’t worry about picking up their used hypodermic needles. They leave those out for others to step on or pick up at their own risk.

  • You’re standing at a bus stop or eating in a restaurant—when a large, filthy, possibly disease-carrying man or woman demands a “handout” from you.
  • You board a local bus and are forced to sit near a man stinking of feces and/or urine. Naturally, the driver doesn’t put him off—giving you the choice of surviving the stench or getting off to catch another bus.
  • You can’t use the elevators at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station because “homeless” derelicts have ruined their mechanism with urine and feces. 

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Among the trappings that go with the “homeless” population:

  • Tents
  • Mattresses
  • Piles of belongings
  • Stolen shopping carts
  • Trash
  • Half-eaten food
  • Empty cans/bottles of alcohol
  • Piles of feces
  • Pools of urine
  • Hypodermic needles

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It’s long past time for San Francisco—and other cities—to stop catering to its population of DDMBs—Druggies, Drunks, 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.

Among such reforms:

  • The city should launch a “Please Do Not Feed the Bums” publicity campaign—as it has against feeding pigeons. And those caught doing so should be heavily fined. 
  • Trash cans should be equipped with locked doors, to prevent DDMBs from using them as food dispensers.
  • Those living on the street should be given a choice: Go to a local shelter or face arrest and the immediate confiscation of their possessions.
  • San Francisco’s rent control laws should be strengthened, to prevent future evictions owing to the unchecked greed of landlords. Tenants on fixed incomes should be given special protections against extortionate rent increases.
  • Bus drivers should have the right to refuse passengers who stink of urine/feces, as they present a potential health-hazard to others.
  • The owners of restaurants, theaters and grocery stores should likewise be allowed to refuse service on the same basis.
  • Those applying for welfare benefits should be required to provide proof of residence. Too many people come to San Francisco because, upon arrival, they can immediately apply for such benefits.
  • The city should set up a special unit to deal entirely with removing “street people” and their possessions from city sidewalks. This could be a division of the Sanitation Department, since its personnel are used to removing filth and debris of all types.

San Francisco officials need to:

  • Forcefully tell alcoholics and drug addicts: “Your anti-social behavior is not welcome here. Take your self-destructive lifestyles elsewhere. We won’t subsidize them.”
  • Urge Sacramento officials to authorize state mental hospitals to take the mentally helpless off the streets and provide for their needs. This was the situation until Governor Ronald Reagan closed down these hospitals in the 1970s.
  • Recognize that no one city can solve a problem that’s nationwide—and the more concessions San Francisco makes to this population, the other cities and states will feel free to dump their DDMBs on San Francisco.
  • Recognize that the more DDMBs who come, the more they will overwhelm the limited resources of and further contaminate this once-beautiful city. 
  • Tell those who are just plain bums: “Don’t expect us to support you.”

Only then will San Francisco rightly reclaim its former glory as “the city by the Bay.”

SUBSIDIZING BUMS—NOT COPS, TEACHERS OR FIREFIGHTERS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 16, 2020 at 12:08 am

Imagine that you find your home infested by cockroaches. You call an exterminator, and he tells you: “What you need to do is to put out big packets of sugar for the roaches.” 

“But roaches love sugar. How will that get rid of them?” 

“It won’t. But roaches are God’s creatures, and they need to eat, too.”

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A typical cockroach scene

“But they’ve taken over my kitchen. They’re filthy, they leave droppings everywhere and they contaminate the food I’m supposed to eat.” 

“You must learn to have compassion for all of God’s creatures, and learn to get along with them.” 

“So you’re not going to get rid of them for me?”

“No.” 

“So what are you going to do?”

“Help you to accept that they have a right to be a part of your community.” 

Any pest control company that operated like this would soon be out of business.

Yet, in San Francisco, successive mayors and members of the Board of Supervisors operate in exactly that manner toward succeeding waves of drug addicts, drunks, mentally ill and outright bums.

Who can otherwise be classified as DDMBs.

And those officials remain in office for years.  

Huge areas of the city are covered in feces, urine, trash and used hypodermic needles. Hospitals overflow with patients that have fallen ill due to the contamination.

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Typical “homeless” campsite

In February, 2018, NBC News surveyed 153 blocks of the city—an area more than 20 miles. That area includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and the cable car turnaround. It’s bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue. And it’s also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.

Reporters found trash littered across every block. Forty-one blocks were covered with needles and 96 blocks were  contaminated with piles of human feces.

Most of the trash found consisted of heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk—including 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown. If you step on one of these needles, you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B or a variety of other viral diseases. 

In 2015, Public Works cleanup crews picked up more than 679 tons of trash from homeless tent camps—and collected more than 100,000 used syringes from the camps.

But you don’t have to actually get stuck by a needle to become a victim. Once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne and release deadly viruses, such as the rotavirus.

“If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” says Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.

And cleaning up the messes of DDMBs is no easy task. In a 2018 news story on NBC’s San Francisco affiliate, KNTV, Mohammed Nuru, the Director of the Public Works Department, said: “Yes, we can clean, and then go back a few hours later, and it looks as if it was never cleaned. So is that how you want to spend your money?”

A single pile of human waste takes at least 30 minutes for one of his staffers to clean up. “The steamer has to come. He has to park the steamer. He’s got to come out with his steamer, disinfect, steam clean, roll up and go.”

Another danger posed by DDMBs: Hundreds—if not  thousands—of them are heroin addicts. Such people will commit virtually any crime to support their habit. And their crimes of choice are burglary and robbery.

Thus, pouring large numbers of them into San Francisco neighborhoods via “Navigation Centers”—essentially holding pens for DDMBs—guarantees that countless decent citizens will become targets for desperate criminals.

Navigation Centers boast that they ban drug-abuse or drug-dealing on their own premises. But they allow DDMBs to come and go at will. Which means they are free to engage in drug-abuse and/or drug-dealing in the neighborhoods where these centers exist.

In 2016, San Francisco spent $275 million on homelessness—up from $241 million in 2015. Four years later, City Hall is preparing to spend $300 million to find housing for DDMBs.

San Francisco’s political elite see this blight as well as everyone else. They can’t avoid seeing it, since the city covers 47 square miles. 

Image result for Official images of San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall

Cabe6403 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

One of those who sees the disgrace up-front is Supervisor Hillary Ronen: “Unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable We’re losing tourists. We’re losing conventions in San Francisco.” 

Yet what does she propose as the solution? “We need more temporary beds for street homelessness.” 

This is on a par with a “pest control expert” recommending: “We need more sugar to clear up our roach problem.”

The latest fad remedy: “Navigation Centers.” These will supposedly warehouse DDMBs temporarily until they can be “navigated” to permanent housing.

But housing is in short supply in San Francisco, and there is no telling how long how many of these drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally disabled and bums will stay in them. Or what harm they will wreak on the neighborhoods warehousing them.

Meanwhile, other—and effective—remedies are available.

SUBSIDIZING BUMS—NOT COPS, TEACHERS OR FIREFIGHTERS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 15, 2020 at 12:05 am

In San Francisco, rents are so high that most of the city’s firefighters, police officers and school teachers can’t afford to live there.

Yet the Mayor and Board of Supervisors are spending $300 million a year to ensure that drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums can do so.

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

And, oh, yes—and thousands of stinking, disease-ridden, lice/bedbug-infested, drug-addicted, alcohol-soaked, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely refer to as “the homeless.”

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.

Current estimates peg the homeless population of San Francisco at about 7,500. And it hasn’t changed much during the last 10 years.

In 2019, a survey found that an estimated 2,831 members of this population were sheltered. Another 5,180 were unsheltered. This made for a total of 8,011.

The vast majority of them fall into four groups:

  • Drug-abusers
  • Drunks
  • Mentally ill
  • Bums.

Or, to put it more discretely: DDMBs.

Many DDMBs refuse to enter the city’s available shelters. Some claim these places are dangerous—understandably so, since they’re peopled with drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums.

But another reason why many of these shelters go unused is: They don’t allow their guests to drink up or drug up. 

The city spends about $300 million each year on DDMBs. Dividing that amount by 8,011 provides the figure of $37,448 per DDMB.

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 was Suzie Wong, who went by the name Ling Ling.  A resident of the Nob Hill District, Wong daily gave residents and tourists a sight to remember her by.

She alighted from the 27 Bryant bus from the Mission and halted at the nearby bus stop. Then she dropped her drawers to leave a yellow or brown deposit on the sidewalk. Finally, she crossed the street, and caught the 1 California bus for Chinatown.

When she didn’t relieve herself on Nob Hill, she often did so on Stockton Street in Chinatown. Then she headed to her usual spot to panhandle.

Children and pets often stepped in her feces. So did adults, who were preoccupied with their cell phones. 

Parents vainly tried to shield their kids from the disgusting sight. Residents lodged scores of complaints about Wong’s repeated defecations.  

The Department of Public Works sent crews to clean up her messes countless times. Police repeatedly scooped up Wong for a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold at San Francisco General Hospital. 

But doctors usually released 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 themselves or others? 

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

  • She had a mental health care worker at a North Beach clinic.
  • She had arranged housing and food services throughout the city.
  • She could use public transit. 

Chalk up another win for the DDMBs.

And this despicable behavior is repeated countless times by other DDMBs throughout the city.

San Francisco officials have effectively washed their hands (if not the streets) 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.

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During the Mayorship of Willie Brown (1996 – 2004), Hizzonor proposed what he thought was a brilliant 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 credit cards in front of a ranting, foul-smelling, probably disease-ridden street bum. 

San Francisco residents can be fined $25 to $1,000 for feeding pigeons—but not for giving money to street bums.

In 2010, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance, which “makes it unlawful, with certain exceptions, to sit or lie on a public sidewalk, or on an object placed on a public sidewalk, between 7AM and 11PM.”

It also prohibits sleeping in public parks at night and building encampments.

And is it enforced?  Not in DDMB-loving San Francisco. 

So much for the will of tax-paying voters.

SAN FRANCISCO: THE CITY BY THE BUM

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 13, 2020 at 12:08 am

The San Francisco Travel Association reported a total of 25.8 million visitors to the city in 2018, up 1.2% over 25.5 million in 2017.

Total spending by visitors was $10 billion, up 2.3% over $9.8 billion in 2017 (including spending on meetings and conventions) and creating 82,538 jobs. 

In 2012, the association conducted a survey among San Francisco residents, who named tourism the city’s most important industry.

The study found that 98% of San Franciscan respondents agreed that “tourism is very important or important to the vitality of the city’s economy.” Additionally, when directly asked if they believe tourism is “the city’s most important industry,” almost 70% agreed or strongly agreed.

Downtown San Francisco

Christian Mehlführer, User:Chmehl [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D

Yet San Francisco’s political establishment seems determined to destroy its main source of city revenues.

They do so by catering to a population euphemistically called “the homeless,” but which is more accurately described as DDMBs: Druggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums.

Their legacies include the following:

  • The city’s sidewalks reek of human feces and urine.
  • Pedestrians must tread carefully to avoid used hypdermic needles and empty cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages.
  • Sleeping bags and tents litter sidewalks, making it hard to pass by—especially for the elderly or those using canes or wheelchairs.
  • Elevators in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system are often unusable because “homeless” people urinate in them.
  • Restaurants have been forced to close because they’ve become havens for DDMBs. A Burger King at Civic Center Plaza recently suffered this fate. So did a McDonald’s in the Haight Ashbury district. 
  • Tourists—and residents—are daily forced to sit next to filth-encrusted men and women who reek of urine and/or feces in restaurants and movie theaters, as well as on buses.

Bum passed out near the Cable Car Turnaround on Powell

So what are San Francisco’s politicians doing to curb these offenses against public health—and the tourism industry on which the city depends?

They’re opening a series of “Navigation Centers” to invite even more DDMBs to San Francisco.

According to the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing:

  • “A Navigation Center is an asset to a community.”
  • Such Centers are “a form of Temporary shelter that are low-barrier and high-service, have 24/7 access, and connect clients to resources and services to help them exit homelessness.”
  • Services offered include: Health care, benefits counseling, mental health care, housing assistance, substance abuse treatment and employment services.

Since 2015, eight Navigation Centers have been opened throughout San Francisco; six are in operation.

Among the “amenities” they provide:

  • Meals
  • Privacy
  • Space for pets
  • Space separate from sleeping areas
  • Laundry
  • Access to benefits
  • Wi-Fi

While city officials increasingly cater to the drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums who comprise most of this population, San Francisco’s reputation as a tourist mecca is increasingly threatened.

“The large homeless population in San Francisco is more of a mental health and humanitarian issue, although it has affected the tourism and related industries,” said Christian Tong, operations manager for Intrepid Urban Adventures in San Francisco.

“Whether a visitor is staying in Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach or Union Square, they’ll most likely run into a few of the city’s homeless people, with the largest concentration in the Tenderloin neighborhood.” 

“A few?”

Current estimates peg the homeless population of San Francisco at about 7,500. And it hasn’t changed much during the last 10 years. In 2019, an estimated 2,831 members of this population were sheltered. Another 5,180 were unsheltered. This made for a total of 8,011.

Many DDMBs refuse to enter the city’s available shelters. Some claim these places are dangerous—understandably since they’re peopled with drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums.

But another reason why many of these shelters go unused is they don’t allow their guests to drink up or drug up. 

The city spends about $300 million each year on DDMBs. Dividing that amount by 8,011 provides the figure of $37,448 per DDMB.

Just as roaches flock to areas where huge quantities of food is available, so will DDMBs continue to flock to San Francisco. Especially if other cities/states don’t cater to them.

And while San Francisco politicians are going all-out to provide for DDMBs, they’re fighting a war against those who feed pigeons in parks. This includes posters erected by the Department of Public Works, which read:

“Large population of pigeons is a health hazard. Our huge feral pigeon population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.

“Pigeon droppings dirty public spaces, do costly damage to buildings, and can spread life-threatening diseases, especially to the elderly and immune-deficient. Their nesting materials block drains and harbor parasites like bird mites. Pigeon food makes a mess and attracts rats.

“Feeding pigeons promotes over-breeding. Pigeon feeding produces over-breeding.

“Pigeons are harmed when fed. When you feed pigeons, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to scavenge and survive on their own.

“Pigeon over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured birds. A smaller flock is healthier and does less damage.”

Substitute “DDMBs” for “pigeons” and you have an accurate description of what San Francisco’s policy toward these people should be.

ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE IN, KAMALA HARRIS IS OUT

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on December 11, 2019 at 12:05 am

Kamala Harris spent seven years (2004 – 2011) as District Attorney of San Francisco and another six years (2011 – 2017) as California Attorney General. Then, in 2016, she won election to the United States Senate.

In 2018, she decided to become the first black woman President of the United States.

But after 11 months of trying to prove herself the most Politically Correct candidate among Democrats, she withdrew from the race on December 3.

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris said in a statement. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

To tout her candidacy, she had published her memoirs: The Truths We HoldIn these, she described herself as a “progressive prosecutor.”  

Harris knew that law enforcement issues are a lightning rod for both liberal and conservative voters. So she tried to portray herself as appealing to both.

But there’s one aspect of her law enforcement record she didn’t mention in her book.

Among the truths she holds secret: When she served as District Attorney for San Francisco, she set up a secret unit to keep even convicted illegal alien felons out of prison—and in the United States.

Today, with millions of illegal aliens from Central and Latin America flooding into the United States, the spotlight has shifted from the incarceration of blacks to that of Hispanics.

Illegal immigration—and what to do about it—is now the hottest political issue in the country. 

For liberals of the Democratic party, “open borders” appears to be the solution to illegal immigration.

Yet the vast majority of Americans reject this. They support legal immigration—but oppose illegal immigration.

Moreover, Donald Trump has ignited a white-hot fury against illegal aliens from Central and Latin America.

And Kamala Harris’ record as San Francisco District Attorney was hardly reassuring on this issue.  

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris

Secretly, she created a program, called Back on Track, to train convicted illegal aliens for jobs they could not legally hold. This was a flagrant violation of Federal immigration law.

Completion led to the expunging of a felony conviction, making it highly popular among convicted criminals.

One such alumnus was Alexander Izaguirre, an illegal alien who had been arrested twice within eight months—for purse-snatching and selling cocaine.

In July, 2008, four months after pleading guilty to selling cocaine, Izaguirre 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.

Back on Track became a centerpiece of Harris’ 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.

Harris claimed she first learned that illegal aliens were training for jobs only after Izaguirre was arrested for the Kiefer assault. Apparently not one of her fellow prosecutors ever mentioned this to her.

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. A strange lapse in curiosity for a prosecutor charged with enforcing the law.

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.

TWICE-RAPED CRIME VICTIMS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 7, 2019 at 12:16 am

“On August 7, 2017, I witnessed a brutal assault on a friend of mine named Hal [not his real name]. I was a passenger in his car as he waited for a parking space to open in front of the apartment building where we both live.”

So opened a letter from a man named Dave [not his real name] to the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD). 

Summarizing his experience as a witness and assault victim, Dave wrote: 

  • A man commits assault and battery on another without the slightest provocation.
  • He then uses his Jeep Cherokee to twice ram his victim’s car.
  • These violations of criminal law are reported to the SFPD by two eyewitnesses/victims within an hour of their occurrence.
  • One eyewitness gives the SFPD a photo of the license plate of the car used in the vehicular assaults.
  • The SFPD doesn’t contact either witness/victim in this incident.
  • Despite being provided with all this evidence, the SFPD does NOTHING.

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Dave subsequently received a Complainant Satisfaction Survey from the SFPD’s Department of Police Accountability (DPA). After bluntly stating his disgust at the complete indifference of the SFPD to the assault, he got a letter from DPA on December 13, 2018, which stated: 

“Your Request for an Investigative Hearing in the above-captioned case has been received. We have reviewed the investigative file and have determined that the facts and circumstances supported the DPA’s findings.” 

And: “We understand that you may not agree with our finding(s), but it may be of some use to contact the investigator for better clarity and understanding in this matter.” 

In short: We aren’t going to arrest the man who assaulted you, but we’ll try to convince you that it’s all for the best.

Determined to not let the SFPD have the last word, Dave sent back a letter to David Henderson, executive director of DPA.

He noted that he had never requested an investigative hearing. Nor had he written a December 5, 2018 letter to the SFPD, as the letter claimed.

He also noted that, 16 years earlier, on May 19, 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle had published a series of devastating reports on the SFPD.  Among the newspaper’s findings:

  • Violent criminals in San Francisco’s had a better chance of getting away with their crimes than predators in any other large American city. 
  • The San Francisco Police Department solved, on average, just 28% of the city’s murders, rapes, robberies, shootings, stabbings and other serious assaults between 1996 and 2000.
  • Among the nation’s 20 largest cities, that was the lowest violent crime ‘clearance rate.
  • The large-city average clearance rate was 42 percent. 

“Judging from the results of my own experience with your agency, little—if anything—has changed within the SFPD during the last 16 years,” Dave wrote. 

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Referring to the DPA’s false claim that he had requested an investigative hearing, he ended his letter in cold fury:

“It’s a misdemeanor to file a false report with the police. It should be a felony for a police agency to write and send a letter filled with demonstrably false information. 

“It is also the height of arrogance and stupidity to believe you can convince the victim of an assault that the criminal negligence he experienced at the hands of the police department didn’t happen.

Undoubtedly this letter was written for placement in the official files of your department, as a way to cover itself against any possible legal action. No doubt this is common practice within your agency.

“It is precisely such conduct—as well as the refusal of your agency to aggressively investigate crimes of violence against San Francisco residents—that is guaranteed to produce widespread contempt for and refusal to cooperate with your police department.”

Dave didn’t receive another letter from the SFPD.     

* * * * *

Unfortunately, real-life police departments do not operate like the ones depicted in movies and on TV.  Among the realities of those departments: 

Unless you’re wealthy, a politician or—best of all—a cop, don’t expect the police to protect you if your life is threatened. You’ll simply be told: “We don’t have the resources to protect everybody.”

Above everyone else, police look out for each other. If a citizen murders his lover, he’ll be tracked by two detectives. But whoever kills a cop is sought by the entire department.

Police departments are plagued by the same problems that haunt all major bureaucracies, such as:

  • Often lacking state-of-the-art crime labs to analyze evidence.
  • Often losing or accidentally destroying important files.
  • Staffed by those who are lazy, indifferent, incompetent or even corrupt.
  • Often refusing to share information with other police agencies, thus making it easier for criminals to run amok.

The result of all this can only be increased disrespect for law enforcement from a deservedly—and increasingly—cynical public.

When citizens believe police lack the ability-–or even the will-–to protect them or avenge their victimization, that is a deadly blow to law enforcement.

When public support vanishes, so does much of that public funding for hiring more cops and buying necessary equipment.

The result can only be a return to the days of the lawless West, where citizens—as individuals or members of vigilante committees—look only to themselves for protection.

TWICE-RAPED CRIME VICTIMS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 6, 2019 at 12:07 am

For countless citizens, the adage proves unfortunately true: If you become a victim of crime, you’re victimized twice—once by the criminal, and again by the criminal justice system.

And this truth proves especially apt in San Francisco.

A friend of mine named Dave [not his real name] who lives in San Francisco, offers the following case:

“On August 7, 2017, I witnessed a brutal assault on a friend of mine named Hal [not his real name]. I was a passenger in his car as he waited for a parking space to open in front of the apartment building where we both live.

“A man—clearly in an agitated state—approached the driver’s side and accused Hal of using the wrong signal. After hearing him out, Hal asked him to back away. Instead, the man quickly began striking Hal in the face at least a half dozen times.”

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Dave got out on the passenger’s side and threatened to call police. The assailant returned to his Jeep Cherokee truck, which was parked right behind Hal’s car. Dave re-entered Hal’s car and thought that the worst was over.

Suddenly the Jeep Cherokee slammed into the rear of Hal ‘s car. Then the driver pulled out.

“Hal started his car and followed the Jeep Cherokee to get a photo of its license plate. Using his iPhone, he did. The truck continued a short distance forward, then suddenly reversed and slammed into the front of Hal’s car. The driver then roared off.

“Hal and I then drove to the SFPD’s Central Station, where we both filled out statements and spoke individually with an officer. In addition, Hal provided a photo of the license plate of the vehicle that had rammed him.

“After that, Hal and I waited for a response from the SFPD. We never received one.

In early November, 2017—after waiting three months for a police response—Dave called the SFPD and arranged an appointment with a sergeant at Central Station.

“She showed me a series of photos that seemed to resemble the man who had assaulted Hal. Frankly, I had caught only a brief glimpse of the man when I exited Hal’s car and saw him heading for his Jeep. It certainly didn’t help that, three months later, I was now being asked to give an accurate description of him.

Later, Dave learned that the SFPD had chosen to not pursue criminal charges against the assailant. No reason was given for this decision. 

In January, 2018, Dave filed a complaint with the SFPD’s Department of Police Accountability (DPA), formerly known as its Internal Affairs Division.

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The investigator he met with was friendly and concerned. Even so, his complaint didn’t lead the SFPD to pursue criminal charges against the assailant. Again, no reason was offered by the agency.

“In November, 2018, I received a Complainant Satisfaction Survey from the SFPD’s Department of Police Accountability. But its Q&A format didn’t let me address the issues I thought important.”  

To do so, on November 26, he sent back a memo, offering the following summation: 

  • A man commits assault and battery on another without the slightest provocation.
  • He then uses his Jeep Cherokee to ram the rear of his victim’s car.
  • He then uses his Jeep Cherokee to ram the front of his victim’s car.
  • These violations of criminal law are reported to the SFPD within an hour of their occurrence.They are reported by not one but two eyewitnesses/victims.
  • One of those eyewitnesses provides the SFPD with a photo of the license plate of the car used in the vehicular assaults.
  • The SFPD makes no effort to contact either witness/victim in this incident.
  • Despite being provided with all this evidence, the SFPD does NOTHING.

And he concluded his indictment: 

“I have nothing but contempt for [the SFPD’s] refusal to take even a cursory interest in this case.

“If a friend of mine became the victim of a crime, I would advise him: ‘Don’t waste your time contacting the SFPD. There is simply no reason to set yourself up for a double injury—the first one inflicted by the criminal, and the second one inflicted by the criminally negligent SFPD.'”

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San Francisco Hall of Justice

Dllu [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

To his surprise, Dave received a letter from the DPA, dated December 13, 2018:

“Your Request for an Investigative Hearing in the above-captioned case has been received. We have reviewed the investigative file and have determined that the facts and circumstances supported the DPA’s findings.  

“More specifically, we reviewed your letter dated December 5, 2018. The DPA strongly recommends that you call and make an appointment with your investigator in your case at (415) ###-#### to discuss our finding(s).

“We understand that you may not agree with our finding(s), but it may be of some use to contact the investigator for better clarity and understanding in this matter.  

“Your Request for Investigative Hearing is therefore denied. Thank you for the time you took to ensure that the DPA understood your concerns. We view this as a positive step in keeping with the goals of the DPA.”

And it was signed by Paul David Henderson, the agency’s executive director.

SMOKE—AND POWER–GET IN YOUR EYES

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 19, 2019 at 12:46 am

Officially, government health agencies exist to make our lives safer.

Oftentimes, this simply isn’t true.

Meraki Market opened in October, 2017, at 927 Post Street, directly across from the San Francisco apartment building where Valerie (not her real name) lives.

The main feature of this store—which offers expensive, deli-style food to local residents—is a wood-burning stove. Its fuel is almond and mesquite wood. Mesquite emits an aroma similar to that found in Texas barbecue restaurants.

Since this store opened, Valerie’s apartment—and other apartments on Post, Geary and O’Farrell Streets—has been swathed in thick, foul-smelling smoke that makes eyes water and throats constrict. It clings to clothes and furnishings.

And it poses a threat to tenants’ health.

An article published by the American Lung Association on February 8, 2016, warned: “Wood Burning Stoves Could Be Harming Your Health.”  For example:

“…The reality is that smoke from residential wood heaters can be harmful to the health of those in your home and also in your community. This is especially true for people with lung conditions, as well as children, older adults, people with cardiovascular disease and diabetics….

“Smoke from wood-burning stoves can have both short-term and long-term effects. It can trigger coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and lead to lung cancer and premature death, among other health effects.

“This is because wood smoke contains fine particle pollution, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, black carbon and air toxics such as benzene. The wood smoke can increase particle pollution to levels that pose serious health concerns both indoors and outdoors. In fact, fine particle pollution (PM2.5) is so tiny that it can get deep into the lungs, harming the lungs, blood vessels and heart.”

The San Francisco Chronicle’s online edition reported: “An inspector with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) paid Meraki a visit…and found everything in order.”

But this is not as reassuring as it might seem.

The city’s Department of Building Inspection also handed out premature building permits to the notorious  Millennium Tower—a luxury residential high-rise in the South of Market district of downtown San Francisco.The result: Since its completion in 2008, the Tower has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches.

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The reason: The Millennium Partners did not build on bedrock.

As a result, this 58-story, 645-foot-tall apartment complex is now known as “the leaning tower of San Francisco.”

Meanwhile, Stanlee Gatti, the owner of the market, is one of the best-known event planners in the country. In 1999, he was described by a columnist as one of the three most powerful people in San Francisco.

Gatti’s enormous power as a friend of the city’s top politicians raises the question: “Is he the beneficiary of special consideration?”

The opening of Meraki Market came shortly after the extinguishing of the catastrophic fires in Napa and Sonoma in fall, 2017.

Starting in October, Valerie assumed these fires were still going on because the smell of burning wood was overwhelming the neighborhood.

It was only in early November that she learned the source of the pollution was the market across the street.

While there’s a health concern by those residents forced to live near the pollution-spewing market, it’s not shared by those city officials who don’t live near it.

On January 1, 2018, she emailed her local supervisor, Aaron Peskin.  That same day, Peskin replied: “I’m looping in the Department of Public Health to follow up.”

On January 2, Valerie received a second email from Peskin, which contained a notation from Barbara Garcia, an official with the local Department of Public Health: “I’ve added our Environmental Health management for response.”

On January 4, Valerie received that response from the Health Department:

“While we share the concerns for air quality and particulate pollution the outdoor air is primarily regulated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).

“The Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Branch regulates the safe handling and preparation of the food sold at the market but the outdoor smoke issue is regulated by the BAAQMD.

Image result for Images of health inspection

“So in response to the complaints we received (November 2017) regarding the smoke from this location we directed the owner of Meraki Market to not use or operate the wood burning stove on the BAAQMD designated ‘No Burn Days.’”

Wow!  Local residents will be spared breathing polluted air on whatever days BAAQMD deigns to declare as “No Burn Days”!

For those days not so designated—tough luck.

Valerie had already contacted BAAQMD—and found they didn’t have jurisdiction over pollution caused by restaurants.  Moreover, one of its inspectors must actually come out and smell or see the pollution while it is occurring.

This is akin to a police department’s refusing to investigate reports of a murder unless one of its detectives actually saw it committed.

Valerie quickly drafted a reply to the Health Department: “Your email offers a textbook example why so many people have given up on government at any level.

“I [expected] the San Francisco Department of Public Health [to show] some interest in addressing the health concerns of a public that’s being daily exposed to toxic air. Obviously, that was a mistake on my part.”

She sent similar emails to Peskin and BAAQMD.

No action has been taken by any agency. 

UP IN SMOKE: YOUR HEALTH

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 12, 2019 at 12:07 am

Earlier this year, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Supervisor Shamann Walton co-authored a measure to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the city until their safety had been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.

No e-cigarettes on the market have gone through such a review.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the measure in June—making San Francisco the first city in the country to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes. 

It’s slated to go into effect in January, 2020. 

Now vaping company Juul Labs, Inc., is sponsoring Proposition C to overturn the ban.  

This would allow e-cigarettes to be sold in San Francisco with new regulations, which would

  • Cap the number of e-cigarette devices and nicotine cartridges a customer could buy in a single transaction; and
  • Require online sellers that ship to San Francisco residents to apply for a new permit.

The measure was written by The Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation—which is financed by Juul.

So far, Juul has spent $4.3 million to promote the measure—more than has been spent on any other ballot measure this year.

Flyers promoting “Yes on C” have been plastered on apartment doors and taped to telephone poles. The airwaves are filled with similar ads promoting vaping as a “healthier alternative” to tobacco.

Aerosol (vapor) exhaled by an e-cigarette user using a nicotine-free e-cigarette.

Alexander Russy [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D

In San Francisco, 15.4% of its inhabitants identify as LGBT. So Juul is promoting vaping as a healthier alternative for a population with higher-than-average smoking rates.

The company’s website boasts: “JUUL Labs was founded by former smokers, James and Adam, with the goal of improving the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes.

“We envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes, and where people who smoke cigarettes have the tools to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely, should they so desire.”

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

  • Introduced in 2015, Juul e-cigarettes have skyrocketed in popularity among youth across the United States.
  • Public health officials have labeled their use “a youth e-cigarette epidemic.”
  • In 2018, e-cigarette use among high school students rose by 78%.
  • More than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes—an increase of 1.5 million students in one year.

VaporVanity.com [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the reasons for the popularity of Juul’s e-cigarettes include:

  • They’re “sleek, high tech and easy to hide.”
  • They look like USB flash drives and can be charged in the USB port of a computer.
  • They come in flavors that appeal to youth—such as fruit, creme, mint, mango, menthol and cucumber.
  • They deliver nicotine more effectively and at higher doses than other e-cigarettes.
  • Although Juul claims that each “pod” (cartridge of nicotine liquid) contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, many teens don’t know they’re using a tobacco product.

Juul sales have grown dramatically and now comprise over 70% of the U.S. e-cigarette market.

But Juul faces a potentially devastating crisis: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention warned on September 6 that Americans should not smoke e-cigarettes.

The reason: Hundreds of people have become sick and at least six people have died from lung disease related to vaping.

Serious adverse effects of vaping include corneoscleral lacerations or ocular burns or death after e-cigarette explosion. Less serious adverse effects of vaping include eye irritation, blurry vision, dizziness, headache, throat irritation, coughing, increased airway resistance, chest pain, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

According to a news story on the September 6 edition of the PBS Newshour:

“As many as 450 people, including 215 cases formally reported to the CDC, in 33 states have reported possible pulmonary disease after using e-cigarette devices, liquids, refill pods and cartridges.”  

“Symptoms of this pulmonary disease include shortness of breath, fatigue, fever and nausea or vomiting.” 

“While this investigation is ongoing, people should not use e-cigarette products,” said Dana Meaney-Delman, who oversees the CDC investigation. 

The Annals of Internal Medicine report that at least 10.8 million adults are estimated to use e-cigarette products in the United States.

Of those, 15% said they had never smoked cigarettes. 

Many chemicals and additives are present in e-cigarettes. And medical professionals don’t know what chemicals, or combinations of chemicals, could lead people to sicken and/or die.

The office of the U.S. Surgeon General warns: Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain such harmful ingredients as:

  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs;
  • Volatile organic compounds;
  • Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead;
  • Flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease.

And while Juul touts its product as a safe alternative for those who want to quit smoking, the advice offered by the CDC is totally different: “Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based smoking cessation treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications.”

Many critics of the San Francisco moratorium have argued: “Even if people can’t get e-cigarettes legally, they’ll get them illegally. Or they’ll buy them in bay Area cities that don’t ban them.”

And that is true.

As with any banned product for which there is big demand, legions of suppliers—legal or illegal—will happily keep them supplied.

At best, cities, states and the Federal Government will pass laws regulating where e-cigarettes can be smoked.

Meanwhile, those who want to risk their health inhaling—and exhaling—poisonous vapors will do so. They cannot be stopped—except when their bodies give out.

Which, for legions of e-cigarette smokers, is now starting to happen.

FORGET MARY POPPINS: IN SAN FRANCISCO, BUMS ARE IN, BIRDS ARE OUT

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 3, 2019 at 12:04 am

If you visit San Francisco, forget what Julie Andrews told you in Mary Poppins: Don’t “Feed the Birds.”  

Getting caught doing so can net you a fine from $25 to $1,000.

City officials launched the campaign in 2004, fining people who fed pigeons in the Tenderloin area.

Within a month, they extended the crackdown to Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and the cable car turnaround in downtown.

Feeding birds “damages property, and it’s not good for the bird population,” said Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department at the time of the ban.

“We have a whole education campaign letting people know it’s against the law,” said Falvey.

This includes posters erected by the Department of Public Works, which read:

“Please do not feed the pigeons. There are dozens of reasons why, but mainly: Feeding pigeons harms our neighborhoods and also harms the birds.

“Large population of pigeons is a health hazard. Our huge feral pigeon population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.

“Pigeon droppings dirty public spaces, do costly damage to buildings, and can spread life-threatening diseases, especially to the elderly and immune-deficient. Their nesting materials block drains and harbor parasites like bird mites. Pigeon food makes a mess and attracts rats.

“Feeding pigeons promotes over-breeding. Pigeon feeding produces over-breeding.

“Pigeons normally breed two or three times a year, producing two eggs per brood. Overfed city pigeons can breed up to eight times a year.

“Pigeons are harmed when fed. When you feed pigeons, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to scavenge and survive on their own.

“Pigeon over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured birds. A smaller flock is healthier and does less damage.

“It is illegal. It’s against the law to feed pigeons on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco (Sec. 486. M.P.C). Violators may be cited and fined.

“You can help keep your neighborhood safe and clean and the pigeon population under control by not feeding pigeons. Keep edible garbage away from pigeons by discarding it in a securely covered garbage can.

“And don’t feed pets outside. You may report pigeon feeders to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123, or by calling 3-1-1. 

“Please join in on the efforts to keep San Francisco clean and beautiful by NOT feeding the pigeons.”

* * * * *

At the same time that city officials are telling residents, “Please don’t feed the pigeons,” they aren’t telling them, “Please don’t feed the bums.”

Because of its mild climate and social programs that give cash payments to just-arrived vagrants, San Francisco is often considered the homelessness capital of the United States.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (1996–2004) actually proposed that the city create electronic cards for transients that residents could swipe with their credit cards, thus transferring money from their accounts to that of the recipient.

Brown dropped the idea when faced with the brutal truth that not many citizens—especially women—would be willing to whip out their credit card when confronted by a smelly, unshaved and possibly psychotic transient.

San Francisco spends spends more than $40,000 per homeless person each year.  In 2018, the city spent $305 million on what are now euphemistically called “the homeless.” That’s because city officials don’t want to use words that accurately describe who makes up the overwhelming majority of this population: 

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mental cases
  • Bums

Eight city departments oversee at least 400 contracts to 76 private organizations, most of them nonprofits, that are charged with eliminating this pestilence.

Estimates of this population range from 7,000 to 10,000 people, of which approximately 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.

A similar public crackdown on “bum-feeders” could go like this:

“Please do not feed the bums. There are dozens of reasons why, but mainly: Feeding bums harms our neighborhoods and also harms the bums.

“Our huge feral bum population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city. Bum droppings dirty public spaces, do costly damage to buildings, and can spread life-threatening diseases, especially to the elderly and immune-deficient.

“Their stolen shopping carts and filthy possessions block sidewalks and harbor parasites like bedbugs and lice. Bum food makes a mess and attracts rats.

“Feeding bums promotes overbreeding.  Bums normally travel alone, foraging for drugs and/or alcohol. Pampered city bums flock to liquor stores and drug dens where they can indulge their vices, thus taxing city medical services to the limit.

“When you feed bums, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to find work and support themselves and their families.

“Bum over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured bums. A smaller horde is healthier and does less damage.

“It’s against the law to feed bums on the streets or sidewalks of San Francisco. Violators may be cited and fined.

“You can help keep your neighborhood safe and clean and the bum population under control by not feeding bums.

“Keep edible garbage away from bums by discarding it in a securely covered garbage can. And don’t feed bums outside.

“It is Illegal.  You may report bum feeders to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123, or by calling 3-1-1.

“Please join in on the efforts to keep San Francisco clean and beautiful by NOT feeding the bums.”

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