Friday, August 28, 2009

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

San Franciscans (present company excepted) are wandering around like zombies the past two days, utterly bereft over the death of the Lion of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy. The problem for me, of course, is that they haven't provided as much material as usual for my Diary. And even worse, my favorite stream-of-consciousness cuckoo, Mark Morford of SF Gate, has been on vacation in Las Vegas. Since his usual writing style would get him put on a 72 hour mental hold anywhere but here, he's been very quiet.

NOTE: The San Francisco Municipal Transit system ("Muni") has been conducting a sting operation on buses and trains to catch fare-cheats. Muni is shocked--shocked!--to find out that tens of thousands of riders have not been paying their fares. The article is accompanied by a photo of Heather Ferguson, self-proclaimed fare evader. I can understand that in modern America we don't make people wear scarlet letters anymore, but since she posed for her picture, on a Muni bus, freely gave her name, and admitted to cheating on her fare, is there some reason why she's not getting a ticket?

Said one 17-year old rider, who had the good sense to remain anonymous: "I almost never pay; it's just too easy." He did mention specfically which bus he ordinarily rides, so that should help some in finding him. "I don't think these sting operations are going to make it any harder," he says, "I'll just hop on whenever I feel like it and get off when the cops are gone." That pretty much sums up the attitude of a major portion of the bus and train-riding San Francisco public. And it points to one of the things the officers don't seem to be catching, but any Muni regular can tell you for a fact.

The bus and train operators play a major part in this daily loss of many thousands of dollars in fares. There is a strict rule that nobdy can board the bus or train by the exits located near the center of the buses. It is rarely enforced. There is a strict rule that transfers must be current, issued for a limited time period, and viewed by the driver before the rider can be allowed on the bus. This rule is routinely ignored. The fare for adults is $2.00. Regular mooches will throw fifteen or twenty cents into the coinbox, give their daily excuse, and the drivers just let them hop aboard. Monthly passes must be current, and senior and disabled passes must at least seem to match the persons offering them. Daily, healthy and happy strapping teenagers hop on the bus after flashing an expired pass, or one with a clear senior or disabled designation. It's also common in the seedier parts of town for the rider to be allowed on because he or she is "only going a few blocks," and can't pay the fare.

So why is it that when I board with a crowd packed together like sardines, I and people like me with valid, current passes which we have had out are routinely rudely singled out and shouted at by the drivers to "come back, you didn't pay your fare?" And when we, for the second time, show the valid pass, get told "I didn't see it." Meanwhile, twenty non-fare payers have pushed ahead of us, and taken the last of the seats, including the senior and disabled seats. I'll leave it to your imagination as to why my little group are the ones being singled out. Hint: We are not members of the same groups as 95% of the overpaid public employees operating the buses and trains.

NOTE: A San Francisco Supervisor who was an illegal alien when he showed up in our fair city many years back, has proposed a new ordinance and city policy which would enhance The City's already illegal sanctuary policy. Supervisor David Campos is using the excuse that ""some decent kids" might get sent back to their proper homelands "for walking down a block during a gang fight, or just getting arrested for a minor crime." Well, yeah. That's the law, you idiot.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is, as usual, speaking out of both sides of his mouth about the issue. He freely admitted releasing to the press a confidential memo from City Attorney Dennis Herrera to Supervisor Campos detailing the legal violations which would result, as well as inviting even further costly lawsuits and damage cases which have already been filed against The City. But the twist he gave it was that the public needed to know about the ugly consequences of, get this, "openly weakening sanctuary practices." The sanctuary policy, which was then, as now, illegal was originally put in place in the early 80s as a reaction to the multiple bloody civil wars which were taking place in Central America.

The results of this mass influx of illegals and its attendant dangerous consequences were withheld from the public for years at every level of city government. If an undocumented teen was actually turned over to [then] INS, they were sent home on a plane trip paid for by the citizens of San Francisco, or sent to porous Southern California halfway houses that couldn't be easier to escape from. Some would join their friends in Los Angeles, but most simply came back to San Francisco since benefits for illegals are the best in the state.

Then last year, the whole sordid ill-kept secret broke into front page news. Illegal immigrant and MS-13 gang member Edwin Ramos, who was arrested multiple times as a teenager in The City for various violent criminal offenses, was repeatedly released as a result of the dangerous "don't tell the feds" sanctuary policy. He then murdered Anthony Bologna and his two sons after a minor traffic accident. Law 'n Order Newsom, caught with his pants down, immediately ordered City authorities to report all crimes of youthful illegal immigrants to the federal authorities. At least that's what he said publicly. And if he meant it, why is he supporting an even looser sanctuary policy?

NOTE: Anthony Lagarde is a local "homeless" person who has gained considerable fame lately. He is the kind of guy San Franciscans love to tell warm and fuzzy stories about. He has a BA in developmental economics from Berkeley. But he started on the steep road to decline about the time he got his degree. He had been diagnosed as mildly bipolar (actually manic-depressive at the time he was a teenager), and took medication for it. But he didn't like the medicine, and was at the same time unaware that his condition was worsening, with or without the medication. He started drinking heavily, and ended up broke and on the street. He has gotten his life back in order, at least to an extent, and is taking his medication. He is working on a teaching credential at San Francisco State. But he is still homeless, and that's where this otherwise uplifting story of hope takes its San Francisco twist.

An immigrant from France, Lagarde was a soccer wiz in his homeland, and continued to play soccer after he came to the United States, but stopped as his alcoholism became debilitating. And now he's back. Glide Memorial Methodist has multiple outreach programs for homeless people, and one of those programs is soccer. He is now a member of the national Homeless Soccer Team. Yes, you read that right--national Homeless Soccer Team. There are teams in 16 American cities, but you gotta know San Francisco has the best. After all, we have the best-fed, best cared-for and most-pampered homeless people in the nation (as well as the highest per capita population of homeless people).

Now I'm pleased that this man is getting his life together, but I have a few serious questions. First, who is paying for all these programs? Second, what incentive does this man have to continue getting his life in order and getting off the streets? If he has a home, he can't be in the Homeless Soccer league, now can he? And finally, considering how expensive San Francisco State University has become, how is an unemployed, homeless soccer player paying for this education?

NOTE: District Attorney Kamala Harris wouldn't ask for the death penalty in a cold-blooded cop-killing, urges no jailtime for repeat misdemeanor offenders, and supports the most extreme of sanctuary rules (she will make the determination as to whether or not the triple-murderer above will face the death penalty, or even murder charges). But she has her priorities straight. She is determined to put one Lina Magailalo, a thirty-three year old mother in prison. Her crime? Battery on a parking officer. Never mind that most of us would consider Magailalo's actions to deserve a public award, this is a case of overzealous prosecution. Facing an angry union, what's a girl to do? How about tempering justice with mercy, Kamala? Magalailo was at the local Obamacare-style general hospital, waiting to see a doctor for her ill eight-year old daughter. She had been waiting for nearly three hours. She repeatedly had to go outside to feed the parking meter. On one of the trips, carrying her child with her, she didn't make it in time. The meter had just expired as the meter maid showed up. She saw Magalailo rushing to feed the meter, and wrote a parking ticket anyway.

The frustrated Magalailo then proceeded to pummel the meter maid. Not a good idea. But the damage was confined to a few scratches and bruises, and a questionable dislocated shoulder (not exactly a permanently-disabling injury, even if true). No question that Magalailo broke the law, and deserves punishment. But look at the circumstances. Magalailo has a child to care for, and an absolutely clean criminal record. She had offered to pay the ticket without any court fight, and only asked the meter maid to acknowledge that she had seen her rushing to the parking meter. No dice. The meter maid cut her off in mid-conversation, and proceeded to drive away. Not far enough, apparently.

So the same District Attorney's office which let an illegal immigrant with a history of violent crime go back on the street multiple times until he committed a triple murder is now determined to send this woman to prison for two years. And then, in defense of this travesty, Harris's office issued the following announcement: "Everyone is entitled to the right to work in a safe environment--parking control officers are no exception. They should be able to perform their duties without fear of threat or harm." Yes, and apparently union employees being overpaid to do a moron's task have lives which are more valuable and in need of protection that those of mere citizens like Anthony Bologna and his two dead sons.

NOTE: And then there's the other side of the coin. New Police Chief George Gascon has reviewed scores of disciplinary files, and is considering dismissing charges against approximately 75 officers with discipline cases pending before the civilian Police Commission for minor misconduct. Gascon was known in his previous jobs as a tough boss for cops who go astray. But he was also known for his fairness. The cases he is considering for amnesty include charges of "inappropriate language in the course of an arrest," "being discourteous," failing to fill out a police report properly, and in one case, a first-offense misdemeanor driving under the influence charge which was unrelated to his duties as a police officer (the Chief has no intention of interfering with any punishment the officer may receive from the court).

The reaction to the Chief's announcement was largely predictable. Outrage from the cop-haters in the ACLU, NAACP, every ginned-up victims' rights group, and about half the Board of Supervisors. Welcome to San Francisco, Chief. You'll find out quickly that lowlives and criminals have far greater standing in this city than your officers.

19 comments:

StanH said...

Well Lawhawk San Francisco still seems adrift. I’m surprised well meaning liberals aren’t running around SF with rolls of toilet paper wiping the tushes of your street people, with a special kind of liberal love. Bus fares that’s other peoples problem, we must remember major cities in America are nothing but jobs programs. Lot of fun Lawhawk.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: What makes you think the liberals aren't doing exactly what you described? And more importantly, in keeping with green sensibilities, they only use one tp sheet at a time, recycled of course.

pippoproducts.com said...

Glad you liked Ghost Busters. I liked it too. You analyzed the humor to death. So I don't have a ghost of a chance of adding any thing.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, nice article as always. I figured they would be traumatized by the death of Camelot, as if the place hadn't turned into a strip club years ago. I had to laugh when I saw that the ratings for the Kennedy love fest were so low that probably not even every member of the Kennedy clan watched.

On the buses, why should anyone pay? You evil old conservative.


Pip, next time I'll try to leave something out.

Tennessee Jed said...

Honestly, Hawk - you've got to pitch this to television as either a "reality" show, or perhaps as a sequal to "Life on Mars." The ride free thing typifies that whole hippie culture (it should all be free, man!)

Bless your heart, how do you manage?

StanH said...

Silly me, what the hell was I thinking this after all San Francisco. Do they eh…hmmm… powder their butts as well.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: They should pay US. Or at least hand out gas masks and air deodorizers. On certain lines, they should add hazard pay. This is the town where the former Mayor Willie Brown actually suggested making good citizens out of gang members by using them to patrol the buses on certain lines. I wrote a song entitled "Caught in the Crossfire on Line 14" about the gang warfare that went on on several of the South of Market lines. It never reached the popularity of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

LawHawkSF said...

Tennessee: Nobody outside the Bay Area would believe I wasn't making it up.

StanH: No powder. Not ecologically sound. Causes marijuana smokers to cough.

Mighty Skip said...

I simply cannot believe I used to live and work around there.

AndrewPrice said...

Mighty Skip, I can't believe Lawhawk still lives there!

LawHawkSF said...

Mighty Skip: Imagine how I feel. LOL

Andrew: I can't decide if it's plain cussedness, determination, or dementia that keeps me here. It's like watching a terrible car crash--you know you shouldn't but you can't help yourself. And there might even be a little of my thinking this is all a very long nightmare, and I'll wake up to find San Francisco is actually a very normal city. Like Pompeii.

StanH said...

Lawhawk probably can’t believe he lives there.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I think there may even be a religious element to my staying here. I'm probably being punished for the sins of my mis-spent youth. Naw. Never mind. I'm just nuts.

Writer X said...

I have to pinch myself when I read your column, LawHawk, to make sure I'm not dreaming. Please tell me that Newsom does not have a serious shot at becoming governor.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: Newsom only had one serious rival in Villaraigosa, the Mayor of Los Angeles. And he recently announced that he would not run. That leaves Newsom as the front-runner for now. His radical politics aren't going to play well outside the Bay Area, and he's going to get beaten over the head with his scandals. "You're going to get gay marriage whether you want it or not" got a big round of applause here, but the rest of the state was not nearly as pleased. The Republicans will need a good candidate in what I think will be a moderate-conservative election year. But I wouldn't count Newsom out by any means. Good candidate Republican vs. Newsom, I give 5 to 3 odds on the Republican.

CalFederalist said...

California's a big state, and there are those who are no longer sitting back and taking it from the left. Newsom is going to do a great song and dance routine if thinks he's going to get any number of votes outside San Francisco, Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

LawHawkSF said...

CalFederalist: Two of my three kids live in heavily conservative/Republican areas (Kern County and Ventura County). The third lives in Berkeley, and though he's more liberal than the rest of us, he can't stomach Gavin Newsom. There's plenty of opposition to go around.

StanH said...

I read Lawhawk that the Pelosi was raising an emergency 100K to push pack on adds against “government run healthcare” running in SF. Is there any trouble for Her Majesty brewing in SF, …hope and pray?

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I don't know why she even needs to raise the money in this town. With Feinstein's direct connections to the San Francisco Chronicle, they can run the Pelosi propaganda as front page "news." Flash: Chronicle investigative reporters have discovered direct ties to neo-Nazi groups behind the anti-Excellent Free Health Care For Everyone Plan put forth by His Holiness, Barack Obama. Attorney General Holder said to be prepared to put his entire office's resources into an investigation. The Chronicle deeply regrets printing the false witness contained in the paid advertisements previously run in our obituary section.

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