Thursday, October 29, 2009

San Francisco Diary--Journal Of An Exile

Another day, another journal entry. The wind has been blowing so hard it loosened some sheet metal on the roof, and last night was like sleeping inside a bass drum since I live on the top floor of the building (I laughingly call it the penthouse). My assistant, Kitty Kelly, is not too pleased. She thinks it's thunder. But this morning the sky is gorgeous, the Bay is blue, and the wind has let up a bit. Now if the temperature would get above 50 degrees, we'll have a beautiful San Francisco day.

NOTE: In the interest of protecting The City's status as a sanctuary city, another law will cease to be enforced which initially has nothing to do with immigrants. This coming Sunday, SF cops will no longer enforce the law requiring that those caught in a traffic stop who cannot produce a valid driver's license will have their cars impounded. Instead, unlicensed drivers will be given twenty minutes and the use of a cell phone to get someone with a valid driver's license and proof of insurance to come to pick up the car and the unlicensed driver. The law always seemed a bit draconian to me, but that isn't the only reason behind the sudden period of grace.

The underlying reason is that a very large percentage of unlicensed drivers in San Francisco are here illegally. Thus--we're picking on the poor, downtrodden, and wretched refuse of somebody else's teeming shores. So while this new policy protects the occasional slob in a hurry who forgot to stick his wallet in his pants while running off to work, it really protects the illegal who didn't just forget the wallet, but forgot the insurance and the immigration laws as well. That puts San Francisco to the left of Berkeley, which recognizes that the issue is driver's licenses and insurance, not immigration status.

The new police chief said "San Francisco is trying to be sensitive to all of the communities we serve. We recognize that this is a problem within the Hispanic community, where people working here can't get a driver's license because of their immigration status." Well, boo freaking hoo. Those are weasel-words for saying "we'll risk public safety in order to avoid calling attention to an unlicensed driver's illegal immigration status." Police officers who obviously chose to remain anonymous had a different take. "People without licenses are often lousy drivers and this change means more dangerous streets for everyone else." And "These are the same people who are sailing through stop signs and injuring people."

The message is if you're here illegally, you can now drive around town without a driver's license and insurance. You now have a license not to have a license. Needless to say, Supervisor David Campos and the Latino politicians are delighted with the decision. Most San Franciscans, not so much.

Note: An eleven year old boy was recently stabbed multiple times on a Muni bus, and a dead body found on another. Let's check the videotapes to see who might have done these things. Oops--no can do. The camera/recorders weren't working on either bus. A study has shown that of the 960 vehicles equipped with camera/recorders, 22 percent were completely non-functional and another 30 percent were only partially functional. That means only 48 percent actually served any kind of protection or investigative purpose. Muni claims to have worked on the problem and gotten it down to only 20% non-functional or semi-functional. But that means that you still have a one in five chance of being mugged or murdered without any surveillance to bring help or discover who the perpetrator was. And this is the same Muni that tells me my buses are on schedule most of the time. Well, I know that's a lie.

Note: Remember that Labor Day [planned] one-day shutdown of the Bay Bridge that ended up being nearly two full days? Some major repairs had to be performed to make the old section of the east spans safer until the new span is completed (some time between now and the beginning of the next century). How did that work out? OK, I'll tell you. On Monday night, high winds began to blow throughout the Bay Area. The bridge was not spared. And suddenly, a driver had his hood lifted and his windshield smashed by a flying four inch-thick cable which was whipping all over the roadway. Traffic screeched to a halt, and other cars were damaged by the flying cable and the heavy anchor which had fallen from above and embedded itself into the roadway.

No coincidence, this. The very anchor stay and cable which caused this mess were exactly the same ones that caused the extra day's delay over the Labor Day weekend. And now the busiest route between San Francisco and the East Bay is closed indefinitely for further evaluation and repair. That causes major transportation problems for between 250,000 and 300,00 daily commuters. We're about to experience a traffic jam of epic proportions for an unknown period of time.

My take on this is that the repairs are being performed by the same agencies and contractors who are building the new span. If their work won't withstand a 50-60 mile an hour wind, how is it going to withstand a 7.0-8.0 magnitude earthquake? And that is the underlying purpose behind this massive repair and massive building project in the first place. I think I'll take BART.

Note: Never a dull moment for activists in The City. Youth With a Mission drop-in center just had a major celebration, complete with star performers and athletes serving up food and good cheer to the unfortunate in the City's Tenderloin district. The event celebrates the second annual fundraiser for One x One (say, one by one), a group dedicated to health issues and quality of life for children in the poor sections of town. A very good cause, I might add. Actor David Arquette, MLB player Nomar Garciaparra, Laila Ali (boxer, and daughter of Muhammad Ali), and ESPN sports commentator Jay Bilas handed out boxes of mushrooms to older women, and food bags to poor families.

After the event in the Tenderloin, the celebrities then went to the fund-raiser at Bimbo's 365 Club in North Beach, where they were joined by Charlize Theron though not by actor Matt Damon who was scheduled to be there, but must have gotten side-tracked finding something new to blame Bush for. They didn't raise a lot of money, and even some locals who support the cause groused that "the food pantry event never seemed like anything more than a made-for-media photo op."

But what made the event at Bimbo's worthwhile was the moment when a street denizen broke through the door, began shouting incoherently and demanding money from the participants. Does this sort of thing happen in Beverly Hills? Workers from the Center, who were invited to the fund-raiser, said the man was a regular. They steered him over to the piano, where we're told he played a few songs, then got up voluntarily and left. As Chronicle writer C. W. Nevius said, "welcome to San Francisco."

Note: Our favorite local writer, Mark Morford, wrote another doomsday article this week. But it's too lengthy to rip apart here, and actually contains some truths. So instead, I will simply link to the article for you to read at your leisure: 10 Amazing Truths. Needless to say, all the bad things are caused by Republicans.

16 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, It sounds to me like what you think is thunder or sheet metal is in fact, the noise made by the crack breaking in Botox Nancy's skin. Just saying. . .

Damon must have been kidnapped by Cheney. I hear he does that!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Thank you for solving the mystery. And she's upwind of my place, so that probably explains the sound of dried plaster bits against the windows too. Damon's disappearance would also explain Cheney's dripping fangs.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--That's just great. Now, after protecting youthful murderers who are there illegally, they're going to ignore laws that only very incidentally have anything to do with immigration for the sake of political correctness/sanctuary while endangering everyone else in town. And when one of those illegals kills a couple of people after running a red light, who do the victims look to for a remedy?

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Protect illegals and to hell with the law-abiding citizenry. The victims will have to look to God for a remedy, because The City sure won't help them.

Writer X said...

What an appropriate name for a club to host a celebrity event: Bimbo's 365.

LawHawk, your new police chief is Phoenix's old one. No one was too sad to see him go, especially Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He tried that "sensitive" garbage here but most people saw through it. Sorry to hear about that 11-year old boy, though. That is tragic.

Thanks for the Morford link!

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: I had forgotten that you had the chief before we got him. He has some reasonable ideas about drug and street crime, but his attitude on immigration is strictly far left, anything goes. And he has that crazy "we have to relate to the community" concept that only emboldens the skells. I can certainly see why the great Joe Arpaio wouldn't have much respect for him.

Bimbo's 365 is actually a fun place. It's a mixture of old-time restaurant, recovering nude dance club, fun night club and music, music, music. It's right in the heart of the North Beach section which became notorious in the Sixties and Seventies for all the nude dancers (remember Carol Doda?). It's Chris Isaak's favorite local hangout, and he still performs there regularly.

Writer X said...

I take it the club got its name when it was a nude dance club?

StanH said...

Kitty Kelly sounds like a devoted assistant, ha!

I’ve written my representatives several time to please send me a list of laws that I can ignore, still waiting. I heard someone the other day talking about renouncing their citizenship, to live by the special rules for our criminal illegal aliens - - no taxes, no insurance, etc., a basic mulligan for any indiscretion, not good!

That’s tragic to hear of an eleven year old kid being stabbed multiple times, I’m not na├»ve to the ways of the world, but it never fails to make me think what could that kid have done to deserve such a fate, tragic. Probably just being borne.

patti said...

i don't know how you live there. i'd have to go to the grocery store with my helmet on...

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk: So what happens with the unlicensed drivers who can't get someone to retrieve the POI and license after their 20 minute wait? Do the cops just let them go?

It is so nice to know that you live in a slightly crazier place than I do. Not by much though. BTW, what's a "skell"?

Hey Andrew, aren't you in the middle of a blizzard or something?

Patti: You would fit right in with your helmet in NYC. We wear our helmets as fashion statements.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: Yep. At least that's the legend. The inside joke was "bimbos 365 days a year." That was all mafia territory (many say it still is), so it wasn't much of a leap from the old cheap strip clubs to big, fancy nude nightclubs. It's considerably tamer these days, but definitely not sedate.

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: It's hard to believe, but there are a good number of neighborhoods which are as safe and nearly as sane as any middle class suburb. You just have to know where to go, where not to go, and what time of day to do it. My neighborhood (lower Nob Hill) is largely artsy-fartsy, with small shops and lots of restaurants. Walk seven city blocks south, and you're in no-man's land, three blocks west you're in hoity-toity Pacific Heights and embassy row, four blocks east and you're in Chinatown, and from my place north, safe and sane all the way to the Wharf.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: If nobody comes, the car is impounded as before. But since the driver can't produce an ID, he will receive a citation in whatever name he gives the cops, and they can't question it because they might find out the illegal driver is also an illegal immigrant. I'm not quite sure what the procedure is with the car, since the registration is highly unlikely to match the name and address of the illegal driver.

Ya gotta get out more. "Skell" is an expression that I think started with the NYPD. It simply means scumbag lawbreaker.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: Kitty Kelly is very devoted, although it is occasionally irritating to have her knocking her food bowl around because I'm fifteen minutes late feeding her. I've had secretaries before who demanded raises, but the food bowl is a new experience. But she types so well. LOL

The boy is recovering physically from his injuries, but I can imagine what it's doing to him psychologically. A public bus, in broad daylight, and nobody helps him and there's no proof whatsoever of who committed the crime. I can just imagine how he feels right now about ever trusting anyone.

StanH said...

Lawhawk: I may have mentioned over the months my wife and I have a 18 year old cat, Miss Kitty. She can be quite demanding when her dinner bell rings, at her age she knows what she wants.

“What doesn’t kill us, makes us strong.” Hopefully that kid is made of real American timber, and can turn a terrible situation into a positive.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: It's hard to tell, she's a cat after all, but at times after she's succeeded in getting me to drop everything and feed her, Kelly sits as close to me as possible and I swear has a smug look of accomplishment on her feline face.

I spent two of the toughest years of my life as an appointed civil prosecutor in child abuse cases for County Child Protective Services (I went after the abusers when the criminal authorities couldn't prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt). And some of those kids did come out stronger than ever. The hardest part is getting them to understand that they didn't do anything to deserve what happened to them. Those who got past that seemed to have the best recoveries and best futures. Nietzche did occasionally get it right. It just works better for adults than for young kids.

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