EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Carmen Chu | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'Carmen Chu'

San Francisco “Convenience Fees”

This has been sitting in the back of my head for sometime and managed to make its way to the front last night. San Francisco government seems to think that they are doing you a favor by letting you pay your property tax and parking tickets, etc. by charging you an additional fee to so online. In my mind this is garbage as they are saving money while charging you more money for helping them save money.

I am not a big enough political entity to in turn charge them back a convenience fee for the hassle of me filling out a check and dropping it in the mailbox so that they can then spend more money to have several individuals process the check that if paid on the web would all be handled mechanically without a person having to touch any of it.

This is a nonsensical process that needs to stop. I would like to call upon our illustrious Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors to correct this problem. By paying online the electronic payment is much more convenient for not only the payer, but more importantly for the payee. This is a system that makes life easier for our government more so than for the citizens of San Francisco.

Unemployment now is paid onto a debit card which you can go online and set up so that the payment is automatically transferred to your bank account a several days sooner than if they mailed you a check and you deposited it into your bank. This makes sense. San Francisco Government needs to move into the 20th century even though we are now in the 21st century.

San Francisco government needs to progress, not regress.

Blackout!

Last night at around 9:20 pm the Sunset District went dark, well at least parts of it did and in the darkness it gave me time to reflect. This doesn’t happen that often anymore, but we did used to see it happen every few months a couple of years ago. We prepared ourselves some time ago so we had the candles and LED lights ready to go.

For some reason the area of the Sunset that I live in seems prone to blackouts. I walked down to the corner and looked up and down and everything was dark. A block down they had power at the end of my block the next block had power so it seems to affect a portion of the Sunset between Pacheco and Rivera streets. I immediately pulled out my iPhone and jumped to twitter. I follow a lot of people in the Sunset District who also follow me so I figured someone else might have been hit by this.

Sadly there were only a few people affected, but we were in contact and tweeting back and forth about how to get the word out. I found out that @PGE4me if you tweet them they will tweet you back with status updates. I also learned that if the power didn’t come back on how set the alarm on my iPhone to wake me up without buzzing and beeping all night with it’s notifications. This is a good thing to know in the future.

The power came back on about an hour later and all was good. I did warm my neighbors who seem to be a bit techie that anything electronic and valuable they should unplug. I had my home theater unit blown when power came back a few years ago because of the power surge that came with it. Luckily I had unhooked everything that would be too expensive to replace and went about replugging it in after the power came back.

For some reason these outages happen only at night. There has been a few time when the power went out in the middle of the night and we overslept the next day because our alarms didn’t go off because the clocks had been reset, but those were rare. I did end up having to miss Anthony Bourdain’s layover in London and Hawaii 5-0, but for the most part they’re getting better and getting the power back. I’d just like to know why it’s always the Sunset District that gets hit with this and not other parts of the city.

This Place It Is A Changin’…

For some reason there’s a cafe on Taraval Street between 27th and 28th that can’t seem to stay in business for more than about three months. It’s not in that bad a location, but the awning and the name every few months with very little changing on the inside. The free wifi even has the same name as went it first opened about 5 years ago.

The name kept changing from Mocha 101 to Green Cafe to now Rolling Out. The names have changed so much that I can’t even remember most of them now. There’s always a few people in there, but not like some of the other cafes that have people lined up and sitting outside. The staff stayed the same for awhile but now I’ve noticed different people at the register. The inside is almost exactly the same as when it open so all this just seems funny to me.

I don’t know if the place changes hands or if the owner is just very into redecorating. The menu has changed a little bit, now focusing on sweeter treats and sandwiches made with homemade bread. At $4.75 a pop that’s not too bad a price considering I’ve seen sandwiches going for $6.50 closer down to me.

I’m not sure what it is in general with Taraval street, but there’s always a high turnover in businesses on the street unless you get farther out towards the beach where little changes. Unless you’re a gas station or 7-11 or El Burrito Express you can’t expect to stay in business very long on Taraval.

I just wonder why that is?

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The State of California Has Declared Me Awesome!

Yesterday I started my CalWorks program to find out what my best skill set was to assist me in finding a job. I went in for what was supposed to be a four week 9-5 program to help me out. This of course would cut into my time I could use looking for a job, but as I was told prior, We are required to say that by law.

OK, that should have tipped me off right there and I’ll know better int he future. So I go down to their offices at 3120 Mission Street and prepare for my day with a chip on my shoulder. We all get called into a room and the first thing out of the guy in charge’s mouth is, we won’t be here until 5pm, not 4pm, not 3pm. We’ll be out of here today by 12:30-12:45. OK, good I can look for work again.

Then they moved us into the testing room. First test is reading and math. Easy enough, except that for the math part they give you a piece of paper and a pencil, no calculators allowed. It was during this time that I realized that I had to remember how to do multiplication [easy] and division [that part took me awhile]. Who has to do math by hand anymore? 15 minute break. We go back and then go through a list of small tests that we’re supposed to do quickly without even thinking. I couldn’t help but think that if they’re telling me to go through tests without using my mind that they might suggest a mindless job for me. The tests were actually kind of interesting, because after having to match up circles and squares it moved on to complex shapes arranged in different position and then to deconstructed 3D shapes that we had to build in our mind like a sort of visual origami.

I finished first and was out of there and on my way home a little before noon. I did have to come back for a performance review at 2:40pm so that was no sweat. I head home, relax and eat lunch and come back for the interview. The guy I have to meet with is looking for my test results and can’t find them. He tells me to wait a minute and goes off to a back room. When he comes back I hear him say, Oh, right, you’re that guy. Uh oh, what does that mean? He shows me my results and tells me that I was off the charts in artistic, scientific and leadership skills, but what most amazed him was that I had scored the highest he could remember in spatial geometry [that was the visual origami part I talked about earlier]. He asked me about my past work experience after which he told me that I essentially had such a good skill set that there was nothing they could do to help me. He even asked me, why are you even here? To which I replied because I was told I was required by law to be there. Now I am required for the next four weeks to get up in the morning and come down and spend from 9am-10am at which point I get to go home. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing during this time, but at least it will get me ready for getting up every morning to go to work which I haven’t had to do in nine months.

Strange times do we live in, but at least I’m awesome. If anyone needs an evil scientist to lead them give me a call. I think I’ve got that covered according to the State of California.

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Baghdad By The Bay Meetup in the works

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I finally broached the topic on Twitter yesterday and was surprised by the response. I’m getting a large amount of people in San Francisco and beyond who read this website and I’ve finally decided to get out of the house and meet up with some of my “foreign corespondents” in San Francisco. That is the other bloggers, citizens, fans, readers and even the haters of this website.

Since I’m a Sunset redneck, it only made sense that I have the meet up in a suitable Sunset establishment. Also since I want to give some of the people from out of town a chance to prepare I’m going to not try a flash mob type of thing with a meet up tonight @ Uncle Fucker’s Chuckle Hut! but actually give you a few months warning. I like to plan ahead and I want to find a place that can handle the people who will come. Judging from last night’s twitter replies of over thirty people I suspect I will get a good amount of people to show up so I’ll actually have to approach a place and tell them what I’m doing. First stop will be the Blackthorn Tavern @ 9th and Irving because not only do they serve Boddington’s beer, Magner’s Cider, and have a DJ, but on Sunday’s they also have a BBQ going.

I’m thinking sometime during the San Francisco summer which falls right after the rest of the world’s summer meaning September. We should have good weather then and that’s the month of my birthday so what better excuse to stage a party. So I’ll be visiting the venerable Blackthorn Tavern in the next few days to discuss with them having a meet up there and see what they say. I want to see all the local blogger’s, politicians, scoutmobbers, miscreants and hipsters from all over the city to come to this event so make sure to mark your calendars for sometime in September for this get together.

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A lawyer walks into a store with a disabled person, repeatedly!

Heeeere's Tommy!

This is a story that I read about yesterday. Actually it’s about several stories I read about yesterday concerning a lawyer named Thomas Frankovich, he works for the rights of the disabled. Normally that is something to feel good about, but this time it’s not. Several businesses in the Sunset and Mission District have been sued by Mr. Frankovich with the assistance of a disabled man named Craig Yates. How they do it appears to look more like an organized crime shake down maneuver than a cry for help for the disabled. Mr. Frankovich’s offices I have just learned are located at the top of 19 steps with no elevator access, hence Mr. Frankovich’s law offices are non-ADA compliant.

Now let me set the record straight that my mother was disabled. She had had four hip replacements and was morbidly obese so getting up and down the stairs was something she stopped doing during the last year of her life and prior to that it would take her about ten minutes to navigate down our thirteen stairs. While she could walk it could be barely considered walking and caused her great pain. When she would go out she would have to ride in a wheelchair that she herself couldn’t even maneuver. Now, here’s how Mr. Frankovich works.

Mr. Yates [sometimes accompanied by Mr. Frankovich] travel to a local business and test to see whether or not Mr. Yates can get into the building usually a restaurant to eat and use the facilities. If Mr. Yates could not he would write a letter to the business telling them they were non-complient with the ADA act. He would visit the business a few weeks later and if no changes had been made he would send a second letter then visit again in a few weeks. If he still had trouble there would be a third letter which included a summons to court from Mr. Frankovich.

Over the past three years six business in the Sunset alone have been targeted. Three have settled out of court, two are in mediation and one of the business has shut its doors for good. From the research I’ve done it appears that the out of court settlements have yielded Mr. Yates and Frankovich money in the tens of thousands of dollars from each settlement. These six law suits are not the only ones though. The grand total comes to over 30 law suits by Mr. Yates and Frankovich over the past three years. If you run the numbers in your head you can easily see how on a 50/50 split that each one of them would be sitting on a seven figure income per year. What’s more is that settlement funds are not taxable, so Mr. Yates after deducting his expenses from paying off Mr. Frankovich is in a pretty good place for a disabled man.

I should note that not all cases have been won by Mr. Frankovich. As I previously mentioned, one of the businesses has shut its doors as have also a few in the Mission District. Mr. Frankovich has also received three disciplinary actions over the last three years on ethics violations according to information obtained from the State Bar Association. What makes this story even more compelling is that prior to this Mr. Frankovich had levied over 100 law suits for non-ADA compliance in the Los Angeles area with a Mr. Jarek Molski using the same tactics.

[mappress mapid=”28″]I have tried to find pictures of Mr. Frankovich and Mr. Yates so that any business owners who visit my site can see what they look like so they would know to close down their businesses if they see them coming to avoid their racketeering-like ways, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a picture of them anywhere and I’m quite good with search engines. So far all I could find was Mr. Frankovich’s website at http://www.disabilitieslaw.com/. From my years of work as a graphic designer it is of my opinion that this was a very quickly put up website with a cartoonish picture of a man in a cowboy hat with a phone to his ear riding in a tank  labeled “access blaster” and a couple of disabled people in wheelchairs on either side with a throng of others walking behind the tank.

There is also another picture to the right that says, “One for all, all for one. The power of a class action lawsuit” yet so far Mr. Frankovich’s name only comes up associated with non-ADA compliance cases among two individuals. I haven’t seen anything about Mr. Yates or Mr. Molski saying that they are fighting for the disabled. It appears that they are both lining their own coffers with the money of small businesses.

San Francisco is an old city trying to keep its feel for the days of old somewhat. Landlords who purchase buildings built in the 20’s through 40’s LONG before there was the American’s with Disabilities Act usually don’t have the money to put into making their businesses ADA compliant or simply leave it to the people who rent from them to make the changes, but the majority of these businesses do everything they can to help out the disabled. I remember a business owner of a small coffee shop helping me bring the coffee and pastries I purchased out to my car because my mother didn’t want to get out of the car because it would be too painful for her. I’m am all in favor of assisting people with disabilities because I know what it’s like, but these two people insult the disabled by their practices and I feel it should stop now. Destroying local small businesses to line your own pockets is a crime in my humble opinion and I urge all you who read this to contact your local Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee to help bring this to an end.

Who’s in charge here?

I’d really like to know who’s brilliant idea this was. The picture here is across the street from my house. Originally these two houses had done something that a few people were into doing many years ago.

They’d have the curb removed so that the front of their house was all driveway. That way only THEY could park in front of their house or as was the case with the house on the left they used to park two cars in front of their house because they didn’t have any grass to deal with.

So close to two months ago some work crews come out that I suppose were from the city, but their signs had just about every department that uses these road signs set up to put the curbs back. Why? To make more parking spots available. What they ended up doing is taking a month to do the work giving us no more parking in front and not giving access to the driveways of the homeowners. Hell, I even saw them hooking up hoses to one of the houses outside water faucets and helping themselves to the water.

So once they finish a couple of days go by and they’re back again only this time tearing up the street and then blocking off the parking spaces they’ve just re-established. They worked for about two hours doing this and haven’t been back since, yet they’re still blocking off the parking places and originally had the police “do not cross” tape tied across the length of the row of road signs thereby not giving the homeowners access to their driveways. This has been set up like this for three weeks. I was happy though to see that people had pulled down the “do not cross” tape.

Now this wouldn’t bother me so much except that today I was taking a drive and noticed street workers fixing the roads all along Monterey Blvd [which for some reason they always seem to have road crews there]. There are also road crews set up on Bosworth when you’re going over Twin Peaks and there’s even a set up, but with no workers on Sloat Blvd. I’m just wishing that they could make all of our lives hell for a week and just push and redo everything then leave us alone for the next few years. I have no idea who’s responsible down at City Hall for this, but they need to take a good hard look at how they do things and begin to finish what they’ve started.

ED’s Note: As of today they showed up and simply repaved over what they ripped out. I never saw any reason for it, but I guess they know something I don’t.