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Posts Tagged 'change'

Mayor Ed Lee Has Died

I woke up yesterday morning and couldn’t believe the first thing I read. Mayor Ed Lee had died of a heart attack. As I read through the news I noticed people remarking how great a Mayor he was. There were also a few people that seemed a bit happy he had died. Here are some of my thoughts.

Mayor Lee wasn’t the type of person to make people angry out right. He had a very unassuming low key personality. Sure, you could say you didn’t agree with his choices, but to say you were angry would give him too much credit. I have looked back though to when he started in 2010 and seen change within the City.

Yes, everyone is talking about how Mayor Lee changed San Francisco, but was it for the better? We were in a recession when he took office and I read about how people were leaving San Francisco because of it. If they were it was only because they couldn’t find work. I actually had work during the recession. It wasn’t the greatest, but it was pretty good. Some of my friends were struggling because of the recession, but not because of anything San Francisco was doing. We were, like most people in a recession…getting by.

When then Mayor Gavin Newsom left to become Lieutenant Governor he needed a replacement and Lee was selected. It was only supposed to be temporary and then the City’s infamous Rose Pak got involved with her Run Ed Run campaign. Mayor Lee was officially elected even though there was talk of voter fraud that somehow got swept under the carpet. His first term as Mayor Rose Pak was always there like a puppet master pulling the strings. Even if she wasn’t she made it look like she was really in charge boasting frequently about how she got him there.

Rents started to increase again, housing prices started to increase again, the dot com bomb came back as a tech boom and the City put all it’s eggs in one basket turning it into the tech hub of the U.S. even though most of it was going on in Silicon Valley, Mayor Lee brought companies to San Francisco changing the culture and population not necessarily for the better. The residents became more like long term tourists. They would come and make money then leave, or spend all their [and usually their parents] money and leave. They weren’t adding to the City, but taking away from it. In the past seven years I’ve seen more well known places to go and do things in San Francisco suddenly disappear or become unaffordable to the average person. I gave a ride to a woman who works at City Hall who told me that she was finishing up a report where a family of four making less than $105,000 per year was considered low income for San Francisco.

Meanwhile I started to see a bit of an odd conservative tone coming to parts of San Francisco that was always a liberal city decried for it’s San Francisco Values as if we were the capital city of Hell. Suddenly we had people talking about how they were against cannabis dispensaries in their neighbors. Think of the children was a common answer to questions regarding their nimbyism. Most of these things would never affect their children even if they had children since most parents had to move their families out because it had become too expensive.

The City changed drastically and not in a good way. Friends were leaving because they couldn’t find work. A recently report I read mentioned that if you’re over 35 in San Francisco tech companies aren’t interested in you, yet the City was overflowing with tech companies and there weren’t many other places to work. Jobs that used to be for real company employees suddenly were becoming contractor positions which in a twist were paying less that contractor positions used to, [Note: Contractors used to be paid more than regular employees because they didn’t get benefits and could be terminated at a moments notice. It was cheaper for companies to pay a bit more for a contractor and be able to cut their off on a whim than to go through all the possible repercussions of firing an employee.]

Mayor Lee’s approval rating during his second term dropped to 30%. Less than our current President’s is at the moment. The homeless were setting up camps all over the City. You’d have to step over piles of feces and puddles of urine walking to work downtown. The once wonderful City was starting to look like a horrible dump [literally in some cases]. The homeless problem got so bad that coming up to the Super Bowl Mayor Lee rounded up all the homeless that some of this policies helped create and moved them out of the City. They managed to come back afterwards, but that was to be expected.

The crime rate in the past year has increased even in the safer neighborhoods. There are far more home and car break ins, robberies, shootings, stabbings that I’ve seen here in my entire life. In the past year I’ve seen three shootings and four stabbings in the Sunset District which is more than I can remember ever hearing about. 

I am sorry Mayor Lee died. We all have to go at some point, but I feel for his family. I also feel for San Francisco and hope that a new change will come that will bring it back to the place where artists and musicians and other creative types can have a place that made this City so weird and wonderful and not a City of rich people living poorly.

Back To Work: Introduction

techThere comes a time in every persons life when needing to earn a more steady income becomes necessary. I’ve had to put driving for rideshare companies on hold for awhile and possibly permanently because an offer came my way that was better than what I was earning from the flailing pay cuts of the rideshare industry in San Francisco.

So as of a few weeks ago I, a third generation San Francisco have started a job where I’m one of the oldest people at the company and I am now…a techie. Part of the joy I got from this offer was getting to see how that half lived that lots of my friends blame for everything that’s changed the way they used to live in San Francisco as if time hasn’t had anything to do with that.

Now that my work time is parceled out within a specific period of the day 5 days a week and not chasing the surge as it was when I was a rideshare driver I actually have more time to myself even though technically I’m working more hours. While I can’t go into too many details about the company that I’m working for because of the NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement] I had to sign before I accepted their offer I can tell you that this company is a mid-market tech start up who’s offices are just a couple of blocks away from Twitter, Square and Uber and it’s not any of those. It’s actually owned now by a very large American corporation with a long history in the United States so that alone gives it a little more clout [Klout?] than most other start ups.

Since it’s been over three years since I actually had to work downtown and I have to say that driving your car downtown is a much more isolated experience than actually walking the streets and taking public transportation, it was a rather eye-opening experience. The Mid-Market area can be a little bit terrifying to walk in for someone like me who hasn’t had to walk past people arguing with a fire hydrant or people trying to not be noticed trying to take a dump next to a taco truck. The initial smell wasn’t too off putting of the area, but there was a lot more smell of diesel mixed in urine and feces. As I leave the Van Ness metro station and begin by walk down 11th street I notice there are a lot of car repair shops mixed in with a few tech oases for start ups that don’t even have any real estate.

Food is far and between in this part of town which is probably a part of why lunch is catered every day where I work. [more on that later]. The people on the streets have a bit of hard look to them which is contrasted by the tech workers trying to get to the safety of their workplace a quick as possible. From my short experience of close to a month it seems like the company I’m at likes sheltering their employees from the World of Horrors that is right outside their doors. I have been cursed at by people wandering the streets who most likely never grew up in San Francisco, but where probably displaced homeless people or meth heads [again, more on that later] who think I am the one destroying their town, when I was born and raised here and not them and the fact that these people are only old enough to be my children.

Overall there is a sharp contrast of joy and revulsion between the time I leave the metro station and when I get to work that makes me understand why I was picking up so many people and driving them to work. It’s hard to stare at people who tried to make something of their lives here and are having trouble or just gave it up as a lost battle. More in the coming days.

Hi! My name is lard-ass

Well my doctor who can be blunt at times, which is good because I tend to take blunt people more seriously told me I was out of shape today and need to walk at least fifteen minutes a day. I kind of got an idea that something was wrong the night of the SF Weekly awards when I walked out of the metro station and by the time I got down to 111 Minna I had broken out in a sweat. I did that walk every day for years and never broke a sweat unless it was a very hot day. So things have changed for me and I sat down and thought about it for a bit.

For the last two years I’ve been unemployed except for a short 3 month stretch with a start up company that required me to sit at home in front of the computer and record voice overs for a cool iPhone app called HearPlanet. It turns out that being that sedentary all day long isn’t good for you. I spent most of my days at my computer, looking for work, doing freelance work or watching Hulu and Netflix and tweeting and Facebooking. This is not a good habit to have.

The weird thing is that I feel like I should look like the guy in the picture, but I don’t. I could lose five pounds, but I don’t look overweight for my age. I’m pretty close to my BMI which is good, but if I break out in a sweat after walking a block something’s got to change. As you may have noticed, my posting has been reduced a bit with my new job. I’m going to need to step away from the computer a bit more now so that I can get myself back to being able to walk six blocks to the store easily. That means I’ll try to have at least three posts a week.

It’s time I turned myself around so the guy in the picture can’t beat me in a sprint. We love our wide screen TV’s and computers and all the big techie stuff you can sit in front of for hours on end staring at here in San Francisco, but it’s not good for you. While my doctor has said my heart is in good shape, I still don’t want to die in my 50’s due to natural causes. Now it’s time to get up and take a walk after which I will call my friend Clint the yoga master down in Costa Rica for some yoga tips. For what it did for him, it might get me back in shape.


BART Protest: When good ideas go bad

I have to count my blessings that I don’t work downtown at the moment because yesterday’s protest would have done the exact opposite to me of what the protesters wanted. Yesterday was a day when a good idea when wrong and I’m not even sure it was that good of an idea.

There is still a little dispute about whether it was because of the shooting of a homeless man who while being drunk threw a bottle at BART police and then drew a knife and started to come at them or whether or not it was BART cutting off cell phone service last week. There’s a couple of problems with each of these.

First, Charles Hill, attacked police officers. Sure, they probably could have done some TV style police moves and disarmed him and got him to the ground, but TV isn’t real life. He had a knife pulled out and after throwing a bottle at police started to come towards them. I don’t know if he ran, lunged or just stood there stabbing the air in the direction of the cops, but he was a threat. Oscar Grant on the other hand, wasn’t a threat. I can see people protesting that incident, but not this one.

The second is the Guy Fawkes masks protesting censorship by turning off cell phone service underground to protestors. Here’s a couple of things. I actually liked going into the station after work at one of my last jobs because the cell reception was crap. I could barely get 3G service on my cell even in BART so to me if BART and Muni kept their mouths shut no one would have noticed. The second is that most of the protesters probably don’t know that Guy Fawkes came to fame by being a religious fanatic in England who was caught sitting on a number of powder kegs to be used to assassinate King James I and hopefully restore a Catholic Monarchy in England. Fawkes ended up committing suicide at his execution by jumping from the scaffold he was to be hung from before he was to be drawn and quartered. Choosing one pain over a more grisly pain. The Brits back then only hung you until you were almost dead, then dropped you, tied you down, sliced off your genitals, then ripped your guts out and if you were lucky as the last act of mercy beheaded you. Actually, now that I think about it, the people who make V is for Vengence should have done some homework as well.

Many people are calling this a denial of freedom of speech. No one was denying their the right to speak, just not on cell phones which work poorly underground anyway. I’m not even sure why you would need a cellphone at a protest anyway since you’re supposed to make your voice heard to those you are protesting against.

Much of this fell on deaf ears. Yes, there were BART Police there and many of the protesters were arrested, but did they get their point across? In my opinion, NO. When you stage a protest your goal is to bring the people around you into your outrage and join you. What this protest did was anger those people who were trying to get home from work to be with their families. No to have their trip home interrupted by a mass of people angry over the death of a man who attacked police or because they couldn’t use their cellphones in a place where cellphones don’t work very well in the first place.

I think the protesters today need to do a little homework to learn how to be more effective. Perhaps it would have been better to protest at BART headquarters, but that would require more work to get there. People will not join your cause if your only purpose is to disrupt the people. BART and MUNI don’t really care too much about that, but the people do.