Posts Tagged 'taxes'

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.

San Francisco: Fear the e-Check!

This story starts back in 2010 when I received my bill for the property taxes I owe on my home. Now I could write a check to pay for the taxes [which I should of], but decided to pay online. I wrote maybe 3 checks in the last year as it’s more convenient for me and the companies I deal with to pay electronically and I have never once had a problem. I noticed that all of the online payment choices had a “convenience fee” associated with them.

I’m always hated the idea of a “convenience fee” where by using it makes it a convenience for you and the company you’re paying. There was a convenience fee free option of using an e-check so naturally I chose that. I entered my account info and routing number and got a receipt that my taxes were now paid. I did notice after awhile that in checking my account that it seemed like they hadn’t taken the money out yet, but hey it’s the government, they tend to run like molasses on a cold day.

Last week I receive a letter from the SF tax collector’s office saying that my e-Check had been reject by my financial institution because the account didn’t exist AND I was being charged a $50 fee for the rejected e-Check and an additional $57 for being late with the payment even though I originally had paid it on time.. Funny, no other utility company had sent me a letter like this. So I make a phone call and the woman I talked to immediately told me to talk to my bank and get them to send her and her superior an email stating that it was a mistake and they’d remove the penalty fees.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Apparently at some point my routing number had changed and I didn’t know that. The bank informed me that was why it was probably rejected, but because the letter said it was rejected by my financial institution and didn’t name the bank that was the problem and they couldn’t write the email. So I send an email to the tax lady and she tells me that she can’t say what bank because they only process the e-Check by the numbers that I gave them and sent me a gif file of what they received. As it turns out I had made one mistake in the account number also. The SF Tax Collectors office apparently doesn’t have any way of verifying whether or not the information you gave them was correct.

So I go back to my bank and show them the printed out email that has my account number with the one number wrong and the old routing number which you would think would be enough proof to show them that I tried to pay with the account, but once again, unless the SF Tax Collector’s office could mention the name of my bank even though I could show them the account and routing information they can’t send an email. So now I’m in a bit of a catch-22 situation and while all the other employees at my local bank are being very helpful to me the assistant manager has been blocking me from the branch manager who if I could find him would recognize me and help me. While I could get nasty and name names, I’m not going to do that.

I just wanted to let everyone know that when it comes to the SF Tax Collectors office be very careful as they don’t have a system of checks and balances in place to verify what they’re doing and if anything goes wrong it’s your fault and they make you be the middle man with your bank.