The Emperor Norton Bridge

norton.cartoonNow that we have a new span on the Bay Bridge apparently we have to name it. There are members of the NAACP in Southern California who think we should make an exception to the rule of not naming large structures after living people and name it after Willie Brown.

Don’t get me wrong, while I’m one of the few, I actually like Willie Brown. The man has style. The man has an attitude. He has so much attitude that if he was in favor of it being named after him he would have said something already. I guess that’s all part of being a kid born in Minneola, Texas and moving to San Francisco.

So functionally, by saying nothing I think we can take that as a no vote from Willie Brown. It’s part of the passive-agressive way politicians work in that it’s not always what they say, but what they don’t say. Our Governor, Jerry Brown who apparently didn’t learn the passive-agressive technique has just come right out and said he doesn’t like the idea.

So while the people of Southern California think they know what’s best for San Francisco, we need to come up with a counter attack to put the boobs of silicone valley in their place.

I strongly stand with the members of E Clampus Vitus who want the bridge named after Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton. This is a man who in 1859 proclaimed himself to be the Emperor of the United States of America and Protector Of Mexico. The man made his own money that people actually accepted around San Francisco. This is the type of guy that should have a bridge named after him.

As a matter of fact, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is unofficially named the Emperor Norton Bridge. There’s even a plaque on the San Francisco side stating this. Why can’t the politicians see this? We don’t have people like Emperor Norton anymore in the Bay Area and I think that we need people like that to symbolize the rough and tumble, do it yourself kind of mentality that made San Francisco what it is. Not the Mark Zuckerberg’s or Steve Job’s types who are in Silicon Valley, but the real people that San Francisco had who made a difference. There is no Emperor Norton Hotel, Bar or even Restaurant in San Francisco and if there’s a small chance I missed it then it needs to be more in the forefront than in the background as long as they’re doing a good job of representing him.

We are on the eve of the naming of the bridge so I suggest that you email Governor Brown, Mayor Lee and Mayor Quan and let them know that the bridge deserves a proper name.



Is Rose Pak Racist?

Rose has been getting a lot of attention lately in her support for our Mayor Ed Lee. She may need to to think before she speaks though. She was quoted as saying, I want to help MY community. To me that is wrong. It’s about THE community not a person’s racial community. If I were to say oh, I don’t know, I want to support the white people then someone would invoke Godwin’s Law and link me with Hitler and the KKK.

Rose Pak, the Chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce is fighting to help her people in Chinatown. I respect that. Chinatown needs help. It’s broken down in many places and needs a big upgrade, but at the same time to focus on a very small group of people who have very little political clout [not Klout] her efforts sound a bit like Don Quixote. If you want to get the Chinese vote in San Francisco, you have to get out of Chinatown where there are very few registered voters. If you want the Chinese vote you need to go places like the Richmond or the Sunset District. THAT is where the Chinese voters are.

This is actually beside the point. Rose Pak’s work to me is dividing San Francisco. There is no political person of another race in San Francisco who is trying to give political power to their race other than Rose Pak. OK, she’s friends with Willie Brown, but that’s from a political perspective. I have yet to hear about Rose and Willie having a meet up that didn’t involve tea and Chinese food. Rose has been referred to by many as the Iron Queen of Chinese Politics. That’s fine if you’re in China, but she’s not. She’s in San Francisco which is a part of America and in my mind we should all be American’s first and what other culture you’ve come from second.

I learned this when talking to a friend from Ireland. I told him I was Italian and Austrian and he said, I thought you were American? Well I am, but my family came from Italy and Austria, granted that was a couple of hundred years ago and I can barely speak German and my Italian is atrocious. I do like spaghetti and spaetzle, but I also like to eat a burrito or Indian food and I don’t focus on the color of a person’s skin unless that’s their only motivation for getting up in the morning.

Rose would do best to help THE community of San Francisco than to just focus on the Chinese. Chinese already make up 33% of San Francisco’s population. I think you’ve done a good job, now it’s time to move on work on helping the other 67%.


Taking a walk down to Union Square

I had to take a trip down to Union Square yesterday which means this should officially be the next post for the 49 mile scenic trip around San Francisco, but it’s going to encompass a little bit more. When you get off the metro at Powell Street station and return to the land of living you’re confronted with something much different than your quiet little neighborhood where you started…PEOPLE!

More accurately defined as members of the species, Homo touristus, or Tourists. You can tell them from their glazed over look trying to take in everything around them and understand how you can have a really crappy tourist shop next to a very high end fashion outlet or they’re just filling up the space to try and get a ride on our famous cable cars which have their turnaround at the end of their line at Powell and Market. If you’ve never seen a cable car turnaround it’s kind of impressive. The cable car drives onto a large turntable and unhooks from the underground cable. Then two guys literally turn it around so it can head outbound with all the passengers on the new track.

The people who work in and around this area you can tell because their the one’s who are darting through the zombie tourists much like a quarterback doing an end run. When you get to a stop light you more collect into a denser crowd until the light changes and you have to navigate through the horde coming at you from the opposite direction.

Finally after a few blocks you hit Union Square where everything opens up, sort of. I was there around lunch time so it was expected to be crowded. It was the first warm summery day that we’ve had in awhile so there were plenty of short skirts out enjoying the weather with in term brought out more guys to ogle them hoping for a quick breeze to give the skirts some lift. There was a band playing, since it was lunch time which attracted even more people, but at least you had some room to breathe.

This made me wonder how Union Square came to be so I did a little research. It turns out that it was set aside in 1850 by the first American Mayor of San Francisco, John Geary to hold pro-Union rallies. Not the unions you’re thinking of but the pre-Civil war Union vs. Confederates. In 1903 a pillar dedicated to Admiral Dewey’s victory at the Battle of Manila Bay was put in place. Then Mayor Willie Brown, closed the square in 2000 for renovation so that it didn’t look like some kind of Russian industrial playground, but more park-like. Reopening in 2002 it became the unofficial heart of San Francisco where you will readily find art shows, free bands and I believe they still have a farmer’s market there, but I couldn’t find any info on it.

The real reason people come to this area is for retail therapy. This is where you come to shop. Since I grew up in the Sunset District we’d usually go to the Stonestown Mall or Serramonte rather than downtown, but my Grandmother always loved going downtown. I think because it made her feel like an upper crust society woman [my Grandmother was the executive secretary for the Women’s City Club, a place where women whose children had left the nest went to drink tea and eat watercress sandwiches until their husband’s came home from work.]

At Union Square you’ll find Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and all the other, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it type stores intermixed with the Sketchers and Diesel chains for the younger crowd who don’t ask the price, but just ask their parents to pay the bill. Side note, I once actually paid $75 for a Diesel belt that has held up to all the wear and tear over the 10 years I’ve had it, but I won’t be making any purchases like that for at least another 10 years. I do like to window shop at least and you can do that too for free.

You’ll also find all the upper crust hotels here such as the St. Francis with Beefeater dressed doorman, the Grand Hyatt and Four Seasons along with many other pricey, but luxury hotels. What’s a hotel without places to eat? One of the things I never realized before was just how many steak houses and hof brau type restaurants were in the area. You get plenty of food at not too expensive prices and the surrounds are, acceptable, not suit and tie luxury, but you could do a lot worse. The best known of these places is Lefty O’Douls. A place I and many other denizens of San Francisco history have been found here. Let’s just say if you want to save your money, go to Lefty’s. It’s probably the cheapest spot on the square and the best bang for your buck. Lefty’s deserves its own posting so I’ll leave it at that.

If you haven’t been to Union Square you should go to take in a sense of San Francisco. Now I want to go to Lefty’s.



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 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.

No Public Funds for Politicians!

I am beginning to really get fed up with politicians. When Gavin Newsom left for the Lt. Governor’s position he ended up leaving us in a state of chaos. I read an article today that really horrified me. It said that San Francisco would be paying out $6-8 million dollars in campaign funds to anyone who runs for mayor and raises at least $25,000.

Here’s how it works. If you get $25k in contributions, the city will give you double that amount. If you bring in $125k you’ll get $450k from the San Francisco and if you get  $500k in private funds you’ll get an additional $800k from the city.

Let’s make it a little bit worse. The new rules call for a $1.3 million spending limit per candidate, but if just one campaign – or even an independent expenditure committee, which isn’t subject to the same limits – breaks the cap, all candidates may all be able to get even more money from the city.

Many candidates are already well on their way. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has collected $250,000 in private donations, state Sen. Leland Yee has raised $165,000, and businesswoman Joanna Rees has brought in $150,000. Other candidates who have already qualified for public cash are former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, $100,000, and Controller Phil Ting, $50,000.

The city’s deficit is expected to reach $750 million dollars this year so I suppose adding another $6-8 million won’t help. I’ve done a little math here. Gavin Newsom tried to put into effect his own version of the old JobsNow program which reimbursed employers for the payroll of unemployed parents, but that didn’t work too well. If you took that money and put it into $40k/year jobs it would get 200 people off of unemployment. Not a very big deal in a city of 850,000 people. OK how about this, take that money and divide it equally to all the San Francisco public schools and how much would they get? Almost $51,000 per school.

Our schools are short on cash. My daughter’s teacher has to ask parents if they can donate supplies because she doesn’t have the funding to purchase them. I bet she wouldn’t have to ask for donations from the parents if the money was distributed. Hell, she even had to go out and buy paint to repaint her classroom by herself.

This is wrong and I’m putting a call out to our new Mayor Ed Lee to do the right thing and stop this. Anyone who can fill out the paperwork and raise $25k in funds will get $50k free of charge from the city and that is wrong. This is one of the biggest problems we have to fix and we have to fix it NOW!

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.

Willie Brown…Herb Caen’s Successor

Willie Brown, what can I say. He is a career politician who was once our mayor that some people said of him, “You’re a crook, but you’re OUR crook.” He just laughed that off with a smile. A politician being called a crook and not getting outraged? Willie has cohones as big as his wardrobe of clothes from Wilks Bashford.

Now that he’s getting up there in years a bit, he’s not slowing down, but he’s moving away from politics and just talking about them. That’s why his “Willie’s World” in the SF Chronicle is one of the first things I go for in the Sunday paper. Willie has been around the block a few times and knows how things work. I get a kick when he says things like, “So I was having lunch with the Governator at the Palace hotel when Micky Rourke walked over and said hi.”

How many people could have the guts to make a statement like that? He is like the glitterati of politics which crosses over to the hollywood world of weirdness. His column on Sundays is true 3 dot journalism just like Herb Caen used to write. He starts off with the state of affairs in San Francisco and ends up with movie and restaurant reviews. I would love to be able to claim myself as the successor to Herb Caen, but I’m more of a bastard child. Willie has it down. This is probably because I spend most of my days living in the boring Sunset District which I love and Willie’s getting a table without a reservation at Tyler Florence’s new place because, well, he’s Willie Brown.

Willie has seen San Francisco’s soft white underbelly and he can still smile about the city. He was asked if he’d fill in as interim Mayor of SF and he proudly said no. He’s been there and done that so I can see that. He needs some sort of honorary title though like City Historian or Ambassador to San Francisco. I think Cyril Magnin had that latter title many years ago. Nevertheless, Willie is a cool guy who I would like to meet one day. I’m envisioning our meet up would be at the Tadich Grill for San Francisco sentiments sake. The Washington Street Bar and Grill or “Washbag” as Herb Caen used to call it was his place, so I think the Tadich would be a better choice.