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or, better yet, give him a job."
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ex-SF Supervisor Ed Jew to be Released from Prison One Year From Today - Then Goes Directly to Jail

San Francisco's favorite moron, old friend, despicable extortionist, ex-San Francisco Supervisor, convicted felon, and federal prisoner #94086-111, Ed Jew will be released from federal prison exactly one year from today.

The Federal Conviction
He was sentenced to 64 months in federal prison when he pleaded guilty in federal court for a charge of bribery, mail fraud and extortion when he attempted to shake the the Quickly drink chain stores experiencing permit problems and asked for Ed's help.

When the folks at Quickly learned Ed was attempting to extort the beverage chain of tens of thousands of dollars for "assistance," they contacted the FBI.  The feds set up a sting operation by providing the money and video recording Ed counting his cash at his flower shop in Chinatown.  View the KGO Channel Seven video of him caught in the act.

While the prosecutors asked for a two year sentence, the judge threw the book at Ed and gave him a five year and four month sentence with a $10,000 fine.  If you didn't know, the federal prison system doesn't have parole, unlike California, so Ed has to serve his full term.  There is the possibility he may only need to serve 85% of his federal sentence for good behavior, which means a 54.4 month sentence, therefore he could be released in just three months.

Ed Isn't Free after Federal Prison
But, while Ed is being released from federal lockup in a year or less, he's going straight to the SF county jail as he was also sentenced to one year of jail, three years of probation and a $2,000 fine from the state criminal courthouse.

He took a plea deal that dropped eight of nine felony charges to just one for perjury for lying about his residency.  What happened is Ed was elected to represent the Sunset District by claiming he lived in the neighborhood, but city investigators found out the house he was allegedly living in had barely any usage of gas, electricity, and garbage service.  He admitted in open court prior to being sentenced that he lived in Burlingame when elected.

Ed abused the media by constantly lying and twisting the story, even doing a press segment in front of his "home" in the Sunset district.  But a stupid stunt Ed did was when a warrant for his arrest was issued by D.A. Kamala Harris, he surrendered to Burlingame police, instead of San Francisco.  The other city supervisors and politicians had enough of his antics.  Ed resigned on January 10, 2008 as part of a deal with the city to not be civilly prosecuted and face the Ethics Commission.

But, Ed may be released in eight months depending on behavior and any time he has held in lockup prior to conviction.

From a man who owned a flower shop, extorts a tapioca drink chain and lied about his residency, to becoming a felon spending good times in prison eating mushy carrots, to being a freed convict with felonies on his rap sheet; he's going to have a fun time working as a sub-contractor janitor in City Hall, removing trash from his former office.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Update: After Three Weeks, Donation Bins Still Blocking Parking Space & Meter

Taking photos of the bins as proof the city has done nothing
Three weeks ago, I reported about two private donation bins at the corner of Evelyn and Portola that's blocking a public parking space and parking meter.

My argument for getting these bins removed is very simple, it's on public property and the city is generating zero money on the loss of parking revenue since the meter is literally unusable.

As citizens, when we want to report on problems, we simply contact SF 311 on the phone, file an online report, or their Twitter account @SF311.

When I first reported it to 311, their response wasn't that friendly; by asking me to do the dirty work of contacting the private company to remove it.  But I know that if the city makes the call to the company, they'll have to listen because it's the city government demanding removal.

I sent a message back to 311 asking them to do it, and they promised to handle the problem by having DPW issue a correction notice to the company within five days.  That was January 28th.

Expecting the city to do their job in good faith and get those bins removed, I visited the exact location on February 9th, two weeks after my initial report to 311.  They were still there.  Here's proof:

311's response on the failure of removal of the bins:

So the folks at 311 promised me an escalated response, which means this is being given priority.  I've been taking photos of the bins on a regular basis just to show as proof the city hasn't been forcing the company to remove the bins, or that DPW should be confiscating them in the name of the public interest.

But now it's February 17th, and just last night, I reported to 311 that the bins are still there, and provided photographic proof (as seen on the top of this blog entry).  Here's 311's response to the matter:

I just called 311 and here's what they are telling me:
The last entry of the report is that on February 10th (after the case was "escalated") DPW accepted the request, and a DPW supervisor of the Bureau of Street Use contacted the vendor demanding removal on February 11th.  The 311 operator noted my call and update that the bins are still there.

Now it's February 17th, AND IT'S STILL THERE.  Do I need ask Stanley Roberts of KRON's "People Behaving Badly" for help?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Muni Fare Inspector Saturation Raids, Are They an Effective Use of Resources?

Last week Wednesday, I noticed several fare inspectors and two police officers waiting at the 19th Avenue and Holloway bus stop in front of San Francisco State University waiting for buses to arrive so they can be checked for proper proof of payment.

Last week Friday on my commute to my job, I noticed about the same number of fare inspectors and police officers at the 19th Avenue and Taraval bus stop for the 28/28L line going southbound.

It makes me wonder if the SFMTA is utilizing their Muni fare inspection teams in the most efficient manner.  I have questioned Muni's tactics in 2009 when thousands of Giants fans were inspected as usual at the entrance to the Muni metro platform in front of the ballpark, and was checked a second time at the Embarcadero station exit; it was a waste of the agency's resources because all the ballpark passengers were screened prior to entry to the system.

Their 'saturation' enforcement has been a controversial issue around certain communities as activists claimed fare inspectors target low income minorities, but in the agency's point of view, they are using the teams to transit lines that have the highest amount of fare evasion.

Normally, fare inspection teams are usually two inspectors that typically board a vehicle for a short ride, and go up and down the aisles to quickly check everyone for proof of payment.  But the saturation teams uses several inspectors and at least one police officer to board a vehicle at a stop, check everyone, disembark the vehicle, let the vehicle go, and wait for the next one.

While each method of enforcement meets the goal of surprise inspections to make sure passengers are in compliance with the established policies regarding proof of payment, I feel the saturation inspections are a waste of manner, and other methods of using them can be more effective.

By having several inspectors board the bus at once, it brings that feeling of the FBI wanting to raid a house and make you feel like a criminal.  When having a team of two handle a vehicle going from stop to stop, things are a lot calmer, and I've seen that be a lot more comfortable to see two inspectors ride the metro from one stop to another to quickly check everyone.

A Better Way?
In the above photo, this was in front of San Francisco State University where this particular team checked every single southbound 17, 28, 28L, and 29 bus that stopped there.  With two police officers also present, the feeling in the air was more like all the passengers are suspects and criminals, and those who wants to attempt to run will be tackled by the cops.

I feel a better and more effective way to make the large team more useful to check passengers is to spread them out at that particular intersection.  Have a team of two on the metro platform riding between the SF State and Stonestown stops checking passengers, have a team on the east side of the street to check the passengers riding northbound, and have the remaining at the west side stop.  By doing it this way, the large team is spread out checking all buses and trains going each direction, and police backup is right nearby when needed.

The same method could have also been used at 19th and Taraval by checking all the L-Taraval trains, but several inspectors just checked buses going one direction that came every 10 minutes.

What Inspections?
Personally, the number of fare inspections where I've been checked has been very rare and too far in between.  The most I've ever been checked is when I exit the Powell Street Station, but that's only about once every two or three months on the weekends.  The most hardcore fare inspections is after ballgames at AT&T Park, and that's necessary because everyone should pay their fare to ride the train to get home.

The agency thinks all the major lines are the headaches of fare evasion, but sometimes they should look at the smaller and less popular lines.  I don't think the agency realizes that the lines going through neighborhoods and are not considered a major route, also has their fair share of evasion and I feel Muni doesn't do a thing to make sure the agency is looking out for all cheats, no matter what route is taken.

Some Advice for Us, the Passengers
To some of you, you don't mind the inspectors.  To others, you hate their guts.

Here's some tips to making things just a little easier, and to keep that $75 ticket monkey/ticket off your back:
  1. Always get a transfer if you pay a cash fare.  Make sure it has at least 90 minutes on it.  If not, ask the driver for a new one, because 90 minutes is the MINIMUM.
  2. If you pay e-cash on Clipper, use a stopwatch to time how long your transfer is valid.  Once 90 minutes goes by after the first tag, the card is invalid.
  3. Carry spare cash with you if you have a Clipper card.  If you board the bus at the 89th minute and the card reader says okay, 60 seconds later, your transfer just expired.  Pay cash and just take a paper transfer.
  4. Always be aware, expired transfers are not valid during the journey.  This means, if you boarded while it was valid, but expires during the ride, either pay for a new one or get off the vehicle immediately.  But if Muni lacks the manpower or efficiency to check transfers, you might as well continue to ride expired.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Clipper Card's Plans for Expansion & Improvements in 2013

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Operations Committee (a.k.a. the defacto Clipper Card Board of Directors) will be meeting this Friday to discuss about Clipper card matters.

In a recently released agenda (PDF document) for the meeting, it mentions about what is planned for the Clipper card program for the year.  Here's the list:

First half of the year:
  1. They will enhance the website to make it easier to use.  If you log into your account, it's more streamlined.  They will also introduce a mobile phone friendly website in the near future.
  2. Youth and seniors will be able to apply via mail instead of going to an in-person location.
  3. The Clipper card will be accepted at five San Francisco parking garages.
Second half of the year:
  1. The end of Clipper card cheats on BART when the exitfare machines at every BART station will be functional to add value to cards.  This means passengers can't exit BART with a negative value on their card.
  2. Limited use tickets for social service agencies to distribute.
  3. Modifying Clipper's back end systems for more efficient and reliable processing.
  4. Preparing for expansion of program to smaller transit agencies not part of the current consortium.
  5. Working on long range plan for Clipper, including meeting with other transit agencies and other technology innovations.
Lastly, the board is reviewing a possible change in state law regarding personal information stored for transit rides after a recent controversy of how long Clipper and MTC keeps rider information data.  The law proposed in the legislature would make the maximum to six months.

Akit's Opinions
A lot of these goals they listed is pretty reasonable.  They are already working on the website and a mobile version will be quite helpful.  An Android and iPhone app would be great too.

I believe the most significant change will be accepting the Clipper card at city parking garages.  The only concern I have is how will this work; the problem is that Clipper card funding can be considered toxic if the e-cash purse is funded with pre-tax commuter dollars, therefore using it for parking, other than proper work transportation purposes is considered illegal.