Thursday, February 01, 2007

sorc-sf THE "M" WORD

The local press is looking into the financial aspects of city-owned parking operations, including garages and metered street parking. Actual revenue to the city has been, guess what, lower than expected.

It turns out that there are lots of people who are parking for free—cops, city officials, anyone with an ass worth licking—plus there are a huge number of “disabled placards” that allow cars displaying them to park for free in metered street spaces all day.

There was a similar investigation a couple of years ago about tax revenues from private parking garages, which were reported and paid on what amounted to the honor system. Guess what, low revenue there, too. It’s just shocking!

Extraordinary about yesterday’s Chronicle article was the appearance of the word “mafia.”

Organized crime is pretty much not talked about in San Francisco..

Here’s the quote, regarding proposed reforms:

"This is something that should have been done a long time ago. It's like we've been operating in the dark. ... Garages have always been like a Mafia thing,'' she said.

The “she” is Shirley Breyer Black (as distinguished from Shirley Temple Black). Ms Black is the chairwoman of the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission. Judging from her picture, she’s been around awhile.

Maybe being a mature lady is proof against a mob rub-out. Or maybe being the aunt of a US Supreme Court justice, Stephen Breyer, gives her some protection.

It’s like our crusading press is scared shitless.

I asked a friend, who cares a lot more about local politics than I do, if organized crime exists in San Francisco.

“Maybe the reason we don’t hear about it, is that S.F. is a clean city, there isn’t any organized crime,” I conjectured. This was met with laughter.

Pud is reticent to provide details. “The reason my family has survived in this town is we don’t talk,” Pud said. It’s frustrating, because he knows so much, but my ignorance probably keeps me safe. “You’d just blab,” he says.

An attorney who was a childhood friend of my mom’s sister was part of my growing up and she provided me with legal help in the draft-Vietnam war protest era.

Her name was Ruth Cessna, she claimed to have been SF’s first female public defender. She gave the impression that she knew where bodies were buried.

I once asked her about organized crime in San Francisco. This was maybe in the 1970s. Her explanation is something I’ve never heard before, or since.

Ruth said that east coast type organized crime, Mafia, Cosa Nostra, whatever, never made inroads in San Francisco because the police department had the city sewn up tight. That is, the SFPD ran all the vice operations and kept competitors out.

Ruth talked about a detail at the airport that would “meet” arriving mobsters and “chauffer” them to see the Chief of Police, who would tell them to leave and never come back.

If this is true, it’s really a pretty good deal. It eliminates a whole layer of Mafiosi sucking up profits and sharing them with national hierarchies. It keeps graft money here in the community.

The parking revenue scandal has a St Ignatius angle, of course.

I was in the same grade at SI as Steve Leonoudakis, a last name prominent in the San Francisco parking business.

The Leonoudakis’ have parking concessions at city-owned Candlestick Park, ‘nuff said.

The Leonoudakis’ operate the recently constructed underground parking facility in Golden Gate Park. It underlies this monster POS:

This construction is a first assault in the serial rape of the park by the selfish ignorati of Pacific Heights. The rich see Golden Gate Park, like the new city hall, as a party venue, and are gradually converting it to their private use.

Anyway, it’s better to have locals doing the raping and converting.

And, as far as mob activity goes, I think that life in San Francisco is less diminished by corruption than in some major east coast cities. This is a good thing. And we have the SFPD to thank.

That’s what makes the Gleegate thing and the Fajitagate thing so upsetting, they’re so, like, east coast.

Pud shakes his head. “You’re right, Willie, only your ignorance protects you.”

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