Wednesday, April 25, 2007


A major tenet of hippie was opposition to wage slavery. For us spoiled boomers the idea of working forty hours per week for forty years seemed like hell. Putting off freedom until retirement looked like a bad bargain. Mexicans called us existentialistas.

I had lunch with a very nice young woman from my previous job named Melissa, and made a point of stopping to see her boss, Thelma. For some reason I really like them and they me.

Maybe it’s because we’re all outside the young mainstreamers in admin at the China Basin office. Melissa is a Jehovah’s Witness and much of her activity centers around her church. And Thelma is a Catholic mother about my age. They were nice to me while others weren’t. They are hard working and competent. Would that all public employees performed as well.

My former place of work is contiguous with the Giants ballpark at one end, and with the new T-Third Line at the other. There’s continuing construction in the area, and, oddly, they’re adding two or three additional stories to the building where I used to work.

The crane is like a washingtonia robusta palm tree.

In recent news we’ve seen two stories about public employees and the abuse of disability claims.

Yesterday Nathaniel Ford told the Transportation Board (of Supervisors) that when he arrived two years ago there were 300 Muni-driver slots filled by people out on long term disability. Mr Ford said that in a system the size of Muni a reasonable number might be 100.

It’s all pussyfooted, but basically they’re saying that there are 200 drivers drawing disability based on fake or exaggerated claims.

A few weeks ago we were appalled to read in this Examiner story that 28% of San Francisco’s 911 call takers are out on long term disability.

How can this be?

There is a culture in San Francisco City employment of “working the system.” The system is easier to work because it’s funny money with much less oversight than would obtain in the private sector.

And there is bad example coming from the top.

The mayor’s ex-girlfriend, Ruby Tourk, who had a seldom-show job in the mayor’s office received $10,000 in compensation from a catastrophic illness program after she had already resigned.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who helped create the program for AIDS patients and terminal cancer cases, has called for hearings. Legal or not, it’s an excellent example of working the system.

Another reason people scam disability is because clueless supervisors are unable to make the workplace fun and comfortable. Again, since there’s no profit-measure, crappy supervisors and suckass middle-managers are tolerated.

The public relies on civil servants who are "internally motivated" to do a good job, like Melissa and Thelma.

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1 comment:

sfmike said...

Nice analysis, and I love the shout-out to Melissa and Thelma.