Lost Job, Lost Car, and $175 Ticket Spur Man's City Hall Diatribe

Categories: Government
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I'm not going to take it anymore
Rarely does a letter to City Call carry the tone of justified righteousness displayed in a screed penned by of out-of-work database engineer Paul Nisbett. But rarely has San Francisco seemed to so effectively apply its apparent kick-em-when-they're down policy than it has in Nisbett's case.

Rampant parking tickets led him to get rid of his car. Thanks to never-repaired streets, he's pummeled by potholes every day riding his bike around town. He lost the last job he had when his part-time gig with the U.S. Census was up. Two weeks ago he and a friend sought solace sipping a beer at Washington Square Park, when a cop walked up and gave them each $175 tickets for violating the city's anti open container law. Some folks would curse their luck. Not Nisbett. He cursed his city supervisor -- in writing.

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He's mad as hell ... and you know the rest
Nisbett unleashed the most bitchen' anti-City Hall rant we've seen in a while when he sent a recent missive to Supervisor David Chiu.

"My request of you is to stop making useless proclamations about SF's place in the universe, stop scamming people that live in your district, and start actually governing the city," Nisbett wrote to Chiu.

SF Weekly asked the letter-writer what brought him to such an epistolary boil.

"I was just really pissed off about it," he said of the beer ticket. "I don't think it was a public safety issue. It was, basically a question of, 'Come on, man, who are you working for here?' I live and work in the city, and here you are trying to persecute me for having the gall for living the city."


As a professional manager of data, Nisbett managed to shepherd a pile of au-courant facts about city failings into an wide-ranging everyman's complaint. Here's some text from his letter.


"The city is a financial hole because it caves into every public employee union that it deals with. To pay for this the city has systematically decided to scam every last penny out of the people that lives and work here (sic)... I put my life at risk because the city will not spend any money to fix potholes. At least the useless police force we have gets to keep a nice fat 90 percent pension. It's great the bus drivers don't have to show up for work if they don't want to.

Two weeks ago I am in Washington Square park with a friend. A cop walks up and starts writing us a ticket without saying anything. It turns out that he is giving us each a ticket for having an open container of beer.

This is not posted anywhere visible in the park. We were not drunk or boisterous. As he is writing up the ticket there is an unleashed dog nearby. He does nothing about that. There is the smell of marijuana from nearby. He does nothing about that. Why? Because there is no money in it.

Yesterday I found out why he was so determined to give us each a ticket. The city gets $175 for each open container ticket it writes. If I miss my court date or pay the fine late, the city adds $300 to the $175.

This is a blatant money-making scam by my city government to cover its own ineptitude with finances. I guess if you are a supervisor or a cop making over $100,000 a year, $175 doesn't seem so much.

My last job was working part time for the Census where I got $20 per hour trying to get people to fill out forms they didn't want to fill out.

$175 is a lot of money to me and a lot of money to many of your constitutents.

Meanwhile, in my local park -- Huntington -- there are daily dog fights because of the unleashed dogs. The cops do nothing about it because it is politically a hot topic and the fine is so low, there is no money in it for the city.


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