A Little Something for Everyone

Wherein we visit the District Attorney’s Office, the Post-Standard newspaper, HUD management and Time Warner, and are not pleased.

The Arrogance of the District Attorney’s Office

McCarthy Avenue is a one-block street that runs from State Street to Townsend Street next to the Public Safety Building/Justice Center.  It is a narrow street that has diagonal parking on one side and no parking on the other side—except that was the problem.  All sorts of cars were being parked on the sidewalk by people who thought they could get away with it—off-duty police officers, unmarked Sheriff’s Dept. vehicles, various other employees in the buildings, etc.  The problem was that because of the cars on the sidewalk I couldn’t get my wheelchair through, so last year I finally filed a complaint with Mayor Miner and Chief Fowler.  Orders were given and thereafter no one parked on the sidewalk—until yesterday.

I was wheeling home and found my path blocked by one single car parked on the sidewalk right in front of the Stop sign.  It was a dark blue Mazda, and I called it in to 911 at 6:55 p.m.  After making the call, I noticed a placard on the dashboard.  It had the emblem of the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office and the No. 20.  It said it was a temporary permit for one day only (date not given), and it had an investigator’s name illegibly handwritten.  The card appeared to be faded and laminated as if a “one-day” permit had been turned into an enduring permit.  Further, most of the diagonal parking spaces were empty, suggesting that the driver of this car had come to work during the day and been illegally parked for an entire shift; he was not working an emergency.

So what we have is the highest law enforcement agency in the county totally disregarding the law, which is apparently what you can do if you work for D.A. Bill Fitzpatrick.

The Irresponsibility of the Post-Standard

In the lobby of my apartment building—which is a HUD-subsidized building for people who are both poor and sick—there is a Post-Standard newspaper box.  On a random basis it takes your money without releasing the door so you can get a paper.  When the box had taken me for more than $3.75, I finally called it in and requested a refund.  The call-taker said she would take care of it in a way that made it sound like I’d get a check within a week.  Fact is, I never got a cent.

Then the cost of a newspaper went from 75 cents to one dollar, and the box stole from me again.  If it’s stealing from me then it’s stealing from other people in this building.  On an income of $800 a month, you can’t afford to lose one dollar, let alone five.  So I called the Post-Standard again and this time I talked to the boss who told me that the Post-Standard does not own the box; the distributor does, but he said he would call the distributor, as if he’s doing me a favor.

Other people told me the distributor’s name and contact information should be posted on the box.  I checked; it isn’t.  Then the boss called me back and asked if I’d heard from the distributor.  No, I hadn’t.  What’s to hear?  You have my name and address; send me a check for $4.75. Then the apartment building newsletter comes out with a note that people are stealing from the newspaper box and if it continues then the box will be removed.  It does not say that the box is also stealing from the people.  I would guess that when the distributor comes up short, he bitches to the building management and that when he comes up long, he pockets the overage.  He certainly isn’t going into the manager and saying, “Whoops, I’ve got too much money today—I owe somebody.”

Apparently the Post-Standard sells the newspapers to the distributors but takes no responsibility for making the distributors reveal themselves to the clients, so the rip-off goes on endlessly.

Locked In or Out:  HUD Management

The aforementioned HUD-subsidized apartment building is a secure building, i.e., the doors are locked all the time and for a non-tenant to gain entrance he has to call on the intercom and get someone to buzz him in.  This week we got a new maintenance superintendent.  He told me that he’d been a state trooper for twenty years, then he referred to this building as “a locked facility.”

The difference between a locked facility and a secure apartment building is that one keeps the bad people in and the other keeps the bad people out.  I am alarmed at what this portends for the future.  Our last supervisor was a born-again Christian who saw his job as one of service to poor people, and no one will tell us why he was fired.  Fact is, management wouldn’t even tell him why he was fired.  Prison guards:  1; Christians—0.

Time Warner

My Time Warner bill was about $10 higher this month than last month, so I called to ask about it.  You know what they told me?  They can charge up to $2.50 if you call information and ask for a number.  Then they bill it as “Adjustments/credits.”  It’s a charge!  My “adjustment” this month was $5.97 but the customer service (hah!) guy said it came to $8.91.  “How?” I asked.

“Tax,” he said.

“Nowhere is the tax rate billed at 50%,” I said.

He changed the subject.  I insisted that he answer my question.  He said, “If you go on the Internet you will see—.”

“No,” I said, “I won’t.”  I have a learning disability and trying to do that sort of thing on the Internet reduces me to tears.  So he said he would check but it would take some time, and he put me on hold without asking if I could wait.  I couldn’t, so I had to hang up.  Time Warner—1; Christians—0.

I don’t use the phone book because it’s too heavy and I have a debilitating muscle disease, so here’s the solution:  If you call 435-1900 you will get the Reference Dept. of the Onondaga County Public Library and they will look up telephone numbers.  You’ve already paid them through your taxes.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in activism, advocacy, disability, Fraud, Government Services, Housing, Poverty, Power, Powerlessness, Values and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Little Something for Everyone

  1. Marie says:

    Dear God, HOW I ADMIRE YOUR CONTINUING STRENGTH, Anne and your tenacity in striving for and teaching of justice in this world !

  2. Kate says:

    Information and Referral staff at Independent Living Centers should be able to find phone numbers and services. Unfortunately there is no 2-1-1 (free information services) in Onondaga County to the best of my knowledge.

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