Archive for October, 2018

Irritating issues in American Life: Problems & solutions

October 6, 2018

Is America a great country—or what?   In what country can you criticize government practices & not be thrown in jail for  being an enemy of the state?  My  current beef is about  a getting  a city sticker for my car.  See, in Illinois, you don’t just get a license plate for the car,  which is a state fee…you also have to buy a  new sticker every year.  It’s a tax. And in Chicago,  you need to pay another tax, and the city sticker is evidence you paid the tax.  In fact, they mail you a notice that you have to pay & tell you that you can either pay  for a stamp & mail it in go to a currency exchange & pay—but then you have  to bring in evidence that you have the car registered (to the state) in your name (something I  do NOT understand—who is going to pay a tax for a vehicle they don’t own?)…or you can pay online with a credit card & you don’t have to prove anything.

I opted to pay online with a credit card….but I noticed they listed a car model that wasn’t right.  I  haven’t owned the car listed in  six years.  Here, I’ve been paying for the  sticker…yes, I bet I went to the currency exchange a few tines, or I paid on line, and they had the wrong model number  (& VIN) for the car. So, I called the city clerk’s office—-where they have the computers listing all this data, and asked to have them change the incorrect information.

A snooty woman answered the phone & was clearly put out having to actually talk to a citizen.  I asked her to change the model  type in the computer.  She told me she would not do that—-that I should go to a currency exchange. Then, she read me off my license plate number. Well, that was to the old car, too. I now have a totally different plate number.  I just sighed and hung up and bought the sticker…online.  I posted this information on a social media site for our neighborhood, and most people agreed with me—just buy the sticker—& here’s why:

If the car is in an accident, the police will look for a current  license plate & sticker for that plate. They will look at the permanent VIN number for the  car. They will look to make sure I have a sticker—but they won’t bother to trace the sticker.  They only care that I have paid the tax.

Have I broken the law?  It’s just a clerical error that somebody in the city clerk’s office didn’t  take care of when I originally bought the car & had to pay to have information transferred. Their mistake, not mine.  Move on.

Our street lights were out on the street behind my house. In some places, this is an alley…because there are no residential addresses on  the street.  However, the treet does have a name and it is on official maps.  This was not an emergency, so I called 311, the non-emergency  phone number, to report it. So did several of my neighbors. After  about six weeks & at least 4 of my phone calls, I called the alderman’s office to ask why this was not being taken care of.  The answer:  since there are no actual street addresses, and although I gave the 311 operator the  block number for the  street, they could not process the request without an actual street number, so it sat there.  The  alderman’s office just called the department of electricity directly—something a citizen could not do—and in 48 hours, problem solved.  You have to wonder how much the 311 operators are paid and who trains them.

A police officr was recently convicted of 2nd degree murder for shooting a teenager 16 times.  A whole can of worms here…from  several  police cars  and at least a dozen  other police officers already on the scene, all lying in their official reports of why  the shooting was justified. The problem—for them?  Dash cam video of the whole thing—of the kid walking AWAY from the shooter—not towards him.  & why were all the police standing around? They were waiting for a …taser.  We pay our millions to families of people ‘accidentally’ shot by police…why can’t we afford to equip every police car with a taser?  And—just as important—-we know all these police lied about the incident. What do we do with them?

I have some friends who just found out that—horrors—immigrants who are not citizens are voting in our elections.  They want this …fixed.  Here’s the problem of why it will not be fixed:  All  boards of elections are local. They get federal money filtered through the state, but they are charged with running free and fair elections….and, statistically,  for the most part they are….and that’s the best we can do. Why? They hire regular folks, like you and me—only more  addle brained, to actually sit in the polling places and run the elections.  You do get training, but it is really up to YOU to  ask what you don’t know.  Having done this for over 30 years, I try my best—-but there are usually  six other people serving with  me, and thy are all friends, are bored, and not paying attention. They do not take the  time to make sure the people they hand ballots to understand what they need to do to make their vote count.  In Chicago, we use a specific type of marker to mark paper ballots. Someone got a contract,  and that is what we do. We don’t have enough computers for everyone to vote electronically.  So, if some election judge is talking to her friend & ‘forgets’ to make sure you have a  special magic pen, yuor vote won’t count.  We also don’t generally tell people that taking a ballot is voting, and you don’t have to vote for anyone you don’t know. Don’t vote for judges if you don’t know how they judge—-this is how we get bad  judges.  But the parties don’t like this. In any case, since you can now register to vote on the same day you vote, all you have to do is show up with proof of i.d. listing your address.  You fill out a form and you can vote. Simple….except the  Secretary of State sends a postcard to everyone holding a driver’s license to tell them to vote.  & some of those people aren’t citizens.  In fact, many of those green card holders can’t even speak enough English to ask for a ballot, but they damn sure want to vote.  There is no citizenship test. You can’t ask, all you can  ask is for proof they live in the precinct at the address on their forms.  Usually, they can find at least 1 person who speaks their mother tongue to help them  sort this out.  Yes, this bothers me, but keeping it in perspective, it bothers me that  40 to 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote don’t bother.  That’s the real problem.

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