Letter from a reader : An Uber perspective from a former taxi driver.

I’ve been busy researching for upcoming posts on Site C and BC Hydro next week – there is a lot to cover since BC Hydro filed suit against the Treaty 8 Rocky Mountain campers along with a few local farmers and residents supporting them – but I’m taking a break from the keyboard this weekend.

I generally don’t make posts out of emails or letters that I get- that is what the comment section is for – but thought this one merited special attention because it concerns the ongoing Uber debate, and comes from a former taxi driver. His name has been withheld to protect his identity.

 

I'm troubled by the political debate being generated over allowing Uber into the BC transportation market. Here are several concerns and a couple of stories (names are fictional) from my years of experience in the taxi industry as a driver, dispatcher and manager. 
I haven't had any skin in the game for 16 years now, but I doubt anything has substantially changed in terms of the hours taxi drivers work, their work conditions, or the wages they bring home to their families.

The first of my concerns is "Branding". Uber is "ride sharing" which sounds nice, but it's false. Uber represents a different model of a taxi service, but it's still a for profit operation, multinational in scale, avoiding US taxes by splintering offices off to tax havens like any other multinational. To brand Uber as "the sharing economy" is fundamentally dishonest.

So what do we get under our current model of taxi service? We get a system with a limited number of licenses available, protecting the ability of the workers to earn a living. We get a system where workers are trained and adequately insured. We get a system where in most cases, a dispatch office operates, and someone knows, if a car "disappears" the approximate location of the car at the time it fell out of communication. We get a system with a measure of local accountability for complaints launched by the consumer. 

The second concern is the disservice to the current cohort of taxi drivers when we hear that the consumer is being "ripped off". 

I met David outside a 7-11 in September 2007. I hadn't seen him for many years. He was a taxi driver, who, unlike me, made his life's living from it. We chatted, and I learned that David was temporarily homeless. David is an intelligent guy, an encyclopedia of baseball statistics. David is quick-witted and sardonic. He was homeless because he had contracted a heart condition , causing him to be unfit to drive. He was six weeks shy of being able to collect CPP. His cash reserves had run out, and welfare was not enough to rent an apartment in this city, so he was sleeping rough. 

I met him again in November, and he now had CPP and had managed to secure low rent accommodation in one of the cheaper condo towers in town. He said..'Yeah, it's a great building. You never have to wait for an elevator because there's a dealer on every floor..." 

Reality check. There are exemptions to labor laws for taxi drivers. Shifts are 10-12 hours in length. The minority of drivers own their own cars and licenses.. Most either work on commission or a per-shift lease agreement. The most I ever "took home" from a single shift was $300 (during a snowstorm in the 1980's) and the least I ever took home from a shift was $25. The average (again, in the 80's) was about $80). Meter rates, lease rates, fuel costs, have all changed since then, but David spent well over 30 years working in the industry and wound up homeless in the fall of 2007.

The second story is my own. I'd left full time work in the taxi business years before, but during a short work transition, rather than collect EI, I decided to pick up a few shifts and get by that way. I won't pretend this experience is representative day to day, but when you let people into your car whose circumstances you don't know ,or when you get into a stranger's car, all kinds of things can happen. The vast majority of the time, the worst thing taxi drivers deal with is inebriation. It's pretty harmless. 

On this day I answered a call at a pretty ordinary Motel at 6 PM on a sunny May evening, A man waiting outside got in and yelled an address at me.. His voice was panicked and angry and I couldn't make out the address. He pounded his window with his fists and yelled "Just F**ing Go!.. I went. 

The next 15 minutes was the most terrifying of my life. The man in the back couldn't stop wailing away with his fists on the seats, the windows, and he yelled directions at me. He yelled at himself.."I've f**cked everything up.. I've f*
**d up ".... 

This is so surreal you may well not understand. I get that. At one point he yelled "Stop!". I stopped. For just a few second, he jumped out of the car and pounded his fists on a tree beside the car...He got back in bleeding. Why didn't I hit the accelerator in the few seconds he was out? I'll never know. I was frozen , terrified of this man filled with a kind of panicked rage I had never encountered. And I understood what he was doing..He was hitting everything but me because he needed me to get somewhere. During the ride to his destination I don't believe I had a single conscious thought though. I just did whatever the hell he wanted.

I let him out in front of a small house in a blue collar neighborhood. The postage stamp lawn was littered with children's toys. I drove a hundred yards up the road and parked, and breathed. My dispatcher was on the radio asking me what was happening. Apparently the dispatcher had been calling me for ten minutes. I gave him the address where I dropped the guy off. In just a couple of minutes 7 or 8 police cars surrounded the house. I don't know what happened after that.

It was the last shift I ever drove taxi. 

I could tell many more stories, but most of the time, taxi drivers make a precarious, honest enough living doing something that has some protections attached for both themselves and for the consumer. They have to be street smart, but they provide service to the disabled, to the hurried, to the drunk and the sober without prejudice. There are times when the driver in a story like the one above is actually harmed, unlike me. Those times are rare given the inherent risks, but do you still feel "ripped off" when you pay a stranger $40 to get home after you've had a few? I don't.

The government needs to make decisions about Uber. It needs to make policy that protects both workers and consumers. That means regulation and oversight. It doesn't mean sound-bites and it doesn't mean devising a political wedge issue for by-elections.








Houston, we have a problem: hardly anyone votes in Surrey

I tweeted out some stark reminders of Surrey’s last election today:

Population of Surrey: approx. 472,000, estimated to grow by about a 1000 every month

Number of registered voters : 279,051 as per the last election in 2011

Number of ballots cast: 70,253

Number of years all residents had to live with the future dictated by such a small number of Surrey residents?  3

Source: http://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/Library/Elections/BC_Voter_Turnout%20–%20Elections%20BC%20–2011.pdf ( includes data for all cities etc in BC)

shockedface“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

It’s pretty sad that with nearly a half a million people, it all comes down to a measly 70 thousand who are calling the shots. Seriously? With all this call for change and recognition of issues that have never been adequately resolved, is this the best we can do? That’s like standing in crowded room full of people… and only the single person over in the corner voted.

There are several options for mayor again this year and many very serious new contenders for council. There simply is no acceptable excuse for not voting. None.

Your vote really does matter. It helps determine not just the economic direction of the city,but also the quality of life for all those who live here – for many people, this is the most important factor in our day to day lives. Can we live safely here? Can we commute by transit? Will our small businesses thrive here?

Ask questions, take a few minutes to see what the candidates are all about, and their records in the community. One of our local Newton residents has issued a #newtonvotes challenge to Newton residents to talk to and remind 10 other friends and neighbours to register and vote! Great idea- imagine if each of us take this challenge on all across Surrey?

This year, make your voice count where you hold the most power. Please register to vote in this years election, and take part in determining the future of the where this city goes in the next 4 years.

It’s really easy to register – here is how you do it:

 

More information can be found at the following link: http://www.surrey.ca/election2014/how-to-vote/register-to-vote.aspx

Make your voice matter regardless of where you live.  Surrey is not the only city suffering from voter malaise and it’s time to cure that. Here is everything you need to know across BC, on how to register and vote in your municipality!!

http://www.municipalelections.com/index.html  

Vote in this years election. Make it count.

This weeks column for 24HRS Vancouver: Money needs to be restored to starved justice system

This week, Kathryn and I didn’t so much duel, as we did bring light to a big issue in British Columbia that has yet to make an appearance in any campaign to date.

The question this week is: What should the next government do about crime?

Oddly enough, crime is an issue that hasn’t been spotted yet on the election radar. Frankly, I find that troubling because as Kathryn accurately points out in her column, B.C. has a major crime problem.

In fact, several B.C. communities have regularly placed on the annual list of the country’s most dangerous cities issued by Maclean’s magazine. Surrey is nearly always among them – it’s currently in the top 10. As a Surrey resident, I’m not looking forward to seeing the ranking based on this year’s statistics – murders have hit double digits in the first four months of this year, the majority of them related to gangs. My hometown of Prince George is currently holding down the top spot on the list with a population of less than 100,000. Kelowna has had several appearances on the list as well.

Geographically, B.C. has become a hub for organized crime and drug trafficking because of easy access on the coast to both the U.S. and an international port. With it comes the trickle-down impact of crimes associated with those activities. Beyond gang-associated homicide and drug trafficking, addiction issues often lead to property crimes, petty thefts, assaults and general altercations. Clearly, it’s not a simple issue and there certainly aren’t any simply solutions or B.C. wouldn’t have the dubious honour of hosting so many cities on Maclean’s list.

Consider this: during the last 10 years, the BC Liberals closed 24 out of 68 courthouses to meet budget targets, closed 10 minimum and medium security prison facilities, and shuttered several Legal Services Society offices across the province….

 

Read the rest of our columns, and vote, here: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/04/28/money-needs-to-be-restored-to-starved-justice-system

See the Macleans rankings for 2012 here http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/12/07/canadas-most-dangerous-cities/

I guess the message from our premier is…. ‘ It’s ok to do it as long as you don’t get caught.’ ?

I absolutely had to pick my chin off of my desk this morning when I read Jonathon Fowlie’s feature on the premier.

In particular, the portion where her son ( I do hate bringing anyone’s child into politics,but damn it, Christy, you keep doing it yourself) dares her to run a red light, at an empty intersection, at 5 am in the morning.

And she does.

And her son’s response is: “you always do that.”

“At times, the two seem more like sidekicks — siblings even — than they do  mother and son. And especially so the morning when the two were on their way to  Hamish’s goalie clinic.

“Let’s see you go through this red light,” Hamish challenged as they pulled  up that morning, at 5:15 a.m., to an abandoned Vancouver intersection.

“I might. Don’t test me,” Clark replies.

“Yeah. Go ahead.”

“Should I?”

“There’s no one.”

“Would you go through? You shouldn’t because that would be breaking the law,”  she says.

And with that the car has already sailed underneath the stale red stoplight  and through the empty intersection.

“You always do that,” says Hamish.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Christy+Clark+politician+first/8303089/story.html#ixzz2RgQ1jb3h

So, going through a red light, even when there is no one around and no one can see it… is a good message and habit to be passing on to your child? Something the premier and her son clearly have enough experience with they joke about it? That she always does it?

Seriously?

Perhaps no one would get hurt, but it’s still against the law Christy. I called and confirmed with a member of the traffic division of the RCMP this morning, that no matter what, it is still illegal to run a red light in the province of BC, at any time, regardless of your perception of risk or not.

In fact, the penalties can be serious for willful disregard of traffic control signals. http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/tickets/paying-disputing/chart-offenceswithfines

But I guess if no one see’s you breaking the law… it doesn’t count.

Or does it, Premier Clark?

“When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to say to everyone on the day of one of the most important elections in BC history.

I could tell you that you must vote for the NDP, or at least should. I could try and convince you all the reasons why voting for anyone else is wrong, and why voting for the NDP is right, but I will do neither.

Instead, I’m going to tell you what I told my daughter when she asked me about why I am voting for Carol James and the NDP.

” Because she understands what it is like to be a mother trying to do her best for her kids and going to bed hungry sometimes.”

” Because despite being the public service for years, she has not forgotten from where she’s come and where she’s going.”

” Because ( unlike Gordon Campbell) she gets that simply ” having a job ” is not nearly the same as making it.”

” Because she knows students, youth and  single adults everywhere in this province are going to have to choose between food and rent – even with a job and having visited the food bank- and she plans to help those people.”

“Because I want my children, and my children’s children to have the same luxury of accessing and enjoying the great BC outdoors that I did.”

” Because she knows that we are British Columbians, not Americans, and therefore we shouldn’t be handing over our best resources to them on a silver platter.I believe that Carol will do everything she can to ensure local sustainability. ”

” Because she values the ordinary British Columbian and understands that it is them and their fathers that this province was built on, NOT the corporate back-room policy deal makers who are friends with men who have fat wallets. “

” Because I honestly believe that she will do what she can to stop the rape( and yes I call it rape) of our beautiful coastlines, our old-growth forests, our native salmon, our rivers and mountains and inlets and islands and everything else that makes this Beautiful Wild BC.”

” Because most of all, more than anyone else, I feel that she is our only viable option to save what is left of our province and the people who made it what  it is , and who we are. “

Whew.

You see, I’ve never been so involved, so interested and engaged in any election previous to this one. Over the course of the last year, something changed inside of me. I really can’t put a finger on what it was, but I write so often about the incredulous things Gordon Campbell does and says that it may have merely been the lump sum of the total mess that did it. I write about poverty, and shootings and murder and people going without medical care that some rich bastard gets by paying a special fee. I’ve written about the lies and corruption that has become seemingly so inherent to his administration of power. It’s shameful. It’s an outrage, and it must stop.

I just can’t stand it anymore. And in my heart ,I know with all certainty that left alone to his own devices,Gordon  Campbell will desecrate this province and leave it a shell of what it once was. And not to ” Keep BC Strong”, but to fatten his own coffers and those of the men who surround him…

No, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, I’m just going to tell you to make sure you actually vote , because one vote really does count in a tight election.

However, I will point you in the direction of some of the things that swayed my choice along the way.

 Read  or watch if you will – or not –  but know this:

It’s time to decide what you believe, and have the courage to stand up and be counted.

I am.

 I’m voting for the Province of British Columbia     –     with Carol James and the NDP.

(  The NDP candidate in my riding(Surrey-Newton) is Harry Bains. I am supporting Harry Bains for several reasons, one of which is that he has been a strong and vocal supporter of local residents issues in the leg. He is easily accessible to everyone and is a familiar face who can be counted on to assist residents in whatever manner available to him. )

The Video  Interview Gordon Campbell Never Wants You to See ( because it explains far too much about his relationship with the media)

http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/the-video-that-says-it-all-premier-gordon-campbell-speaks-about-canwest-and-cambie-merchants-straight-com-2/

“Old Liberals Never Die” – ( they just get jobs with private power developers )http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/common-ground-highlights-key-bc-liberal-insiders-hired-by-private-power-developers/

How British Columbians are involuntarily handing over our information and province  to Americans : http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/bc-citizens-assessment-of-what-the-campbell-government-has-done-to-british-columbia-so-far/

The report that the Liberals STILL won’t talk about until after the election – Why are  those” environmentally friendly”   run of the river projects breaking all the rules? http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/what-the-liberals-dont-want-you-to-find-out-until-after-election-day-documents-obtained-by-cbc-news-show-run-of-the-river-projects-are-breaking-environmental-regulations/

 And why is it that we get tolls while Gordons friendly developers on the Sea to Sky get to drive for free? http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/sea-to-sky-highway-will-cost-over-600-million-so-why-do-they-get-to-drive-for-free/

And what are the Liberals doing about crime?   http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/rcmp-investigate-reports-of-shots-fired-in-newton-again/

Are those free crack pipes and methadone helping or Enabling the addicts who get them – on your tax dollar? http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/harm-reduction-or-enablement-free-crack-pipes-for-addicts-on-your-tax-dollar/

 And from Alison over at http://creekside1.blogspot.com/,  this list of Gordon Campbells accomplishments while in office – the only one I’ve seen that is short, sweet and to the point.

  • Massive salary increases to himself, Cabinet, and political appointees- twice
  • Failed to hold regular legislature sessions – twice
  • TILMA
  • Sold off BC Rail after campaigning on promise not to.
  • Sold off Terasen Gas, formerly BC Gas
  • Privatized power generation in run-of-rivers
  • Passed Bill 30 to prevent local veto of run-of-rivers
  • Removed government accountability for BC Ferries
  • Privatized hospital cleaning and food services
  • Privatized BC Health accounting
  • Privatized some healthcare jobs
  • Increase in fish farm licences
  • Exported raw logs, closing mills
  • Removed land from the Agricultural Land Reserve
  • Tax cuts for the rich
  • Gave part of BC Hydro over to Accenture
  • Vancouver Convention Centre cost over-runs
  • Sea-to-Sky Highway cost over-runs
  • Bizarre Olympics budgeting
  • Gutted Ministry of Environment
  • Permits for resorts in public parks
  • Deregulated private forest lands
  • Reduced number of park rangers
  • Increased post secondary fees
  • Reduced number of long term care beds for seniors
  • Renoviction legislation
  • Promoted Port Mann Bridge as P-3 – failed
  • Lobby legislation not enforced
  • Lifted moratorium on trophy hunting of grizzly bears
  • Highest rate of child poverty in Canada 5 years running

Last, but not least, this was passed onto me by a colleague. It is for everyone in BC.

Rafe here again … tomorrow we decide what this province will look like for our children, grandchildren and generations as yet unborn. We decide whether BC determines its own future or gives that right to international companies who would take away what we have and turn it into dividends for their shareholders.

Tomorrow we decide if we’re a public power province or one that ships its environment, its power, its money, indeed its way of life into the hands of large international companies like General Electric.

I suppose at my age I should  stay on the sidelines and watch BC throw away its legacy but I just can’t do that. I’ve been all around this marvelous province of ours over the last 14 months and I’ve had the privilege of meeting and speaking with many of you. This is not a time to vote as we have always voted or let our judgments be clouded by issues long past. It is a time, I submit to you, when all of us decide just what our legacy will be – a province with a glorious wilderness, the envy of the world, and all that entails or one that sells its rivers and its hugely successful power system out to others – a sell out I must point out that doesn’t even give us the money but sends it all away.

I’m proud of the people I’ve fought shoulder to shoulder with. If we lose the war, sadly deficient though the consolation may be, we can all say we did our damndest and we can all hold our heads high when we answer to the future.

Thank you all for letting me speak with you, testing  your patience I’m sure, and hearing  me out. No one can ask for more than that.

Sincerely,

Rafe Mair”

This is what’s wrong with our “Justice” system

Earlier this year, on March 13th, I blogged about a shooting that had occurred in broad daylight, in a residential cul-de-sac where children play freely.

Some men were arguing in front of one of the homes. The verbal disagreement became a physical fight and at that time another man puled out a gun and shot another man in the back ,paralyzing him permanently from the waist down. 

 My account of the aftermath is here.  http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/bullets-tear-through-residential-cul-de-sac-home-to-many-families-with-children/

The man who fired the gun,Jessie Dhinda,  left the scene and in a press release issued  by the RCMP to the public, was described as “armed and dangerous”. Makes sense – he  had, after all, just shot a man in the back and left him critically injured.

Jessie Dhinda was later apprehended by police and charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one charge of discharging a firearm with the intent to wound or disfigure.

This same man, is now back out on our streets, a free man-  as reported  by Dan Ferguson in this excerpt from The Surrey Leader :

” Jaspal “Jessie” Dhindsa of Surrey is back on the street, free on bail while he waits to stand trial for allegedly shooting another man in the back.

A Surrey Provincial Court judge ordered Dhindsa’s release on April 9, court records show.

The 22-year-old  has been ordered to have no contact with two individuals and is banned from possessing firearms.”

 ~ http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/43563192.html

How does this work? You shoot a man in the back and paralyze him, and it’s called assault.  On a busy street with children about.  Clearly endangering the public.

Of course, it makes sense to give him bail. Of course. He’s been out for almost a month, enjoying the sunshine.

Of course that makes sense.

He must  not  be armed and dangerous anymore…

Salvation Army in process to acquire the old Surrey Public Market property at King George and 64th avenue

Brian Venables, Major and Divisional Secretary for Public Relations & Development with the Salvation Army, confirmed to me in an email yesterday afternoon, that  they are ” currently engaged in a transaction that, if successful, will mean the subject property will become ours.”

I also asked Brian what the plans were for that property, and this was his response:

The exact use has not been determined however could include housing, services for families and perhaps even a church. Plans cannot be confirmed until the process is complete yet if it does go ahead the city, province and community will be consulted. Our only objective is to serve Surrey and a permanent site is necessary

There is much to be said however we can only speculate at best until we are the owners of the property”

Disheartening news at best to the majority of residents in the Newton area who are already fighting the continuing downward spiral of degradation in the area, which has been likened to the next DTES ( downtown east side in Vancouver). A direct co-relation between the concentration of social service agencies,( including shelters and methadone dispensing pharmacies), and the degradation is shockingly apparent to those who live here. I hope to bring you a guest blog on that topic in the near future

The old Surrey Public Market property in question has been nothing but an eyesore in recent years  – the  premises having been abandoned and boarded up as long as I can remember. A security guard is stationed on site, presumably to prevent the areas many addicts andhomeless from taking up residence. Although it sounded grand, the concept of a public market didn’t fly in this area, and no wonder when you consider a parole office and a homeless shelter is on the block kitty-corner to the property. A very large for sale sign has graced the corner  and much speculation has prompted various ideas for what could be a very commercially viable location.

After making further inquires following Brians email, it appears that this deal has been in the works for some time, although everyone is hesitant to go on the record with it because of the contentious and ongoing issues with residents in the area regarding the Welcome Home rehabilitation facility planned for the corner of 68ths avenue and King George – a mere 4 blocks away, and near two schools and  several daycare facilities. However, one source did tell me that it appears that the Union Gospel Mission may be involved and that there had been talk about 20 units of either shelter beds or some sort of supported housing but  again, at this point it is still speculation.

One source also mentioned that the property owner wanted to put an Esso station with a Tim Hortons into that corner but may have encountered environmental issues with the stream that runs the property.

Calls to the owner have gone unanswered.

While I am obligated  to call for solutions to the problems we have in Newton and Surrey in general, I am also the loudest to complain about the lack of REAL action the city has taken on the matter. The mayor and council claim to have the best interests at heart with Newton residents, and  have created a rather grandiose  and completely unrealistic plan for  the Newton town core. Sustainability? I think not. Look at Whalley, the highrises on crack row, and the Central City mall where shops are closing faster than they can get them in due to lack of sales. Its not working.

And here in Newton? Lets look at what real action the city has taken to address the issues.

– Planters, banners and murals on 72nd avenue in the Newton Town Core ( meanwhile, the addicts do their business outside the city owned rec centre located there)

– forged ahead with plans to include slots in Newton Bingo hall, against their own bylaw, due in part to incentives promised by the developer as part of the development.

– forged ahead with the proposal of  Welcome Home Rehabilitation centre two block down from the Bingo hall, and one block from another homeless shelter, despite lengthy and loud opposition of local residents who dont want any more issues with hardened ex-cons and addicts.http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=05abbbf6-14eb-4101-b6f2-1c8a908ec605  I’m told by source with the city that although approval has not been granted and it needs to go to public hearing, that it is a ” done deal”. The owner of Welcome Home, John Volken is a member of the “Apprehend and Prosecute” Sub Committe, part of the mayors Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.  How convenient , yet how ironic !   http://www.crimereduction.surrey.ca/NR/rdonlyres/6831CF29-DC81-4DB3-8374-B78B14874A85/43316/4145fromSurreyCrimeReductionStrategyweb.pdf

 

– ignored the blatant disregard for over-population in the residential areas by turning a blind eye to the thousands of illegal secondary suites  that are taxing our city resources and overwhelming the street parking in most areas.

ON CTV news last night, Perry Solkowski had a story with a member of the BC Lions who grew up in a ghetto like bad area and ended up getting into some big trouble. He turned his life around, but while Perry and he were walking on the streets of Whalley, the player remarked that he grew up in an area that was tough, and rough and dangerous… JUST LIKE  the area where the BC Lions facility is in WHALLEY.

In other words, Whalley is still unchanged. For the most part,it’s still a ghetto full of crackheads and addicts, hookers and johns, gang-banger wannabees  and the real thing.

And Newton?

Well, Newton is not that far behind. Welcome to Surrey, one of the Top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada . Hope you enjoy your stay…

http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/03/05/the-most-dangerous-cities-in-canada/

How secure is your cordless phone?

A quick blog of note for you this morning.

As most of you know, I’m up very early everyday, getting my work done while the little ones are sleeping. Yesterday morning, I received a call from a client on my cell phone, later in the morning, who was somewhat perturbed. She asked me if I has called my home phone number lately because there seemed to be an issue.  I hung up and called the home number, and although the cordless phone was right on the desk in front of me, it did not ring.

When the line I called picked up, to say I was shocked to hear an adult chat line with some really bad porn style music playing  would be an understatement.

Not breathing,I stared at the phone on my desk as  I disconnected my cell  and dialed my home phone again. Again the phone on my desk did not ring  – and  that really bad porn music began to play.  More streams of  @#$#@#@$ filled the air.

Then, as I was contemplating what was going on, a family member called on the cell with the same news. Yes, even more  #@#$#@!@#  escaped.

The phone had been on my desk all morning and no one had access to it but myself.

 I could call out, but no calls had come in. Pissed off in the most extreme manner, I called Shaw and spent 25 minutes on hold before seeing on the computer I could use internet live chat with one of their technicians, so I hooked up immediately and set the cell down.

After verifying my identity with them( good procedure Shaw) they accessed the system and did some trace work on times and calls. As it turns out, while I was working at my desk with the phone right in front of me, someone had accessed the system and call forwarded my home phone number to the chat line, in an obvious attempt to cause some trouble and embarrassment. Which it did.  And the technician was helpful in determining with me the exact time and duration of the access, as well as make some inquiries to see what else I needed to know.

After resetting the system and ensuring callers  to my home were no longer thinking I had taken up a new career, we disconnected with the promise he would contact me shortly with more information. Sure enough, the tech called me an hour later and educated me on how anyone smart enough can access the signal that emits from your traditional home cordless phone.

 He talked me through the procedure of going outside and ensuring my actual phone line had not been interfered with, and then advised me how to ensure complete security by bypassing the actual phone lines in my home – while returning to the old fashioned corded phone. 

Although this all makes perfect sense to me now, and I did know about people stealing wireless internet signals, I really never thought about anyone stealing phone signals or anyone being able to access your line through that technology. Scary stuff when you think that some people( I don’t) use telephone banking, buy things over the phone and give out credit card info that someone could be just outside in a car listening to and writing down. Who knew?  This is something everyone should be aware of, and should keep in mind when using cordless phones.

 It may be myself that has the last laugh here though. The funny thing is that whoever did this obviously had(has) no clue that I have a very successful background in investigations, from several years  that I enjoying working in the field. And thanks to an observant neighbour, an individual in an unknown vehicle was noted parked down the street for several hours early yesterday morning. So, perhaps we will meet again shortly, Mr. phone signal thief.

I look forward to it.

Burnaby mayor makes plans to block development of new prison planned by BC Liberals

See the full story on  the CBC  site: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/03/23/bc-burnaby-prison-rezoning.html

 Thanks to a frequent reader who submitted this today with a link for my Burnaby  readers to show their  support of the effort to stop the planned prison in Burnaby:

http://www.noburnabyprison.ca/whatCanYouDo.html

PUBLIC HEARING TONIGHT- PLEASE ATTEND AND EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AND CONCERNS

March 24, 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Burnaby Central High School (gymnasium)

4939 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C.

http://www.noburnabyprison.ca/downloads/Burnaby%20City%20Notice%20for%20Rezoning%20Hearing%202009Mar24.pdf

Gee, I feel so safe – another shootout last night,very nearby

Another shootout last night, this one far too close for comfort.

Can anyone give me an assurance that my children will not be killed by a stray bullet through the wall of my house?

http://bc.rcmp.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=50&contentId=8308&index=1&languageId=1

Surrey – Shots Fired in Newton, Surrey

File #2009-23660 2009-02-28 04:42 PSTAt 12:14 am
Surrey RCMP received several reports of shots being fired at or near 13063 68th Ave and that several persons and vehicles were seen departing from the area. Members attended and subsequently located several shell casings. A Police Service Dog locate a male believed to be the associated to the house. He is being held for investigation. A second male was located by Delta Police and is also being held.

No injured persons have been discovered to this point. It is suspected that this was a targeted attack. Police remain on scene conducting a search of the area. Anyone with information is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at (604)599-0502 or, if they wish to remain anymous, call Crimestoppers.

Inspector Dave ATTFIELD

Surrey Detachment

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