Sunday, August 28, 2011


A situation I believed to be violating my personal rights was described here in a recent earlier article. Recapping what's been transpiring…..beginning last year I've been at odds with a Company I choose not to name, and an official in a City that will remain nameless. This is a city other than where I work, or reside.

The Company representatives and City Official have persisted in demanding I sign, under threat of perjury, that a very small income for services I rendered over a period of several years was not earned in that Official's city, though it was paid to me by a resident of that city. Sign the form, or, I must apply for that city’s business license, pay that fee and city taxes with past due interest. Since I’ve repeatedly stated I do not live or work in that city, I have, respectfully, continued to refuse to sign that form. I've said that I perceive this demand, under these circumstances, to be inappropriate, non-applicable to me, and a violation of my personal rights as guaranteed constitutionally.

From the very beginning last year I complied with the company's letter advising me that conducting business in the city required me to have the city's business license and requesting me to phone their office. I repeatedly informed them by phone that I did not have or need that city's business license, because I had not earned the money in that city, did not live in that city, and did not intend to work in that city in the future.

My response was repeatedly disregarded. I continued to be bombarded with letters and increasing numbers of forms beginning with the one for a business license. The forms were to be completed and submitted only if applicable, so, of course, I didn’t submit them. Eventually, a form for me to pay city taxes was added. Then I received an actual statement listing several years with dollar figures due for each year, plus interest for a past due amount, all totaling $200+.

My phone interaction with the Company Representative regarding this matter, initially was cordial -- until my futile efforts to resolve the situation necessitated my speaking with a supervisor. The conversation escalated into my being subjected to verbal treatment using unacceptable words, tone and manner. I determined I would no longer speak with anyone at that Company, so I phoned the City Official who had signed a letter copy sent to me that authorized this Company to represent the city.

I erroneously thought that Official would be concerned about my mistreatment from a company representing his city. Also, I naively believed the City Official would be concerned about possible taxpayer money being expended by this Company trying to collect from me a non-applicable business license and city taxes on monies previously earned elsewhere. I actually thought when I explained the situation that the City Official would quickly bring an end to my being sent what had now become harassing letters with a number of forms to read, others to complete, that did not apply to me. When I received no satisfaction, I became frustrated and angry.

Despite my feelings the City Official and I had several civil verbal phone exchanges over several weeks during the ensuing days. Eventually, we left our comments on each other’s answering machine. The pressure began escalating over a 4 day consecutive period. He daily responded to my calls in which I would rebut the revolving arguments he would present as he defined his perspective of my gradually decreasing options to end this matter. All would be resolved if I signed the form, he said. Each time I strongly stated I did not earn money in that city, did not reside there, would not sign such a non-applicable-to-me form, that none of the other options he offered were acceptable – applying for a business license and paying their city tax bill.

I finally learned how the City acquired my name, but I was also concerned they may have been in possession of personal information about me to which they had no right i.e. Social Security number. I mentioned this once but chose to not pursue that matter. I readily acknowledged being paid by a resident of their city for services rendered elsewhere when he first revealed what the Company Representative and Supervisor had repeatedly refused to tell me – because, they said, this was “confidential” information. They all may have been erroneously assuming my working for a resident in their city was secret, but that was not the case.

Once I knew the basis for the claim against me, I requested an itemized list of where and when the City Official believed I had worked in their city. A telling moment came when I was told he couldn’t give me such a list because they didn’t have one – but they had the information I had been paid monies by their city resident as though that was sufficient.

Incredibly to me, the fact they had no specific supporting documentation about where they were alleging I had actually worked in their city was not enough to result in ending the City Official's demand I sign their form, or apply for a City License and pay the tax bill. My contention was that demanding I sign the form violated my personal rights/constitutional guarantees. The City Official responded differently and discredited my belief as being nothing more than a philosophical difference between us.

Subsequently, I directed the City Official's attention to the fact that since they had no other supporting documentation, and were only in rightful accurate possession of declared payment to me by their city resident, for whom I readily acknowledged working, that they should have asked THAT person to sign their form under threat of perjury – that payments made were for services other than in their city. Again, I stated that the money I was paid was for services performed elsewhere, not in their city.

Further, I said, the person I worked for, and who paid me, was the person they should have contacted in the very beginning. I stressed that the City and the Company should never have contacted me at all, unless the information that person provided indicated I had worked in their city.

The individual for whom I worked returned from vacation, so I phoned the City Official that I would request that person provide a statement to the City and Company that the monies I had been paid were for services other than in their City.

[Later, I learned the person I worked for had informed the city, long before I was ever initially contacted, that the total monies paid to me and a few others had been for services provided in a city other than theirs .]

The City Official rejected my offer of such documentation as not being acceptable. Not only was the documentation unacceptable, but, in fact, I was told that my having refused options the City Official had offered me to sign the form, left me now out of action choices. The Company deadline date, less than a week away, continued to prevail. I was advised that within the next several months a list of names would be given to a collection agency with the implication being that my name would be on that list.

I informed the person for whom I worked of the City Official’s implied threat to include my name on a list to be submitted to a collection agency in the next few months. My employer made several phone calls to the City Official over the next two days, left messages to please call in an attempt to resolve the issue, but received no response.

The time frame for resolving this matter was becoming increasingly shorter since that last letter from the Company had a specific deadline date that was near. The person for whom I worked then phoned the Company, was able to talk with a Company Supervisor who reportedly graciously accepted the information provided and stated my case was closed.

I have maintained the importance of having the City Official also confirm that my case is closed. I don’t want my name “accidentally” appearing on a list submitted to a collection agency and my being subjected to their complications -- then my learning the hard way, after the fact, there had somehow been a “breakdown in communication” between the Company and the City with both saying "we regret that happened." I think it’s fair to say I have a bit of a trust issue that either or both entities will do the right thing.

Two or three days later the person for whom I worked was finally able to speak with the City Official (I don’t know if the Official was returning the call, if the Official finally accepted a new call, or if the Official was contacted at their office in person, as the person who employs me had said they would visit, if necessary.)

The City Official reportedly stated that my case is closed IF the Company has done so. The City Official has not contacted me to report the case is closed, but that’s acceptable to me. I have no desire to force a direct verbal mea culpa in what I have come to believe has become to a city government authority figure an issue of power and control.

This isn’t a game to me, either -- about who wins or who loses. All citizens lose if justice does not prevail. Government officials above all others should be dedicated to that principle. I do have better ways in which I would prefer to spend my time. I would think the City Official could well spend his time at taxpayer expense on more productive projects than what has seemed to me to be intimidation and coercion for monies not even due his city.

Thanks to those of you who previously offered suggestions and support on this issue. Before publishing my original article, I had already made others I thought might be interested in personal rights issues, aware of this matter. I have no idea if my experience has been singular and unique, or if this sort of activity occurs in other cities and states.

I will say this.....I have had no desire to pursue a legal court case, or law suit, subjecting a cash-strapped city to more debt, much less reaping financial gain for attorneys and/or myself. Should my name be given to a collection agency on this matter, under any circumstances, my perspective would be quite different.

In summary, the Company is reported to me by the person for whom I work to have said my case was closed. The City Official is also reported (one day before the deadline) to have agreed to my case’s closure IF the Company has closed it.

I will accept and believe my case is fully closed when I receive a dated, officially signed letter stating that fact from the Company on behalf of the City they are designated to represent.

I can assure you that I will follow-up to obtain that letter if I don’t receive one in a reasonable time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Joshua Crumbly, jazz bassist, sat in to accompany a few entertaining tunes with one of my favorite groups, ZZAJ, last weekend, providing me with a welcome change of pace from other life matters. The full round sound of an upright acoustic bass he was playing, has special significance to me since my husband’s avocation was playing the instrument professionally with his own groups, other musicians, occasionally backing celebrity performers who came to the Columbus, Ohio area. I’ll be sharing more information about Josh in the future.

Josh has been visiting his parents on a break from Juilliard Schools renowned Music Division a “…Private conservatory offering programs through the Divisions of Dance, Drama, and Music from its campus at Lincoln Center in New York City.” Juilliard has “… some 600 students from more than 40 countries. Its distinguished faculty includes internationally renowned soloists, chamber, and orchestral musicians…Among them are recipients of Pulitzer Prizes, Grammy and Academy Awards.”

Josh has been developing his musical skills from an early age through high school, continuing to receive many wards including the Ruth Nadel Award at the Stanford Jazz Festival, 1st Place at the Duke Ellington Society Awards. Here he is on acoustic upright bass playing in a jazz quartet of piano, drums and keyboard at The Music Center’s Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County 2009 Spotlight Awards.

I’m always keenly interested in the many individual young people and musical groups committed to perpetuating jazz’s continuance for long after I’m gone and future generations – they give me great pleasure and satisfaction. Josh is definitely one of those young jazz musicians beginning to realize a promising future.

You can follow Josh’s career, listen to more of his music, and track his itinerary of appearances on his new web site still under construction:

Go to the "listen" link to hear several tunes including one of my favorites: "Caravan."

Most recently he performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival. He's been appearing with Terrence Blanchard and earlier this month was at NYC's Birdland Jazz Club. In a few days he'll be in Taipei, China with Blanchard's Quintet at Kai-Shek Concert Hall.

Let's charter a plane and all go, but I don't know if concert tickets are still available.

Josh's career plans in music will include appearing "solo, touring, recording, producing and writing." Enjoy his music and remember this name ---- JOSH CRUMBLY !

Friday, August 12, 2011


I meant to add a second story based on an experience associated with AARP that I experienced today which prompted me to write this piece. But this first tale has become quite lengthy, so, perhaps I'll delve into the other one another time. By then, maybe it will have been resolved.

Just when I thought my life couldn't become more insane, it has! I'm not talking about the economy, political madness or my personal life. The latter is quite sane. The former two are in frantic upheaval as we all know.

My story begins last year, when I received a reproduced letter from a company located in Central California -- I live in Southern California. The letter writer stated they had been designated to represent a city near to my own. This letter hardly looked official and I almost shredded it as more unwanted advertising solicitations. Had I been really busy at the time that's probably what would have happened to this letter, since I receive advertising letters all the time that have a similar schlocky appearance. This company wanted me to phone and advise them if I had worked in the-city-I-will-not-name here that they represented, and noted a city license to work there was required.

The letter appeared to be of the mass mailing variety, possibly some sort of scam, I thought. Or, maybe the city was so desperate for funds this company had obtained a mailing list of various professions and made blanket phishing mailings to those in the city's immediate surrounding area who might possibly work there. I could have phoned that city I'm not naming to see if this company was legitimate, but decided to phone the company directly, see what they had to say, and determine then what action might be appropriate.

I was aware of, and sympathetic to, the poor financial status of many cities, though I had no knowledge of the one in question. I knew many cities resorted to all sorts of strategies to acquire money. I decided if this company was acting legally that I would be responsive and make their job easier in their efforts to inform people who might need a city business license. I also knew there might be scofflaws, but I was not one of them.

A young-sounding woman's voice answered the company phone when I called. Identifying myself, acknowledging receipt of the letter, I stated I didn't work in that city, hadn't and would not be doing so in the future, since I'm semi-retired, working on a very limited basis; therefore, I was not a candidate for a city business license. I was politely thanked, so I thought the matter was closed. NOT!

Periodically, in the weeks and months ahead this company has sent me letters in what has now become a harassing mode, assigned me a "Case No. ____", and began to enclose various forms for me to complete. The next letter included a form to apply for a city business license. I thought there must be some mistake that I had been sent this letter -- perhaps, the person taking my phone message had not reported accurately the information I gave her. I have this trusting bad habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt.

No good deed goes unpunished, so my call to re-state my earlier message proved later to accomplish nothing. In time, another letter arrived with another city business license form and a form I was to sign under threat of perjury that I hadn't worked in that city. That latter form raised my hackles! An expectation that I should have to sign such a form without just cause I viewed as an assault on my rights.

We lose our rights and freedoms by small government actions. This was one such assault I could not and would not roll over to mindlessly accept.

I phoned the company again, finally asking how they obtained my name in the first place to lead them to think I worked in that city. I was told this was "confidential." I asked to speak to a supervisor with whom I repeated I didn't work in that city, so this effort intimating otherwise was erroneous. He, too, cited "confidentiality" preventing him from telling me the source of my name causing this mailing.

More letters, forms, with insistence I sign a statement I had not worked in that city. Guilt until I proved my innocence, apparently, without knowledge of how I had come to be accused in the first place.

An additional phone call to that company and supervisor toward the end of last year was civil but firm on my part, until he became verbally obnoxious and offensive. I became frustrated and angry at his irrational demanding attitude. I was reminded of TV expose' stories I had seen about abusive collection agency personnel using unacceptable tactics harassing people they believed to owe money to whatever business represented. Many of those people being pursued actually owed money, but my circumstance was quite different. I owed nobody, no company in the city of question, or the city itself, anything!

The New Year came, months passed, then in May came another letter with more forms. I phoned the city-in-question, asking to whom I should speak about my being harassed by this company representing them. It was too late in the day to reach any official. The person to whom I spoke initially presented as knowing nothing specifically about my matter, but as we spoke revealed more knowledge, including how the source of accused names was "confidential."

I briefly reviewed my experience with this company, requesting the information be reported to whoever the appropriate city official(s) were. I stressed that they should be concerned that this company was wasting taxpaper money pursuing me (and others?) and damaging the city's image. If the company employees worked on commission, based on monies they could coerce from people for licenses, etc., their tactics were deplorable. Another futile effort to end this harassment.

Another letter, more forms including a copy of a letter from the city-in-question's Treasurer authorizing the company to seek the information they were requesting -- again, poor print appearance that looked anything but official. I phoned the City Treasurer leaving a message on his answering machine, stating I did not work in that city, requested the letter harassment cease, briefly alluded to wasting taxpayer money and added I would not sign the form being demanded. Finally, I erroneously thought, the matter will end.

The next morning the City Treasurer phoned me. The only new information was his revelation as to where they obtained my name -- from an individual who happens to live in their city for whom I work in another city. Furthermore, I was told I would be offered this one time opportunity to avoid what their city had now concluded I owed them, amounting to about $200+, if I signed the form I have refused signing. I recall the word "tax" being mentioned, but it did not register with me as being pertinent to my city license issue. Based on other numbers quoted to me, he clearly had access to information regarding my meager part time income that year, and probably had my social security number and other data to which he has no right.

(Curiously, at one point in our conversation, the Treasurer injected the subject of Afghanistan. I quickly squelched that distraction by stating I wasn't interested in talking about that matter. Strange!)

Nevertheless, none of this alters the fact that I didn't work in their city and I owe them nothing. No satisfactory resolution was reached with the City Treasurer. Instead, I received only intimations I could expect more problems, leaving me frustrated and angry.

Another letter arrived -- this one a copy with changes made to a letter previously received in Spring 2011. It is accompanied by an itemized form claiming I owe the city $200+, which includes interest fees that will continue to accrue for late payment. I am admonished that I have 15 days from the letter date (then "letter postmark" has been inserted) to pay the amount due. That due date based on the letter postmark comes up before this month ends.

I phoned the company one last time, prefacing my statements to the person who answered the phone that he should take my information and report it to whoever because: 1) I will not speak to his supervisor based on the unacceptable manner in which he previously spoke to me, 2) This was the last phone call I would make to this company. The message was, once and for all, I did not work in their city, therefore owe nothing. I was told to sign the form. Also, I was repeatedly told by the man I spoke with that he could not change any information on his computer, whatever that meant.

I've begun to think this has only partially been about requiring me to purchase a city business license. I'm still awaiting being told where it is in their city that I am alleged to have worked. There is no such place. Instead, I'm suspecting this city/company collaboration has adopted a stealth approach to try to assess some sort of city tax from me based on the fact the person who pays me to work in a different city from theirs happens to reside in their city. Whether or not such a tax, if that's what this is about now, is legal -- it's not my tax. It was only in final letters and forms that the issue of a city tax was even mentioned -- sneaky!

I'm unable to discuss this whole situation with the person for whom I work since she's presently out of the country. I know I could consult an attorney. I know I could roll over, play dead and sign the form. Of course, now, that City Treasurer said I had lost that right to sign such a form in order to waive the $200+. It just seems to me that my rights are being abused.

I persist in believing we relinquish our freedoms and rights little by little, when well-meaning or unscrupulous officials in power attempt to achieve a desired end by any means, possible. They often totally disregard what is ethically and morally right. Sometimes, in other aspects of their life they are fair and just; sometimes, not! Perhaps none of this matters. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


I want to express these thoughts, but will focus on some other topics in the future.

The best I can say for this 2011 dysfunctional U. S. Congress is they're incompetent. They've averted a default on U. S. debt with the bill the House of Representatives has finally passed August 1st. On the bill's receipt the Senate is likely to pass the bill also, then send to the President whose signature is expected by day's end -- before the predicted August 3rd default deadline.

Congress has embarrassed our nation in the world. The threat of default should never have been an issue and those Congresspersons who made it so should be roundly politically castigated for having done so!

For the first time politics was injected into our world financial dealings adversely affecting our nation's credibility -- courtesy of the Tea Party minority wing of the Republican Party. They unnecessarily risked the full faith of credit of the U. S. Government for the first time in our history and for political purposes. They will claim in getting their way that their actions forced success for debt reduction, but what we have is a sham deficit reduction plan. Neither the Republican or Democratic Party benefits, and most importantly not the American people.

Make no mistake, we live in a Republican and Tea Party economy though they will attempt to deceive voters into believing otherwise from now until the 2012 Presidential election. That is all this Congressional political farce has been about.

Congress does have to address the nation's deficit which is primarily attributed to preceding Administrations and Congressional actions, or lack thereof. It is ludicrous and ridiculous to allege the current Administration is responsible for our nation's financial situation. Equally unrealistic is to believe this Administration, or any Administration, could quickly reverse this situation, especially considering the near financial collapse caused by multiple financial forces.

Now is the appropriate time for all Congresspersons to make a serious effort to legitimately enact legislation toward reducing our nation's deficit with minimal focus on political maneuverings. The American voter should monitor for such excessive political behavior with the intent that those who do so are the so-called legislators we should not reelect.

I think a good start would be for all Congresspersons to recognize the need to realign the tax system which includes increasing revenues from the wealthy. That certainly is not going to totally correct the deficit, but would be one reasonable contributing factor to deficit reduction. This would not create a hardship on them, unlike the adverse effects on our diminishing American middle class and those with even less. I believe those opposed provide a deliberately misleading argument that is a fallacy by saying that a suggested modest increased tax rate will take monies that would otherwise be spent creating new jobs. Those same wealthy individuals and large corporations who pay no taxes at all need to begin to pay their fair share if they truly respect and care about the United States of America's viable survival.