Archive for the ‘Protest’ Category

$1,453 Refunded for FEMA Mistake


Hooray! Today, after over a year of protesting, we were finally refunded the full $1,453 for flood insurance we had to buy because of a FEMA map mistake. Sometimes, you can fight City Hall and win!

On 7 July 2009, my husband and I received a letter from our mortgage holder that FEMA (the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) had changed their FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) such that our house was now in a high-risk SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area). We were required to buy annual flood insurance for the life of our mortgage loan because of FEMA’s map change.

Our house was built around 1930 next to the Guadalupe River, also known as the Lewis Canal in what is now the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, California. The Lewis Canal is named after its engineer, Frank Lewis (who was husband to Martha “Patty” Reed Lewis of the Donner Party). The canal was built about a hundred years ago. The property line behind our house runs down the middle of the river and includes a steep embankment that rises five feet above ground level and then drops twenty feet to the river water.

How did the FEMA map of a hundred-year-old canal and eighty-year-old house change? FEMA maps used to be drawn on a plain background. Some clever person decided to take the old maps (as is – with no change) and superimpose the lines on a background of satellite photos. The resolution of the original map and the satellite map were different. The old map was drawn on square grids and the satellite photos were taken with a round lens – so there was some mismatch and alignment error. A flat picture of the round Earth will always have such errors.

The creation of the new map caused the mortgage company’s flood area determination company (LPS National Flood) to review the situation of the mortgaged properties which might be effected. Although FEMA’s new FIRM did not include any new information with regard to the relative location of our house and the river, the new picture’s misalignment appeared to make the line indicating our house touch the line of the river. That our house is ten feet from the edge of the embankment’s retaining wall did not matter. Taking the most conservative approach, the mortgage company required us starting immediately to pay $1,453 annually for flood insurance for the duration of the mortgage.

We talked with our mortgage company with no good results. We contacted FEMA with no good results. We contacted LPS National Flood with no good results. We talked with the insurance company with no good results. Everyone said that even though the new map did not correctly reflect the physical circumstances of our house and the river, the mortgage company could require us to buy flood insurance in perpetuity based on the map. We signed up for flood insurance and continued to fight.

We eventually hired J.P. Tanner of Scotts Valley to work with FEMA to correct their map. We learned in the process that hundreds of other San Jose home owners along the river were in the same bureaucratic map-insurance mess as we were. Eventually, in April 2010, FEMA issued a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) formally removing our house from the flood zone. It took until today for our mortgage and insurance companies to issue paperwork and send a refund check.

César Chávez Day: March 31, 2010 – Let The Eagle Fly

S. King Rd. at Alum Rock Ave.

César Chávez was born in Arizona March 31, 1927. In June of 1939 his family moved to San Jose California. They lived at 53 Scharff Ave. in the barrio called Sal Si Puedes “Get Out If You Can.”

César Chávez Day is a state holiday in California. Government offices, educational institutions and many businesses are closed.

Let The Eagle Fly a Musical – Information from the site:

The Story of Cesar Chavez is an inspirational musical which tells the story of Cesar E. Chavez, one of the most influential civil rights leaders of our time and a crusader for non-violent change. It traces Chavez’s life from his childhood, as the son of migrant farm workers in the Great Depression, through his founding of the farm workers union and commitment to the non-violent struggle for social and economic justice. The musical highlights the five-year grape boycott which brought nationwide attention to the farm workers’ plight.

Let The Eagle Fly
Thursday at 8:00pm
March 25

Fridays at 8:00pm
March 12, 19, 26

Saturdays at 8:00pm
March 13, 20,

Sundays at 2:00pm
March 14, 21, 28

Final Performance
Wednesday at 7pm
March 31

Location: San Jose City College Theatre
2100 Moorpark Avenue
San Jose, CA 95128

Chavez Family Vision

The anthem of the United Farm Workers of America (The real player will sing it.)

Let The Eagle Fly facebook
This weekend (13th & 14th) only. $20 for students or seniors at the door! – Mention you saw it on Facebook.

RichardFalcon twitter

Tea Party Day in San Jose

Yes, April 15th is income Tax Day but this year it is also a day of protest. Citizens across the nation, who are fed up with giving their hard-earned money to the government, are coming together for “tea parties”.
There is no need to attend if you are happy with the tax policies, you enjoy spreading the wealth around with wasteful spending, and feel all patriotic parting with so much of your cash.

San Jose (Santa Clara County) Tax Day Tea Party

April 15, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Plaza de Cesar Chavez – S. Market St & Park Ave

It’s Time to be Patriotic? Time to Jump In?

No, it’s not tea and cucumber sandwiches.

Happening now: Prop 8 protest downtown

Protest against Prop. 8 in downtown San Jose

I shot this footage about 15 minutes ago on Santa Clara Street. I would estimate 100 people or more are taking to the streets to protest Prop 8. They are marching now and should be out for a while yet.

(I apologize for the bizarre audio — my cell phone and YouTube don’t like each other.)

SJSU celebrates 40 years of activism

On October 16, 1968, SJSU students Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a silent gesture on top of the Olympic podium that shook the world and put San Jose on the map. Forty years later, the university will relive that spirit of activism by hosting Legacy Week from Oct. 13-16, according to the Spartan Daily (Read their excellent special section here).

Events include a keynote from activist rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy, public screenings of a documentary, a “Speed City” exhibition at the Cesar Chavez Community Action Center, and information on what SJSU has done — and continues to do — to encourage activism.

San Jose Cats Situation

Here’s an update!

The video has more info than just the text so make sure you watch it. What a lose-lose situation. I can’t believe the city of San Jose has to choose between owls and cats.

Little Saigon debacle over… for now…

San Jose City Hall

According to this morning’s edition of the San Jose Mercury News, San Jose’s City Hall is now at peace after the “Little Saigon” fiasco. With that resolved, it also brings Ly Tong’s fasting to an end.

What happened? Apparently Vice Mayor Cortese’s earlier recommendation of private funding for signs along the area was heeded by councilman Sam Liccardo, along with Mayor Chuck Reed (Yay Dave! — I live in his district). What doesn’t appear to be clear from the article was whether Councilwoman Madison Nguyen was involved in drafting the proposal.

For now, it appears the city will be distancing itself from the issue.

The approach makes sense — why this was not done before things got out of control is a bit curious. Gauging various stories on the issue, most link the issue’s escalation to a lack of leadership by Mayor Chuck Reed. Whether that’s true or not is not for me to say… but something went wrong.

The path that the supporters of “Little Saigon” took is still a bit puzzling to me. The only thing I can think of is the emotions representative of a people who were displaced from their homes due to Communism led them to this path. There were those who strongly opposed any formal discussion of renaming this section of Silicon Valley real estate, while there were also those who were willing to pursue some recognition and preservation of their culture in a country they now call their home. I think this might be key to the whole thing. Yes… despite what naysayers may think, this is their home, just as the Italians, Irish, Chinese, Japanese and a countless number of immigrants made the good old U S of A their home. I think it’s probably fair to say that the same criticisms of the Vietnamese community can be equally extended to every immigrant group in American history.

Was this necessarily the right path? While it all seems a bit extreme, only time and history will tell. Also, despite the seeming polarization of the community, not to mention anyone who had something to say about the issue, I think we should consider what this means for everyone, not just the Vietnamese community.

What does this all mean? Well, thanks to some great professors I had in college many moons ago, and my involvement in my own community, I learned that mono-cultures breed fear and intolerance towards anyone that doesn’t blend in. In food speak, the reality is that our country is not a melting pot (I like to say fondue), it’s really a nice stew, where almost every ingredient is still recognizable. While not as refined as a fondue, each ingredient in it’s lumpy goodness is bathed in a thick gravy that suspends each ingredient uniquely, but in a single recipe to create a stew. That’s pretty much America – each culture is still uniquely identified but each is American.

What have we learned from this? In the end, probably nothing as politics goes.

However, as citizens, I think it’s easy to forget that we create the communities we live in… not some bureaucrat that said the right things to get voted into office. Maybe we should all create a little passion of our own to build the communities and the homes we want…

As my wife told me a long time ago, home is where we live, love and play… and that could be anywhere.

Free Ramos and Compean

Ramos & Compean

I met a group this afternoon at the corners of Meridian and Hamilton Avenues. They are not anti-immigration, but rather interested in legal immigration and justice for those who protect our borders.

Like a beautiful tapestry, America is a nation held together by unique threads. Each endowed with its own characteristic of color, languages, customs, foods, cultures, and religions. New immigrants adding to the texture.

Hate? Racism?


This afternoon the Raging Grannies were out on the corner of Bascom and Hamilton to protest what they call a message of hate. They claim the Goldengate Minutemen oppose immigration.

I wonder if the Minutemen oppose legal immigration?

Set Them Free

HAPPY DAYS / MEGrowing up in the rural tranquillity of Modesto, California in the 50s had its rewards. I enjoyed our vegetable garden but best of all we had chickens.

A small wooden chicken coop sat out back. To make cleanup easier the floor of the coop was covered with a layer of straw. A few feet off the ground was a shelf of nesting boxes. The drinking dispenser consisted of a metal base on to which a mason jar was screwed, permitting the water to seep out at the bases lip. The chickens were free to move out of the coop to roam the yard to peck, and hunt for insects. Some days my mom would ask me to feed them. Grabbing a hand full of feed from a small pail I would call out, “Here chick – chick – chick.” I miss those fresh eggs.

Nowadays, in these times of mass egg production, some chickens are cruelly confined to cages. In order to bring attention to the plight of the caged chickens, it is rumored that, ‘free the chicken advocates’ will themselves be climbing into cages this afternoon.

Where:  Lunardi’s Supermarket, 4650 Meridian Ave, San Jose. 
When:  4pm to 5pm this afternoon.

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