Weekend Open Thread: “Return to Vendor”


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Photo illustration adapted from this’n: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/09/10/university-california-police-looking-viral-hot-dog-vendor-video-berkeley/

I’ve been working on what could have been a Weekend Open Thread for this week, but I’m being conscientious about it so it’s taking longer than I’d hoped.  So, instead, I’ll resort to a little minor theft on the subject of a little minor theft.  This excerpt is from today’s “Around the Capitol,” by my virtual buddy Scott Lay; it addresses the now notorious apprehension of and expropriation from a rogue hot dog vendor (I mean that the vendor was rogue, not the hot dogs) by University of California, Berkeley, police.  You may have seen mention of it dished all over Facebook.  I don’t think that I could improve much on Scott’s take, which I consider right on point.  So read it here and then go subscribe to his bloody daily newsletter, if you have the wherewithal; if you’re interested in California politics, it’s a daily habit to cultivate.

The viral story of Beto Matias, the unpermitted hot dog vendor, whose money was confiscated/stolen by UC Berkeley police after a football game has taken off. Berkeley campus police took $60 out of his wallet, citing it as “evidence,” although there was no clear connection that the money was from selling hot dogs.

Martin Flores, a Berkeley alum who was buying a hot dog from the vendor set up a GoFundMe page and has raised $84,512 as I write. Flores is raising the money to assist Matias in buying a food truck. That’s my America.

The original goal for Flores’s fundraising effort was $10,000!

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy said “We have instructed our officers to monitor illegal vending outside our event venues. This action has been motivated at least in part by issues of public health, the interests of local small businesses, and even human trafficking.”

Biddy makes over $350,000 at Berkeley along with very generous benefits as a vice chancellor who has served in many different capacities, including being sycophant-in-chief, I meant fundraiser-in-chief.

Asshat should sell hot dogs on any given Saturday. You’ve got time before the Golden Bears host the Rebels today.

Stealing $60 from a vendor is something that men of privilege can do. Prove that those $60 were from selling hot dogs. That’s a lot of hot dogs, and you probably took money to feed his family.

I wrote in this space previously about a similar thing that happened a couple of blocks from my place. On Sundays, vendors set up on 8th and T [in Sacramento] with tamales, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and other scrumptious grub near the Spanish-language Our Lady of Guadalupe (which also sells delicious street tacos).  Well, one Sunday, they were raided by the county of Sacramento. Some have returned, although they are clearly dispirited.

They took money, and literally took soda from the back of a pick-up truck of one vendor that wasn’t actually being sold. Ice chests and equipment were taken.

I looked into the permitting process in Sacramento, and I could not understand it. I have a law degree and a native English speaker. For an immigrant whose first language is not English, permitting is impossible. The Legislature needs to address this. And, confiscating cash in a wallet as “evidence” for what is a fine-able offense is unconstitutional and is used to prey on undocumented Californians. Police departments know that undocumented residents won’t show up to claim money for fear of being deported. It’s legally sanctioned larceny.

UCI, please don’t do ever this.  Without a football program, it wouldn’t be of the same level of interest, but I’d still have to spend the same amount of time writing about it.

One interesting question from a social scientific-cum-political point of view is: why is this roust and theft of $60 bringing in almost $100,000 (so far) in presumably outraged donations while both greater and more violent injustices, including expropriations (see “civil forfeitures”) by police routinely don’t?  Is it because, as an entrepreneur, Matias is seem as more worthy than your average homeless person, teenager of color, or cannabis dealer?  Is it because people just hate having to get permits THAT MUCH?  Is it because it happened in Berkeley?  As a subset of that possibility, is it a conspiracy of Stanford and UCLA alumni and students to poke a stick into the eye of their common athletic and academic rival?  I don’t know — all I can say is that when someone wants to set up an experiment by staging a similar event here in Anaheim to see if it will bring in similar “food truck purchase”-level support, I won’t have any part of it, because I’d be worried that we’d end up trying to fundraise for a corpse rather than a potential bacon-wrapped hot dog salesperson, and that does NOT make for this sort of “feel-good story,” given our ability to bask in the glorious generosity of our fellow human beings.

This meager (but low-sodium!) fare IS your Weekend Open Thread — with half the weekend remaining, no less! — as we start to transition back towards our more normal publishing schedule.  (Frankly, there’s no other direction in which to go over the past month, I realize.  Look, times have been hard.  Be patient.  Yes, I AM gearing up to cover the upcoming political races; thanks for writing me and in some cases calling me.)  Talk about pork lips, nitrates,  the animal husbandry practices of piggeries, or anything else that strikes your fancy, within reasonable grounds of decency and discretion.  (This week only, “decorum” is officially optional.)  Nice to be back!


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)