How This Placard Cost Me $100,000

 I live in the city of West Hollywood. For the uninitiated it’s a city which features the Sunset Strip (three live music venues frequented solely by kinky grey hairs from Van Nuys), The Abbey and a few other notorious gay bars (actually really fun places to go), and a bunch of people who apparently make their living by taking care of their dog.

The city is gloriously corrupt. The entire city council, except for one person, is in the pocket of real estate developers. Which is fine or whatever, but they’re also really self righteous at the same time which is pretty infuriating. They do a lot of stuff to make up for their corruption like naming something National ____ Day.

One of the longtime Council Member’s name is John Duran. He is HIV positive and sexually harasses his interns who in turn have sex with him and then sue him later, and win. There is wiretapping and nepotism like you wouldn’t believe. Also a few really eccentric elderly Russian people. They love Trump but nobody mentions that.

I recently looked into applying for a license to distribute cannabis in West Hollywood, as it recently became commercially legal.

A quick look at the homepage and I found that the application process was fairly straightforward, just explain why you would be qualified to run such a business, explain where your cannabis is grown, and also just give them a non-refundable application fee of $9,880.

Well, that seemed to be a bit of a commitment, to intrust ten thousand dollars to some likely idiot bureaucrat, so I called the City and asked them how they arrived at that very specific number, like, why does it cost that much?

(I know exactly what they did, though it cannot be proven. They thought ten thousand dollars seemed like a good number, and to make it look like they are actually working they figured out how to make it seem like a not so even number. They probably had a few discussions like, what sounds better, $11,187 or $9879? We don’t want to go used car here. Then they all billed drinks to some slush fund set up for feline AIDS and proceeded to dawn black hoods and sing karaoke.)

Someone answered my call and explained that the $9,880 was a reflection of what it would cost for the city to review the cannabis applications. (It was further explained that the person normally in charge of answering the questions regarding cannabis was “out all week”, which seems like odd timing since, you know, he was probably hired explicitly for this purpose and if you looked at a timeline of how relevant questions to cannabis would be after its recent legalization it would pretty much resemble an inverted chart of Bill Cosby’s popularity only condensed down to three years.)

So, some asshole took my call on speakerphone.

I spoke to several people who work in professional environments and they confirmed my theory that answering a call and proceeding to have a conversation over speaker is disrespectful. For some reason, no technical advances have been made in the speakerphone industry since 1981 and it sounds like you’re yelling into a racquetball court wall, and also you can’t tell who else is listening.

You picture the guy playing a Rubik’s Cube or trimming his ball hair or just generally not giving a shit about what you’re saying. That’s what it conveys, because that’s exactly what’s happening. When you call and ask someone for money, you DO NOT do it on speaker phone. When someone calls you and asks you why you want to rip them off, you answer it on speakerphone.

It’s arrogance.

I used to think that old people who shrugged off politics by saying “What does it matter, they’re all the same” were just lazy generalizing people who didn’t have the capacity to actually discuss issues.

Now I feel differently.

I think they have actually thought about it, figured out that all politicians are self-determined, and decided that they’d rather not waste too much time thinking about it when there is so much bingo to be played.

When pressed, lightly, the speakerphone guy told me that the city had to contract an outside company to review the applications, because there were so many.

At ten thousand each.

Do the math.

I asked the speakerphone guy the name of the company, and he got nervous and hung up the phone.

It was weird.

He makes a lot of money.

I called him back and he got real Fake ID confident on me and told me that he couldn’t reveal the name of the company that was being contracted and then said they hadn’t even contracted anyone yet.

Which I found to be strange because that seemed to be the entire justification for the $9,880.

(Let me tell you what will happen, they already know who will be getting these cannabis licenses. The whole thing is a sham. The whole thing. Meaning America. Country. State. County. City. Etc.)

When I was growing up, one of my mom’s friend’s husband was a judge. Brace yourself, he had a weirdly sculpted grey beard. I know. He was a total jerk. I always thought that if you gravitate towards a profession where people who have no respect for you have to stand up when you walk into a room, in your queer ass gown, you have issues.

(Turns out I was right, the guy turned out to be a hard core right wing psycho who railed against the ACLU while drinking imposter scotch, but I digress.)

Without disclosing too much, in the time I have lived in West Hollywood I have paid a lot of money in taxes to the city.

Let’s just say, a hundred thousand dollars.

I look at that money as wasted. Gone to some cause someone made up. The trash collection is solid. Water, good. That should come out to a few hundred bucks a year. The rest of it, Hillary Clinton 2020.

But the other day I renewed my parking permits (cost $45 times 3.)

(You need to display a permit to park on the street, so I have one for my own car and two for visitors. They are good for a year.)

With the permits I received the pictured placard to hang from my vehicle, in the envelope, free of charge.

There was no additional fee for the placard.

There’s a fee for everything.

There’s a fee to file a report about potential bogus fees.

No fee for this, this thing that I actually use.

It is worth about six pennies.

But not to me.

I look at this worthless piece of plastic as though it is invaluable.

Because it’s something that I actually use.

I have paid a hundred thousand dollars for this placard.

I love it.