Sylvia's Blog

This blog was created in memory of my mother, Sylvia Siegel, who passed away peacefully in her sleep on 8/18/2007. It's intended to serve as a collection point for articles written about her, and for any type of anecdotes that anyone would care to share. So feel free to post entries and share. If you want to be added to the list of contributors, just send me an e-mail and I'll add you to the list. Also in my mom's memory, I will use this as a vehicle to post consumer-oriented information, especially related to telecommunications.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

876 Call Update 2

Yesterday, a staffer from Anna Eshoo's office contacted me about the 876 number scam complaint I'd filed with their office. She'd never heard of it before, but agreed it sounded like someone should do something about it. She's following up with D.C., and should get back with me, although I expect it to take several weeks. So maybe there is some hope on the horizon with some government help for this problem!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

876 Call Update

Thus far, I have heard back from my local PD "Ask your telephone company to block the calls." They can't, that's the point! TURN responded to say that their local advocate was resigning, so I really don't have a solution from them (yet). I haven't heard from the FCC.

I mapped all the 876 numbers to contacts in my contact list, and assigned those numbers a different ringtone (a rastafarian one, as befits Jamaica), so that I can just shut the calls off without having to look.

I also changed my voicemail message to let callers know that if they're calling from an 876 number, the authorities will be contacted (little do they know how little any authorities really care), otherwise, please leave a message! This seems to have helped, as I've only gotten one 876 call since I made that change. But a few days isn't enough time to know if this really worked, and it could just be that since they had little success with calling me, they just gave up.

I wrote into Pogue's blog on the Times today, since he wrote an interesting piece on SMS spam (which fortunately I haven't encountered yet!), so if anyone will have a good suggestion, he will. Or at maybe he'll do a post about the 876 problem and the phone companies will be shamed into giving us all call blocking as part of our regular expensive service.

Time will tell!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Harassing calls from area code 876 (Jamaica phone scam)

Although this is my mom's blog, I thought it would be appropriate to post a consumer alert here. She might have appreciated whatever small steps I might take to carry on in her footsteps.

Here's the situation: in the past couple of weeks, I've been getting harassing calls from Jamaica (the country) to my cellphone. Needless to say this is disruptive and annoying, since I get several a day.

Here are the numbers I've received calls from (thus far -- I'll update the list as I get more):

(876) 375-9740
(876) 441-3652
(876) 303-5893
(876) 470-0341
(876) 584-4405
(876) 491-9206

These calls are a scam, and the people who are calling are trying
to get you to call them back so you'll incur international phone charges, of which they apparently get a cut. In addition, it may also be a scam to try to get personal information, but having never called them back I am not certain of that. I know others who are also getting these types of calls, and I'm very concerned that people will call the numbers back, because the message they leave is somewhat compelling, and the number, coming from 876, looks like it's a toll-free number. So most people would be tempted to call the number back.

What to do about them? I have an iPhone, which does not allow me to block a number. Apparently other phones, like the Treo, have third-party applications which allow you to block any number. I also use AT&T, which doesn't allow you to block numbers except by buying an extra service for $5/month, which I don't think I should have to pay. AT&T offered to allow me to change my phone number for free, but again, that's not something I want to do or feel I should have to do. So, while the customer service people at AT&T were nice, they were unable to help me. Repeated calls were unable to get them to give me the blocking service for free, although I do know from experience that calling multiple times often gets you to someone who can solve your problem.

I complained to the FCC and TURN, and am waiting to hear back from both. I also wrote to Interpol, and here's what they had to say:

Dear Madam,

Thank you for your e-mail.
INTERPOL offices are unable to deal with such enquiries from members of the public.
In response to your request we would advise you to contact your local police
authorities directly, who will be able to assess the circumstances and will know how
to access the appropriate INTERPOL channels if required.


Press Office

Not much help. I've written to my local PD, and we'll see where that goes from here.

If any of you out there have run into this problem and figured out how to solve it, please let me know!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Her zeal inspired people

Sylvia Siegel was a pioneering activist whose tenacious defense of consumers and the poor will be severely missed. All communities need an outspoken advocate who asks the difficult questions and gets results. Sylvia did both.

Sylvia’s work spared millions of Californians from paying higher utility rates, and her zeal inspired people across the state. We will both miss Sylvia and her passion for pursuing the public good.

Senator Christine Kehoe
Senator Carole Migden

Friday, August 31, 2007

By Adele Levine

Sylvia was at our wedding in 1957. Paul was Sam's childhood/boyhood/adulthood friend. We go back well over 50 years, with lots of great memories. There are many words describing Sylvia, but the word I've never known to be used is 'boring'. Knowing her and her energy and her creativity and her quirkiness was always fascinating and 'different'. You learned to roll with that uniqueness, though at times it was daunting.

When we unveiled Sam's headstone she and Paul arrived (she had a walker by then) and as they made it from the car across the grass at the cemetary, she spotted Bill Lockyer, who was then Speaker pro tem of the Senate. She headed for him and with finger wagging challenging him on a political issue and though he was twice her size, reduced him to half her size. He didn't know what hit him, though he, like most in Sacramento, was quite familiar with Sylvia's ways.

When Sylvia and I visited, our talks were wide-ranging, though more and more they focused on her two grandchildren and their accomplishments. They were going to go to Stanford, for sure!
As she aged she remained 'in tune' with what was happening politically and was sure that she had the answers to the problems, if only 'they' would listen.

Through Smith to Redwoods, visiting her continued to be a joy, until it wasn't a joy anymore. The last time I saw her, I was unrecognized and decided that the Sylvia I knew no longer was in the body of the person who was living at Redwoods. I wept as I drove away, and immediately had a soft collision with a car in front of me. I thought of all the words Sylvia might use on an occasion like that, and began to giggle while exchanging info with the other driver. She has left me with an abundance of great memories. How could you forget the likes of Sylvia!!! It would be an outrage...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Remembering Sylvia, by William T. Bagley, Esq.

I’d say “practiced outrage”, that was Sylvia. Drafted by George Deukmejian in 1983, I served a short unexpired term on the CPUC—’83-85 and then returned to my law firm. Ah, Sylvia—we had so much fun. I don’t recall ever casting a vote “for” her, but I obtained a Deukmejian signature on a bill to authorize T.U.R.N. to obtain intervener fees (should have asked for a finder’s fee).

Instead, I bought Scotch (Red and Black label) for Sylvia. She would walk the halls in the old office building (I named 350 McAllister the “Earl Warren Building” while in the Legislature). Her feet hurt—at about 5:00 p.m. she would “pussy-foot” into my office. I’d pour scotch, foot pain was relieved. Never a vote, but a relationship.

At CPUC meetings, Sylvia would stand, indicating her presence, physically and vocally. At times I would shout to her (respectfully) “be quiet”. She would react with a zinger directed at me. Government was a “hobby” for me—have fun and do good was my motto. Sylvia and I were on the same page, sort of.

She once, while standing, leaned on the light switch and the whole hearing room went dark. I wish I could recall the remarks, stated from the dais and the light-switch wall between Sylvia and myself. Here’s to Sylvia—she was a great lady and to Mike Florio, a good guy, a gentleman and a fine attorney.

(Posted on behalf of the Honorable William T. Bagley)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sylvia remembered, by Rob Feraru

I worked with Sylvia when I was staffer in the Legislature and when I worked at the CPUC.
Sylvia is one of those indelible figures that one encounters in this life.
I remember her in several different kinds of situations.
She could shine in many ways.
She was a canny strategist who knew when to push and how and on whom.
She was a successful advocate and a worthy adversary in policy fights, effectively using the modest weapons on her side....the truth, the media, her loyal changing cadre of shitkicking attorneys and other staff, and the members of TURN.
She was a fearsome force when speaking truth to power, (only occasionally going too far, in my humble opinion).
She was a loyal, fierce ally in battle.
She was a sweet, wise, hard edged fighter.
She knew how to relax after a hard day.
I am proud to have known her.
I vow to keep a part of her alive in my continued activism.