Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited February 26, 2021, 12:53 pm
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

California lottery reps are afraid of being attacked — so they asked for unmarked cars

Dec 20, 2019, 3:44 pm

Share this news story on Facebook
Tweet this news story on Twitter
California LotteryCalifornia Lottery: California lottery reps are afraid of being attacked — so they asked for unmarked carsRating:

A San Francisco carjacking that targeted a California public employee and ended in a police shooting caught Paulina Vasquez's attention two years ago.

It was what Vasquez, an SEIU Local 1000 steward for California Lottery sales representatives, feared would happen after the department decided to put the State of California seal on their vans.

The department added the stickers to the plain white vans six years ago despite protests from workers who were concerned about their safety. Now the union is trying to get the stickers removed.

"It would be a shame if a tragedy were to occur that could have been prevented," said Vasquez, of Modesto.

She sent a report detailing workers' safety concerns and a rash of recent incidents to lottery executives, including the department's new director, Alva Johnson, on Nov. 15.

The report cites seven specific instances of attacks on sales reps or their vehicles, and lists categories of lesser abuses that Vasquez said have become more frequent since the seals were added to the vans, including harassment, throwing things at the vehicles and spitting on them.

Vasquez said she hasn't heard back from lottery brass.

"The lottery is aware of the concern and is looking into the matter," Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez said in an email.

Moving Billboards

The disagreement dates back to the lottery's proposal in 2012 to wrap state cars in marketing materials. Department leaders wanted to boost the profile of the lottery, where revenues have risen to about $7 billion from about $3 billion a decade ago.

In addition to a marketing boost, managers said they wanted to discourage employees misusing the vans by marking them as state vehicles, according to union representatives who met with management to discuss the proposal in 2013.

SEIU representatives persuaded the department to use the decals instead of the wraparound advertising, but Vasquez and other sales representatives say the signs still put them in danger by making them an easy mark for thieves and a target for harassment at the liquor stores, bars and gas stations they visit during work.

"It just puts you in such a spotlight," said Charlotte Belasco, 58, of San Diego.

Belasco said she retired last year from her sales representative job. She had planned to work until she was 60 but said she retired early over safety fears and concerns with what she views as poor management.

The complaint over the logos is the latest effort by lottery employees to improve what they view as deteriorating working conditions.

The lottery has been the subject of several audits and investigations since employees alleged misconduct among senior executives last year in an anonymous letter to former Gov. Jerry Brown.

The state Justice Department has launched an investigation at the department, and the State Controller's Office has identified inappropriate spending on travel. Past director Hugo Lopez resigned in June and a top sales manager was fired.

Anti-Government Sentiment

Once in a Shell parking lot, a "mentally unstable" man "became irate about anti-government issues" after seeing the seal on her vehicle, Belasco said.

She said one man urinated on the van and another licked its window while she was sitting inside. While the sales reps are sometimes identified by the armloads of "scratcher" tickets they carry in and out of buildings, Belasco believes the seals attract extra attention for no good reason.

Vasquez doesn't have hard data showing a rise in incidents, but she said she keeps track of complaints she receives from drivers and collects police reports on the incidents. She now receives complaints at least once a month, often twice, where she used to see one approximately every other month. There are about 200 Lottery sales reps around the state.

The seals attract a lot of anti-government sentiment from people who don't know what the drivers' jobs are, Vasquez said.

"If you're a man, they think you're law enforcement; if you're a woman, they think you're social services," she said.

Some people see the scratchers — which are deactivated when they're not in a store — and think the drivers have money in the car, which they don't, she said.

Her report documents thieves breaking van windows and stealing phones, laptops, state credit cards and other items. It mentions acts of vandalism such as a man spraying graffiti on a van.

In a November incident in Rancho Cordova, a man approached a van waving a long knife and screaming anti-government slurs, according to the report.

People have thrown coffee on the vans, put dog poop on them, put gum under the handles, rammed shopping carts against them and spit on them, among other attacks, according to the report.

"The incidents have been escalating," Vasquez said. "Our previous management was very dismissive and remiss. We got nowhere with them. We're very hopeful that our new director will take this seriously."

Modesto Bee

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

27 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by db101.
Page 1 of 2
Avatar
Simpsonville
United States
Member #163184
January 22, 2015
2438 Posts
Offline

I think they have a valid point.   Way too many crazies out there and if the perp can figure out they are lottery officials it is like a sitting target.

    Avatar
    New Member
    Mississauga
    Canada
    Member #188177
    February 28, 2018
    13 Posts
    Offline

    Waaaay too much time on some people's hand! Then again I suppose many were hardcore gamblers and has lost thousands of dollars buying lottery tickets and are probably looking for an outlet to vent their frustration. In any event its a sad situation. Hope the changes are made at least for the employees' safety sake.

      music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
      USN United States Navy
      Fresno, California
      United States
      Member #157851
      August 2, 2014
      3959 Posts
      Offline

      The squeeky wheel gets the grease. Make enough noise and you will get the appropriate official's attention.

        Exercise your First Amendment right of Free Speech.  Freedom of Assembly.

       "We are all in this together!" 

        Avatar
        New Member
        Ohio
        United States
        Member #164565
        March 7, 2015
        6 Posts
        Offline

        Put a plain white magnetic sign over it or a magnetic sign with a discouraging logo.

        If you play expecting a particular number to "break" it will break you.

          Avatar
          Chasing $ Millions.
          White Shores- California
          United States
          Member #136473
          December 12, 2012
          6525 Posts
          Online

          How come we don't get reports of Anheuser Busch drivers delivering booze to stores, reporting on being harassed? Hey, l need a beer, hand it over!  For all l know, these folks could be from the same Cabal that reported the " out of control office party " at the piano bar a year or so ago, and wanted people fired. Just do your job and quit complaining. It's not like these folk are carrying cash for the lottery, those scratchers are not activated, stealing that stuff from a van is rendered useless until the store takes delivery. Come on, quit this nonsense.

           * Voice of Reason *   

           

          People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

            HaveABall's avatar - rocket

            United States
            Member #72446
            March 18, 2009
            1349 Posts
            Offline

            Yeah I, too, would become anxious and disillusioned with my neighbors by seeing people pee or poop on my work car because it's owned by the government so person  doesn't even care what department!  I'd be afraid they'd being willing to do the same thing to my body soon, even if the tickets were bravely stuffed into a zipped closed duffle bag!

            Shocked

            Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

            Disney

              Avatar
              Northern Beaches
              Australia
              Member #187037
              January 9, 2018
              128 Posts
              Offline

              This is exactly why all lottery winners should have the right to remain anonymous. It can is extremely dangerous for winners to be publicly identified.

                Vergie6's avatar - DSCN4488
                25
                North Carolina
                United States
                Member #59853
                March 29, 2008
                51689 Posts
                Offline

                I think they have a valid point.   Way too many crazies out there and if the perp can figure out they are lottery officials it is like a sitting target.

                You got that right!

                I saw someone beat a man up in the Wal-Mart parking lot one Saturday in the daytime and steal his car.

                I was coming out of the store and had just gotten to my car and a lady was screaming for them to stop fighting & I thought she was screaming at her kids but they were 2 grown men...I was in shock!

                Then one of them got the keys from the other one and drove off with the man's car almost hitting some people.

                Like you said there are way too many crazies out there & I'm way too friendly to people sometimes!

                https://youtu.be/UvM2Cmi-YR

                George Micheal is singing in heaven now & the angels are cheering him on!

                  cottoneyedjoe's avatar - cuonvFT

                  United States
                  Member #197033
                  March 28, 2019
                  695 Posts
                  Offline

                  Put a plain white magnetic sign over it or a magnetic sign with a discouraging logo.

                  I Agree!

                  I completely side with the union on this one. Some lottery bosses just want to take advantage of any flat surface for advertising, but it's not worth the risk when incidents are so bad the police have to be called. The CA lottery advertises all over the place, in all media.

                  Maybe they will strike next year.

                  ... Sooper dooper top seekrit winning numbers: 5 16 17 24 33 52 ...

                    duckman's avatar - ducklogodrake64x64
                    Jacksonville Florida
                    United States
                    Member #23017
                    October 6, 2005
                    1092 Posts
                    Offline

                    You got that right!

                    I saw someone beat a man up in the Wal-Mart parking lot one Saturday in the daytime and steal his car.

                    I was coming out of the store and had just gotten to my car and a lady was screaming for them to stop fighting & I thought she was screaming at her kids but they were 2 grown men...I was in shock!

                    Then one of them got the keys from the other one and drove off with the man's car almost hitting some people.

                    Like you said there are way too many crazies out there & I'm way too friendly to people sometimes!

                    There have been a large increase in carjackings where I live. The carjackers wait for the right opportunity and then strike using the element of surprise. Everyone please be careful at malls or store parking lots and gas stations and even restaurant parking lots. It is best to go in groups of at least 2 when going out. Many carjackers look for individuals by themselves. And always be aware of your surroundings.

                      Avatar
                      Chasing $ Millions.
                      White Shores- California
                      United States
                      Member #136473
                      December 12, 2012
                      6525 Posts
                      Online

                      There have been a large increase in carjackings where I live. The carjackers wait for the right opportunity and then strike using the element of surprise. Everyone please be careful at malls or store parking lots and gas stations and even restaurant parking lots. It is best to go in groups of at least 2 when going out. Many carjackers look for individuals by themselves. And always be aware of your surroundings.

                      Personally, l get it. Sure you get folk out there that are mentally deranged or on substance, perhaps these folk were denied  State benefits or assistance of some kind, but urinating, kicking cars & licking car windows because of a lottery logo on the vehicle? Please. I have seen State lottery vendors on their knees in stores for long periods of time with those machines wide open reloading their product- and not a single person giving them crap.Suddenly we have this?....Ok.

                       * Voice of Reason *   

                       

                      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                        Avatar
                        Kentucky
                        United States
                        Member #32651
                        February 14, 2006
                        9094 Posts
                        Offline

                        In addition to a marketing boost, managers said they wanted to discourage employees misusing the vans by marking them as state vehicles,

                        Apparently there were other reasons to mark the vans and now they must determine if the markings are causing problems for the employees. Not all thieves know the scratch-offs the vans are carrying are worthless and the only cash is whatever the driver has. 

                        Don't think a cargo van is hijackers vehicle of choice, but you never know.

                        It's not my fault! I voted for Amy.

                          sweetie7398's avatar - flower2
                          100

                          United States
                          Member #22701
                          September 30, 2005
                          13677 Posts
                          Offline

                          This is exactly why all lottery winners should have the right to remain anonymous. It can is extremely dangerous for winners to be publicly identified.

                          Very true. Alot of people that have won have been killed.

                          Life, love, family Love

                            Avatar
                            Chasing $ Millions.
                            White Shores- California
                            United States
                            Member #136473
                            December 12, 2012
                            6525 Posts
                            Online

                            Very true. Alot of people that have won have been killed.

                            A lot of people have been killed sweetie7398? l can think of Shakespeare and maybe one or two others.

                            * The nuances of English:   A lot is a large enough number and a few is close to none.Smile

                             * Voice of Reason *   

                             

                            People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.