According to a 12-count, 72-page complaint, the couple were saying they were taxicab drivers in San Francisco in order to secure prized permits--or medallions, as they are called. These medallions are highly sought after in San Francisco but issued in limited numbers. They allow full-time cab drivers to potentially earn thousands of dollars extra a year leasing out their permits to other drivers, during those hours when they are supposedly not behind the wheel.
Again, according to this complaint, Jack and Sylvia Dudum were saying that they were driving cabs full-time while actually sitting on $15 million in real estate and restaurant interests both here in Walnut Creek and elsewhere. One of those restaurants includes 1515 Restaurant and Lounge on North Main Street.
The Dudums were scheduled to appear at an August 7 disciplinary hearing before the San Francisco Transportation Agency. They each face fines of more than $200,000 each. That hearing, I learned this week, has been "continued" until October.
As this controversy was brewing, Jack Dudum and his son, Tony, appeared before Walnut Creek's Planning Commission on July 23 on a matter involving 1515 Restaurant. You can view a video of the hearing here. They wanted the city to allow them to extend hours for serving alcohol on both floors of the restaurant to 1:45 a.m. The city staff wants to limit those hours to 12:30 a.m. No mention of the taxicab controversy was directly mentioned at the meeting. However, Dudum daughter and sister, Julie Dudum Del Santo, who lives in Walnut Creek and works locally in real estate, complained about an unidentified local blog that had been "bashing" her family.
Ms. Dudum Del Santo, this is also an invitation to you to write in and explain how a local blogger (me?) has been unfairly "bashing" your family. And, Ms. Dudum Del Santo, and Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Sylvia Dudum, I would be happy to run what you say as a "guest comment." Which means, I'd run it in full (with, yes, edits for clarity and grammar). I would just run a brief introductory statement at the beginning, stating why and how your guest comment came about.
Of course, I know I'm just a mere blogger--someone you can ignore. Also, I did not break this whole story in the first place.
ABC-7's Dan Noyes and I-Team first exposed this alleged scam of well-off suburbanites, claiming to be full-time taxicab drivers, in order to earn, potentially, thousands of extra dollars. Noyes included Jack and Sylvia Dudum in his report. Noyes sought comment from them but was rebuffed.
But, perhaps Noyes got it wrong. Perhaps the investigators for the San Francisco Transportation Agency got it wrong. Maybe, this is all some weird, bureaucratic misunderstanding that will all be worked out: Jack and Sylvia Dudum are living some Kafka-esque nightmare, did nothing wrong, and don't deserve this kind of negative coverage or legal hassle.
I know there is always more than one side of any story, and there are shades of gray in what may seem to be a very black-and-white issue. And, I'm even willing to go along with the claim made by the Dudums in their 2008 business proposal for 1515, that a big part of their being in business "is to give back to the community to those are not as fortunate as us."
On the other hand, I don't think I'm the only one who is having trouble squaring this stated concern about those "not as fortunate as us" with allegations that Jack and Sylvia Dudum held onto these taxicab medallions--when they didn't deserve them. Again, as Noyes reported, these permits are highly sought-after by ordinary working folk, so that they can earn some money to house and feed their families.
Maybe this taxicab issue is just one blemish on what Jack Dudum proclaims is his overall "pristine record" of service to the community. At that Planning Commission meeting, Jack Dudum said he had been in business personally for 45 years with state Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses in San Francisco, Alameda, and other cities: "I never had one blemish on my record, of serving hard liquor in my fine family dining establishments."
In the meantime, this anonymous reader shared this pro-Dudum comment on one of my two Dudum posts, which were dated July 10, 2009 and July 20, 2009. I'm publishing this reader's defense of the Dudums' contributions to Walnut Creek's dining and cultural life in full. This comment was posted on August 10, three days after the scheduled Dudum disciplinary hearing.
I have been a long time resident of the Walnut Creek area, and I love what the Dudum’s are bringing to this area. They have added a large city atmosphere to our bustling city, while maintaining the character that makes Walnut Creek grand. The Dudum’s establishments help decrease the unemployment rate, they offer a secure revenue source for their employees, and most of all they provide a family like feel to an industry that is fast becoming owned by large corporations.
1515 Restaurant & Lounge is owned by Tony Dudum and immediate family. Tony and his dad, Jack pride their restaurant businesses on quality food, a personalized wait staff, and above all, a welcoming ambience. His goal is not to add another nightclub to Walnut Creek, but to add an appealing venue where one might meet a friend for drinks, have a four course dinner, or have a tasty meal late into the night.
1515 is a standup addition to our fine city and the proprietors should be congratulated, not chastised. I implore you to take the time and see 1515 Restaurant & Lounge for yourself, see the numerous people who call 1515 home and then make your judgment. The Dudum’s main goal is to provide a home away from home not only for their staff, but for the fine residents of Walnut Creek, and in my humble opinion they are doing a fundamental job at bringing Walnut Creek to the next level.