Woman dubbed ‘Permit Betty’ loses job over viral video

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A viral video has cost a woman her job, but she says she was just trying to do her job.

On Friday, KRON4’s Justine Waldman spoke with the woman in the video to get her side of the story. She has been dubbed “Permit Betty.”

She says she was fired from her job for doing her job.

Rene Folena says she lost her job by doing what she is supposed to do, trying to help street vendors.

Until Thursday, she worked in outreach with Streetplus, a community group that contracts with the Yerba Buena Community Benefit district which aims to make the city a more welcoming place.

In this now viral video, Folena is seen talking to a street vendor on Market Street and holding her phone

The man recording the video, it appears, accuses her of harassing the vendor about having a permit.

“I wish people would stop thinking I was on the phone with police,” Folena said.

Over the phone, Folena tells KRON4 while on her lunch, she says she made a call to a community guide at her job to come and check on the vendor to help get the woman a one-day permit.

Folena tells KRON4 she is half Mexican and half Irish and in no way a racist.

“I am sorry that I was doing my job by calling some to come over and help her. I am sorry that I did not make the phone call myself and give her the information,” Folena said.

In a statement, the YBCBD says:

An employee of a service provider misrepresented the YBCBD on Wednesday. That individual no longer works on behalf of the district. This individual was not a direct employee of the YBCBD. However, we take responsibility for anyone who works on our behalf. Everyone associated with the YBCBD is expected to follow our policies and adhere to our values of inclusivity and of treating people with compassion, respect and dignity.

Streetplus did not return requests for comment.

The grandmother believes the video does not show the whole story.

“What I regret is not having the district and the company actually having my back,” Folena said.

KRON4 has also reached out to the man who recorded the video but has not heard back.

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