Letters

Shooting Star
Thank you for printing "Conscientious Injectors" (June 28). It was an excellent and needed article. The people participating in the needle-exchange programs are truly beautiful. Their willingness to help a group that is about the most downtrodden and forgotten in America can be likened to Mother Teresa's mission to help the poorest of the poor. When the "war on drugs" types obsess over the "kind of message" such programs put out, let us reply that the message is that promoting people's health and well-being is more important than controlling people's behavior.

Fran Nowve
Oakland

Army Wrestling
The notion that people opposed to naming the street Cesar Chavez are "traditionalists" does not stand up to the facts (Bay View, "Street Fight," June 28). There was no opposition to renaming Navy Street to 27th Street. So opposing the renaming of Army to Cesar Chavez is nothing more than racism pure and simple.

Pete Ferreira
San Francisco

Streetwise
At first, I applauded the name change from Army to Cesar Chavez. But two factors led me to sign the petition (Bay View, "Street Fight," June 28) to restore the name to Army Street.

First, the mere fact that thousands are signing this petition is evidence that the Board of Supervisors didn't do its homework on this. While I know there are several versions of every story, I am concerned by the number of people who have reported rude behavior by the staffs of a couple of supervisors toward those who called to complain. There will never be anywhere near 100 percent support for any position the board takes, and sometimes it should take positions that a majority may not support (i.e., boycotting grapes or South Africa), but renaming a street after anyone does not rise to that moral standard.

Second, as someone who is deeply involved in San Francisco history (I do a storytelling titled "The Life Story of San Francisco" at the Museum of the City of San Francisco), I have come to realize that street names play a prominent role in the collective community memory of the free-spirited, open-minded, opportunity-driven San Francisco that attracted most of us here in the first place. Therefore, to change a street name should require a higher standard, and should be avoided except under very unusual circumstances. In North Beach, changing alley names to Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, et al., was based on a direct relationship of these writers and poets to the places where they lived and worked. Army Street and Cesar Chavez have no such relationship.

I understand that South Van Ness was an option at the time. Wouldn't that street accomplish the goal? And there are many other options to honor Chavez, such as Dolores Park (here we retain the street name Dolores, and we have the mission.)

Peter Moylan
San Francisco

Basketball Jones
Slap Shots' piece on the guy who gets money with a story about being a basketball player who needs to buy food for his little girl ("The Bum's Rush," June 28) struck a chord. I gave money to the same guy when I first came to San Francisco for a short visit five years ago. He had almost exactly the same story. I was told that he'd been doing it for a long time before that -- maybe a few years. I remember the incident very clearly. That guy is so good he could even sell American cars to the Japanese. I regarded it as one of the touristic highlights of my visit.

John Lowry
Berkeley

Cops Are GOPs
The best reason for not requiring that the police and firefighters live in San Francisco (Bay View, "Fire Trek," June 21) is that we do not have a large reactionary voting bloc, of which the police and firefighters are, by definition, a large part.

Lee Heller
San Francisco

From the Big House to Our House
Larry Bush's piece on the Bernal Dwellings Housing Development (Paper Trails, "Dance a Little Dance With Me," June 21) relies on character assassination and speculation at the expense of any detailed reporting in discrediting Malik Rahim and, by extension, the Bernal Dwellings Tenant Association in their efforts to purchase Bernal Dwellings.

Bush simply defines Rahim as an ex-con in the opening sentence, and apparently feels he need therefore offer no actual evidence in suggesting that Rahim's and the Tenant Association's efforts to buy Bernal Dwellings must be motivated by a desire to make a profit. This assertion is not supported by anything other than a quote from an anonymous Housing Authority official, which Bush seems to accept at face value, overlooking the fact that the Housing Authority may have a conflicting interest in the property.

Rahim and the Tenant Association may instead want to purchase Bernal Dwellings to gain control over the place where they live, and to address problems that the Housing Authority failed to correct, such as poor maintenance, inadequate community services, and drug dealing. The Housing Authority's plans to reduce the number of units in the course of rehabilitation mentioned by Bush might also motivate tenants, some of whom would obviously have to move if the demolition and new construction were carried out in line with the authority's plan.

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