Dog Bites

Joseph van Es-Ballesteros (1962-1995)
Toward the end, AIDS was tearing local political activist Joseph van Es-Ballesteros up inside. But he never complained, except to say, "I'm having a bad day. I'll be in a little late this morning." Unfailingly, Joey would show up, fire up two or three triple lattes, smoke a cigarette or two, and get down to his work fighting discrimination, empowering youth, and electing progressive politicians. On July 19, at the age of 32, van Es-Ballesteros passed away at home, surrounded by family and friends.

Since his foray into politics at the age of 18 as director for Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York, Joey's job changed often. He served as an aide to Manhattan Borough president Andrew Stein, a coordinator of the AIDS quilt's world tours, and an aide to local pols like Art Agnos and Roberta Achtenberg. But van Es-Ballesteros always held to the same, enduring goal: social justice.

On Nov. 4, 1995, the Bay Area Non-Partisan Alliance will honor him with its Don Disler Community Service and Leadership Award. Upon hearing this, van Es-Ballesteros' friend Alex Clemens remarked: "In his acceptance speech, Joey would have fully ignored his own accomplishments, discussed many of the people he has worked with, and attempted to explain why they would be more deserving of the award. He would have been wrong."

Color Him Green
Every step of the way in democracy, it seems, one must beg, borrow, and steal to participate. And when the odd grass-roots candidate rises from the greasy green sea, money always pushes him back beneath the waves. Take, for example, Robert Gonzales, an unemployed 30-year-old SoCal transplant who was rudely awakened to this fact when he visited the Registrar of Voters to add his name to the list of mayoral candidates: They presented him with a bill for $2,773.39.

The free way to ballot access is to collect 11,094 signatures from registered voters -- which most of the current candidates are doing -- but that takes a campaign staff, and costs much more than $3,000. Naomi Nishioka, campaign services manager for the Registrar of Voters, says she can't recall the exact rationale for the fee. "I think it's to make sure that candidates are serious," she says.

A perturbed Gonzales, who had his heart set on running "a novice, guerrilla-style campaign," says, "It's insane and criminal to charge that much."

Mind Over Matter
If people pray for you, do you get better faster? That's the question that a new study at the University of California at San Francisco and the Sausalito Consciousness Research Laboratory wants to answer. Beginning on July 31, healers around the country will be concentrating -- long distance -- on 20 people with AIDS, who, in turn, will be having lab work done on their blood and filling out questionnaires on their state of mind. After six months, scientists at UCSF will compare before and after results.

"There's probably no study in the history of studies where there are so few requirements," says Fred Sicher, a psychologist who directs the research lab at the Sausalito Consciousness Research Laboratory.

To qualify for the study, participants had to meet three criteria: T cells below 200, one or more AIDS indicator illnesses, and currently on anti-viral medication. That last one proved to be more controversial than the researchers expected, Sicher says, with long-term AIDS survivors who met the other criteria saying they were not taking the anti-virals. "It was 50-50," he says. Because of the anti-virals requirement, a week before enrollment closed for the study on July 27 the researchers were still looking for three or four more participants.

By George Cothran, Ellen McGarrahan

 
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