Wings 'N' Things
I'm no lepidopterist, but the photo spanning the opening pages of "The Mission Blue Mission" (Aug. 9) seems to depict a butterfly that has just had its wing torn from its body. Although I'm also no expert on the Endangered Species Act, it seems to me that, if the insect in the photo is indeed a Mission Blue butterfly, then that photo's "hand model," if not also the photographer, is by virtue of this cruelty guilty of violating the ESA and thus subject to some of the same fines that the article chronicled.

I also have an ornithological bone to pick: The author refers to having seen an "Alaskan kite" south of Santa Cruz just off Highway 1. You should augment your fact-checking staff, 'cause there ain't no such bird.

Jeremy Johnstone

The Editor replies: The creation of the Mission Blue butterfly image was cruelty-free: A color photo of the insect was scanned by a Microtek Color Scanner at 150 dpi and imported into Photoshop, as were the hands and the sky in the background. The butterfly's wing was detached by subsequent Photoshop manipulation. The term "Alaskan" kite is a Monterey County colloquialism for the white-tailed kite, formerly known as the black-shouldered kite.

Desk Duty
I read with bemusement Bruce B. Brugmann's letter (Aug. 16) complaining about George Cothran's "Grudge Match" (Bay View, Aug. 9). There, in black and newsprint, the master of loaded questions, preconceptions, and distortion was complaining about Cothran's "one-sided questions" and "preset position."

Regarding the article itself, and at the risk of being allied with Brugmann, I am obliged to correct Cothran's factual errors. At the time of the alleged banning, Balderston was not a "regular on City Desk." He had appeared only a couple of times and had been told he would be asked to appear, in the future, only periodically. Most importantly, Balderston was never "blackballed" from the series by Viacom. Rather, he was replaced for one specific program only, at the rightful discretion of the producers, in order to get that week's edition televised. Had Brugmann not gone ballistic with his outrageous conspiratorial phobias and forbidden Balderston from ever appearing again, the conflict would have been resolved and Balderston would have returned to the desk subsequently.

Barrett Giorgis
Program Director, Viacom
San Francisco

Waste Not, Write Not
"Money for Nothing" (Aug. 16) demonstrates SF Weekly's new editorial style harking back in more than numbing length to Charles Dickens. We could certainly use some information on the recycling business, but we don't need "Oliver Twist Mediterranean Avenue." With respect to specifics:

Author Lisa Margonelli says the recycling program is "funded by the monthly garbage bills paid by property owners." San Francisco garbage pickup is contracted by individual account holders with the company; it is not billed like a property tax by the city as it is some places. I have rented for 10 years and have paid the garbage bill -- the property owner does not -- quarterly, not monthly.

Margonelli cites the price of aluminum cans at "as much as 50 cents per pound" on Page 11. By Page 14, the price had become 68.25 and 85 cents. Not noted, for example, is that with a coupon in the Sunday Examiner/Chronicle, the Reynolds can price is $1 per pound. How many other prices are there?

Margonelli does not discuss the unique aspects of the California "redemption value" program, the implications for recycling it promotes, nor the various private, nonprofit, neighborhood, and charitable organizations involved in recycling. She lives in a dualistic universe of Evil Capitalist Exploiters and Noble, Marginalized Poor.

Margonelli says a city survey "failed to find a single individual who had quit recycling because of scavengers." Given the limitations of survey research, let me offer the reasons why I quit recycling (under the street pickup plan) because of scavengers: Within minutes of the time my recycling box was set out, it was looted by raiders. The last time I used the box, the pickup was done by a well-dressed Chinese woman in an expensive car. Sunset Scavengers suggests getting up at 6 a.m. to put out the recyclables, but last week while I was waiting for the regular garbage pickup at 7:45 a.m., it was immediately preceded by a recycling thief. The scavengers ("thieves") not only dumped my blue box upside down to make sorting easier, they tossed the newspapers prepared separately for recycling into the street, and they dumped the regular garbage can over as well.

Margonelli does not dispute the general liberal media dogma that "scavengers" are socially beneficial gleaners of urban offal. This is hardly the real world. The morning of garbage pickup day, the blocks around my home look like landfill dumping sites as the "scavengers" have spent the night spreading loose garbage of all kinds up and down the streets -- causing a health and safety menace the city has to clean up, at additional cost to taxpayers. How much of that cost would be saved by stopping the illegal scavenging?

Jerry Jansen
San Francisco

Lisa Margonelli replies: I cannot tell you how flattered I am to be compared to Charles Dickens.

Jansen's first point has the most merit -- garbage bills are sent out quarterly, not monthly. But they are calculated on a monthly basis by the Rate Board. The bills are generally paid by property owners rather than renters.

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