Dog Bites

Kaiser Kibosh
Call it "showdown at the HMO corral." At high noon on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, ACT UP/Golden Gate plans to protest what it calls substandard care for the HIV-positive and other patients at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco. On hand will be a coffin, a Kaiser "Wheel of Misfortune" -- and plenty of heat.

"The allegations are completely untrue," responds Beverly Hayon, Kaiser spokesperson, who says she will be offering rebuttals in person on Dec. 1. "It's no coincidence," Hayon says, "that this protest has been scheduled during major contract negotiations," ongoing with the Service Employees International Union, which she says nudged ACT UP to dis Kaiser in order to bolster the union's bargaining position.

The union has nothing to do with it, snorts ACT UP's Kate Krauss, who says the group has planned the demo for months, and has long lobbied Kaiser to improve its care. Kaiser is in "drastic cost-cutting mode," and health services for the neediest patients are seriously, well, ill, she says. For starters, activists want the hospital to develop an HIV treatment standard; to reverse cutbacks in Pap smears and other preventive health measures; to start paying for the diagnostic test that establishes the amount of HIV in a person's body, an important treatment tool. And to put the big K under the gun.

Booked Out
If your idea of a good time is to hang out at the Main Branch of the S.F. Public Library, you'd better swing by before New Year's Eve: Starting on New Year's Day, the Main Branch will be closed for 3 1/2 months while the collection is cataloged, packed up, and moved down the street to the new, improved Main Branch digs.

Why does it take that long to move a bunch of books?
"We are reorganizing many of the materials in the new library," says Kathy Page, head of the Main Branch. "We're mapping the collection now. That is, we're figuring out where each book and magazine will go. We're going that on paper, but we know also that once we get over to the new building there will be things that will have to shift and change."

"The organizational problems are just unbelievable," explains Library Commission member Karen Crommie. "It's everything that has to be done."

During the move, books will circulate through the 26 branches, and limited telephone reference services will be available for art, music, recreation, business, science, documents, and general collections departments.

Madrid Pissing Match
JC Decaux, the French pissoir company that placed public toilets and kiosks here this year, complained that the Board of Supervisors were too demanding when it came to questions about the size and urban impact of their installations. But word out of Madrid, Spain, vindicates the supes. Madrid's JC Decaux kiosks, meant for the collection of recyclables, are so big and ugly that urbane Madrile–os are taking to the streets in the hundreds in protest. "Que son feisimos," says the librarian at El Pais, the Madrid daily newspaper. (Translation: They're super ugly.) The kiosks force people into the streets and some block traffic lights.

Fueling the controversy are allegations of corruption in the bidding process, resulting in an official probe. Which goes to show: The company's toilets may be self-cleaning. But the company apparently is not. In 1992, a Belgian court convicted JC Decaux's owner of influence-peddling and improper campaign contributions made in an attempt to win more favorable contract terms and tax breaks.

By Amy Linn, Ellen McGarrahan, George Cothran

 
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