Letters

Shake, Rattle, and Burn
Readers of "Masters of Disaster" (March 20) should see two sources for more information about the pending problems when and if a big quake happens:

Denial of Disaster, by Gladys Hansen and Emmet D. Condon (Cameron & Co., 1989), strongly suggests that far more people -- as many as 5,000 more -- died in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire than was admitted at the time. The book also outlines the fire hazards posed by a major quake. It has many original pictures and also includes a bibliography.

Fire Following Earthquake was prepared by Charles Scawthorn for the All-Industry Insurance Research Advisory Council (1200 Harger Rd., Oak Brook, IL 60521; 1987, $5 postpaid). The work estimates the conflagration risk to insured property in greater Los Angeles and San Francisco. It details how whole blocks of homes may burn due to buildings constructed against each other; lack of automatic gas shut-off valves; broken water mains and resulting water shortages; blocked streets from debris and fallen poles; and the absence of firefighters, 70 percent of whom live out of town.

Charles L. Smith
Berkeley

The Hole Enchilada
I'm sure that women rock critics appreciate Johnny Ray Huston's admonishment that they must disdain Alanis Morissette and pass moral judgment on Courtney Love, lest they risk compromising their ideals ("Love Sick," Music, March 20). It was especially thoughtful of him to put his advice into a story on feminist rock band Sleater-Kinney; lots of women are sure to read the article, and they can all benefit from Huston's wisdom. I'm also sure that the women of Sleater-Kinney appreciate the forceful way Huston found to praise their music -- by trashing Hole. (It was particularly trenchant of Huston to point out that Love "relies on a male lead guitarist"; who cares about Hole's female bass player and female drummer anyway?)

Similarly, I'll bet queer rock critics appreciate knowing that they are to dislike Extra Fancy. In fact, why don't you make this an ongoing series? Next week, Huston could tell Asian rock critics which Asian artists to dislike, then move on to Hispanic critics/artists, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Steve Omlid
Tenderloin

Beau Bungle
Two items were not quite right in your article on Stanlee Gatti ("Willie Brown's Beau Brummell," Bay View, March 13).

First, I was appointed the Art Commission's director of cultural affairs in July 1995. For 2 1/2 years preceding that appointment, I served as the commission's assistant director.

Second, as a clarification: The president of the Art Commission, or any other commissioner, does not set policy. The commission acts as a body; for a policy change to occur, a commissioner would need to bring a proposed change up for discussion and convince the majority of his or her colleagues of the merit of the change. The commission would then vote on the matter.

The Art Commission, in general, would not allocate staff time from one program to another. It could, however, direct staff to take on a specific project. This came up in my discussion with your writer of Commissioner Gatti's idea about an "icon park" (i.e., "a museum devoted to the city's architectural and advertising relics").

Rich Newirth, Director of Cultural Affairs
San Francisco Art Commission

The Bus Stops Here
You reported ("You're Either on the Bus or Off the Bus," Bay View, March 13) that S.F. Supervisor Carole Migden had dodged repeated inquiries about her compliance with Proposition AA, which calls on city officials to ride public transit to work two days a week. I'm a Muni rider who finds this hardly surprising.

In 1993, Migden, as chair of the supervisors' Budget Committee, approved a harebrained Muni budget that hiked senior citizens' fares by 40 percent and simultaneously eliminated all transfers. Outraged riders eventually got the no-transfers policy reversed -- but implementing both the policy and its reversal ended up costing Muni tens of thousands of dollars. Who knows what it cost riders in double fares and aggravation.

I frankly doubt that Migden has been near a bus -- or the ordinary people who ride them -- in years. Like too many elected Democrats, she seems to feel that she need not concern herself with the common people's tawdry worries.

Now this archetypical "limousine liberal" wants to further insulate herself in Sacramento? If I could, I'd tell her: "Sorry, Carole, no transfers."

Michael Katz
Berkeley

Bring Me Your Sick ...
The controversy about whether the city should continue to support Laguna Honda Hospital ("Bed Sores," Bay View, Feb. 28) is not really about whether or not we can afford the building; it is about whether or not we will care for the most vulnerable among us.

In all the discussions of portioning Laguna Honda patients out to private hospital beds, the assumption persists that private hospitals want (ergo would make a profit on) these individuals.

The patients at Laguna Honda are not all elderly; any San Francisco resident over 16 who needs to be there is eligible. It is for you or me after that bad car accident or stroke; after the private sector can no longer make a profit on us once our family's funds run out. It is for your loved one after a nervous breakdown makes it impossible to care for her diabetes, and the leg ulcers come in. There is no other place in the area where such a mixture of comprehensive long-term rehabilitative, medical, psychiatric, and nursing care is available.

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