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Domestic Dispute
This is to address the serious inaccuracies in your article "The Art of Discrimination" (Bay View, May 29), which incorrectly contends that the Asian Art Museum Foundation, a private nonprofit corporation, denies health insurance, retirement, and other benefits to domestic partners of its employees. Writer Ellen McGarrahan not only misidentifies and misquotes a foundation staff member, but also unfairly misrepresents the Asian Art Museum Foundation's policy with regard to this critical issue.

The foundation has striven to include recognition of domestic partners in its employee benefits. The retirement and life insurance plans offered by the foundation allow for the designation of domestic partners as beneficiaries. Employee sick leave benefits have been extended to provide for the use of paid sick leave to care for domestic-partner illness. Bereavement leave, a new benefit recently added, defines the immediate family as including domestic partners and the parent-in-law or parent of a domestic partner.

With regard to health insurance, the foundation recently changed its health insurer to Media Alliance's Association HIPC Plan in order to provide employees with: A) more choices in carriers, B) dental coverage, and C) access to health insurance for domestic partners.

The Asian Art Museum Foundation has demonstrated a continuing awareness, support, and commitment to domestic partnerships. Therefore it was particularly distressing to encounter the unsubstantiated and unfounded polemic in your article.

Valerie Pechenik Director of Human Resources
Asian Art Museum
San Francisco

Ellen McGarrahan replies: Valerie Pechenik is talking about side issues. The point is whether the Asian Art Museum provides the same benefits package to domestic partners as it does to spouses. The people I interviewed, including an Asian Art Museum employee, said it didn't. Eric Harris, a sales manager for the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the Health Insurance Plan of California (HIPC), said that in order for a partner to qualify for coverage, "We need to have a relationship that is recognized by the state of California. Consequently right now we do not allow domestic partners to be covered through HIPC."

Photo Finish
Paul Reidinger's "AKA" (Dish, June 5) about the reaction to the Marin Independent-Journal's publishing Jill Weissich's photo along with her spirited defense of Lark Creek Inn is clearly a tempest in a teapot -- or should I say crock-pot?

As a restaurant/travel/feature writer with over 200,000 readers in publications like Key, *Surface Quarterly, Diners Out magazine, and SF Buzz (where my column, coincidentally, is called "Ms. Dish"), I can't speak for Jill, but I know her pretty well. I don't believe either of us has ever pretended to be an anonymous restaurant critic, portentously passing judgment on pasta and pies. What we are, and I speak as a sometime collaborator, is reporters -- we go, frequently with the restaurant's blessing, to tell our readers why the restaurant is inviting or important, and describe decor and food. If we don't like something, we follow the principle of "If you can't say anything nice ...."

Jill is obviously doing something right -- over 35,000 judges, attorneys, paralegals, and staff in the Bay Area religiously read her columns. Maybe remaining incognito is a must for Michael Bauer and Bill Citara, but as reporters, Jill and I are trying to tell a story and believe that our readers have enough intelligence to reach their own conclusions.

Mike Sher
Brisbane

Striking Distance
It's always surprising to read a theater review completely at odds with one's own experience. Which is how I felt after reading Mari Coates' review of Watsonville ("Strike Out," Stage, June 5). Coates' review certainly wouldn't have inspired me to head to the new Brava Theater. Luckily I saw the play before her hypercritical and unfair piece appeared.

Sure there were some problems with the play -- its length and occasional defaults into sermonization. But an excessive amount of space in the review was devoted to these problems, while the many good issues raised in Watsonville were discounted by Coates as "haphazardly considered." Too many scenes and no "coherence of dramatic progression" for the reviewer. I thought rather the opposite. Of course, one can be more comfortable with more linear works, but that doesn't mean that they are superior to ones that involve multilayered, overlapping scenes. I'm sure some would complain that Gabriel Garcia Marquez throws in too many hurricanes, storms, murders, births, and famines in his works. For what that's worth.

As for Coates' comment that one of the problems is that the play is structured around a strike, and this, according to her, adds to or is responsible for the play's tediousness: again, a rather ignorant comment. I guess all those plays that took place during wars or someone's lifetime are ipso facto tedious. Watsonville is also criticized for not having a "single dramatic climax." Again, so what? While that may be of paramount importance to the reviewer, I'm not sure where it is written that such an ending is necessary for a play.

I could go on and on taking fault with Coates' review. Instead let me briefly state some of the questions that the play did successfully raise: With whom do the unions cast their lot -- especially when the breakdown comes to documented and undocumented workers? What do strikes achieve and what do they extract from the strikers? And, how can and do those of differing backgrounds and educational levels meet as equals? Other themes successfully raised were: intergenerational relationships, the strong countenance and backbone of women who've been struggling all their lives, the not-so-hidden head of sexism in political movements, and the absolute inextricability of the spiritual and political within a Mexican township. And this is only a partial list; go see the play and find out more.

Helen Vozenilek
Bernal Heights

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