George Cothran and John Mecklin's attempt to charge Gavin Newsom with a conflict of interest on voicing legitimate small-business concerns ("Gavi-Davi-Pyyeeewwww," The Grid, Sept. 3) is a shortsighted and sophomoric column that reminds me, unfortunately, of the best of Matier and Ross.

While the supervisor does own businesses in the city, and did voice opinions that might affect his businesses, the third aspect of your statutory interpretation is laughable. The abatement of a 15 buck fee would not be considered a material benefit to any business, unless we're starting to tax kids who sell cookies door to door.

Doug Coggins

Bantam Weight
Food critic Naomi Wise's review of the Rooster ("A Restaurant Crows in the Mission," Eat, Aug. 27) did this outstanding restaurant a grave disservice. Far from being a place where patrons typically "outshout" each other over music, the restaurant is one of the best places in the city to go for a quiet talk in a gracious setting.

The Rooster's food, service, and artistic decor are all exceptional. Wise is certainly free to critique a dish she doesn't care for. But to ask her ancient feline for a vote on the leftovers is more than silly; it's demeaning. On second thought, perhaps Wise should let her cat write the reviews: He might be a more objective critic.

D.K. Hembree

Jail House Rocks
Congratulations. "The Black Hole of San Francisco" is the kind of reportage one expects from a major metropolitan newspaper with a vision of social responsibility, if not justice. I hope to see action as a result of your work and I hope you get a Pulitzer nomination for it. Meanwhile one quibble -- I don't blame the liberals so much as the difficulty in accomplishing anything that requires federal, state, and local bureaucratic motion.

Martha E. Ture

As associate director of the "liberal group" blamed in your recent article for "thwarting construction" of a new jail at San Bruno and is therefore responsible for the barbaric conditions there ("The Black Hole of San Francisco"), I feel some response is warranted.

Had our position been accurately reported, it would have said that the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice is no less outraged at conditions at the San Bruno facility than the sheriff or his attorney. Where differences arise is on the question of the number of jail beds necessary and how the Sheriff's Department budget should be prioritized.

Since 1985 the Sheriff's Department budget has grown from $16 million to $71 million in 1997. Contrary to popular belief, because of jail expansion San Francisco now has approximately 250 surplus jail beds. Of course, this surplus would evaporate if the San Bruno facility were closed. However, according to Department of Finance projections, the city's population between ages 18 and 35 is dropping precipitously. This age group, which accounts for 90 percent of the jail population, will decline by half within the next 10 years, virtually negating the need for any new jail space. This fact alone suggests that Mayor Brown is correct in his hesitation about going forward with a new jail construction bond.

Dan Macallair, Associate Director
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
San Francisco

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