Letters

Dead Letter Office
Kenny Be's depiction of a Dead theme park on Treasure Island ("The Dead Zone," Music, Jan. 14) was knowing and hilarious. He forgot a few dark-starred attractions, however:

* the DEA Fish-in-a-Barrel Shoot
* the Short-Term Memory Toss
* the rec.music.gdead Flame Eater
* the Drums-and-Space Rest Room
and, last but not least,
* the Parked Car Hunt.
Steve Silberman, Co-Author
Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads
Via Internet

That, Uh, Depends
Your Terrapin Station cartoon ("The Dead Zone") made me pee in my pants. Where do I send the cleaning bill?

Bob Loewenthal
Via Internet

Come On, Mano a Mono
The last eight words contained in "The Grid" article are paradoxical in nature ("Union Disorganizing," Jan. 7). The words "when they have gone off the good path" could describe the article written by George Cothran and John Mecklin. I have spent a lifetime defending individuals' right to speak out. However, I believe there needs to be some boundary lines of decency if a true picture is to develop in the minds of readers.

One of the points made by the writers seems to be: Take a job, accept the pay, whatever it is, and if it's not enough, struggle along and live in the economic penalty box and be glad you are working. I believe nonprofits have the same responsibility as all other employers. Pay decent wages, provide decent benefits, and recognize employees as real people deserving of respect and consideration.

Why, pray tell me, would a newspaper devote an entire page to pummeling and attacking an organization that has only one goal -- the goal of improving the lives of working people by providing opportunities to pursue the American Dream?

Since strong disparaging statements have been tossed out around San Francisco because of the article, I would suggest a public debate take place with a representative of your newspaper and a representative from Local 790. Also that a neutral panel conduct the debate and that the public be invited.

Let's get it all out in the open and not hide behind the pen.
Walter L. Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer
San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Shopping Around the Presidio
Larry Buck's response in the Jan. 7 edition ("Big Bucks on the Line," Letters), to an earlier article concerning the Presidio Commissary ("Bag It, Larry," Bay View, Dec. 24), contains major errors concerning that facility. It also ignores important aspects of all other assets at the Presidio, aspects which have never been brought to public attention.

It is popularly, but mistakenly, believed by those outside the military community that the Commissary and other recreational and social facilities at the Presidio and other military reservations are provided by the government out of tax revenues. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Commissary did not cost the taxpayers $15 million as Mr. Buck alleges; every penny of the $13,092,240 that went into its construction came from a 5 percent surcharge levied on every purchase made by every patron in every military commissary around the world. All commissaries are funded through such surcharges. In fact a plaque at the entrance proclaims that fact, just as a plaque at the entrance to the adjacent Post Exchange announces that it too was built without tax funds but from profits generated from sales to military personnel. It is surprising that in his detailed examination of the property prior to making a $28 million bid for its lease, Mr. Buck failed to note the existence of the plaque.

Nunzio J. Camarda
Sergeant Major U.S.A. (Retired)
Secretary
Friends of the Presidio Association
San Francisco

How 'Bout a Warm Fuzzy Hug?
I can't speak to the alleged "slash-and-burn tactics" of Local 790 organizers at the AIDS Foundation (are you sure you've got your story straight?), but as a nonprofit worker active in organizing with SEIU Local 790's United Community Workers, I must respond to the blatant smear job by George Cothran and John Mecklin in the Grid ("Union Disorganizing," Jan. 7).

First, the picture you draw of rapacious and destructive union organizers falling upon "small," "cash-strapped," charity-dependent organizations that are just trying to give the world a warm fuzzy hug out of the goodness of their hearts is a distortion of reality. There are smaller and larger nonprofits, but the largest nonprofits, which are the most resistant to organizing efforts, are powerful players that sit down with the city and county for the annual budget divvy-up. Bayview Foundation, for example, has a $6 million annual budget, most of which comes from public monies. They are also exempt from sunshine laws and are a lot less accountable than public agencies.

My second point is that your writers do not address the active efforts of the employees of nonprofits. And after describing the nonprofits as vulnerable charities, you state, "These funders -- especially government agencies -- are not fond of providing cost-of-living adjustments." Which might provide a clue as to why workers in the nonprofits, who have not had a COLA in over five years, might be interested in organizing.

Steve Surryhne
Tenderloin Clinic
San Francisco

Flippant? Dog Bites?
Thanks for your brief item ("From the Please Shut Up Department," Dog Bites, Jan. 14) on the controversy surrounding the Institute for Alternative Journalism. Despite the flippant, condescending tone of your piece, there's actually a real issue here, and a lot of us in the alternative press take it very seriously.

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