Letters

Sleazy Bedfellows
The real tragedy about ValueStar ("Eat This Logo, Sucker," March 24) is not just that it is a sleazy business, but that San Francisco State University chooses to get into bed with them. No self-respecting academic institution anywhere in the country would touch this relationship with a 10-foot pole -- yet for the last five years, I have been receiving publications at my home listing "SF State university-rated" businesses, and endless faxes to my business stating that I can be rated by SFSU, too, as long as I pay to pass the "test." You don't have to be a statistician to know that ValueStar's pseudo-scientific survey methodology stinks, or that businesses can easily rig the deck in order to pass the test.

What possible benefit does the university, or the public, derive from endorsing this company? Why are a few academics at the Public Research Institute allowed to supplement their salaries -- over or under the table -- by selling the university's name? To a for-profit company which desperately needs credibility in order to hawk its so-called "customer satisfaction rating" to local businesses, so that they in turn can dupe Bay Area consumers? If San Francisco State wanted to ruin its reputation for academic integrity, they couldn't have chosen a better way to do it. But if you think that's a public relations disaster, wait until the first "SF State University-rated" carpet cleaner murders somebody, or an "SF State University-rated" financial planner rips off some little old lady for her entire life savings.

David Stevens
Via Internet

ValueScam
Thank you for the long overdue expose of ValueStar ("Eat This Logo, Sucker"). As a longtime business owner, I've had to suffer their heavy-handed pitches a couple of times over the past few years, and am happy to say that I saw them for the phonies that they are.

I was not surprised to learn that the head schmuck was part of the Asian yellow pages, who, in the past were equally offensive. Every time I hear a ValueStar radio spot, I think it's a crime that they don't have to admit that businesses must pay to use their logo. It's telling that they can't live up to the standards they claim to identify. Maybe they shouldn't get to display the "star" on their marquee. As for them soliciting old folks' homes, well, I guess brains and money don't always go together.

I've read your paper on and off since the beginning, but have to say that this article gave me more satisfaction than any other. Hats off to Lisa Davis and your editors for giving the article the attention it deserved.

Martin Cohen
Daly City

Library Scapegoat
John Philbrook was falsely accused of child molestation by San Francisco Public Library administrators in 1996 because he had the courage to protest the library-from-hell that was soon to be opened ("Rewriting History," Bay View, March 17). Library spokesperson Marcia Schneider says, "There were lots of librarians upset by the [library] designs and they still have their jobs." Schneider was the chief apologist for those administrators at that time, all since fired or resigned. Sadly, her tune hasn't changed. The blame game goes on. If you didn't like the designs, something was really wrong with you.

She might also tell you that if it weren't for library activists' incredible hard work to get her administrative idiot bosses out of our public library before they destroyed it entirely, Philbrook would have been just one of a card catalog full of scapegoats. The man is a hero, not a villain. He may be guilty of naivete and bad judgment, but he is no criminal. He should be reinstated with back pay and a public apology.

But that won't happen. Not under Willie Brown. I just hope when Philbrook files his civil suit against the city to reclaim his career and reputation, Schneider is subpoenaed for trial; it's about time she is put under oath. Let's see what she has to say then about her former bosses and the million library books buried under the Civic Center because the library of the future is a five-star failure. This has been a disgusting period in S.F. library history, and Philbrook has been a victim of it for far too long. Schneider's still lying for them, it seems; nobody has told her it's time to move on. It's despicable.

Walter Biller
Haight Ashbury

Ananda's Shame
I lived at Ananda Village for five years, my husband for 10. We left shortly after we became aware of Swami's sexual dishonesty and manipulation ("Sex and the Singular Swami," March 10). Swami's arrogance and ego-centeredness had been becoming increasingly more clear to us in the year preceding that news, however.

It was a very difficult and painful thing for us to face, for we were honest, dedicated people who had tried to live by their tenets of "right action." There were many wonderful things about living at Ananda -- the deep bonds with dear friends being one of the most precious to us -- but the deceit by the leadership was insupportable. Such a shame.

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