McInerney Vis-a-Vis Ethics
As a regular reader, and a constant observer of the San Francisco Board of Appeals, I'm surprised at the shallowness of your hit piece on Board President John McInerney ("Questions of Faith," Cothran, April 21). Look, George, San Franciscans, for better or for worse, elected a strongly pro-development mayor. And, of course, this mayor appointed a Board of Appeals to apply his policies accordingly.
To suggest that McInerney should not serve on the Board of Appeals because he is a strong, opinionated real estate professional reminds me of Saddam Hussein's insistence that biological weapons expert Scott Ritter be removed from the weapons inspection team because of his competence as an inspector.
One thing that can be clearly said in examination of this Board of Appeals is that McInerney's voting record is entirely consistent. So much so that it's somewhat silly to imply that he votes in favor of developers because they're his friends, or that he is in some way corrupt or unethical. He's on that board to represent a particular point of view; he eloquently supports that point of view exactly because of his professional background, which is precisely why he was appointed to this board.
There is an amazing assertion in your article which reveals the journalistic tenor of this piece. In deriding the other members of the Board of Appeals, you wrote, "They are said to follow McInerney's lead on a regular basis." They are said by whom? What does a statement like this mean in the context of political reporting? What have you observed, George? My observation is that there are two new members of the Board of Appeals who have not yet shaped the decision-making process, but Carole Cullum and Arnold Chin are experienced and respected attorneys who express strong opinions of their own, often opposing McInerney. Former Board President Cullum has particularly impacted board decisions with creative solutions to tricky neighborhood disputes.
Your article tries to frame a question of public trust and a matter of faith in regards to conflict-of-interest questions and McInerney's tenure on the board. A far more interesting article on the Board of Appeals would be derived from an actual examination of city development policy vis-a-vis Mayor Brown's public positions. But frankly, questioning the ethics of a well-known development advocate for being just that is not very interesting stuff.
I really get a kick out of the new Muni comic strip called Puni. Having grown up in San Francisco as a regular bus rider, it's hilarious to finally have all of my quirky Muni experiences recorded and mocked in a cartoon!
I look forward to my weekly readings of Puni, with Punidan and his silly dog. Kind of reminds me of an old Sunday cartoon I used to read. Thanks for the laughs.
The Dark Side
Thanks for giving a ray of hope and support for a lot of lesbian and gay Latinos ("You Can't Be Gay -- You're Latino!," April 14). The only problem that I had with the article is that it didn't even mention the deep and incredible alcohol and substance abuse, as well as the physical and domestic violence, among lesbian and gay Latinos.
Let Us Now Praise Robert the Rabbit
Let me praise a man now, during the first few minutes of his fame. In the well-written and -photographed article on the squatters at the Albany Landfill ("Peasantville," April 7), Robert the Rabbit emerges as a congenial man who articulates his difficulties with a thoughtfulness familiar to the many people around the Bay Area who know him.
I've known Robert for nearly 15 years, as a fellow picture framer, artist, and next-door neighbor in a Berkeley apartment building. I want to contribute to the profile something which Greg Hugunin may not have gathered from his situational interview with the modest Robert.
In the years I lived next door to Robert, he was developing and producing a remarkable body of work, which he hoped eventually to show. One aspect of this work was a series of drawings in graphite and ink. Meanwhile, day to day, he was a picture framer, and yes, he was just getting by.
As a friend and neighbor, I was fortunate to watch Robert's process in developing these (and other) pieces. Robert's drawings are very smart, subtle, and quietly phenomenal; from across the room, they appear as a vibratory field; at middistance, complex patterns begin to appear; these are subsumed into the linear tension of the "text" of the drawings, as one proceeds within inches of the paper, toward the minute, improvisational tracings of Robert's hand. The drawing on my wall often seems to me to be a letter, which transposes with each reading. Such descriptions are meaningless of course; the work needs to be seen.
Certainly Sara Teague, John Paul Sabot, Tricycle Johnny, and everyone else mentioned or alluded to in the article each have their stories and personal accomplishments (Alex McElree himself could write quite a book). I'm just writing because I happen to know Robert the Rabbit and I admire his work.
Robert's story is a caution for us to take a closer view of the homeless among us. He may not be a "successful" artist, but Robert's portfolio may yet pull him through. Mr. Hugunin depicted a complex artist at a low point; perhaps fame will allot another 10 minutes to the work of this particular man, whose residential history was secondary to his creative expression, until he found himself with nowhere to reside.
Four Grand Does Seem a Bit Much for a Stroller
Hey, Greg Hugunin, why don't you take your "Peasantville" cover and shove it up your condescending ass?
I lived in the Albany Landfill in a beautifully constructed shack for over a year, and many of my friends lived there much longer between their travels. I am absolutely beside myself upon reading your article. Guess what? A person can keep themselves, their laundry, their dishes, and their home sparkling clean if they've a mind to. There have been, and still are, many dignified and beautiful cultures who as a daily chore carry clean water to their homes. We have the capacity to boil water, obtain soap and other necessary items.
I don't appreciate the portrayal of people sitting around picking their sores, aimlessly swatting flies, and waiting for something to happen. Just because a person lives in a more rustic setting does not mean they have to be some debased, soot-smeared, mouth-breathing stereotype.
When people pay top dollar to go to a cabin for a week it's so elegant, huh? When they drink beer there, or do drugs as I know for a fact some do, it's so much more acceptable, even enviable.
I flatly reject also your wide-eyed recounting of the innocent "recreational walkers" being harassed by landfill residents' dogs. Those people walk out there all right, to hear the red-winged black birds when they come back, and to smell the fennel in the sun, and to let their well-fed animals chase jack rabbits. But I have also experienced and witnessed the terrorization of residents at the jaws of these Albany fucks' dogs and numerous times those androids did nothing to stop them. One bitch even laughed!
I am so appalled at the ignorant, spoiled, cloying inaccuracy of that article I could just spit. But that would be really white-trash, so I'll just continue to wish that looks could kill every time I see you pompous, declawed-Pomeranian-having, J. Crew-wearing bastards on your way to the Solano stroll on Fourth Street. A curse on you and your $4,000-stroller-pushed, French-speaking, Fuji-apple-eating spawn.