Letters

Willie's Wonks and the Profit Factory
The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) wants to go on record as stating that the article "W.L. Brown, A Public/Private Partnership" (May 12) is shoddy journalism. It contains many false and misleading statements and is replete with innuendo.

To suggest that a public official's expression of support of the Mission Bay development can have a material effect on CalPERS investment strategy is laughable, and is analogous to suggesting that SF Weekly's editorial stance in any given week could have a material effect on the stock market.

Your reporter's glaring lack of understanding of CalPERS, our real estate portfolio, and the real estate development business in general is the only explanation one can have for producing such a shoddy report.

We would have been able to show your reporter why, but he never offered up his conspiracy theory prior to publishing. If he had, we could have demonstrated easily why his analysis is so off-base. Unproven conspiracy theories make for interesting conversation, but when irresponsibly published, it is the paper that is left without credibility. That's the real shame.

Patricia K. Macht
Public Affairs Chief
CalPERS

Editor's note: Ms. Macht claims there were "many" false and misleading statements in our story, yet is unable to articulate a single one of them. That is a shame.

Salon's Shaky Fortunes
As a consultant in the Internet field, I read with amusement Matt Smith's piece "Salon.con" (Bay View, May 5). Although Salon.com was singled out, its story is hardly unique. With the amount of money being thrown around currently, one can hardly blame Salon.com and hundreds of other companies for attempting to cash in.

Greed breeds irrational behavior, both by companies and investors alike. Much like the gold rush of the 1800s, people will continue to flock towards the apparition of easy money, and, while a few strike it rich, most will end up getting burned.

Yes, there are legitimate Web-based companies and business models out there, some of which will continue to be very successful. Salon in fact, as a well-respected online magazine, had an opportunity to become a solid media company given a sensible growth strategy. But, like many other fledgling Internet companies, it has sold out a long-term approach in favor of a "get rich quick through Internet IPO" scheme.

Good luck.
Dean LaTourrette
Now Valley

Salon's Pathetic Users
One important thing your piece failed to mention was Salon's pathetic number of registered users ("Salon.con").

Salon's online communities included approximately 109,500 registered users, including approximately 102,500 for Table Talk, and 7,000 for the Well. These are some seriously horrible numbers for a Web site. Especially after four years.

Scooter Jonez
Via Internet

Salon's Cafe Intellectuals
Tim Smith's piece on the Salon IPO set me atwitter ("Salon.con")! I had long thought I had known my cafe-intellectual intimates on the Well -- sorry, that's "Well.com," I suppose. How surprised I was to find that I had been communicating with people who were actually anonymous!

That feature that revealed to me the identities of my peers -- why, that must have been a clever ruse installed by hackers to perpetuate the myth of identity.

To follow up on your apparent practice of having a wannabe art critic write on business, I trust we will soon see financial reporters penning reviews of local galleries in SF Weekly. So much better to write off a prospectus as a surrealist work than to have someone with the chops to actually understand it explain it to your readers!

Owen Thomas
Via Internet

Editor's note: Owen, you make this way too easy. The story was written by Matt Smith. Tim Smith must be one of your imaginary Well buddies. We don't expect cafe intellectuals to be able to read a financial prospectus, but we thought you could handle a simple newspaper article. By the way, our Smith -- Matt -- came to us from the Dow Jones international news wires, and has never, to our knowledge, reviewed a gallery opening.

The Vision Thing
Grampa politics, what a great article ("The Problem With Grampa Politics," Cothran, April 28)! Willie Brown and Terence Hallinan are a tired bunch. A few more news writers like George Cothran and the politics could really change. Demographically too, as the San Francisco Chronicle's readers die off.

Good luck, and hope you keep up with helping to create a new vision for the city.

Richard Petersen
Via Internet

Bathhouse Imbroglio
The article by Joel Engardio "Private Places" (Bay View, April 28) was good for getting this issue discussed outside the lesbian and gay press. For this effort to make the issue understandable to straight progressives, you are to be applauded.

Unfortunately, factual errors and omissions of contexts blemished this article:

1) It is not true that bathhouse owners and AIDS educators "struck a deal" with the Health Department to follow guidelines requiring monitored areas. The owners refused to agree to the DPH proposal at a January 1997 meeting, and at the next meeting the AIDS office unilaterally imposed these regulations on so-called sex clubs.

Further, this was done without any public discussion by the Health Commission. Even now, the president of the Health Commission, Lee Ann Monfredini, professes not to understand the DPH's forced distinction between sex clubs for gay men and bathhouses for straights and for women.

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