Letters to the Editor

Letters from October 4, 2000

Don't Judge a Magazine by Its Cover

Judge it by its Letters column:The story about scouting activist Steven Cozza ("A Boy Scout No More," Sept. 20) was a reasonably balanced, non-sensational account of the situation, but you wouldn't have known it from the quote on the cover: "Since the age of 12, Steven Cozza has led a crusade against the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policies. What will happen now that he has grown up and discovered sports and girls?" This is not an innocuous juxtaposition of phrases. The underlying implication is that having become solidly heterosexual -- sports and girls being the ultimate in textbook heterosexuality -- how could he still fight for gay rights? It plays on the fear, especially great among teenagers in our homophobic society, that any association with gayness brands one as gay. The way it is phrased seems simply titillating, leaves a slightly sour taste, and does not do credit to the reasoned account presented in the article.

Carol David
Berkeley

Activism. Don't kids watch TV anymore?:I'm a 16-year-old high school student, ethnic-human rights activist, and animal rights activist, and I am happy that you wrote such an awesome article on Steven Cozza. I think Steven Cozza is out to set this world's homophobic people straight -- thank god someone myage is actually doing it, and I'm hoping many others will follow. Thanks, and keep rocking on those articles showing there is positive youth.

Catherine Abad
Burlingame


All We Know About Monopoly Is We Like to Be the Race Car

You're taking the fun out of hating PG&E: Far be it from me to come to the defense of PG&E and California's other monopoly utilities, but Matt Smith's endorsement of expanded free market competition as a weapon for usurping their power is just a little too simplistic ("Power Politics," Sept. 20). First, as Smith notes, the utilities no longer own most of the power plants, but only own the power lines that transmit it. All the free market competition in the world won't touch that monopoly. (Nor should we want it to -- the last thing we need is competing companies building multiple sets of power lines through our neighborhoods.)

Those looking for an explanation of this summer's high power prices should look to the new owners of California's power plants, who by exploiting high demand, low supply, and various loopholes in the new "competitive" market structure have been able to jack prices sky high. The utilities have had nothing to do with this -- they either passed the costs on to their customers (in the case of San Diego), or got stuck with huge deficits that they want to pass on, but so far haven't been allowed to (PG&E and Southern California Edison).

Admittedly, the utilities got a sweet deal under California's deregulation law, and lawmakers should refuse any of their requests for further compensation. Competition may yet succeed as long as regulators can fix existing market loopholes, address California's capacity shortage, and otherwise curb the pricing power of new competitors. But it's not the kind of panacea that Smith and other free marketers wish it to be, nor is it a way to "get back" at the utilities for their past transgressions.

Derik Broekhoff
Mount Davidson

Power to the people:As long as PG&E has disproportionate influence over the government's ability to compel us to act, competition will be unfair and consumers will not reap the benefits that free markets bestow. Most of the situations people refer to as "market failure" are in fact a result of cozy relationships between private and public interests.

The good news is that in other industries deregulation has demolished the established monopolist's ability to control lawmakers -- most dramatically, AT&T. Of course this takes time and proper deregulation, and as Matt Smith pointed out, in this case we've had neither.

Steve Conover Jr.
Cathedral Hill

Except for the rich drug addicts: A few weeks back, SF Weekly tried to blame high rents on rent control. Now there is an article that starts off by saying the way we should lower gas and electric prices is not by rolling back the increases but by deregulating it even more. Let's be real: What we need is immediate legislation reversing the current utility pricing horror to allow time for considering consumer-friendly re-restructuring of deregulation.

If Mr. Smith's approach is followed, the mess will continue, prices will remain high enough to strangle those already choking on the high costs of housing, food, and gasoline, and San Francisco will be further along toward becoming a city friendly only to the well-heeled. And when that happens, it won't have to worry about debating or enacting any progressive policies to deal with those big-city nasties of poverty, homelessness, or drug addiction because all those people will have been forced out of here.

Bob Lehr
Castro


Beyond the Fringe

No offense, but we prefer the gossip:In "Fringiness" (Stage, Sept. 13), Michael Scott Moore writes: "According to gossip, the four members of a troupe called Banana, Bag, and Bodice moved away from San Francisco last year because of rising rents. They fled to New York."

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