Letters to the Editor

Week of April 18, 2001

MUD Flap

A real eye-opener: After reading John Mecklin's piece on public power ("MUD in Your Eye," April 4), I was skeptical. After all, what's wrong with the Guardiancontributing to things it believes in, if it doesn't stand to gain financially? However, after reading the full piece by Peter Byrne ("Delusions of Power"), I was convinced: not that the Guardianis necessarily evil, but that it is pushing an amorphous idea while ignoring alternatives. It seems clear that San Francisco citizens should keep their eyes open before trying to seize PG&E's assets.
Elaine Lissner
The Castro

Role reversal: It is interesting, but not at all sad in my opinion, that [Guardian Publisher Bruce] Brugmann and [Executive Editor Tim] Redmond have turned into the very monsters they have devoted so much time and energy warning us about. Good story!
Darryl Cox
Hummelstown

One more nail: I want to congratulate you. Your article was very good on why San Francisco is not in violation of the Raker Act, but you did miss one crucial fact: Namely, the same U.S. District Court judge (Judge Roche) who originally ruled (in 1939) in favor of the federal government that the city was violating the Raker Act, ruled in 1945 that the city was not violating the act. He made this decision after the city entered into a set of power sale contracts with buyers other than PG&E. The city and PG&E also entered into a new contract on March 14, 1945, that specified that PG&E would transport -- but not own -- city power from Hetch Hetchy. Secretary of the Interior Ickes (who brought the case on behalf of the federal government in the first place) informed Judge Roche that he was satisfied with the new contracts. Judge Roche agreed that, with the new contracts, the city was not violating the Raker Act, and "Judge Roche closed the books on the case" in the words of a magazine article published on July 14, 1945.
Sheila Williams
Walnut Creek

School of Hard Knocks

Thank you for learning at Wal-Mart: Oh, how I wish you had spoken to me before you wrote that article about the Academy of Art College ("The Art of the Deal," Matt Smith, April 4). Man, if you only knew how deep the bullshit goes. I have been a student there since 1997, working on a bachelor's degree in new media. So far I am in the hole $43,000, and I still have two semesters to go.

I was really disappointed in the school almost right away, but I thought things would get better as I advanced, but they didn't. Before I knew it, I was in too deep, and when I tried to transfer to another, better school, no one would accept the credits because of the accreditation problems you mentioned.

Many of my teachers are so inept I have actually had to teach them things, especially concerning software. The school is the Wal-Mart of art colleges. I wish I knew in '97 what I know now. I would have run like hell away from here.
Name Withheld
Polk Gulch

If only Stanford advertised on MTV:Thank you for your article (long overdue). Like countless horror stories you've no doubt heard, I, too, have one. I can now say with a sense of pride that I am an AAC dropout.

I was watching MTV in 1994 and saw an ad for the academy. I spoke to a "counselor" who in hindsight was more of a salesperson than someone concerned with my art career. The main reason I chose the academy was its almost nonexistent admission standards. I didn't have a portfolio, but I did have money, courtesy of federal student loans.

Not all my experiences at the academy were bad. I had a few teachers who were nothing short of inspirational. Then there were other instructors who were exactly the opposite (maybe they were just being realistic). What I liked was the "we're all in this together" feeling between the students and instructors. It definitely felt like "us vs. them," with "them" being the school administration.

I left about three semesters short of graduating but was definitely glad to be out of there. Although I did learn a lot, I think the academy served to undermine my self-esteem. If you know of any anti-academy groups, I would love to get in touch with them.
Aaron Sweeney
Mission District

Reader says article was a hit:I think Mr. Smith's article on the Academy of Art College can only be classified as a hit piece, because it was so biased and left out anything of a positive nature that is going on at the school. I am an instructor at the college and am writing this on my own volition, not at the behest of the Stephens family.

One glaring fault of Mr. Smith's article is his complete omission of any interview with students. You would find our students have a very sanguine view of the school. Our placement rate is high (near 90 percent), and if Mr. Smith would take the time to attend our spring show in May he would see ample examples of the creativity produced by students. The fact that our enrollment has increased from 5,000 to 6,000 in the past few years must indicate the school is doing something right.

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