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Letters to the Editor 

Week of 3-28-2007

Tales From the Dark Side

ASIAN Inc. responds: The article "Power Failure" [March 7] contained many inaccurate and misleading statements despite the fact that reporter Mary Spicuzza received timely changes and clarifications before printing. Instead, the reporter intentionally misstated and sensationalized the facts, and omitted material facts on what parties tirelessly did to restore power and to meet tenants' needs for shelter and food during this crisis.

Many tenants praised the efforts of ASIAN Inc., MH Construction, Building Inspection, PG&E, Muni, Public Works, and the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services during this crisis.

Since SF Weekly neglected its responsibility to report the news accurately, we write this letter to set the record straight.

Reference to the property as a "firetrap" was inaccurate. The building was purchased in 1992 and there is no history of a single fire incident other than an electrical fire at the main disconnect switch on Nov. 13, 2006.

The 2003 building violation mentioned was for lack of a "Main Disconnect Switch" only, and ASIAN hired an electrical contractor who installed the switch in a timely fashion, but didn't call the building inspector to sign off on the completed work. ASIAN apologizes for any confusion.

The article incorrectly referenced a "food allowance" of $30 per day for tenant households. The actual food allowance was $30.00 per day per person in the legal tenant household. In example, a tenant household of four persons received $120 per day.

Reference to ASIAN Inc. as an unresponsive property manager is totally incorrect. ASIAN was immediately on-site on the evening of Nov. 13 to assist the tenants; Tuesday, Nov. 14th, ASIAN was on-site with Building Inspection and an electrical contractor; Wednesday, Nov. 15th, it was determined repairs wouldn't solve the problem and the PG&E transformer of 400 amps which predated the personal computer couldn't meet the building's power needs and had to be replaced; Thursday, Nov. 16th even an electrical generator for temporary power was not possible. ASIAN then moved to secure a contractor and engineer to proceed with the design, permits, and construction that would meet Building Inspection and PG&E requirements. Given this, Building Inspection cooperatively informed ASIAN to close the building on Monday, Nov. 20th. On Friday, Nov. 17th, ASIAN provided hotel rooms and moving assistance to every tenant household.

ASIAN found rooms at the Carlton Hotel, and later Cathedral Hill Hotel, but the holidays and scheduled renovations had tenants moving back and forth between hotels. ASIAN secured 40 rooms to accommodate larger households among the 36 tenant households. Allegations of eight persons per room are false; had this occurred it would only be a result of a tenant voluntarily admitting other guests or visitors into their room without ASIAN's knowledge. Given these factual circumstances, it was extraordinary for ASIAN and Building Inspection to respond so rapidly and effectively.

SF Weekly's failure to get the facts or to report them accurately has resulted in harm to the reputations of ASIAN Inc. and its partners by implying neglect of our responsibilities. This is totally untrue and irresponsible on the part of SF Weekly.

Michael A. Chan

President of ASIAN Inc.

San Francisco

Spicuzza responds: I did not intentionally misstate or sensationalize facts, and I made numerous attempts to contact Michael Chan and ASIAN Inc. in the weeks leading up to the article. The article did reference a $30-a-day food allowance, but did not specify the food allowance was per person per day in a legal tenant household. We apologize if there was any confusion on that point.

MH Construction responds: The article entitled "Power Failure" contained inaccurate and misleading statements about the restoration of the electrical power at 1030 Polk St.

First of all, the reporter described the contractor as a politically connected person. MH was brought into the project to restore power based on its ability, and not its political relationships.

Also, the PG&E spokesperson said the excavation for the new transformer occurred in January 2007, when in fact the excavation for the vault and installation of the transformer vault was completed on Dec. 23, 2006. The reference by PG&E's spokesperson to lengthy delays due to a change in contractor and scope of work was untrue. Yes, the initial electrical contractor was replaced by MH Construction and an electrical subcontractor, because the original contractor needed to subcontract significant portions of the work and would have incurred very substantial delays. In regard to the initial scope of work for a 600 amp service and transformer, the change by FW Associates, electrical engineers, was to substitute a 1200 amp transformer, to prevent a reoccurrence of any power outage that would require a future shutdown of the transformer.

In addition, PG&E specified late in the review process a special drip pan that had to be specially fabricated. MH expedited fabrication of this equipment by the manufacturer, and all required equipment was installed in the third week of January. MH Construction's work, including evaluation, design, special ordering, a special moratorium permit, construction/excavation permits, and installation was fully completed within five weeks.

MH Construction, the contractor, kept PG&E informed of our progress and of work completed to coordinate the scheduling of PG&E work crews. MH assumed that there was an understanding that the PG&E crew would be on-site as soon as all equipment was installed in the third week in January. However, to clarify the installation schedule, MH requested Asian Inc., PG&E, and DPW to convene a meeting to coordinate the completion of the project. DPW's intervention and assistance expedited PG&E's restoration of power on Feb. 6.

In addition, allegations of prior notices regarding faulty wiring dating back three years are untrue (pre-MH). The only notice received was for a Main Disconnect Switch. When power was restored, some commercial tenants were cited for excessive cords and conduits, and by PG&E for taking power from another building customer. We responded positively and made the changes required by Building Inspection and cooperated with PG&E to expedite the restoration of power so that this problem does not reoccur.

Matthew Huey

MH Construction Management Co.

San Francisco

Spicuzza responds: In regard to concerns about the building's wiring, SF Weekly spoke to an electrician hired by one of the building's commercial tenants who said that, in May 2003, he warned that service at the site had been done incorrectly by a previous contractor.

Stormy Front

I refuse to join any supremacist club that would accept me as a member: This letter is in response to Bennett Cohen's letter in the Feb. 28 issue. Mr. Cohen alleges that I posted on That's a total lie. I have never posted on that Web site. Mr. Cohen must know that anyone, anyone, can cut and paste materials located on the Internet and post them.

Mr. Cohen should have done further research and he would have found a posting on Stormfront entitled "Why No White Nationalist Should Support E/A.I.F." The post criticized my organization for allowing members of any race to join, and included the comment, "Louis Calabro HIMSELF denounces such organizations as Stormfront, the National Alliance, and David Duke's EURO as 'racist' — which should be evidence enough to all White Nationalists that E/A.I.F. is no friend of theirs."

The European/American Issues Forum absolutely allows anyone to join our organization, as long as they adhere to and promote the Principal Purposes that are on our Web site.

Louis Calabro

President, the European/American Issues Forum

San Bruno, CA


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
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    Downtown Nevada City
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    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

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