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Cults Are Like Pornography
You know it when you see it: When does a cult become a religion, and what exactly makes something a cult ["Charitable Front," Matt Smith, Feature, 12/9]? There are definitely some cultlike aspects to the Mormons, but because people can be Mormons as much as most people are regular Christians (meaning they can call themselves Mormons and never go to church), it's not really a cult.

Over the years in the U.S. we have seen satanic panics, angel fads, shark fears, UFO fads, the Jesus of Waco, militia kooks, Jonestown, Mansonites, Rand-roids, and all sorts of other panics, cults, and true belief. All this shows is that a lot of people have too much time on their hands and too little going on upstairs.

Tony Graf

San Francisco

Graffiti Debatement
Art or dog piss?: What is the difference between art and vandalism ["Red Ink," Peter Jamison, Sucka Free City, 12/9]? Permission. Simple as that.

A majority of the "graffiti" is nothing more than tags, which are the equivalent of a dog pissing on trees to mark territory. The "broken window" theory has been proven over and over. The city is wise to be cleaning up public property.

The neighborhood group I am a member of is one of the groups that contacts Officer Christopher Putz regularly; he is one of the most responsive people in the police department. Our group is proposing a number of murals on properties where owners have given permission, and we look forward to supporting vibrant but legal street art in our neighborhood.

Chris Schulman

San Francisco

Union Seniority a Bumpy Ride
Don't do more than asked: I am writing in response to Peter Jamison's blog post, "Union 'Bumping' Rules Spell Trouble for Outer Mission Elementary School" [The Snitch, 12/3].

Due to the fact that I myself am a union worker, I can sympathize with the effects of "bumping," which can truly affect your life in cases where you may be out of a job by being bumped by someone else.

However, Sandra Rios has obviously had this [school secretary] position for a long time, meaning she has been paying her union dues for a long time as well. She should have known about the rules of getting bumped by someone with more seniority. Though this article sympathizes with her about losing her job, it doesn't mention that with her seniority, she may be displacing other people from a job by bumping them. That's how it works: Once your job is displaced or you get bumped, you are entitled to a bump, until the bottom of the totem pole is removed.

Furthermore, this article discusses how the children of the school will be affected, because they all know her, because she does more than just secretarial work, and is bilingual. How does anyone know the capabilities of the person who bumped her? Though that other person may be from a different department, he or she should be able to step in to do the same job. That remains to be seen, but I wouldn't classify Rios as the only one who can do that job just yet.

While discussing Rios' job duties, I would like to lay blame upon her, because people in unions should know the consequences of, shall I say, doing other work than their assigned duties. She was supposed to be doing secretarial work. It was work she shouldn't have been doing alone, so they [the school] indeed could have gotten more help.

I am sorry for the displacement of Rios' position due to bumping, but the above facts should not have been overlooked in Jamison's article. This is the way of life in union jobs, but it is also a system that protects jobs, and if people do more work than they should have without more help, then this is the result.

Jody Brown

Long Beach


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