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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, August 9, 2006

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Bayview Blues
Good, because we don't do rose-colored: After reading Ryan Blitstein's article about our work in the Bayview ["The Fix Isn't In," Aug. 2], I feel compelled to add some context. The communities that are the focus of Communities of Opportunity have been ignored and disinvested in for decades. They are the areas that few San Franciscans frequent. They are the neighborhoods that do not appear on the tourist maps. They are the neighborhoods where individuals and families are most vulnerable if a Katrinalike disaster were to occur in the Bay Area.

To be clear, we are not looking for media coverage that looks through rose-colored glasses to characterize the work or the challenges. The article presents a sobering account of the reality of how hard the work is to create a sense of hope and opportunity within a community that has been locked out of the mainstream for decades. On the other hand, what the article fails to acknowledge is that this mayor has spent more time, energy, and political currency in these communities than many of the previous administrations combined.

It would be much easier for the mayor to sit at City Hall and ignore the conditions that exist in areas like Alice Griffith, to essentially endorse the status quo. And there are much easier ways for the mayor and for us to generate positive PR for the administration.

The truth is that the mayor and this administration have come to the conclusion that the conditions in areas like Alice Griffith are not acceptable and that if business as usual were going to work, it would have by now. As a result we are resolved to do things differently and to be bold. We are not under the impression that everything is going to work or that these neighborhoods are going to turn around overnight. The Communities of Opportunity initiative is not a silver bullet and success is far from guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is that if there are failures, they will not occur as a result of lack of effort or too many mayoral press conferences.

Fred Blackwell Director, Mayor's Office of Community Development
San Francisco

Accentuate the positive, please: Systemic institutional racism is at the core of the disenfranchised state of African-Americans in the nation. As I informed Mr. Blitstein, it is unreasonable to affix blame on the current local administration for the resulting problems.

Municipal and community responsibility is to facilitate solutions! [Solutions exist, but] were omitted from your "story."

The success stories of those who obtained employment are noticeably absent. Quotes regarding positive solutions to the aforementioned systemic issues are noticeably absent. It is disappointing to see this "story" is yet another slanted, (politically motivated?) negative attempt to place blame rather than focusing on solutions for the minority residents of this city who are the most disenfranchised.

Young Community Developers, Inc., Senior Ex-Offenders Program, Girls 2000, New Directions, Hope House, United Council for Human Services, Southeast Neighborhood Roundtable, Citizens Advisory Committee for the Hunters Point Shipyard, and the Bayview Hunters Point Project Area Committee are in the trenches daily, passionately working toward solutions and experiencing successes. Yet, they or their successes are not mentioned.

SF Weekly didn't respond to an invitation extended to attend our most recent graduation, yet it can print and distribute negative innuendo. The negative intent of this "story" is clearly a headhunt, instead of a focus on systemic racist issues we all agree exist. No mention of solutions or successes.

I am disappointed but not surprised.

Ellouise Patton Executive Director, Young Community Developers, Inc.
San Francisco

Livvy Lovin'

Superfan states his case: Just a quick e-mail to say thanks for "Hopelessly Devoted" [Karen Zuercher, Aug. 2]. I've been a huge Olivia fan since 1973, when I was 13 years old. Now, 33 years later (you can complete the math re: my current age!), I still remain hopelessly devoted. I visit the Only Olivia site daily (I think I've got your friend beat!) and go see her every year when she hits the New York City metro area (I'm actually catching two shows this fall!).

Yeah, sometimes I feel a little nerdy being such a big Livvy fan. But then again, what's so nerdy about being a fan of someone who's contributed so much time and effort to cancer- and environmental-related causes, has always maintained her down-to-earth demeanor, and still treats her fans to yearly shows and new recordings. I feel kind of fortunate to have become hopelessly devoted 33 years ago and to still have her around entertaining us and continuing to support her causes.

Ed Warhola
Bloomfield, NJ

Consider yourself outed, Marc: As a 29-year-old semi-closeted ON-J fan, it was nice to read the "dirty little secret" article. Because realistically, she is a little before my time, and I get all kinds of shit from my friends for being a big fan. Also, the way you wrote the article kind of gives the "You know what, get over yourself" vibe to people who Olivia-bash. So that's all, just wanted to tell you that.

Marc Mazzella
Washington, D.C.

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