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No More Givebacks
My compliments to SF Weekly on the outstanding article by Lisa Davis on the proposed merger of the UCSF and Stanford medical centers ("Giving Away the Hospital," Sept. 10).

It is an important article because it makes a complex topic comprehensible. The topic is significant because of ethical concerns regarding power, control, and outright greed. The people making these decisions have enormous potential impact on health research funding, state and federal regulations, free access to public information, and a host of other issues.

This particular merger is a "tip of the iceberg" issue. There is an increasing trend to let wealthy and powerful members of private governing boards set public policy based on their personal profit agendas. This is a downright frightening direction for educational institutions.

I fervently hope that this merger is not allowed to happen. It puts too much power into too few hands while eliminating public and government scrutiny and regulation from the equation. It is a huge taxpayer rip-off.

Carol G. DeWitt

Bravo! Lisa Davis and SF Weekly for reporting the real deal on the merger ("Giving Away the Hospital"). It was very disheartening when the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial writer wrote on Aug. 28 that the sun shines on the merger with SB 1350 because only a few "reporters or citizen gadflies" exercise their right to access the public records anyway. Sort of like saying it's OK to take away some free speech because not everybody uses it. So thank you Lisa Davis, et al., for plowing through the public records and reporting the real merger deal -- the truth behind the spin-doctor tales.

E. Graham
Russian Hill

Beagle Hugger
In "Two Barks Up the Wrong Tree" (Unspun, Aug. 27), columnist Phyllis Orrick accuses People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of distributing a "non-story" when we recently sent out videotape shot undercover in a British drug testing laboratory. As some Bay Area pharmaceutical companies have used this laboratory in the past, and may do so in the future, PETA wanted them to know what goes on in the lab they pay to carry out tests on animals.

Orrick did not find the tape disturbing, and she accuses PETA of "crying wolf." But the tape shows quite clearly that dogs used in experiments were abused. In the first five minutes of the footage, lab "technicians" are seen screaming at, hitting, and violently shaking a dog whose only "crime" was to move when the worker was trying to insert a needle in his vein. Orrick may be able to watch this without a twinge, but most people find the physical abuse of animals caged in laboratories abhorrent. Certainly British authorities did. They are prosecuting the employees who punched the animals, and the laboratory may lose its license to keep animals for experimentation.

PETA did not accuse the Bay Area companies of abuse, so there was no "guilt by association" in our press materials, as Orrick claims. Our intent was to expose the abuse of dogs in a laboratory to the public and to the companies that may unknowingly do business with it. Orrick's column misrepresented these straightforward facts.

Kathy Guillermo


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