I have read with great interest Jack Boulware's "Snatching Saroyan" (Feb. 11). Thanks for making an honest reporting. There are, however, two unfortunate errors that must be corrected.
Boulware reports, "Unlike Stanford, it was Berkeley that had an Armenian studies program and a William Saroyan chair, funded by the Saroyan Foundation." The Saroyan Chair at Berkeley was endowed through the efforts of the Berkeley Armenian Alumni Club and members of the Armenian community in the Bay Area. Of the more than $700,000 collected, the Saroyan Foundation paid $3,000 and even that they paid grudgingly. In fact, at one time the foundation threatened to stop the alumni from naming the chair after William Saroyan.
Boulware says the "Saroyan Plus Fifteen" conference at Berkeley was co-sponsored by the Saroyan Foundation. Again, the foundation had nothing to do with this conference. The event was primarily sponsored by the William Saroyan Chair for Armenian Studies and it was coordinated by the holder of the chair at the time, professor Dickran Kouymjian of California State University, Fresno. The foundation in no way assisted with the conference.
Armen Der Kiureghian
Professor of Civil Engineering
University of California, Berkeley
Sutter Still Sucking
Your article on Sutter Health ("Sutter's Giant Sucking Sound," Jan. 21) was very informative and pertinent to the public hearing held on Jan. 20 by the San Francisco Health Commissioners regarding the closing of Chinese Hospital's obstetric unit and moving it to California Pacific Medical Center. If I had read your article prior to my appearance with the commissioners I would have referenced your write-up. I and the silent majority are opposed to the closing of the birthing unit here. I am afraid eventually we will also be gobbled up.
Lilly Poon, M.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology
Labor in the Pokey?
Looks like you are taking some heat over your story on Local 790 organizing at nonprofits ("Union Disorganizing," The Grid, Jan. 7). I just wanted to thank you for finally providing a balanced counterpoint to union propaganda. I have long believed that Big Labor and Big Business are running neck and neck for the "most corrupt endeavor" award.
Labor likes to portray itself as the bulwark against greedy corporations, while many of their own CEOs get regularly shipped off to the pokey for shenanigans that are fairly rare among Fortune 500 CEOs. Believe me, I am no defender of Big Business, I'm just glad to see the rest of the story get printed.
It may very well be that a union devoted to protecting city employees is trying to make agencies contracted by the city as expensive and inefficient as city programs, as George Cothran and John Mecklin claim in "Union Disorganizing." However, the four top-paid administrators at SFAF cost half a million dollars in 1995, which is more than the budget of many community-based AIDS organizations. These executives are not examples of "sensible people who go to work for nonprofits realiz[ing] they are going to have to sacrifice a measure of pay and benefits to do good," although they may want line staff to have such "sense."
There are increasing numbers of San Franciscans who are able and eager to volunteer and share expertise about surviving AIDS but are excluded by allegedly "professional" staff of highly paid suburbanites (such as Pat Christen) at SFAF, the AIDS Health Project, etc. Reclaiming what were originally community-based organizations from AIDS Inc. profiteers is a legitimate goal here and now.
Stephen O. Murray, Ph.D.