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Wait a Minute, Jon Carroll Gets Paid?
East Bay-dwelling, Dockers-wearing, Chez Panisse-frequenting boomer ("We Take Jon Carroll's Learning Annex Class So You Won't Have To," Dog Bites, Feb. 17)? Tee hee hee. I'll get you for that later. Let me tell you why I read his column. When I was unemployed, I could sit around with another unemployed or underemployed writer, and drink tea, and not say anything much, or say pretty much the things Carroll says in his column. Or we could stand in a doorway and talk about our cats. I don't have that any more. I got a job. Sure, Carroll doesn't say much, but I don't have time to hang out and shoot the shit any more. So I read him.

Perhaps, you don't hate him as much as you hate that he gets paid to do what he does. I sort of hate that myself. Or, that he teaches classes on what he does. That kind of chafes my hide. Not a lot, though. But I don't hate him. He's the unemployed friend I keep meaning to have coffee with. Only he probably lives better than me (MS Word wants me to say "I"). And some people take him seriously.

I've only just started reading your column. Now, if you live better than me off of your column, your bitching might start to get weak. How old's your car, say?

Maybe you have a secret crush on him. That's for calling me an East Bay-dwelling, Dockers-wearing, Chez Panisse-frequenting boomer.

Ann Marie Davis
Oakland

Mud Fight
I just finished reading George Cothran's piece on the pile of contaminated soil which has accumulated at the new Giants stadium site ("Playing Dirty," Feb. 10). Because Cothran never bothered to contact San Francisco BayKeeper before including our organization in his list of culprits, I thought your readers might be interested in a few errors in the story.

First, Cothran asserts that BayKeeper "has tons of money mostly gathered from legal settlements with polluters it threatens to sue." As of this date, BayKeeper has never received a single dime from penalties or settled fines in any of the roughly 100 citizen enforcement actions in which we have been involved. Indeed, the close to $7 million generated by those efforts has been or is being granted out to other environmental groups doing important work to protect San Francisco Bay and its tributaries.

Second, Cothran also misrepresents the results of BayKeeper's negotiations with the Giants addressing concerns raised by our group about soil contamination at the site, as well as the adequacy of the stadium EIR's review of the 40-acre parking lot planned along the south shore of Mission Creek. In fact, our efforts have led to the removal and disposal of the most toxic soil at the construction site. Indeed, the additional monitoring which Cothran belittles actually provided the information that led to removal of a significant portion of that highly contaminated soil.

Working with the Alliance for a Clean Waterfront, BayKeeper has been investigating the soil variance request by the Giants over the last two weeks. Unlike Cothran, our strategies are guided by the principle of ask questions first and then shoot at a real target. Cothran's approach, at least as regards his incorrect statements about BayKeeper's efforts, is shoot first (apparently at anyone in his path), ask questions later. It strikes me as very naive for Cothran to believe that the Department of Toxic Substance Control will act on the Giants' variance requests in a manner which he believes will be best for the environment and San Francisco residents without the advocacy of groups like San Francisco BayKeeper and our allies. Taking cheap shots at our efforts can only serve to undermine our ability to make sure DTSC and the Giants do what's best for San Francisco and the bay.

Michael R. Lozeau
Executive Director
San Francisco BayKeeper

George Cothran responds: When Michael Lozeau says his organization does not receive money from legal settlements related to actions brought against polluters, he is technically correct. But his organization receives grants from a private foundation to which BayKeeper donates money received in legal settlements. Moreover, I never intended to imply that suing polluters and taking settlement money is an unsavory practice. In fact, my research has shown that BayKeeper usually forces polluters to improve waste disposal practices at the same time it extracts settlement monies from companies that pollute the bay. That said, I still think BayKeeper let the Giants off the hook too lightly as it relates to the team's toxic cleanup of the ballpark site.

Wronghead Brats
The Wine Brats idea of spreading the wine gospel in a non-snobbish manner is sound; but I'm afraid it won't succeed ("Wine Brats," Feb. 17). Too many people have the perception that most wine drinkers are balding, pudgy, middle-aged investment bankers who brag about the last bottle of '66 Petrus they drank. The effort of separating that image from wine is monumental.

As for Wine-X magazine, they need to get over themselves. I have received every issue of their magazine. The first issue was pretty, but the content was thin. In fact, their "article" on German wine was merely a reprint of the German Wine Information Bureau's pamphlet on wine. That ain't journalism, that's lazy, I don't care how you package it.

Secondly, pairing wine with albums may be hip, but how does it help a neophyte wine drinker understand wine? It doesn't. Your style can be in-yer-face, with (seemingly) cutting-edge page layouts, but if there is no message in the medium, why bother?

So if the Wine Brats can help people lower their wine fear and enjoy wine, I'm with ya, but I have to give a thumbs-down on Wine-X. Listening to Nirvana with a glass of merlot is, like, bogus dude.

Mark Warren
Via Internet

Voyeur for Hire
So let me get this right. The San Jose Police Department was being paid to watch "gorgeous" girls undress ("Madam I Am," Feb. 3)? Maybe I chose the wrong profession? This sounds a lot more exciting than my job, which requires extensive years of advanced education and considerable amounts of unpaid on-the-job training.

Do you know if they are accepting any more applications? My colleagues and I are so sick of all this recent health care insurance bullshit, this vice cop job sounds like quite the exciting second career opportunity. I hope our credentials will meet the high standards required to watch "gorgeous" girls undress for a living, while we wear Ken Willey's uniform of choice: "sneakers and blue jeans."

With these benefits, we'd definitely be willing to negotiate lower salaries than the ones we currently have. Do you happen to know how high vice cop malpractice insurance is compared to what we doctors already pay? I can imagine that any job that requires someone to watch lovely ladies undress would require lots of additional insurance (you know, in case someone gets hit in the head with a hardened breast implant or something).

Dr. C. Scott Weber
Moss Beach

Nobody's Stomach Is That Strong
Although I normally can't stand your paper, I do feel compelled to add my voice to the general round of well-deserved applause for George Cothran's excellent pieces on S.F. gentrification, most notably his fine dissection of the Brown-O'Donoghue alliance ("Developing Friendship," Feb. 3). Not only was this an obviously well-informed, closely reasoned opinion piece but also a great example of investigative journalism.

We need you in the East Bay, George. We too have an intellectually bankrupt, no-new-ideas Brown as mayor, plus a local Democratic machine totally tied into real-estate-developer-corporate interests.

Elections over here are like the ones they used to have in the old Soviet Union. Same old, same old always wins. King Ronald (Dellums) passes on the torch to Queen Barbara (Lee) who passes it on to the Don of Perata (the pistol-packing anti-gun liberal) who passes it on to His Hackiness Elihu (Harris) who makes sure they be plenty of free chickens and potato salad for the folks to be votin' on Election Day (at least the 10 percent who normally do in Oakland).

George, if you have a strong stomach, you can lift up the lid and peer into the bowels of the Oakland City Council. We sure can't depend on the Bay Guardian to do this job because those fools spend four years complaining about how corrupt the East Bay Demos are and then re-endorse all of them.

The Don is carrying Bruce B's pecker in his hip pocket. And to think John Stuart Mill called the conservatives the stupid party.

C'mon, George, cross that bridge. We need you over here.
Michael P. Hardesty
Oakland

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