Life's not a (North) beach: In regards to John Geluardi's article, "Drama Mia" [Feature, 12/10]: To be clear, this section of North Beach is a disgrace. There is drug dealing, pimping (even pimping of homeless women!), and constant dumping of trash, vomit, etc. You name it; that block has it. Any person who reads the paper knows the area is in deep trouble (with the exception of the courageous "unidentified officer" quoted in the story and Supervisor Aaron Peskin).
As someone born and raised in San Francisco, whose grandmother and father were born blocks away, I find this state of affairs a travesty. It is unacceptable, and it will change. So the four Caffe Trieste complainers (4Cs), Peskin, and the unidentified officer can indeed all get ready for change to be made by people who care about our gorgeous city, especially North Beach.
The article has several inaccuracies. For instance, the Porziuncola Nuova opened two months ago, not in 2007. Also, the Franciscan "think tank" is not a school. Meanwhile, the anonymous officer quoted in the piece says that I "wanted to be the deputy mayor of homelessness." I am the Chair of the Ten Year Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness. We have housed more than 3,000 people in the last four years. I am very proud of that! We work every day of our lives to house, feed, and care for homeless people any way we can. The anonymous officer and Peskin do not.
The officer's quote is that I have been "constantly asking" him to help. You are damn right I have been asking for help, and as a police officer he thinks that's wrong? He needs to reread his oath of office. This "unidentified officer" is a disgrace to the SFPD, one of the best police departments in the nation. If a person reports a perceived crime, it is his duty to investigate it, not perpetrate it.
Geluardi's statement connecting homeless people to "cleaning up the street" in a quote from me is unconscionable. The unidentified officer, Peskin, and the 4Cs watch these homeless women every day as they lie in our streets, killing themselves. Just last year another homeless woman was found dead on the corner. We have offered, and still offer, care and food every day. My "frustration," as I told Geluardi repeatedly, is that one day I will go open the Porziuncola and find these two homeless women dead also.
Shame on us all!
Angela Alioto, Esq.
Chair of the Ten Year Plan
Alioto is correct in noting that Porziuncola Nuova opened two months ago. We regret the error. We appreciate the clarification about the Franciscan think tank not being a school, although Alioto described it as a "university" during an interview. John Geluardi stands by the quotes he attributed to Alioto.
The Other Side of the "Border"
FAIR and loathing: As a part of a broad-brush attack on Lauren Smiley's article "Border Crossings" [Feature, 11/26], the radical open-borders lobby managed to smear just about everybody who stands in the way of their fulfilling their agenda. Not only did they take offense to the article pointing out obvious abuses of our asylum policies, they also engaged in character assault against those expressing differing points of view.
Singled out for attack in a letter from a coalition of advocates for the transgendered is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Their outrage is based on a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based organization with a shabby reputation for lining its own pockets by exploiting the misery of others.
The SPLC also has a long track record of designating political opponents as "hate groups" and putting out alarmist reports to raise money for itself. Relying on the SPLC to determine who is a hate group is a little like relying on a U.N. commission chaired by Sudan to designate violators of human rights.
By contrast, FAIR has a 30-year public record of advocating for immigration reforms that protect the economic, social, and environmental interests of the most vulnerable Americans. We have fought to preserve this nation's ability to protect those who are legitimate victims of political persecution in their homelands by opposing the sorts of abuses of U.S. asylum policy that jeopardize the entire program.
The article in question dealt with a profoundly complex series of interests and considerations that range from international to local domestic matters – and just about everything in between. While Smiley did not delve into most of these, from our conversations I would say that she at least made an effort to try to understand them.
As the tone of the letters to SF Weekly suggest, a rational discussion of immigration and asylum policy is the last thing these groups and individuals want – or will even tolerate.
President, Federation for
American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
Not So Fly
From Middle Eastern to Middle American: The old Fly Trap was a joy, and I was just getting ready for a return visit when I read Meredith Brody's article ["This Time It's Persianal," Eat, 12/3].
What a disappointment! It seems to me that the last thing S.F. needs is one more Middle Eastern–accented menu, no matter how good and worthy. Fly Trap was a good (not great) old-fashioned San Francisco classic, whose loss really hurts.
The restaurant scene here is becoming less and less anchored in a particular history and more and more like every other sophisticated city on the planet. You know the template: Barcelona is like San Francisco is like Berlin is like Kyoto is like — what next? Des Moines?
Robots in (Social) Space
Lifeblood, tears, and sweat: I just wanted to personally thank Jennifer Maerz for her recent column ["The Sound of Recession," Let's Get Killed, 12/10]. As a member of a local band that has been doing quite well, thanks to the alcoholic nature of our fans, I feel it's imperative that we support our local artists, especially in this flailing economy. While we don't make tons of money as musicians, the venues we play love us because we bring a party crowd, often rivaling the "big names" on what would be an empty night.
It's a nearly thankless job that many performers engage in: providing the lifeblood for many venues in the city. The more the general public is aware of the need to support good local artists, the better we all can live. Because, as your ending quote states "If we don't have social spaces, we're all going to be in a really bad spot ..."
Ohm Mega One, Raised by Robots
Due to an editing error, Matt Smith's Nov. 19 column "Business Conductor" incorrectly stated that during 2005-2006, S.F. Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas earned $429,000 in compensation; that is actually the salary earned by concertmaster Alexander Barantschik. SF Weekly regrets the error.
The article also stated that the symphony paid Columbia Artists, which represents Tilson Thomas, a further $538,000. While this statement is true, the implication that the conductor personally benefited is not. The payment was for expenses unrelated to Tilson Thomas, such as guest performers.