Woe Is Muni
How assuring it is to read about the courage and dignity with which TWU's Larry Martin deals with criticism (“Willie's Wild Ride,” Dec. 27). By calling anyone who disagrees with you a “racist,” much unnecessary time-wasting can be avoided. People of non-color (all of whom are racist anyway) will predictably cringe and adopt the missionary position, thus facilitating Martin's leverage at the negotiating table. And before you know it, Muni's woes will be history.

African-Americans should be proud of such a deep-thinking, subtle, sensitive role model.

M. Kamionko
San Francisco

No Such Muck
Your article on the City Hall retrofit (“Dome and Dumber,” Dec. 20) seems to me to have been authored by a muckraker in a desperate search for muck to rake — and having found none, writing an article anyway. I did the math along with the author and learned nothing more than that large-scale contracting and construction are byzantine and expensive activities, but I saw no convincing evidence of waste or dishonesty.

Among the reasons Americans go to Europe is the chance to gawk at and admire the grandeur of beautiful old buildings lovingly cared for. Why shouldn't we care for our own beautiful buildings? One has to hope that well-maintained public art and architecture will have some civilizing effect on the less civil aspects of today's urban life.

Bernard Thomas
San Francisco

Going for Baroque
Hooray! I'm relieved that someone else in this city feels the way I do about spending so much money on a relic of the past (“Dome and Dumber”). I bet we could have rebuilt the Roman Colosseum for that price. At least those bonds could have been repaid from ticket revenue.

I also think it's poetic justice that the homeless camp out in the nearby plaza. Who needs food and shelter when you can set your gaze upon such a beautiful structure?

Do we have earthquake insurance on that building? Whoops! How silly — it wasn't in the bond.

Great article!
Patrick Murray
San Francisco

Decline of Western Civilization
Regarding Jack Boulware's “DDIY” (Slap Shots, Dec. 20): Dude, you are bogus! First you come off all elitist, saying how enabling technologies should be kept out of the hands of the masses. But talk about the pot calling the kettle black — dude, you are on AOL! Need I say more?

And, oh, yes, there's such a lot of DIY crap. Other media, like radio, TV, and magazine publishing, have such higher standards of excellence. Puh-leeze! Putting enabling technologies in the hands of the masses is always a good idea, because even if only one person out of 1,000 discovers he or she can produce something worthwhile, it's justified. Nobody's forcing you to read the crap!

Finally, you could at least have published Joan Ellis' URL, so we readers could see for ourselves whether this lowly New Jerseyite is single-handedly responsible for the fall of Western civilization.

Overall, I'm a fan (I enjoyed your work on The Nose). Please go back to targeting the high, mighty, and truly silly, and leave the little guys alone.

David Duberman

The Trouble With “Angels”
I am responding to George Cothran's article on private professional conservators (“Guardian Angels?” Bay View, Nov. 8) and in particular to his untrue and misleading statements about me.

Cothran's statement that I was unavailable for comment is both false and misleading. He made no attempt to contact me until the day before his deadline. He left a message with my attorney's secretary saying he was writing an article. My attorney returned his phone call the same day and asked him to contact us. He never did.

If Cothran had made an effort to talk to me, he would have known that there was no basis in fact for the allegations in his article. My former wife never was seen wearing Mrs. Chen's pearls, as they never were out of Mrs. Chen's safety deposit box. No paintings of Mrs. Chen's were found in my home. They either were in her room or in a storage facility. The allegation that I said Mrs. Chen gave or lent me property is absolutely not true.

Cothran also would have known that the quote he attributed to Mrs. Chen was fabricated by someone else. She spoke no English and had suffered from dementia for years.

The truth is that I did nothing wrong and have fully accounted for Mrs. Chen's money and property. The administrator of the late Mrs. Chen's estate has approved my final accounting and has released me from any possible liability.

It is true that I was removed from four conservatorships, but what Cothran did not state is that I was removed at my own request. When I became seriously ill in late 1993, I stopped working and told my attorney that I no longer could fulfill my conservatorship responsibilities. I asked him to arrange for the transfer of my clients to successor conservators, which was accomplished in due course.

David C. Downie
San Rafael

George Cothran replies: Downie alleges that I “made no attempt” to contact him. Yet I called and left messages at his attorney's office which were not returned by deadline. Upon learning that he lived in San Rafael, I called San Rafael information and discovered that Downie was not listed.

Downie further alleges that his former wife was not seen wearing pearls of one of his conservatees, Jui Chuang Chen, who passed away this year. However, Chen alleged in court documents that she saw the then-Mrs. Downie wearing the pearls and asked Mr. Downie at the time why his wife was wearing her (Chen's) pearls. Chen stated in her court declaration of Jan. 10, 1995, that Downie replied, “Don't worry. We'll return them to the safe deposit box.” Nowhere in the court file does Downie deny the allegation, even though he filed rebuttals to other allegations not included in my article.

Downie states that no paintings belonging to Ms. Chen were found or displayed in his home. I would refer him to a photograph entered as Exhibit A in Ms. Chen's motion to establish and replace missing assets. The photo shows Chen's Chinese masterpieces on Downie's living room wall.

Downie's assertion that Chen's comments to the court were “fabricated” is also misleading. Chen was deposed by her attorney for the San Francisco Superior Court probate division in accordance with the law, and her statements were properly placed in the court file. It was from this court file that I culled her comments.

Downie states that the administrator has released him from “any possible liability.” While this may be true, the conservator of the estate, the San Francisco Public Guardian's Office, still gives credence to Chen's allegations of wrongdoing against Downie, according to Theresa Taken, staff attorney for the Public Guardian's Office.

The additional assertion by Downie that he voluntarily removed himself from the four conservatorships I mention in my article is also misleading. Court documents show that: In one case, his power of attorney was revoked by court order signed by Judge Pro Tempore Carol Yaggy. In another case, his conservatorship was suspended. In the Chen chase, his conservatorship was temporarily suspended and he was ordered to show up in court and explain why he had not made a full accounting of Chen's assets. When he failed to show up at that hearing, the conservatorship was removed from his care and granted to the Public Guardian's Office by the court. The fourth case is still being adjudicated by the court, but the conservatorship has been transferred permanently to the Public Guardian.

The owner of the Grosvenor Bus Lines was misidentified in “Willie's Wild Ride” (Dec. 27). He is Robert Werbe.

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