By Any Means Necessary
I don't like thinking about abortion and the struggle for reproductive freedom as a “war,” although that is essentially what it has become (“The War Womb,” June 21). We struggle to pass laws protecting clinics, only to find them utterly ineffective against the forces of extremist violence. These acts of terrorism must be countered on all fronts, using any means necessary to protect clinic patients.
While any commotion outside clinics, be it by pro- or anti-choice activists, will probably deter some potential patients, this is no reason to shy away from confrontation. We must remain vigilant in our quest to ensure that doctors and women are allowed to exercise their rights.
The tactics of both BACORR and groups like the Feminist Majority Foundation are useful, depending on the specifics of the situation. Hopefully, there won't be any “wars” from within the pro-choice movement, because unity is the only way we will be able to successfully defend our nation's clinics.
Rachel K. Bussel
I've gone over your June 14 issue with a fine-toothed comb, and aside from a few fleeting mentions in Night + Day and Calendar, you chose to ignore the largest single annual event in town: the lesbian/gay/bi/etc. parade. The tiny oh-by-the-way-there's-a-parade-Sunday item in Calendar made the thing sound as exciting as a lecture on recycling at the Learning Annex!
I'm not here to give you political grief about this; others better-connected than I will surely do that. But isn't it commercially stupid to ignore a market as large as the lesbian/gay parade is in San Francisco? Isn't one's annual “Pride” issue an advertising bonanza for all concerned? Was this done deliberately? I realize the new regime at the paper is from out of town, but surely they're not that out of touch?
The paper seems to get less interesting each week. I was initially intrigued by your desire to be less politically predictable. Knee-jerk political correctness is my least favorite thing about this great town. But so far, your attempt to be different has led only to boredom. The front page practically screams, “Don't pick me up!” An eight-page story on Mal Sharpe (May 24)? As if your target audience knows or cares who he is!
There was a time not long ago that SF Weekly was giving that other paper a real run for its money — it was the one that seemed tired and out of it. But you've virtually handed them back the audience they were losing. Bet the Guardian is real happy you new folks came to town!
Rx for Medi-Cal Doctors
I have had the article about Medi-Cal (“Why Medi-Cal Makes Doctors Sick,” May 17) on my desk for nearly a month now. Each time I read it, it makes me mad. Here's why.
According to the article, the main reasons doctors won't see Medi-Cal patients are difficult paperwork and low reimbursement rates. These are the same doctors who gladly accept Medicare patients. The reimbursement rates for Medicare patients are almost identical with the rates for Medi-Cal patients, especially those who are Medicare/Medi-Cal.
For example, the San Francisco psychologist mentioned in the article, Steven Korn, complains of receiving only $29.74 for a $100 session. The amount Medicare allows for Korn's specialty is $57.74 (according to the Blue Shield of California 1995 fee schedule), and Medicare will pay only 50 percent of that, or $28.87. For a longer visit of 45 to 50 minutes, both Medicare and Medi-Cal pay about $41. Not huge fees certainly, but better than pro bono.
Other than the stigma of treating Medi-Cal patients, the paperwork is probably the greatest villain. There is, of course, a way around that. Were Korn or any of his colleagues who currently treat, or want to treat, Medi-Cal patients to avail themselves of a good medical billing service, they would find that their paperwork headaches would go away.
Mark Welch, owner
All-Payor Medical Billing Service
If You Can Read This …
You wouldn't be very happy if your favorite reading came to you printed like this.
Isn't it time to rescue Julius Knipl from the spatial purgatory to which you have sentenced him? It is probably the best comic strip in America and deserves better from a fine, up-and-coming alternative paper in San Francisco.
Editor's note: Thanks for noticing. As of last week's issue, Ben Katchor's comic has been enlarged, occupying five of seven columns in the Classified section. This week, you'll find Knipl on Page 74.
State of Siege
After a few months of nearly worthless feature stories and articles, your paper has emerged as an “alternative” weekly that covers many of the crucial issues that must be acknowledged in this city.
My opinion has been affirmed by the long overdue piece on the Office of Citizen Complaints (“Cops Watching Cops,” June 14). Only on rare occasion is the SFPD exposed for the violent tendencies it so readily unleashes on anyone who appears to be breaking the law. Every once in a while, cops go a “little” bit too far and one of their victims dies. (Such may be the case with the death of Aaron Williams a few weeks ago.)
Countless numbers of people in this city have been handled with excessive force; I am sorry to say that such behavior is not the exception but the norm. The public is led to believe that those “few” who are mistreated have routes to follow that assure justice. But as George Cothran illustrates in his story, it's all a farce. The OCC is run by ex-cops or cop lovers.
My partner and I have six pending OCC complaints between us, each more than 18 months old. In one incident, he was arrested, taken into a secluded carport, and beaten violently in the head and face. I was thrown into a cement wall and then had my face crushed into the pavement. The crime preceding our attacks: serving soup without a permit.
What we've encountered at the OCC was a nice, sympathetic man who is essentially in the position, and readily admits it, to do nothing, though he continues to try. A large sign in the OCC office states its mission: “To advance the internal reality and public perception of a San Francisco Police Force that is both efficient and humane.” Perhaps the best indication of our Police Department's efficiency and humanity is the fact that after 50 years, the U.N. Human Rights Commission is investigating its first case of human rights violations in the U.S. What sweet irony: The investigation centers on the actions of our beloved SFPD and their consistently violent treatment of Food Not Bombs, based solely on political persecution. How appropriate that this should coincide with the U.N.'s 50th-anniversary celebration here.
The SFPD had a recruiting booth at the North Beach Fair, pathetic as it may sound. I overheard one officer describing to a man all of the benefits, but I didn't hear her say, “The right to beat the shit out of whomever you want, whenever you want.” I hope your article and more to follow will wake people up and expose the SFPD for what it really is. Living in San Francisco in the '90s means living in a police state!
The special typesetting on the cover and feature of the June 21 issue should have been credited to Hatch Show Print.