An apology from RJR Tobacco: I became aware of a wholly unacceptable and offensive document that existed in the files of employees of this company through your story "Smoking Gun" (Bay View, May 2, on a marketing campaign by tobacco company R.J. Reynolds, called Project SCUM, targeting San Francisco gays and homeless people). The document used language that I personally, and this company, find inappropriate and insulting.
The document was created in one of our sales offices, and we are investigating who wrote it, and who might have seen it within the company. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against those individuals because the document is antithetical to how we operate this company.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. respects all of its customers and greatly values their business. We operate this company ethically and responsibly. The document does not reflect our operating philosophy or our practices -- in fact, it could hardly be more diametrically opposed.
I would like to extend an apology, on behalf of all employees of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., to anyone offended by the document. We intend to use this as a catalyst for communicating once again to our employees the philosophies and practices by which this company is to be run.
Andrew J. Schindler
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Maybe, but who would donate money to send someone elseon a cruise?: Thank you so much for your column about the AIDS Ride ("Rides and Wrongs," Matt Smith, May 2) -- pardon me, the Tanqueray AIDS Ride (the sponsoring booze now merits top billing over the putative reason for the ride). I was the editor of the Bay Area Reporter when Jim [Provenzano] did his wonderful series, after which I faced lawsuits and a barrage of calls from AIDS Riders who were angry with me for pointing out that [Dan] Pallotta could have chartered an ocean liner for those eight days, treated the gang to endless food and Broadway-style entertainment, not to mention real bathrooms, and it would have cost less than what he charged in overhead. This is just to let you know some of us appreciate what you said.
New York City
Follow the money: While 60 percent was indeed the percent I saw that went to the designated charities after last year's California AIDS Ride, it is a misrepresentation to suggest that 40 percent went to Pallotta Team Works. I know a significant percent goes to rider support -- tents, securing road permits, food, showers, Porta Pottis, etc. -- and a significant percent goes to promotion and staff. Agree with that expenditure or not, it is not going into Dan Pallotta's pocket. Agree or not with a for-profit company putting on charity events, in the case of [the AIDS Ride], 60 percent of $11.6 million is still $6.96 million. That is a lot of money that would never be seen by those charities. How do I know? I can use myself as an example -- most of the money I raise comes from out-of-town donors. These are people that would never be writing checks to the S.F. AIDS Foundation. While I think there may be legitimate criticisms of these events, I also think there was much left out of your story that skewed the picture.
Regarding S.F. drivers and the general attitude of disregard to cyclists -- I totally agree with your comments. Thanks for writing a provocative article.
Criticizing is easy, but to be honest, we have few other skills: After seeing the numerous letters that seem to appear each week citing a problem with Matt Smith's weekly babblings, I turned to his column this week only to find myself joining the letter writers. As a second-time walker in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, I have found Pallotta Team Works, as well as the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, to be highly reputable and extremely competent in running their events. The walk was one of the most incredible, moving, and empowering experiences of my life, and I would recommend the Pallotta events to anyone. However, as Smith illustrates, it is a lot easier to criticize than it is to get out there and make a positive difference for a serious cause.