HUD's a dud: As a housing advocate who has been pushing for improved conditions at San Francisco's public housing developments for many years, it is refreshing for me to see the Weekly highlight the atrocious living conditions at S.F. Housing Authority properties ("Flip That Housing Authority, May 2"). I couldn't agree more with Matt Smith's contention that the bureaucratic nightmare that is the SFHA must change and the properties must be made livable again.
But Smith is dead wrong in his assertion that a federal takeover is the solution! Smith is ignoring the key fact that a majority of the problems he mentioned are federal in origin. Of course, "the boarding up of public housing units has been going on for years." HUD, under the Bush administration, has seriously under-funded the agency for years. HUD is not a friend of the public housing resident, but, as an ideologically driven agent of the administration, their worst enemy.
How does it make sense for this very same agency, that has held the ax to the head of public housing, to be a suitable rescuer? What is really needed is more community accountability and local control, not federal oversight.
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco
He simply must be heard, again: In his article "Watchdog Catfight" [May 2], on Clint Reilly's victory over the Hearst and Singleton chains, Michael Stoll (or the editors working under Mike Lacey, the executive editor of your chain) ended up writing without blushing that (a) "the deal turned out to be unpopular with about everyone," (b) the Guardian and Media Alliance, our co-plaintiff in our joint suit to unseal the records in the federal court case, were in some kind of "catfight" (we weren't and aren't), (c) the Guardian was somehow chasing butterflies up and down the hills of San Francisco and the East Bay by writing that Reilly had won a major victory and performed a major public service by exposing and stopping the secret Hearst/Singleton moves to kill daily competition and impose regional monopoly in the Bay Area, and (d) the Guardian was giving up its fight to unseal the court documents (our legal options are now limited, but we're still pushing Reilly to get the records opened).
Here's what I told Stoll: I think Reilly once again performed a major journalistic and public service by taking on a tough and expensive antitrust case that neither the Bill Lockyer/Jerry Brown attorney general's office nor the George Bush/Alberto Gonzales U.S. Department of Justice would touch. I think it was a major feat that Reilly accomplished what he did: (a) expose the Hearst/Singleton documents of collaboration and secrecy, (b) force a public and journalistic debate on the issue of regional monopoly, and (c) force Hearst and Singleton to rescind their secret collaboration agreement and force them to compete in the Bay Area for the duration.
Wouldn't it have been simply awful if Reilly hadn't sued on his own dime and no one came forward to blow the whistle on the secret moves of the nation's biggest chains to kill daily competition and impose regional monopoly on one of the most liberal and civilized cities in the world?
Somehow I'm not surprised that the paper controlled out of Phoenix by Lacey and Jim Larkin didn't get the point.
Bruce B. Brugmann
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Don't blame the Boomers: It's curious that Martin Kuz ["Boomtastrophe," May 2] quotes only marketing authors to defend the Boomer generation against claims of public-policy commentators, who take classic conservative positions.
Even odder is his ridicule of the PBS special, Boomer Century, which adopts the same remedy as Kuz for counteracting their alleged "gimme, gimme, gimme" greed of the failed counterculture. Kuz's remedy: cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid before they "devour 80 percent of the federal budget." And who are the economists and historians he cites with no countervailing policy arguments? Kuz fails to identify William Strauss as a former Republican congressional staffer.
Had Kuz bothered to quote any reputable liberal economists and historians, he could have reported that the primary danger for future government spending is not in entitlement programs but in runaway health care spending in the broken U.S. system.
Instead of deriding one-third of Boomers for failing to save much for their retirement, he could have informed readers that one-third of the highly diverse Boomers will be in poverty or near poverty in late life.
Instead of offering an informative debate, Kuz treats his readers to a diatribe of cheap shots and generational bashing. Especially bizarre is how Kuz conflates our two Boomer presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as evidence of their generation's profligacy. But, as the Don Imus crowd knows well, bashing groups larger than a basketball team is easier than investing energy in good journalism.
The great journalist Robert Maynard urged journalists to examine each story through the prism of class, race, gender, geography, and generation. By only focusing on the latter, Kuz squandered his chance to improve readers' understanding of the aging of the Boomer generation.
National Coordinator, Journalists Exchange on Aging
Editor, Aging Today
American Society on Aging