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Shake, Rattle, and Burn
Readers of "Masters of Disaster" (March 20) should see two sources for more information about the pending problems when and if a big quake happens:

Denial of Disaster, by Gladys Hansen and Emmet D. Condon (Cameron & Co., 1989), strongly suggests that far more people -- as many as 5,000 more -- died in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire than was admitted at the time. The book also outlines the fire hazards posed by a major quake. It has many original pictures and also includes a bibliography.

Fire Following Earthquake was prepared by Charles Scawthorn for the All-Industry Insurance Research Advisory Council (1200 Harger Rd., Oak Brook, IL 60521; 1987, $5 postpaid). The work estimates the conflagration risk to insured property in greater Los Angeles and San Francisco. It details how whole blocks of homes may burn due to buildings constructed against each other; lack of automatic gas shut-off valves; broken water mains and resulting water shortages; blocked streets from debris and fallen poles; and the absence of firefighters, 70 percent of whom live out of town.

Charles L. Smith

The Hole Enchilada
I'm sure that women rock critics appreciate Johnny Ray Huston's admonishment that they must disdain Alanis Morissette and pass moral judgment on Courtney Love, lest they risk compromising their ideals ("Love Sick," Music, March 20). It was especially thoughtful of him to put his advice into a story on feminist rock band Sleater-Kinney; lots of women are sure to read the article, and they can all benefit from Huston's wisdom. I'm also sure that the women of Sleater-Kinney appreciate the forceful way Huston found to praise their music -- by trashing Hole. (It was particularly trenchant of Huston to point out that Love "relies on a male lead guitarist"; who cares about Hole's female bass player and female drummer anyway?)

Similarly, I'll bet queer rock critics appreciate knowing that they are to dislike Extra Fancy. In fact, why don't you make this an ongoing series? Next week, Huston could tell Asian rock critics which Asian artists to dislike, then move on to Hispanic critics/artists, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Steve Omlid

Beau Bungle
Two items were not quite right in your article on Stanlee Gatti ("Willie Brown's Beau Brummell," Bay View, March 13).

First, I was appointed the Art Commission's director of cultural affairs in July 1995. For 2 1/2 years preceding that appointment, I served as the commission's assistant director.

Second, as a clarification: The president of the Art Commission, or any other commissioner, does not set policy. The commission acts as a body; for a policy change to occur, a commissioner would need to bring a proposed change up for discussion and convince the majority of his or her colleagues of the merit of the change. The commission would then vote on the matter.

The Art Commission, in general, would not allocate staff time from one program to another. It could, however, direct staff to take on a specific project. This came up in my discussion with your writer of Commissioner Gatti's idea about an "icon park" (i.e., "a museum devoted to the city's architectural and advertising relics").

Rich Newirth, Director of Cultural Affairs
San Francisco Art Commission

The Bus Stops Here
You reported ("You're Either on the Bus or Off the Bus," Bay View, March 13) that S.F. Supervisor Carole Migden had dodged repeated inquiries about her compliance with Proposition AA, which calls on city officials to ride public transit to work two days a week. I'm a Muni rider who finds this hardly surprising.

In 1993, Migden, as chair of the supervisors' Budget Committee, approved a harebrained Muni budget that hiked senior citizens' fares by 40 percent and simultaneously eliminated all transfers. Outraged riders eventually got the no-transfers policy reversed -- but implementing both the policy and its reversal ended up costing Muni tens of thousands of dollars. Who knows what it cost riders in double fares and aggravation.

I frankly doubt that Migden has been near a bus -- or the ordinary people who ride them -- in years. Like too many elected Democrats, she seems to feel that she need not concern herself with the common people's tawdry worries.

Now this archetypical "limousine liberal" wants to further insulate herself in Sacramento? If I could, I'd tell her: "Sorry, Carole, no transfers."

Michael Katz

Bring Me Your Sick ...
The controversy about whether the city should continue to support Laguna Honda Hospital ("Bed Sores," Bay View, Feb. 28) is not really about whether or not we can afford the building; it is about whether or not we will care for the most vulnerable among us.

In all the discussions of portioning Laguna Honda patients out to private hospital beds, the assumption persists that private hospitals want (ergo would make a profit on) these individuals.

The patients at Laguna Honda are not all elderly; any San Francisco resident over 16 who needs to be there is eligible. It is for you or me after that bad car accident or stroke; after the private sector can no longer make a profit on us once our family's funds run out. It is for your loved one after a nervous breakdown makes it impossible to care for her diabetes, and the leg ulcers come in. There is no other place in the area where such a mixture of comprehensive long-term rehabilitative, medical, psychiatric, and nursing care is available.

In nursing homes, a doctor is guaranteed payment by Medicare or MediCal only once a month. MediCal payment is minuscule, and either type of payment is usually denied for more visits even if the M.D. can justify it with big-time paperwork. Nursing home patients quickly exhaust any other type of insurance.

Thus, there is no incentive to keep a private nursing home patient if he/she is at all "difficult": The nursing home gets no additional pay, nor does the doctor. Such patients are quickly sent to the nearest acute hospital.

Ask any hospital social worker in town to which nursing home she sends her most difficult patients -- if she can get a bed. Complicated patients may simply have to stay in high-priced acute hospital beds until Laguna Honda has room.

Of course insurance payment is "denied" because the poor soul isn't really "sick enough" to be in the acute hospital. So he or she can be sent to a private nursing home and end up back in the hospital even sicker (sometimes after two or three rounds of this) until he or she gets the comprehensive support offered at Laguna Honda.

Yes, the private hospitals in town would like to use their extra space for nursing home grandmothers and grandfathers -- as long as they behave.

But when the going gets rough, the ambulance gets called, and suddenly there's "no bed" back at the private hospital. Amazingly, this is almost always after the better-paying insurances have been exhausted and MediCal must begin picking up the tab. This is when Laguna Honda gets a call.

Doctors at Laguna Honda are in-house and on salary; they come when needed. It's a big enough place so staff can be found to help the patient needing extra attention, and the nurses know their patients well. Like any large institution, Laguna Honda has its inefficiencies and should deal with them.

But it's still there for you if you really need it; and there is still enough staff to deal with the complicated patients. Come the autumn, significant cuts have been promised. The general public won't feel the loss until they are old or too sick to be heard.

"There but for fortune go you or I." If the people of San Francisco don't support their public nursing home, they are hurting themselves.

Teresa Palmer, M.D.

Wheels of Change
In "Roller Derby" (Bay View, Feb. 28), concerning disabled access in San Francisco, you quoted both Paul Church and Larry Paradis. I find it interesting that no disabled San Francisco resident was quoted.

I am the president of Independent Housing Service, the agency that filed the first suit that created the settlement agreement with the Building Inspection Department (BID) (for some reason Matt Melucci failed to contact us). We have declined to participate in the newest suit against the BID.

While I am not thrilled by the progress in complying with the agreement, it should be made clear that what has held up implementation of the enforcement effort has been the refusal of the Jordan administration's fiscal staff to approve the funding for the new access inspectors.

In this regard, I find it curious that Church, who was closely associated with the Jordan administration as chair of the mayor's Disability Council, and someone who met with the mayor on a regular basis, now brings forth this issue. A new administration that is committed to the rights of all San Franciscans including the disabled is now attempting to undo the harm done to the disabled community by the Jordan administration, which placed political expediency above civil rights.

I also do not understand the comments from Paradis as to exceptions for access being granted by the BID, when a member of Disabled Rights Advocates' own board of directors is the president of the Access Appeals Commission.

We all want access, and most of us want it now. However, our city agencies can only enforce the laws as they are written in a manner that is fair to all parties.

I think that this article was a cheap shot at the BID and the Brown administration.

As president of the FDR Democratic Club, which was formed and chartered to empower the disabled and senior communities through the political process, we find the recent progress under the Brown administration to be a refreshing change.

August J.P. Longo, President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Democratic Club for Persons With Disabilities & Seniors

South of Market

Bench Press
Matthew Rothschild did a good job of getting his troops to blanket SF Weekly with letters expressing outrage at George Cothran's profile ("Judging Matthew Rothschild," Feb. 28).

Behind all the vitriol, however, was only one disputed fact (and it wasn't about his lack of qualifications): whether or not Rothschild's childhood dream was to be a judge or a politician.

Suffice it to say that the only dream consistent with the way Rothschild has conducted his life is the dream of becoming a politician. Ron Albers, on the other hand, does not have to talk about dreams of serving on the bench; becoming a judge is the natural next step in his 20 years of service to the legal profession and to the community from within that profession.

Regardless of boyhood dreams, I am not convinced by Rothschild's argument that justice and politics should mix.

Grant Martin
Noe Valley


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