I commend Sarkany's candor but, inevitably, it leads to an obvious question: Why bother having a bureaucracy devoted to building inspection if it is impotent in the face of such horrific conditions as at the Ambassador? Why not eliminate the Building Inspection Department and use the money saved to provide more services to destitute and/or disabled San Franciscans who need our help? Meanwhile, the Ivan Sarkanys within our irrelevant bureaucracy can go find a real job instead of being parasites on San Francisco taxpayers.
Hit or Mess?
The hit piece on Eddie DeBartolo and the 49ers ("Hook, Line, and Stinker," May 1) was an embarrassment to local journalism. Giving a writer a byline does not justify presenting an editorial as a news story. Leaving aside the fact that S.F. has perhaps the best owner and fields the most interesting team in the NFL, writer George Cothran would have us believe that the only people who care are the pols and the sportswriters. Speaking as an opera- and symphonygoer, it is clear to me that the 49ers are very much a part of the fabric, even the soul, of the community. Cothran mentions these intangible benefits to the city only long enough to prove that he doesn't understand them at all, and worse, doesn't care. You'd think someone posing as a community defender would at least be modest about his ignorance of what it takes to make a community.
Cothran's prejudice against the rich has blinded him to the central fact in the whole controversy: Candlestick Park is an unsalvageable mess and the people of S.F. deserve better.
Donald M. Leighton
Cut of Choice
Thank you for printing the letters on male circumcision (May 1). Tom Morris ("Fact and Phallusy") and Tim Hammond ("Undo the Wrong Thing") deserve praise for discussing routine circumcision in a public forum. They referenced excellent issues regarding the controversy on this subject.
I would like to add that the certified childbirth educators of ASPO/Lamaze also promote the philosophy of choice in regard to circumcision. Our classes are an open forum in which expectant parents can ask questions and voice concerns regarding what is many times a routine procedure for male newborns. We discuss the history of the practice, stressing many of the same facts as Morris and Hammond, and the parenting pros and cons of having or not having the surgery done. We point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics takes no stand on the value of routine removal of penile foreskin and has recommended that the procedure be a parental decision.
Morris and Hammond wisely stated that it is no wonder American men are confused about the size, shape, and design of their penises. Many started life without a voice in this important decision. The reproductive public needs more information about this procedure in order to make informed choices for its own offspring.
M.E. Gleeson, President
San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
What Price Public?
Regarding your look into the intrusion and overreaching influence of the Library Foundation into the control and operations of our precious democratic public institutions ("Whose Library Is It?" Bay View, April 17): My reference to secret decision-making among the foundation, library administration, and Real Estate Department was relative to a request for proposals (RFP) for a cafe in the New Main Library. The public had no initial input into the criteria (and, really, none later); the RFP was only "flashed" ever so briefly, after it had already been put out. The RFP provides for the service of booze (wine and beer) in our Main Public Library, among other shortcomings. Protestations made on the after-the-fact discovery fell on deaf commissioners' ears -- but not with the Board of Supervisors' Government Efficiency and Labor Committee, which has called for the library administration to explain its alcohol-in-the-library policy.
This is not to say that the mistakenly referenced Library Foundation memorandum of understanding (MOU) -- probably the most far-reaching agreement ever contemplated for/by the library, was itself crafted in openness, for it was not. The day prior to its Library Commission committee presentation, the members were taken through an undisclosed, nonpublic, immersion session with the City Attorney's Office, some of which surely exceeded the bounds of attorney-client privilege, constituting a potential Brown Act meeting question. Are we to believe that the library administration and/or foundation played no hand in that meeting? Further, there have been seven draft versions of the MOU, the mandatory release of which (all but two versions) is being stonewalled notwithstanding the filing of an Immediate Disclosure Request pursuant to the Public Records Act and the Sunshine Ordinance.
For Library Commission President Steve Coulter (recently resigned Library Foundation board member) to say that library "users" -- patrons, not "customers," Steve -- can have longer evening hours if they want flies in the face of the public having already established that in post-Proposition E surveys. What needs looking at here is the failure of the hours-setting process and what hand, if any, the foundation (and administration) may have had in it.
For Coulter (now speaking for the foundation?) to allow that it might decline to raise money for projects it feels are politically or culturally unpopular (when its fund-raising relationship is exclusive) is clearly a wresting away of the public's control of its library. Whose politics; whose culture and, unpopular with whom? A fund-raising entity should work as an agent, not as a principal.
When the foundation and administration were asked for the projections of the foundation's anticipated earnings -- (unrestricted funds for the city librarian's spending) -- you guessed it, stonewall time. This public-benefit, nonprofit fund-raiser is also very nonpublic.
Coulter says, "Public money isn't going to be there forever." Do you for one minute accept that corollary -- that the public won't fund its free public library system? Certainly not in the face of the public's massive approval of Prop. E! That was a labor of love that all who worked on relished. Let's make a fund-raising program work, while retaining the crafting and direction for the public, not selling out our control, at any price.
In "Mercury Falling" (May 8), a reference to Bicycles for Afghan Amputees' Rehabilitation should have made clear that BAAR still provides bike-related physical therapy for amputees in Afghanistan. Also, the photo of Markus Cook that appeared on the cover of the same issue should have been credited to Jennie Hammett.