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Letters to the Editor 

Letters from January 10, 2001

No Sympathy for the Devil Dolls

You better hope they don't recognize you: My helmet's off to SF Weekly for introducing us to the Devil Dolls ("Biker Babes," Dec. 27). Without their fine example, fewer tacky chicks might take up riding. But apparently they do so much more than just ride. They curse, they swagger, they manage to intimidate a "waifish" masochist. Their bikes sound like the old, sickly Elvis, farting through a megaphone. Gosh, aren't we all impressed?

Can the "Devil Dolls" really be what "rebellion" has been reduced to? Ooh, they're such nonconformists in their official biker grrl uniforms and white-trash, two-wheeled tractors. In a day when riders such as these are considered "outlaws," a good case could be made for riding a Guatemalan moped while wearing a wet suit. At least it might require a little creativity, not to mention the cojones the Devil Dolls so desperately seem to want.

Due to their new exposure on your cover (pun intended), they've no doubt become the dream dates for today's typical Harley buyers: middle-aged yuppies with flagging libidos.

If we should pass on the road, perhaps they'll recognize me. I'll be the guy on the old Italian bike, laughing his ass off at them.

Name Withheld
Lower Nob Hill

Wasted Energy

On-time buses or healthy kids? Hmmm ...: I thought that responsible journalism entailed getting both sides of the story before going to print. Either Matt Smith neglected to do so at the Muni Board meeting he wrote about ("Regulating Change," Dec. 27, which discussed Muni's decision to buy new diesel, rather than natural gas, buses), or else his dad is in the diesel business.

Is "improved" service only related to on-time buses? How is service "improved" if we are still running buses on diesel fuel, which the California Air Resources Board has defined as both a toxic contaminant and a carcinogen? There is no such thing as "clean" diesel. That is a marketing ploy that most journalists should be able to see through. How many more children have to be diagnosed with asthma before we realize that we need to move toward the cleanest fuel technology available, compressed natural gas?

Muni says that building the infrastructure for CNG buses will take five years. Predictably enough, they had no reply when queried why it only took Washington, D.C., one year to build the same infrastructure. Other California cities that have moved to CNG buses include L.A., San Diego, and Sacramento.

Kids suffer the most from the health impacts of air pollution. Let's wake up and direct more concern toward the health of the public, especially children, in the Bay Area. Let's do it before it's too late.

Kevin McGahan

Your letter's hard to read by candlelight: Matt Smith proposed in his column that more free-market competition in the electric system is the solution to the present electricity cost crisis. Let's look at what deregulation has done in the electricity generation market in this state. Prior to the restructuring that began in 1996, the regulated utilities had their generation and other rates set by the California Public Utilities Commission based on their costs and a set rate of return on investment, about 10 percent. As part of deregulation, the regulated utilities sold their power plants to generation companies. Competition between these companies was supposed to result in cheaper generation of electricity, according to Economics 101, "supply and demand" economic theory. The reality is that for the average residential household, with a usage of 550 kilowatt hours a month, the generation costs are now higher by $528 per year.

Of course most of the higher business costs will be passed on to the rest of us. But the big industrial users won't be competing with the rest of us in the electric "free market." They have the economic power to make special long-term, low-cost deals with generators. Oh, and many of these generation companies are owned by the same corporations as the large industrial users. Of course, this was the whole idea behind deregulation in the first place, when big industries started heavily promoting it 10 years ago, with phony promises of cheaper electricity for everybody.

Don Smith


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