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Week of Wednesday, March 9, 2005

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Page 3 of 4

4 Such as $15,000 for PR and lobbying, and multiple computers for the home offices of the executive director and board members. Approximate spending increases include: executive director's raise & bonus ($34K), ED's expense account ($500/month), consultant costs ($100K), legal budget ($200K).

5 From board minutes, February 2001: "Consideration of Consulting Contract for (MHDC board member) Gene Royale. Mr. Nuno called for an Executive Session because the item was a personnel issue. Mr. Romero respectfully disagreed and felt that because Mr. Royale would be a consultant to MHDC he, as the executive director, should be a part of the discussion. Mr. Romero suggested that Mr. Royale not be present for the discussion since the matter put him in a financial conflict of interest with the board and his presence might affect the tone of the conversation. He also suggested that Mr. Royale at a minimum should abstain from voting on this item. Messrs. Royale and Del Carlo told Mr. Romero that he was out of order to request that Mr. Royale not be present. Mr. Romero and staff then left the boardroom. Meeting adjourned into Executive Session at 7:15. Meeting reconvened at 8:10. Mr. Romero was informed that Mr. Royale had been hired as a half-time consultant to the Board of Directors at a salary of $33,600 per year plus expenses."

6 On two occasions, MHDC board members have inappropriately interfered with the selection of contractors for MHDC developments, as public records of correspondence with [the Redevelopment Agency] will attest.

7 The notice of default from the Redevelopment Agency, dated Feb. 15, was sent to Executive Director Jose Wheelock, Board Chair Larry del Carlo, and cc'd to all of MHDC's lenders.

Monica Garcia
Oakland

Fernando Marti
Noe Valley

Benjamin McCloskey
Mission

Eric Quezada
Mission

Gail Spann
Oakland

Staff and former staff of Mission Housing

And if you write about an alleged attack by a dog on a pig, you just might receive a letter like this.

"Stuffed like a sausage with half-truths" ... we wish we'd written that: In "San Francisco Dog Court" [Feb. 16], I was skewered by SF Weekly's reporter Luke O'Brien. (Unbeknownst to me, Mr. O'Brien was invited to Sutro Heights by Animal Control to witness the dog and pig show.) Thus, I cannot withdraw from this matter with my tail between my legs.

The article was stuffed like a sausage with half-truths and misstatements, at least one of which was libelous. If I were as litigious as the reporter suggests I am, then he and the Weekly would be the most likely defendants of any lawsuit I would consider.

So, let's look at the misstatements, accompanied by the respective true facts:

1) The whole premise of the pertinent segment of Mr. O'Brien's article is that the described meeting constituted a proceeding for purposes of Officer W. Herndon assessing my dog. In fact, the hearing had been held a month previously. In addition, I had received a favorable written decision (deeming my dog not vicious and not restricted) several weeks before the meeting at Sutro. The Sutro meeting misdescribed by Mr. O'Brien was a voluntary and informal one, arranged at Animal Care and Control Hearing Officer Herndon's suggestion.

2) Outrageously, Mr. O'Brien contended that my small children are at risk: "Herndon's concern ... naturally, focuses on what steps More (sic), who has two small children at home, will now take to make her dog safe for the community."

My children's welfare was never at issue. Nor was the community at risk, because a dog's reaction to a pig is hardly indicative of her behavior toward people or other dogs.

Moreover, the proposition that I am such an unfit parent that I would wantonly expose my children to a vicious dog is libelous. Frankly, I think my children are more at risk from budget cuts to city services than from the family pet who has NEVER been aggressive with them from the moment we adopted her (from someone else who rescued her from Taiwan) 2 1/2 years ago.

In fact it was inordinately wasteful to pay six city employees to determine the incompatibility of a dog and a pig (who was as seemingly unaffected by the initial incident as she was by the meeting the reporter witnessed). This incongruity is confirmed by a potbellied pig Web site that cautions owners never to leave a pig alone with their dogs because, "Dogs are predators by nature and pigs are prey. If something upsets the dog, and it is the pig, it is natural for the dog to attack. And normally it is the pig that starts things, but the dog will finish it." Therefore, easily accessible research informs that the complainant is the one putting her pig at risk.

3) I don't recall my dog, who weighs the same or less than the "svelte" pig, knocking me down.

4) Sutro Heights Park is not an off-leash park. In fact, it is a federal park and the leash law is enforced against dogs and pigs. By the way, pigs are not allowed in San Francisco city parks with or without leashes. See S.F. Park Code § 5.01 ("DOGS, CATS, HORSES ONLY ALLOWED"). That's presumably why this pig goes to Sutro. At the time of the incident, the pig was on a leash much longer than allowed under Federal Regulation 36 C.F.R. 2.15 (a)(2). The pig's owner should have been told that the case would not be pursued because both animals were "off leash." Instead, Animal Control urged me to have the matter heard, even though it conceded that it did not have jurisdiction because the incident occurred on federal property.

5) Mr. O'Brien makes much of the fact that my dog, when in an uncomfortable and manufactured situation, barked a lot. Did he expect her to recite "Howl"? Dogs bark. Many of them (like my dog) bark more on leash than off. Many of them bark much more than my dog. Will Animal Control's next step be to get an expert to teach dogs to talk rather than bark?

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