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Letters to the Editor 

Week of 6-13-2007

High Crimes

She doesn't have balls!: I have often been critical of the assholes who write for the "Geekly." Finally, you've found a journalist with some real balls who writes readable, straight copy. Unfortunately, her name is Eliza Strickland. She has her finger on the pulse of the medical marijuana community ["Stop Snitching," June 6].

Russell Kyle

San Francisco

Kitchen Confidential

She has balls!: Thank God someone finally had the balls to write about the CCA ["Burnt Chefs," June 6]. I nearly fell off the curb when I saw Eliza Strickland's article on the cover of the newspaper. I graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1992 when it was still considered a respectable, although suspect, rival of the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I was in the first class that actually received an accredited AOS degree, so that gave us extra credibility. Not that it mattered. I went on to work in the kitchens of Venticello, Bistro Don Giovanni, and Il Fornaio. I lasted in the food industry for five years before I left, in debt, and ultimately ended up filing bankruptcy a few years later. The most I ever made in one year was $20,000, and that was because I was the assistant manager of a cafe. Cooking was a nightmare. I was a Caucasian woman in male-dominated kitchens. The sexual harassment was relentless. The verbal abuse was even worse. No one at the CCA ever told us what it would be like once we graduated. And we didn't ask, either; our bad. The good news: It wasn't all bad. I love food and I love to cook, and my culinary education gave me an enormous amount of confidence, not to mention killer knife skills that I will have for the rest of my life. My friends think it's cool that I know so much about the restaurant industry. My chef instructors were talented teachers. I am sure that some graduates go on to have successful, satisfying culinary careers. Not one person in my graduating class works in the industry today. I want to thank you again for taking the time to write this expose. It was long overdue.

[Name withheld]

San Francisco

Blame "them": Graduates of the California Culinary Academy cannot find jobs, or they only get paid $10 an hour. We are lead to blame the school administration, and the state. Apparently, one employer sneers at mention of the CCA. But is there a preferred training ground? Walk down any street in the city: There's no lack of food service jobs. Who is elbowing out trained professionals by accepting low wages? Whose skills are acquired "on the job"? Who makes no claim to workman's comp, unemployment benefits, Social Security, or union protections? So much for the argument that "they" only take jobs that Americans don't want.

James Young


Laughing matter: I wanted to applaud Eliza Strickland on a great article. I graduated from the CCA in 1996 and since then have seen the decline of what was once a great school. While I attended there I felt I received a great education that I had to work for, although like any school students could skate through, I felt upon graduation I was ready for the work force and since then have worked in some of the finest restaurants in the city. Now, I see graduates who have difficulty grasping certain basic tasks and have seen that rise in recent years. So much so, I even hesitate to say I graduated there even though it was 11 years ago. It's a shame that a good school is now a complete joke in the industry (one that is lost on the current students of the school).

Thank you for shedding some light on the goings on at the CCA.


San Francisco

Our Loose Left

Same old bedfellows: I couldn't agree more that our press-release mayor lacks the focus and executive acumen to solve San Francisco's problems and that the city's progressives can do little to stop him in the next election ["Lacking (Progressive) Definition," May 30].

However, Matt Smith describes the progressives as "a loose and meandering political faction, allied around financial interests, old personality disputes, long-forgotten turf battles, all joined by rhyming rallying cries." What I don't understand is how that fact separates the progressives from any other political group or party. After all, Republicans manage to keep Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Ashcroft in the same party. It wasn't that long ago that the Democratic tent was large enough for both Zell Miller and Ronald Dellums. Even locally, anti-choice good-ole-boy Tony Hall and greasy-haired Green Matt Gonzales seemed to agree more often than not about city policy.

As the old saying goes, "politics makes for strange bedfellows." So often, politicians define themselves by common enemies rather than common goals. If the progressives are indeed no different, we shouldn't be surprised.

Penelope de Vaaris

San Francisco

Pragmatism + progressivism = Daly?: We wanted to compliment Matt Smith for his piece regarding the nature of progressivism. As much as anyone in the city, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) is keenly aware of S.F.'s crazy, bitter housing politics. We've found, however, that the best-suited path to our goal is pragmatism, not ideology. This year, SFHAC is recognizing two Housing Heroes at our July 18th luncheon for their exceptional contributions: Marcia Rosen, the remarkable leader of S.F.'s Redevelopment Agency and, yes, Supervisor Chris Daly. Both approach the city's housing supply crisis from different perspectives, but both are delivering substantial amounts of housing of all types. While Chris Daly is well known for his political style, it's less commonly appreciated that, more than any other supervisor, he has delivered significant amounts of housing for his district, including market-rate. Pragmatically, we want to acknowledge this — it suggests that folks at different ends of the political spectrum can work for a common good. Is that progressive?

Tim Colen

Executive Director, San Francisco Housing Action Coalition


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