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Wings 'N' Things
I'm no lepidopterist, but the photo spanning the opening pages of "The Mission Blue Mission" (Aug. 9) seems to depict a butterfly that has just had its wing torn from its body. Although I'm also no expert on the Endangered Species Act, it seems to me that, if the insect in the photo is indeed a Mission Blue butterfly, then that photo's "hand model," if not also the photographer, is by virtue of this cruelty guilty of violating the ESA and thus subject to some of the same fines that the article chronicled.

I also have an ornithological bone to pick: The author refers to having seen an "Alaskan kite" south of Santa Cruz just off Highway 1. You should augment your fact-checking staff, 'cause there ain't no such bird.

Jeremy Johnstone

The Editor replies: The creation of the Mission Blue butterfly image was cruelty-free: A color photo of the insect was scanned by a Microtek Color Scanner at 150 dpi and imported into Photoshop, as were the hands and the sky in the background. The butterfly's wing was detached by subsequent Photoshop manipulation. The term "Alaskan" kite is a Monterey County colloquialism for the white-tailed kite, formerly known as the black-shouldered kite.

Desk Duty
I read with bemusement Bruce B. Brugmann's letter (Aug. 16) complaining about George Cothran's "Grudge Match" (Bay View, Aug. 9). There, in black and newsprint, the master of loaded questions, preconceptions, and distortion was complaining about Cothran's "one-sided questions" and "preset position."

Regarding the article itself, and at the risk of being allied with Brugmann, I am obliged to correct Cothran's factual errors. At the time of the alleged banning, Balderston was not a "regular on City Desk." He had appeared only a couple of times and had been told he would be asked to appear, in the future, only periodically. Most importantly, Balderston was never "blackballed" from the series by Viacom. Rather, he was replaced for one specific program only, at the rightful discretion of the producers, in order to get that week's edition televised. Had Brugmann not gone ballistic with his outrageous conspiratorial phobias and forbidden Balderston from ever appearing again, the conflict would have been resolved and Balderston would have returned to the desk subsequently.

Barrett Giorgis
Program Director, Viacom
San Francisco

Waste Not, Write Not
"Money for Nothing" (Aug. 16) demonstrates SF Weekly's new editorial style harking back in more than numbing length to Charles Dickens. We could certainly use some information on the recycling business, but we don't need "Oliver Twist Mediterranean Avenue." With respect to specifics:

Author Lisa Margonelli says the recycling program is "funded by the monthly garbage bills paid by property owners." San Francisco garbage pickup is contracted by individual account holders with the company; it is not billed like a property tax by the city as it is some places. I have rented for 10 years and have paid the garbage bill -- the property owner does not -- quarterly, not monthly.

Margonelli cites the price of aluminum cans at "as much as 50 cents per pound" on Page 11. By Page 14, the price had become 68.25 and 85 cents. Not noted, for example, is that with a coupon in the Sunday Examiner/Chronicle, the Reynolds can price is $1 per pound. How many other prices are there?

Margonelli does not discuss the unique aspects of the California "redemption value" program, the implications for recycling it promotes, nor the various private, nonprofit, neighborhood, and charitable organizations involved in recycling. She lives in a dualistic universe of Evil Capitalist Exploiters and Noble, Marginalized Poor.

Margonelli says a city survey "failed to find a single individual who had quit recycling because of scavengers." Given the limitations of survey research, let me offer the reasons why I quit recycling (under the street pickup plan) because of scavengers: Within minutes of the time my recycling box was set out, it was looted by raiders. The last time I used the box, the pickup was done by a well-dressed Chinese woman in an expensive car. Sunset Scavengers suggests getting up at 6 a.m. to put out the recyclables, but last week while I was waiting for the regular garbage pickup at 7:45 a.m., it was immediately preceded by a recycling thief. The scavengers ("thieves") not only dumped my blue box upside down to make sorting easier, they tossed the newspapers prepared separately for recycling into the street, and they dumped the regular garbage can over as well.

Margonelli does not dispute the general liberal media dogma that "scavengers" are socially beneficial gleaners of urban offal. This is hardly the real world. The morning of garbage pickup day, the blocks around my home look like landfill dumping sites as the "scavengers" have spent the night spreading loose garbage of all kinds up and down the streets -- causing a health and safety menace the city has to clean up, at additional cost to taxpayers. How much of that cost would be saved by stopping the illegal scavenging?

Jerry Jansen
San Francisco

Lisa Margonelli replies: I cannot tell you how flattered I am to be compared to Charles Dickens.

Jansen's first point has the most merit -- garbage bills are sent out quarterly, not monthly. But they are calculated on a monthly basis by the Rate Board. The bills are generally paid by property owners rather than renters.

As for aluminum prices: The first referred to national prices for scrap aluminum; the second two are local prices that include the California redemption value. The difference between the second two and the one offered by Reynolds does nothing more than point up that buying recyclables has become a competitive industry.

In the "real world" around my house it is simply not cost-effective to shut down the scavengers. Not only are they able to pick up materials more cheaply than Norcal, they are so driven by economic need that it would be difficult and expensive for the city to clamp down on them to the point of driving them out of business, especially when buyback centers are eager to purchase their goods. Call it leftist agitprop if you want; I call it fostering capitalism.

On Guard
In "On the Fringes" (Bay View, Aug. 23), my comments were completely misrepresented by your journalist. The Bay Guardian was not "heavy-handed" with the Scottish Cultural & Arts Foundation (SCAF), nor did it refuse to run any of SCAF's ads. In fact the Bay Guardian was helpful and gave us "good advice" -- the words I said to your reporter, which were not included in the story.

No quote attributable to me in the piece mentioned the Bay Guardian, yet the tone of the article was decidedly anti-Guardian. I sense that the angle on the story was manufactured for some ulterior motive, of which frankly I have no interest. The journalist's opening comment that the editors at the Weekly are "interested in anything anti-Guardian" alerted me and I took pains to stress there was no flap with your rival. What is sad is that a small nonprofit organization, trying hard to get established, has to be used as a tool in someone's petty agenda.

Alan Black
President, SCAF
San Francisco

Paul Critz replies: The reason I spoke with Black in the first place was because his colleague Frank McGuire had told me that pressure from the Bay Guardian forced SCAF to rename the festival. Black agreed to the interview in this light and answered my questions freely. At no time did Black refute the assertion that the Bay Guardian had refused to run SCAF's ads, nor did he take anything even remotely resembling "pains" to hide his resentment. Black's most conciliatory comments, which I included, were reserved for the Exit Theater.

The number for ordering the Nixon Envelope (Dog Bites, Aug. 23) is (408) 426-0113.


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