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Nebraska's Learning Japanese
I'd like to correct a misconception expressed in Matt Smith's eulogy to Dudley Perkins in your April 30 issue ("Life Cycle," Bay View). It is debatable whether the police Kawasakis ridden by S.F.'s motorcycle patrol officers are "tinny-sounding" or just quieter, and what is "ugly" to some may be seen as less gaudy. But they are definitely not "import bikes."

They are built in Lincoln, Neb., by American workers, as they have been for the past 20 years. In fact, the KZ1000 Police Model was even designed by an American, Dan Gurney, under contract to Kawasaki.

It is commendable for San Francisco to buy American, and Harley-Davidson Inc. has very effectively cloaked its product promotions in red, white, and blue. But considering the substantial investment Kawasaki has made in providing manufacturing jobs for American workers, it is not inconsistent for the city to purchase its American-made product.

Paul Chadwick
Telegraph Hill

Prison Porn Rush
Did Rush Limbaugh subsidize Matt Smith's article bemoaning the prison pornography ban ("Fewer Pen Pals," Bay View, April 23)? If you thought the infamous Willie Horton ad was bad, wait until conservative groups start making "ACLU demands taxpayers subsidize porno for convicted rapists and child molesters" ads!

Currently, prisoners die for lack of adequate medical treatment and are barred from speaking with reporters. Smith's article reminds me of a steward polishing the Titanic's brass railing while the ship was sinking -- evidence of complete detachment from reality.

John Huffer

All Aboard
The Grid was filled with a "letter" to Sen. Richard Shelby to stop federal funding for a BART-to-SFO extension ("The Great Train Boondoggle," April 16).

Maybe it is a bad project; why is unclear from your writers' meandering prose. The article attacks state Sen. Quentin Kopp, local politicians, and local voters, who approved this plan. None of the quid pro quos you mention are surprising. Local politicians' deceptiveness is not the federal government's problem.

A large part of the opposition seems based on the Examiner's support for this plan. That doesn't make it a bad plan and nowhere do George Cothran and Chuck Finnie suggest some nefarious reason, such as financial gain, for Hearst's support. Instead, they play a ridiculous movie reference game with Jerry Maguire and Citizen Kane. Hey, guys, they are movie characters. If you like silly references, this summer's blockbuster movies combined, like Speed Two, Air Force One, and Titanic, will cost over $750 million to produce. And no one is getting near an airport on them, unless they become in-flight features.

Nor is it clear from the article why BART in Millbrae is so terrible. If BART went to the airport, we might actually get some use out of it.

You say San Franciscans will pay with their federal tax dollars and via the BART fare box, where rates are already on the rise. The obvious question: If your plan is substituted, can you guarantee federal taxes will drop and BART fares won't keep rising?

If this article is the best opposition you can muster, I'll look forward to your riding with me to the airport on BART.

G.T. Slade
Financial District

The Chron's Collapse
Readers of any one of the five revamped, pumped-up Knight-Ridder Contra Costa newspapers probably weren't as surprised as some San Franciscans may have been to learn that the San Francisco Chronicle is stumbling badly under K-R's onslaught ("Knight-Ridder Adds to Its East Bay Necklace," Unspun, April 23).

What is so sad about all this is not that the K-R papers do a great job (but they all are edited in a solid, craftsmanlike manner), rather that the Chronicle appears to be -- like the Zulu bird of mythology -- continuing to fold in on itself until, one day, it will simply disappear.

The Contra Costa papers remember that we have a seat of government in Sacramento, and cover it regularly. Having closed an active bureau there years ago, the Chronicle now provides the merest insight into developments in the Capitol.

Thirty years ago, the Chronicle was news-laden and so well-written that it was a "must read" for thousands of subscribers since lost.

Many subscribers -- me among them -- stuck with the Chronicle as long as its bulwark, Herb Caen, was around to prop it up. Now Herb's gone, and there's nothing else to differentiate his old paper from any other around the bay.

Dick Williams

Kiefer Madness
The article "Unwelcome to Mr. Roberts' Neighborhood" (April 9) boiled my blood. I cannot believe that people with prestige and friends "high up" think they (Linda Kiefer, wife of Jerry Roberts, Chronicle managing editor) can tell a family making an honest living (Mr. and Mrs. Chan) what they should be doing to their property!

From the start of this fiasco, the Chans became the underdog and enemy of the neighborhood thanks to Kiefer. I just have one thing to say to Kiefer: Mind your own business, troublemaker!

Thumbs up for husband Jerry Roberts for not getting involved and Chuck Finnie for a great article. If it wasn't for the article, the Chans' story would probably be an untold story of a family that was bullied by someone with money and prestige.

Linda Kiefer has to learn not to take advantage of the little guys.
Gary Hongista
Santa Cruz

Wrong Prisoner Rights
I was dismayed to have read Matt Smith's article ("Fewer Pen Pals," Bay View, April 23) disparaging Alison Hardy and the Prison Law Office. I first became acquainted with Hardy in the summer of 1989 when she was my supervisor in the UC Davis branch of the Prison Law Office.

At the Prison Law Office I helped Hardy obtain the release of a dying man so he could spend his final days with his wife. I also helped Hardy to successfully lobby the Legislature to change the laws so that terminally ill inmates could receive medication such as AZT and other "experimental" drugs, previously prohibited from being prescribed to California state inmates.

To denigrate the work of Hardy because she has chosen to expend the limited resources of the Prison Law Office to expose the brutalities of prison life and change the system, rather than to ensure each inmate has the latest issue of Hustler, is an affront to her work and to the work of the other attorneys at the Prison Law Office.

Youseef Elias


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