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Big Bucks on the Line
I read the article entitled "Bag It, Larry" (Bay View, Dec. 24) with great interest. As evidenced by the title, your writer, David Pasztor, seems more interested in attacking me and my profession (commercial real estate) than investigating the over $50 million being flushed down the toilet by the Department of Defense and the National Park Service. His article is riddled with inaccuracies and is so obviously biased that, frankly, I'm embarrassed for him.

First off, Mr. Pasztor states that Andronico's themselves are "lukewarm" about the proposal. This is completely false. And frankly, even if Andronico's was "lukewarm," as Mr. Pasztor states, could you blame them? It has been nearly three years since we submitted the proposal and still no answer. A transaction of this sort takes a month or two in the real world.

Your subtitle, "No one seems to want a grocery store ...," is in itself a falsehood. Mr. Pasztor interviews the biggest (and only) opponents to the proposal, Michael Alexander and Amy Meyer, and suddenly no one seems to want a grocery store.

Wake up, San Francisco! These are the people running the show! These are the people who, through continued non-action and knee-jerk negative responses to anything remotely commercial in the Presidio, will drive the Presidio to the auction block.

Michael Alexander, Amy Meyer, and I agree on one thing. We all want to see fewer buildings and more open space on the Presidio. The intelligent approach to accomplishing this common goal is to lease the big revenue-earners like Letterman, the Commissary, and a few others, and tear down most everything else that lacks historical significance. In fact, my approach to managing the Presidio would result in more open space than Michael Alexander's and Amy Meyer's approach.

The idea of tearing down the few commercially leasable properties left on the Presidio is quite myopic. Reactionaries like Mr. Alexander and Ms. Meyer have no solutions of their own that I'm aware of. How much revenue have they brought to the Presidio? I've brought the Park Service an offer of $28 million to lease one building. What have they done to make the Presidio self-sufficient?

The Commissary building was constructed in 1991 with taxpayer dollars at a cost of over $15 million, but the Department of Defense vacated the Presidio just after it was completed. Who is responsible for that? Instead of spending another few million dollars to tear down this brand-new building, a tenant comes along and offers $28 million to lease it in as is condition. What a break!

Unfortunately, the newly established Presidio Trust is incapable of responding intelligently to the offer. Who is responsible for that? Unearthing answers to these questions would take a lot of effort and some investigative skills. Does anyone at SF Weekly possess these skills?

Larry Buck
Financial District

Greed Sucks
It's a shame to see a great package like Deck just pissed on by corporate marketing weasels ("Death of a Multimedia Phenomenon," Dec. 24). Why does a greedy company like Macromedia buy a Deck in the first place, then just kill it? We need more companies like OSC that have vision and care about what they produce, and where the friggin' almighty dollar is less important than the product.

Unfortunately, as long as greedmongers like Microsoft, Macromedia, and Intel exist to chew up and spit out anything that threatens their markets, the small, creative company hasn't got a chance. The computer industry and society as a whole suffers. Money is the root of all evil.

G. Porfido
Via Internet

Yellow Snow: A Cross-Cultural Perspective
I am not a writer. But reading an article named "Tibetmania!" in SF Weekly (Music, Dec. 17), I felt I had a responsibility to write a short letter. First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Jeff Stark for being concerned about the Tibet issue. However, unwillingly, I must say that the article was solid Chinese propaganda, and I found it ungrounded in reality.

When I saw the headline "Tibetmania!" I was happy! When I read the whole story, I lost my excitement, and, in fact, it gave me the thought of being back under the Chinese authority again, and naturally frightened me. When I came to America in 1996, I knew I had escaped from the demoralization of Chinese authority and their false teaching of Tibetan history. But reading the article made me feel that the Chinese propaganda has followed me even into this country!

In the article, Mr. Stark used an entry from the People's Almanac. I saw that article in the People's Almanac, too. It is a three-paragraph article in the 1975 edition. If he looked in the People's Almanac of 1978, only three years later, it has changed about the Tibetan issue. If he looked in the People's Almanac editions from the 1980s and '90s, they treat Tibetan history far differently than the one he has read.

The knowledge I learned from my elder countrypeople, the knowledge that was illegal to teach and learn, gave me enough evidence to be able to say this article of three paragraphs is wrong. "90 percent of Tibetans were serfs and another 5 percent were slaves. All the land was owned by about 3 percent of the population." This entry is inaccurate for our history.

Tibet was a country of 2.5 million square kilometers with a population of only 6 million people. Fortunately and naturally, we didn't suffer from lack of owning land. However, even if you believe the whole land was owned by 3 percent of the population, that would be better than zero percent of our population owning land, because since the Chinese invasion, the whole country has been taken away.

I am not saying Tibet was a country of paradise; of course there were problems in Tibet, too. But that doesn't make any excuses for China to invade Tibet, kill 1.2 million Tibetans, and take away all the rights we have.

The article also says, "[T]he Chinese wanted reform. The Dalai Lama promised it in 1957, but two years later, the Chinese decided the reform wasn't coming fast enough and invaded." If you read the stories of the Dalai Lamas ... you can see that the Dalai Lamas wanted to reform Tibet way before China itself was reformed. China invaded Tibet in 1950 by sending more than 80,000 troops, and the 15-year-old Dalai Lama never had a chance to reform Tibet.

On the basis of our religious teachings, there was not a brutal slavery system in Tibet as bad as in early American history. And now our government in India, under the temporary leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is preparing to form our country into a democratic nation -- when we get our country back. In fact our exiled community in India has been enjoying the rights of democracy since 1963.

We have an old saying, "When your own eyes become yellow from liver disease, you see the snow yellow," meaning that there are people who see right as wrong. I think picking up a dictionary or almanac isn't enough research for a writer to write about such a complex issue.

Tenzin P. Bhagen-tsang
San Francisco

Nefarious De Niro
I'm usually a big fan of Michael Sragow and I agree with his overall assessment of Wag the Dog as an outstanding and provocative flick ("The Albanian Candidate," Film, Dec. 31). But I fault Sragow for his failure to grasp the nefarious message of this film. With his benign characterization of the De Niro character, Connie Brean, as a colorless spin doctor, a "political functionary for an age when no one plays the posterity game," he misses a fundamental point.

While not heavy-handed, this truly is a morality tale and Sragow appears to be bamboozled by the Hollywood of it all. Brean is not to be compared, as Sragow does, with James Carville, whose kiss-and-tell book, talk shows, and television commercials make him the quintessential public personality. Brean is no spin doctor. He's a completely unaccountable, off-the-shelf operative who remains invisible because his job is to protect the political power of the man in charge at any and all costs, using whatever cash, communications, manipulations, murder, and mayhem necessary without leaving any fingerprints.

In the fascinating book American Hero by Larry Beinhart, from which the very different screenplay emerged, the race-card-playing Lee Atwater is credited with the brainstorm fake war plan as he was dying of brain cancer. But the implementation of the plan included both a superagent type like Mike Ovitz and a famous movie director with a place in Napa. There's no Connie Brean in the book, in part, I assume, because De Niro's company produced the film and they wanted a De Niro character. They produced a great one, something along the lines of a smarter Oliver North for the '90s. But he is evil and all-powerful. This is why an important character meets his untimely demise at the end of the film, a point no reviewer I've read has really dealt with thus far.

Don Hazen
Institute for Alternative Journalism
San Francisco


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