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Sleazy Bedfellows
The real tragedy about ValueStar ("Eat This Logo, Sucker," March 24) is not just that it is a sleazy business, but that San Francisco State University chooses to get into bed with them. No self-respecting academic institution anywhere in the country would touch this relationship with a 10-foot pole -- yet for the last five years, I have been receiving publications at my home listing "SF State university-rated" businesses, and endless faxes to my business stating that I can be rated by SFSU, too, as long as I pay to pass the "test." You don't have to be a statistician to know that ValueStar's pseudo-scientific survey methodology stinks, or that businesses can easily rig the deck in order to pass the test.

What possible benefit does the university, or the public, derive from endorsing this company? Why are a few academics at the Public Research Institute allowed to supplement their salaries -- over or under the table -- by selling the university's name? To a for-profit company which desperately needs credibility in order to hawk its so-called "customer satisfaction rating" to local businesses, so that they in turn can dupe Bay Area consumers? If San Francisco State wanted to ruin its reputation for academic integrity, they couldn't have chosen a better way to do it. But if you think that's a public relations disaster, wait until the first "SF State University-rated" carpet cleaner murders somebody, or an "SF State University-rated" financial planner rips off some little old lady for her entire life savings.

David Stevens
Via Internet

Thank you for the long overdue expose of ValueStar ("Eat This Logo, Sucker"). As a longtime business owner, I've had to suffer their heavy-handed pitches a couple of times over the past few years, and am happy to say that I saw them for the phonies that they are.

I was not surprised to learn that the head schmuck was part of the Asian yellow pages, who, in the past were equally offensive. Every time I hear a ValueStar radio spot, I think it's a crime that they don't have to admit that businesses must pay to use their logo. It's telling that they can't live up to the standards they claim to identify. Maybe they shouldn't get to display the "star" on their marquee. As for them soliciting old folks' homes, well, I guess brains and money don't always go together.

I've read your paper on and off since the beginning, but have to say that this article gave me more satisfaction than any other. Hats off to Lisa Davis and your editors for giving the article the attention it deserved.

Martin Cohen
Daly City

Library Scapegoat
John Philbrook was falsely accused of child molestation by San Francisco Public Library administrators in 1996 because he had the courage to protest the library-from-hell that was soon to be opened ("Rewriting History," Bay View, March 17). Library spokesperson Marcia Schneider says, "There were lots of librarians upset by the [library] designs and they still have their jobs." Schneider was the chief apologist for those administrators at that time, all since fired or resigned. Sadly, her tune hasn't changed. The blame game goes on. If you didn't like the designs, something was really wrong with you.

She might also tell you that if it weren't for library activists' incredible hard work to get her administrative idiot bosses out of our public library before they destroyed it entirely, Philbrook would have been just one of a card catalog full of scapegoats. The man is a hero, not a villain. He may be guilty of naivete and bad judgment, but he is no criminal. He should be reinstated with back pay and a public apology.

But that won't happen. Not under Willie Brown. I just hope when Philbrook files his civil suit against the city to reclaim his career and reputation, Schneider is subpoenaed for trial; it's about time she is put under oath. Let's see what she has to say then about her former bosses and the million library books buried under the Civic Center because the library of the future is a five-star failure. This has been a disgusting period in S.F. library history, and Philbrook has been a victim of it for far too long. Schneider's still lying for them, it seems; nobody has told her it's time to move on. It's despicable.

Walter Biller
Haight Ashbury

Ananda's Shame
I lived at Ananda Village for five years, my husband for 10. We left shortly after we became aware of Swami's sexual dishonesty and manipulation ("Sex and the Singular Swami," March 10). Swami's arrogance and ego-centeredness had been becoming increasingly more clear to us in the year preceding that news, however.

It was a very difficult and painful thing for us to face, for we were honest, dedicated people who had tried to live by their tenets of "right action." There were many wonderful things about living at Ananda -- the deep bonds with dear friends being one of the most precious to us -- but the deceit by the leadership was insupportable. Such a shame.

Mary Turner
Chevy Chase, Md.

Bubba's a Decent Swami
I am writing to point out and strongly protest the slanderous and untrue statement made against my Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj, formally known as Bubba Free John ("Sex and the Singular Swami").

To quote from the article on the Ananda Church sex scandal: "For the past 16 years, Greene has run a one-man cult-prosecuting operation from his San Anselmo office. He has butted heads with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, the Church of Scientology, and the San Rafael-based Johanine Daist Communion, led by Bubba Free John (aka Franklin Jones), who was exposed in the '80s as having sexually enslaved some of his female devotees."

Adi Da was never "exposed" as having done such a thing. He was accused of something similar, but the lawsuit based on these false allegations never made it to trial and the accuser never received a settlement.

Yet people and the media continue to casually, without inspection, and with an openly prejudiced attitude toward anything involving "gurus" and small alternative religious groups, speak and print accusations from the past that have somehow gradually evolved into "facts."

In the face of, I presume, true facts of women being exploited by the Ananda Church's so-called "spiritual leaders," I realize that it is immensely difficult for most people to keep an open mind toward anyone claiming to be a spiritual teacher, guru, and especially a God-realized being.

I can only pray that people won't give into despair and cynicism in thinking or feeling that there are no truly genuine and great men and women who are real reflections of the Divine. I pray that they will continue with open minds and hearts, but also with discrimination and intelligence, to find the truth that is always already there.

It is my understanding, not my mere belief, that Heart Master Adi Da is the truth incarnate in a bodily human form. In my over 20 years of informal and formal relationship with him, I have never seen nor heard of Heart Master Adi Da speaking or acting without 100 percent integrity in his profound and unwavering blessing work to only serve his devotees' realization of his very same state of Divine Being.

Cyril Hinds

Burn the Wapama
Simple -- make a Burning Ship Festival for Dec. 31, l999, in the bay ("Ship of Fools," March 17). Let the Wapama go out in a blaze of glory. Its time has passed.

Erik Beckjord
North Beach

Gang Troubles
I was really touched by your article "East Side Story" in the March 3 edition. I may be white and live in the north Oakland Hills, but I can still sympathize with the gangs of the San Francisco ghettos, because I have friends who live in those areas whose homes have been hit more than once by stray bullets and who are scared to walk their own neighborhood streets at night.

Keep up the good work, keep the engaging articles running.
Daniel Alper

We Meant What We Said, And We're Sticking to It, Whatever It Was
I had trouble figuring out what Matt Smith and Lelania Sperrazza were trying to say ("Laissez Ferret," Bay View, Feb. 24). That the ferret underground is a heroic band of convention-defying animal lovers, willing to stand up to bureaucracy and conformity, as I might expect from the Weekly?

That they are a nasty cabal who would bring in these "vicious predators" from other states (from which the beasts apparently cannot come on their own four feet) at our expense? Then I got it. We are to apply the "mouse test" to any animal we would have by our side. Hmm. I seem to be harboring a "mouse-killer" (I thought that would be a good thing, now that bubonic plague is back in California.) If I "took a live mouse and let it go, it would be interesting to see what [she] would do." Bye-bye, kitty.

Judith Hibbard
Via Internet

Giant Crimes
The Giants' dirty dirt story takes a complex subject and makes it wonderfully clear ("The Dirt on the Giants' Dirt," Cothran, March 10). Keep up the pressure for prosecution. Don't let the lackeys in the mainstream cover up the crimes of willfully endangering the public health with hazardous levels of lead.

Terence O'Rourke
Houston, Texas

Rick Thurber's Stooges
Reading George Cothran's recent piece on Rick Thurber and his efforts to clean up the city's telephone poles ("Speechless in San Francisco," March 3), it seems that things in this town just go from bad to worse. Having myself recently seen some of Thurber's stooges at work on telephone poles in the vicinity of the Lower Haight, and wondering what the hell they were doing, now I know: further sanitizing and cutesifying San Francisco, which means increased property values and a more yuppie-friendly environment; which in turn means higher rents; which in turn means more money for landlords such as Thurber himself. So much for free-thinking San Francisco.

Mark Eades
Via Internet

In the March 24 story "Eat This Logo, Sucker," SF Weekly misplaced the Public Research Institute within the organizational structure of San Francisco State University. The institute is under the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and is not part of the urban studies department.


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