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In Defense of Bernie

Ward innocent until proven pervy: I read Brad Kava's interesting piece about KGO's open slot ["The Race to Replace Bernie Ward on KGO," Sucka Free City, 4/16], but one thing disturbed me. How is it that Bernie is "disgraced"? I'm far from a legal expert, but I thought this country upholds a "presumption of innocence," and Bernie Ward has only been indicted, not yet convicted, and not even tried. I honestly don't understand how KGO could legally terminate his employment, merely for an indictment.

Suzanne Selover

Macdoel, CA

Managing editor Will Harper's response: According to my dictionary, the word "disgrace" means "shame" or "dishonor." The term, I think, accurately describes Ward under the circumstances. Also, Brad Kava's item makes it clear in the second paragraph that Ward hasn't been convicted.

That's So Raven
Roots, the miniseries: I enjoyed reading your article on the Raven's manzanita ["An Inconvenient Plant," Feature, 4/16], particularly since I worked at the Presidio as the Army's natural resource manager from 1983 to 1989. The article implies the cuttings were taken circa 1958. In reality, staff from the now-defunct Saratoga Horticulture nursery obtained necessary authorizations and took cuttings from the mother plant in the mid-1980s. Over the next several months, this nursery attempted to root the cuttings with some limited success. During the following fall, I personally planted the rooted cuttings in the immediate vicinity of the mother plant and periodically watered and maintained them over the next two to three years.

I also planted several rooted cuttings on the serpentine bluffs overlooking the historic Crissy Field hanger buildings; these plants did not survive, since it was virtually impossible to provide them adequate water during the initial plant establishment period. I also planted several cuttings below the observation area at Inspiration Point; these plants survived for several years until unauthorized mountain bike use caused their demise. Finally, staff from GGNRA planted several rooted cuttings west of the mother plant along the coastal bluffs; to my knowledge, none of these plants survived due to a variety of probable causes.

Peter Straub

San Francisco

Man, we need the manzanita: The eponymous "Inconvenient Plant" Joe Eskenazi wrote about is Raven's manzanita, the last of its kind in the world and one that any thinking person ought to cherish. The article's subtitle claims that "plans are under way to save it — and ax thousands of trees in the process." Around 1990, four Monterey pine trees were cut by a US Army crew because they were about to shade out this last individual. I supervised the cutting. Since then no trees have been cut for the purpose of preserving this plant, nor are there plans to cut any.

The article deliberately mixes two unrelated issues: a) the preservation of the manzanita and b) the reforestation of Major Jones's 1883 tree plantation, which is considered a cultural artifact that deserves preservation. The thousands of trees proposed for cutting are mostly for the purpose of renewing and perpetuating the Major Jones cultural plantation, contrary to your article.

The writer, who has a sharp and disciplined mind, knew that, yet chose to jazz up the story for reader's titillation by conflating these two separate issues. He even invokes the plant's namesake, Peter Raven, as concurring with off-leash advocates (who weren't identified as such) that people should be able to go anywhere they please, as this is the way to experience nature. Who would disagree with this in an ideal world? In today's world with its shortage of natural resources and its longage of people, that isn't possible. Our society agrees that fragile and scarce resources must be protected, and my friend Peter Raven strongly supports the preservation and restoration efforts of the National Park Service, Presidio Trust, and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, including restricting access to sensitive areas. The article puts words into Peter's mouth. Shame on you.

One redeeming item is checkmating Isabel Wade's mindless repetition of that old discredited saw about trees countering climate warming. But Eskenazi's refusal to identify the "restoration critics" as militant off-leash advocates (he knew their identity) further weakens and discredits his article.

Jake Sigg

California Native Plant Society

San Francisco


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