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Throwing the Book at Us
Contrarian librarian: San Francisco residents are proud, and rightly so, of having one of the best library systems in the country ["The Worst-Run Big City in the U.S.," Benjamin Wachs and Joe Eskenazi, Feature, 12/16]. They have voted overwhelmingly to support library hours, books, and materials through the Library Preservation Fund; and to support seismic strengthening and modernization of the branch libraries. The award-winning Branch Library Improvement Program is now more than halfway complete, delivering safe, accessible, and up-to-date facilities to each neighborhood. In June 2008, a comprehensive, updated Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the library and the Department of Public Works, ensuring effective communications and accountability. Currently, all construction projects are on time and program, and meeting budgets. Detailed schedules, budgets, and more can be found on the library's Web site.

We congratulate San Francisco voters for having the foresight to understand the importance of education, literacy, and democracy through their support of a well-managed public library. The results are clear: extended library hours, excellent collections, and increased usage.

Worst-run big city in the U.S.? You have got to be kidding!

Luis Herrera, City Librarian

San Francisco

Cult of Kindness
NatlFed not so spooky: I am responding to the article about the National Labor Federation because the NatlFed organizers won't ["Charitable Front," Matt Smith, Feature, 12/9]. They are too busy dealing with the daily survival needs of their members and building an organization to address the root causes of poverty.

Thirty years ago, I was a full-time volunteer with the National Labor Federation. I learned three things:

1. I learned community organizing, talking to strangers about issues that affect our lives, which is the most basic practice of democracy. When I canvassed for Barack Obama and make phone calls for health care reform, I am grateful for that training.

2. I learned that poverty inflicts violence on the lives of the poor every day. I remember the young woman who cried for three days when her husband was arrested for stealing food from the grocery store. They had no job or money or place to live. I remember the family from Oklahoma who lived in their station wagon. They came to us when they ran out of diapers for the baby. As a NatlFed volunteer, I phoned around until I found a hotel owner who would put them up for free for a few days. And, yes, I also talked to them about volunteering to build an organization strong enough to ensure that nobody's family has to live in a station wagon.

3. I learned to think about problems of society in a new way. When I see a problem such as war, hunger, unemployment, or pollution, I have learned to ask, "Who benefits from the existence of this problem?"

Being part of the National Labor Federation enriched my understanding of the world. Since I stopped volunteering with the organization 25 years ago, it has not harassed me or done anything to earn the title of "cult."

I have enormous respect for these dedicated volunteers. SF Weekly would enlighten us more by examining the secrets of Blue Cross or Chevron Oil. Or the FBI, which the author treats as a reliable source of information — now that's a secretive and bizarre organization.

Heather MacLeod


Barking up the Wrong Tree
Leave the sea lions alone: I'm not sure why the author chooses to refer to "several aggressive sea lions" allegedly "charging" at the fisherman's boat ["Barking Match," Ashley Harrell, Sucka Free City, 12/16]. As a fisherman who is out all the time, I can promise you that the sea lions are just swimming around, trying to eat. They are not "aggressive," nor are they "charging." Sea lions follow fishing vessels in the hope of catching an easy fish. Sea lions eat fish. If the fishing quotas weren't set so high, and if nets weren't killing so many fish, there would be plenty. There have always been sea lions, and there have always been plenty of fish.

I also wonder about the hysteria over sea lions supposedly "invading" what people have come to think of as "our territory." What B.S. We took over the sea lions' territory, and then we killed off so many sea lions that we forgot what they looked like in the wild. And now we're shocked to see them returning. It's our problem — don't make it theirs. Get over it.

Why does this same author keep writing such negative and hysterical things about sea lions?


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