Letters to the Editor

  • Tuesday May 16, 2006
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Prop. D supporter speaks out

The remarks made by Health Commissioner Jim Illig, quoted in your May 11 article ["Prop. D's effects on patients disputed"] ("There is a certain group behind this that would like Laguna Honda to return to being a rest home for little old ladies.") is so distasteful, shocking, and spiteful, that I am horrified a San Francisco city official can be so bold (or stupid) as to utter those words.

The truth of the matter is that none of the lies the Prop. D opponents have previously stated are sticking so they have to keep coming up with new ones to frighten the public. First, they said that Alzheimer's patients would be discharged because they are "dangerous." Alzheimer's is a neurological, not a psychiatric disorder, and experts in the field have testified that they do not pose a danger to themselves or others. Now, the opponents are saying that AIDS patients will be discharged. How could anyone believe this fabrication?

LHH is, and has always been, licensed as a medical skilled nursing facility. That means, per the health code, it cannot admit people whose primary diagnosis is psychiatric. It's simply against the law. Similarly, a psychiatric facility is not allowed to admit patients with a primary medical diagnosis. So, if LHH is discriminatory, so is the psychiatric facility. Don't you see the cockeyed logic of this argument?

There is a reign of terror at LHH being perpetuated against the frail, elderly, disabled population who are there because they need skilled nursing care. The only way to ensure that all of those patients will continue to be safely cared for at LHH is to vote yes on Prop. D.


Sherrie Matza, Chair

Alzheimer's Association California Council

San Francisco

More on Laguna Honda

Laguna Honda Hospital is a skilled nursing facility licensed by the California Department of Health Services and the Federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. In order to receive funding, not be fined, and ultimately continue to operate, LHH must comply with the laws governing skilled nursing facilities.

LHH recently failed its recent recertification survey due to alleged multiple violations of these laws, specifically those designed to protect its residents from physical harm and abuse, receiving fines of $1,000 per day and losing reimbursement for all new admissions.

If LHH unlawfully discriminates, so does every mental health program that excludes people with only a medical diagnosis, every HIV program that excludes people without HIV, and every hospice program that excludes people whose prognosis for survival is more than six months.

If one were to actually accept this ridiculous argument, one would have to conclude that every skilled nursing facility in the United States unlawfully discriminates. The fact is that not only does Prop. D not discriminate, it effectively reinforces laws that SF Department of Public Health is allegedly violating. It will stop the horrendous abuse and harm being caused by the inappropriate admission of unstable, violent patients. It will stop an unacceptable situation that too many so-called patient advocates seem perfectly willing to accept and ignore.

Janice E. Cohen, M.D. Former Chair

Mental Health Section, American Public Health Association

San Francisco

Supports Prop. B

I have been a loyal reader of the Bay Area Reporter for 20 years now. Today, I am asking that you take a deeper look at your opposition to Proposition B, the Eviction Disclosure Ordinance, a measure AIDS Housing Alliance/SF endorsed and is asking people to vote for on June 6. You characterized the measure as "the latest in the constant stream of bickering between landlord and tenant advocates."

In the last five years, according to the AIDS Housing Alliance, approximately 1,000 buildings full of tenants have been emptied just by the Ellis Act. These are generally two to six unit buildings. If the average is four units per building, then 4,000 households have been evicted. According to the SF Rent Board, the average tenant household in SF is 2.2 people. This includes efficiencies, studios, etc.

Nearly one-quarter of these evictions have occurred in District 8 and are concentrated in the Castro. There is much talk about the degaying of the Castro and the global social and political ramifications from this loss. The new consensus data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health holds that there are only 58,000 gay men in San Francisco. In the Castro alone, did 5 percent of the gay community just get evicted in the past five years? Looking at the Ellis eviction map, one sees that the evictions are heavily concentrated in communities with high numbers of gay men. One wonders how many gays have been evicted, by whom, and where did they wind up. Are they now living in places where they are less safe, less socially engaged and less politically enfranchised? This can't be good for our movement toward equality if we lose our political clout because we lose our geographic concentration.

In the Castro, 55 percent of Ellis Act evictions have been in buildings with "protected" tenants. These are overwhelmingly people with AIDS. I am concerned about these trends, both as a gay man and as a person with AIDS.

As we sit on the cusp of commemorating 25 years of AIDS, San Francisco is poised to lose half of the AIDS housing we've been able to create. We are getting kicked out of our homes on the one side and losing housing subsidies on the other. Where are we supposed to go?

This isn't bickering. This is us fighting for our lives and we would appreciate your support.

Brian Basinger, Director

AIDS Housing Alliance/SF

San Francisco

Where are AC4A's goals?

I am writing in response to the two most recent letters to the editor [Mailstrom, May 11] in regards to the Patio Cafe specifically, and to what I think are much broader issues in and for the Castro.

It appears obvious to me that Mr. Frattin's interest is personal in his apparent dislike of Les Natali and his business interests. For years people have wanted something done with the Patio Cafe and a plan had been developed. How is it that one man is able to hold all this up? Shame on the city for reversing itself. Dislike is not and does not make good public policy for growing and economically vibrant neighborhoods such as the Castro. It is also true that a lack of diversity is not healthy for a neighborhood, especially one like the Castro.

And Castro for All has been a complete failure in its supposed goal(s). It has failed because it has no articulated set of goals and no action plan. Starting with the settlement between SF Badlands and And Castro for All, the details were secret. How is it that And Castro for All agreed to that? Why not let the community know what the true outcome of the settlement are?

I have not seen nor have I heard a peep from Mr. Frattin or And Castro for All since the settlement. Do I infer from this that the issues of ageism, classism, and racism have been abolished in the Castro? One of the most recent entries on the Web site for And Castro for All is January 23, 2006 announcing the settlement. There is no articulated set of goals and objectives on the website, which leads me to believe that this is more personal than justice driven.

Where is Supervisor Bevan Dufty in all this? How much of the new overall development for the Castro is minority based? Is that something being actively sought out? What are and or have been impediments to attracting minority owned and operated businesses?

Anyone who believes that the group And Castro for All has offered an advancement in social policy and justice is severely mistaken and misguided. The San Francisco Gay Men's Community Initiative has been doing a lot more to contribute to education and community building in the Castro, from its simple "Say hi to a gay guy" campaign to community forums on various issues.

We need reasoned and rational responses to the concerns and issues in the Castro. We have the talent and the history to create solutions that will further build community within communities. We need our leaders to reach out, and not always to the same people, to be involved.

Edward Byrom

San Francisco

Sexist STD ads

After all these years I'm still appalled by the "Healthy Penis" ads. It's not because I'm a prude or into censorship. I'm a fan of Good Vibrations and I believe pornography is freedom of speech. But I don't think that type of ad would ever be tolerated in the straight female community. Imagine a cartoon where all straight vaginas (to the exclusion of lesbian, bi, tranny vaginas, and all penises) are repeatedly told they must get tested for syphilis and HIV/AIDS. How hetrophobic! How sexist! You then understand why I consider Healthy Penis ads homophobic and sexist. Venereal disease is everybody's business, not just gay men's. It's time to embrace all orientations and genders (more than two). Let's come together and not divide and conquer. This is what human rights movements are all about.

Denise Jameson

San Francisco

Too much info

Yes, I suppose that jerking off while watching Pink Narcissus (too much information already) to create rhythmic sounds of the impact of semen striking paper is true artistic genius ["Musical portraits of 10 queer geniuses," May 11] ! And to think they called Einstein a genius. I bet he never thought of that.

Robert Bilelr

San Francisco

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