Letters to the Editor

  • Tuesday July 18, 2006
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Funding cuts led to layoffs

Regarding the article "Staff layoffs scheduled for Ward 86" in the July 13 Bay Area Reporter, I fear that some people may draw the wrong conclusions from the statements of Allen White, identified as a "[l]ocal gay activist." I speak not on behalf of the Positive Health Program or San Francisco General Hospital but as an individual who has almost 10 years of experience working in the Positive Health Program, Ward 86.

First, it is not the choice of "the city�s historic institution" to have these layoffs. As the medical director of the Positive Health Program at SFGH is quoted in the article regarding the costs of running the clinic, "We get funding from a number of difference sources and the mix is just really not keeping up." Mr. White is accurate when he notes that the clinic is busy; it has been so for the 10 years of my service there, and with 2,500-3,000 patients it could hardly be otherwise. It should also be noted that the facilities at Ward 86 have long housed clinics for other than HIV patients.

Second, Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the Department of Public Health, has had a primary care clinic at Ward 86 for many years, well before the current funding shortfalls; his presence was not and is not because he is trying to make up for any layoffs. I agree with Mr. White that "firing doctors" is "totally unacceptable," but I hope he can understand that this action was not desired by anyone. Also, whether these changes cause any deficiencies in the care of any patients remains to be seen. I hope and assume that Mr. White's activism includes attempts to influence the Bush administration and the Republican-dominated Senate and House as well as the Schwarzenegger and Newsom administrations to restore the funding cuts that contributed to the changes described.

And third, one should be looking at the decrease in Medi-Cal reimbursements rather than Medicare reimbursements as a major contributor to the fact that funding "is just really not keeping up."

Bob Lehr, SFGH, Ward 86 Social Services

San Francisco

Tax cuts hurt clinics

Recent staff cutbacks at San Francisco General Hospital's Positive Health Program are substantially a consequence of federal reductions in Medicare funding by the Bush administration and by the Republican Congress. This program has been recognized worldwide as a model for HIV/AIDS service providers.

Perhaps people who had been keeping themselves alive with the program's services can take comfort in the knowledge that the funds have been redirected to tax cuts for Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The funds will no doubt be spent more wisely at Neiman-Marcus and at Ghostbar.

Lee Bolin

Banff, Alberta


Natali should drop lawsuit

We write to express our deep concern and disappointment over Les Natali's decision to sue the Human Rights Commission ["Natali sues HRC," July 6]. As you recall, HRC found that Mr. Natali had engaged in racial and gender discrimination at the Badlands bar, which Mr. Natali owns. During this period, many in the community fought amongst ourselves about what some thought was a divisive issue. For a significant period of time, And Castro for All, a group formed in response to Mr. Natali's actions, undertook a successful boycott and picket of Badlands. Alice B. Toklas was a partner in that effort.

In the end, at the suggestion of Mayor Gavin Newsom, former Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. facilitated negotiations predicated upon HRC's finding. Those negotiations led to a sealed agreement and an apparent end to the dispute.

We at Alice B. Toklas do not understand why, after engaging in mediation and agreeing to a resolution, Mr. Natali is suing to overturn the original finding of discrimination. This action does not appear to reflect good faith engagement in the process. City Attorney Dennis Herrera will have to spend our tax dollars to fight this meritless claim. We also are concerned that this action will re-open old wounds and that the community will be at odds over Mr. Natali's decision to sue.

From the beginning, Alice B. Toklas has stood with And Castro for All to combat discrimination in our community and at Badlands. We will continue to do so, and will support work of the HRC as well. To that end, we encourage Mr. Natali to drop his lawsuit so that we can work together to address broader issues of discrimination in the Castro, and in the LGBT community.

Rebecca Prozan and Scott Wiener, Co-Chairs

Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

Natali's action a mystery

It looks like Les Natali is at it again. This time, he's suing the Human Rights Commission because it had the courage to issue a finding last year that he discriminated against African Americans at Badlands. He's just adding insult to injury – this is a lawsuit against the city for doing its job. He claims that its power to investigate doesn't include the power to put the findings of its investigation in written form. It defies common sense, let alone common decency.

If his lawsuit succeeds, then this will be a disaster for all disenfranchised people in San Francisco who rely on the HRC to protect and promote their rights. The city has a strong interest in standing by the commission's authority. In fact, the Board of Supervisors already passed a resolution in June 2005 "commending the San Francisco Human Rights Commission for its findings of discrimination at Badlands." We strongly urge the city to defend the finding and HRC and fight this lawsuit.

It's a mystery why Natali would want to reopen this issue after signing a mediation agreement in January. If he's got so much free time on his hands, maybe he should use it to reopen one of his shuttered businesses, like the Pendulum. When he closed the Pendulum last year, he promised it would reopen in a couple of months. It's now been a full year since the city's only black gay bar has sat empty.

Greg Shaw, President

Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club

Enough with Badlands, already

Let me see if I understand what is affecting the gay community at large. Thirteen states passed antigay marriage laws with some states abolishing same-sex unions and Les Natali has filed a lawsuit about the city's Human Rights Commission's findings regarding Badlands while a few queens who cannot seem to let things go are challenging Natali's right to file a lawsuit about whether things he said about someone's clothing are racist or classist? Haven't the gay marriage gains we made and lost been through lawsuits? It's too bad we have to spend so much time pissing on each other when much of the USA population is also pissing on us. Are we all victims? We're lucky to live in a city where gays do not have to hide who we are; and, we are sheltered enough that we forget that as we push for gay marriage, the gay population between the coasts suffers by being harassed and/or assaulted.

I do not want to seem insensitive but not all negative things that happen to people of color are racist. I don't recall being in Badlands in the last several years where there was not a diverse crowd. There is and have been people of all colors in Badlands. It seems apparent that people who talk of others being mean-spirited by attacking the accused are a bit hypocritical.

The facts of life in gay bars are that wealthier, younger, better-looking people are treated better than poor, older, less attractive individuals. Moreover, if you have money you can be forgiven by spending money on others. The sin of all sins in a bar is to be poor, unattractive (including stylish) and older. It is a superficial aspect of life.

Enough already!

Steven D. Arias

San Francisco

Stop playing into GOP's hands

When will this movement stop playing into the hands of Republicans by making a big issue of gay marriage, always just around election time? How about just sitting back, wait to get our people in office, and then push for same-sex marriage.

Michael Muchmore

San Francisco

No more kids

As I look at the hysterical mess the world has become, a thought I've considered before has popped up again.

If we could just have a moratorium on having children, our problems will become less lethal.

Heterosexuals are just brainwashed into thinking that having children is mandatory. They have the right. Since heterosexuals seem inclined to continue having their precious bundles of joy and since the great majority of heteros are unconscious beings they will continue to overpopulate the world with children who are unwanted, unloved, and abused.

It always amuses and disgusts me when family values types defend their stand against gay marriage stating adamantly that the institution of marriage will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry. Please!

Have they looked around at the families they have created? Not a pretty picture. And besides, who created the homosexuals they despise so intently. Well, just guess who?

Now, to my homosexual brothers and sisters: If you would stop producing your own children that would help, too. If you want children, adopt.

So, as of August 1, 2006, I declare a moratorium on having babies � at least for a while. And that means you too, gay boys and girls.

Jim Mariner

San Francisco

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