Letters to the Editor

  • Wednesday August 2, 2006
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No thanks to SF Olympics bid

How quickly people forget things that don't affect them.

Why are the festivities that recently concluded in Chicago called the Gay Games? Because those that originated the concept were sued by the U.S. Olympic Committee for using "Olympics" in their original name: the Gay Olympics.

Do we want to host a group so adverse to a very large portion of the San Francisco population? So adverse that they took them to the United States Supreme Court, claiming that Congress granted them the exclusive rights to the word Olympics? Yet, we still have the Special Olympics, among other competitions, thus showing that the U.S. Olympic Committee is very biased against gays.

As a voting citizen of San Francisco since 1975, I say no to spending even a penny more (I say more, because too much as already been spent by the mayor and/or the Board of Supervisors in even considering this venture) to bring the Olympics to San Francisco.

Rod Marchetta

San Francisco

Pelosi does not speak for me

Last week I called my representative in Congress, Nancy Pelosi, to say I was one of her constituents and that I was outraged that she was cheerleading for Israel instead of working to broker a ceasefire and negotiations to resolve an extremely complex situation in the Middle East. The man who answered the phone said he would tell the congresswoman, and I asked him if he wanted my name, as I was a constituent. He did rather cheerfully take it down, but left me with the strong impression that Nancy just doesn't care what I think about the Middle East, or Haiti, or anything else. Nancy Pelosi does not speak for me.

Has there ever been a better example of tweedle dum and tweedle dee politics than the 410-8 vote in the House of "Representatives" to unconditionally support Israel? Are we going to keep throwing our time and money down the sink of the Democratic Party in this election year? Money and time that we could spend on countless other things that are far more useful? That would move the world into a positive direction instead of perpetual war? How many can you name?

Charlie Hinton

San Francisco

Broader use for UC extension

This fall, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to rezone the 5.8-acre UC Berkeley extension campus at 55 Laguna from public use to residential to accommodate the proposed UC/AF Evans/Openhouse project. ["Support urged for senior housing," July 27]. UC and the city seem to view this project as a "fait accompli," yet there has been no public planning process to evaluate the loss of this historic campus, which has been in public use for more than 150 years.

We all recognize the need for LGBT senior housing, especially low-cost units. Openhouse plans to build over 100 affordable units in Hayes Valley. The AF Evans project would add only 16 more affordable units plus 64 units renting at market rate (about $3,500/month).

With the Market-Octavia Plan inviting 19,555 new households to the area by 2025, the need for jobs, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities, will intensify. The UC/Evans/Openhouse project would include some community facilities, including senior health services, but would destroy even more, including the recently renovated gym. Is high-cost housing really the best use of this unique campus?

New College of California and Global Exchange have submitted a financially-viable "public use/preservation/open space" plan for analysis as an alternative in the environmental impact report for the UC/Evans/Openhouse project. Founded in 1971, New College is now housed in several buildings on Valencia. They propose to use bond financing to relocate to this much-needed new campus. All of the historic structures, including the gym, would be retained and restored. Three new architecturally "green" buildings would house the Global Citizens Center, a hub for ecologically and socially responsible education and economic development. Global Exchange is eligible for nonprofit bond financing.

This alternate plan could include facilities to serve LGBT seniors and nonprofit care for people with HIV/AIDS. Affordable housing could be provided for students, faculty and staff, not only from New College but potentially from the conservatory, the Art Institute, UCSF, and other schools.

There is growing support for public use. Last week, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association voted to retain public use zoning and to support the nomination of the campus to the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed Market-Octavia Plan says, "Any subsequent change in the zoning of the UC Berkeley Laguna Campus should occur in the context of a focused community planning process that involves residents and other stakeholders." So far, Planning Director Macris has rejected calls for a citizens advisory committee. But I think it's time.

Call your supervisor. And sign the petition for a citizens advisory committee (www.petitiononline.com/UCBEsite/petition.html).

Cynthia Servetnick

San Francisco

Questions pursuit of marriage

Back when I started working on the marriage issue by co-founding the Freedom to Marry Task Force of Northern California, I was motivated by how subversive it was. I also wanted to change the conversation that went on between our queer ears about how we thought about ourselves. It has now turned into something entirely different. I became swept up in the excitement of the marriage movement, winning best float at Pride that year for my Freedom to Marry float and then getting hired by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund to serve as the public information officer on the Hawaii gay marriage trial.

I became struck by how unimportant marriage is as my lover and I, both disabled from AIDS, sat in his small apartment across from City Hall while people were participating in Gavin Newsom's marriage media stunt. Although I participated in launching the entire marriage movement, I found it odd that as poor disabled people, my partner and I cannot benefit from marriage or any of its substitutes.

Housing remains the No. 1 unmet need of people with AIDS – not marriage. As PWAs are the most disproportionately targeted group for condo evictions in S.F., many of those evictions at the hands of upwardly mobile lesbian or gay couples who have bought into the straight middle-class myth. I now wonder about our priorities as a community and how those priorities have been perverted by the pursuit of marriage and everything it means.

Rather than liberating queers, I wonder if the pursuit of marriage has instead just made us more like "them." That was never my intention.

Brian Basinger, Director

AIDS Housing Alliance San Francisco

Disappointed in Natali

I am very disappointed in Les Natali for choosing to sue our city's Human Rights Commission ["Natali sues HRC," July 6] . The Human Rights Commission is empowered by the city charter and local ordinance to protect the civil rights of San Franciscans. When members of our diverse communities face discrimination, it is crucial that the city government provide objective investigation and mediation services so that these practices can be addressed fully and prevented from recurring. Mr. Natali certainly had the right to defend himself when charged, but by filing this lawsuit he is seeking to weaken the ability of any victim of discrimination to seek and find a remedy.

My board colleagues and I voted to support HRC's process when that agency issued its finding of discrimination against SF Badlands, and I reiterate my belief that the process was fair and objective. It is a common tactic for those who oppose civil rights to undermine protections against discrimination by attempting to weaken the agencies established to enforce those protections. I support the work of the HRC and appreciate its diligence in responding to discrimination. I call on Mr. Natali to consider spending his resources on strengthening civil rights and the institutions we've established to protect them.

Tom Ammiano, Member

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

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