October 9, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
Does Critical Mass work?
I would like to comment on the recent 10-year anniversary of Critical Mass ["We Are Traffic," 9/18/02].
I used to be for Critical Mass and am now against it. I am impressed with the excitement many people show towards participation in this event. What I disagree with is the misdirected energy of so many. It's depressing to think that the masses can rally behind a false idea, yet cannot be motivated to do something about our current body politic. What makes the idea of Critical Mass a false one is the pretense that it is a way to take back the city from gas-guzzling-SUV-driving-yuppies (and, yes, my second vehicle is a 1985 BMW that we paid $4,100 for less than some of the bicycles I saw).
The recent CM route wreaked havoc with commuters getting off of work which I suppose is the intent of this event. I rode my motorcycle that day in anticipation of needing to maneuver through stagnant stands of traffic and that's exactly what I did. I commute every day from Concord to the Exploratorium. I used to live in the city, but when my boyfriend and I decided to buy a house instead of pissing away most of our income on rent, Concord was the closest place we could afford. So now I commute. I tried riding BART into work every day with a bicycle so I wasn't adding to the congestion/pollution on our freeways. That proved to be impossible. It cost more for me to commute on BART, where I wasn't allowed to take my bicycle during the times I needed due to commute hour restrictions. A bicycle was ideal because it takes two buses to get from BART to the Exploratorium. The entire trip by BART/bus takes a minimum of two hours an hour more than it takes me to drive.
Kim Selesky Concord
Prop. N's flaw
The flaw in Care Not Cash (Proposition N) is that it only targets 2,700 people. It does not do a thing to the approximately 12,300 San Francisco homeless who do not receive one penny of public aid. Thinking logically, how does targeting only 2,700 homeless people who receive General Assistance cure the homeless problem? Additionally, of those 2,700, who are and who are not drug or alcohol addicts? Even Gavin Newsom, the author of the draconian Proposition N, does not know.
The cure: Build more housing and provide more treatment programs.
Denise D'Anne San Francisco
Regarding the recent Bay Guardian story on the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) by Camille T. Taiara ("The Struggle Within," 9/11/02): Your newspaper has served up a tendentious and profoundly misleading portrait of ADC.
Not only did Ms. Taiara write an extensive piece on ADC without ever consulting the organization or checking her facts, she took it upon herself to characterize the organization's views without ever even speaking to us. She declares that, "from the perspective of the D.C. office, the ADC needs to promote a positive image of Arab Americans and avoid 'divisive' political positions." This is not at all the view of ADC, is not based on any statements by the organization, and is flatly contradicted by the fact that we have sued the government over the post-9/11 detainees and publicly demanded the resignation of Attorney General John Ashcroft. With supreme confidence I invite all Bay Guardian readers to peruse our Web site, www.adc.org, and decide for themselves.
Hussein Ibish Communications Director, ADC Washington, D.C.
Camille T. Taiara responds: I did, in fact, leave a phone message for Mr. Ibish himself but never heard back a lamentable fact, as I would have certainly liked to include his perspective in the article. Statements made in the piece were based on ADC documents and on interviews with various members (and, in the case of "terminated" former Western Region director Michel Shehadeh, ex-members) of the organization. I also mentioned in the article the ADC central office's lawsuit against the federal government for details on the post-Sept. 11 detainees as well as its discrimination suit against three airlines and its campaign to have Peter Kirsanow removed from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The ADC in general is certainly a praiseworthy organization, and I can't think of a time when its role has been more crucial than it is now. It is also true that the environment on Capitol Hill calls for a different approach than that of local communities. But it behooves the central office to include its grassroots membership more fully in its decision-making process. And it should stand behind its activists now more than ever.
For the record
In our Board of Supervisors District Six endorsement last week we misstated the position of candidate Roger Gordon on Proposition N. Gordon supports it.
When the full Board of Supervisors debated Sept. 23 whether to replace Margaret Brodkin with Terry Giovannini on the city's Children and Families Trust Fund Commission, Sup. Matt Gonzalez urged the board to send the matter back to the Rules Committee so that more effort could be made to get Asian and Latino representation. Gonzalez did not intend to imply that Giovannini could represent Latino interests as we reported in Hall Monitor Oct. 2. In fact, at the Rules Committe meeting Sept. 19, he voted against Sup. Tony Hall and Sup. Gerardo Sandoval's decision to appoint Giovannini.