Farmworker Conditions; Randy Weston; More on Meg Whitman & Nurses; Berkeley Bowl Union; Andy Stern & Bio-Warfare; More on the Fire Department; TIC Owners …

by on June 28, 2010

To the Editor:

In the early 1980’s, I worked in one of the fruit farms in San Joaquin Valley ; paid $4/per hour; no benefits; no health insurance; no health and safety protections while exposed to the aerial spray and exposed to poor working conditions. The reasons these workers are abused and exploited by big companies or farm contractors is because they are unorganized, mostly people of color, immigrants (undocumented or not), and lack worker’s education about their rights in this country. In addition, the politicians who are supposed to formulate laws to protect workers are blind and paralyzed due to strong lobby actions by corporations.

Andres Bonifacio
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Thank you for this excellent article that spreads the word about Randy Weston, a wonderful jazz ambassador still performing with vitality at 83 years. Jazz is alive and well in the Fillmore, with the Jazz Heritage Center playing its part.

Linda Parker
San Francisco

To the Editor:

In this article, the California Nurses Association comes across as the worst kind of political interest group — it’s their way or the highway, and pity the political candidate who doesn’t please them. Maybe California voters will see through some of the not-so-true ads that various interest groups like the CNA will place this year.

Dana B
San Francisco

To the Editor:

This is why I never shop at Berkeley Bowl. One can tell immediately that it’s not a happy place. The workers all seem to have an attitude, and I prefer to shop somewhere where people seem actually happy to work there. This is probably not just the union’s fault. Undoubtedly, management doesn’t have much acumen at labor relations.

David Tussman
Berkeley, CA

To the Editor:

I am so naive! I thought the Geneva Convention forbade biological warfare.

Terrrie Frye
Tenderloin resident
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I am a 23 year career female Firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD). I was hired in 1987, my recruit class was the first with women in it. My entire career has been spent in the field working out of different firehouses.

It was with great interest I read the article in which Ms. Margaret O’Sullivan gives her views on cutting costs in the Fire Department. Ms. O’Sullivan held a desk job at the Fire Department’s Headquarters during her overstated length of employment with us. Her job with the department was of a very narrow scope. She monitored and assisted members of the department who were sick or injured. I felt her job was redundant. Members who are injured at work are assigned a workers comp adjuster by the City and County’s Department of Human Resources.

There is nothing in Ms. O’Sullivan’s experience or training that would qualify her to make an opinion, of any importance, on the Department’s operations or budget. Was she able to determine that Battalion Chief positions could be cut by reviewing the medical records she had access to? I have been to many car fires during my career. However, I don’t think this gives me the audacity or the qualifications to fix General Motors’ financial problems.

Frances Focha
Firefighter, Station 5
Western Addition
San Francisco

Dear Paul Hogarth:

Your article is woefully slanted towards the fallacy that TICs are the result of tenants being evicted. Check your facts! The majority of TICs (and the one I am a member of) are composed of first time homebuyers that were previous renters and buying in at the bottom or the SF housing market, therefore, the result is not less property for renters, but the chance for a renter to own.

TIC owners are not eligible for decent term mortgages like other homeowners, and hence the banks are the ones making the money on these. No TIC units that evict tenants are eligible for condo conversion, so this doesn’t really play into the argument anyway. Also, plenty of people that rent buy Starbucks and Peets too! Please write a fair article that shows empathy for the other side. After all, most of TIC owners are hard working middle class people that were previously renters.

Why the hostility? Why shouldn’t the middle class also get to buy in SF without penalty?

Lynn Sotos
San Francisco

PAUL HOGARTH RESPONDS: It’s true that most TIC owners are first-time homebuyers, and it’s a relatively affordable way to buy San Francisco real estate. But it’s also true that TIC’s were once rental units in which tenants were displaced, so that other people who can afford to buy can be homeowners. Personally, I don’t believe one person’s housing should come at the expense of another’s.

And it’s not true that TIC’s that evicted tenants are ineligible for the condo lottery — only if the eviction happened after December 2004, and it was a senior or disabled tenant. Even under those circumstances, the Subdivision Code only says that “clean” TIC’s get priority — the first 175 of 200 winners in the condo lottery, which means we still have 25 such conversions that happen every year. Since the law passed, real estate speculators are also getting creative — offering “buy-outs” to avoid a formal eviction on the record.

I’m all for helping to support first-time homebuyers – in fact, I was one myself who was helped by a City program that already exists. Thanks to Mayor’s Office of Housing’s Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP), I was able to purchase a small studio apartment in a new condo complex in 2008. The building was new construction, so no tenants were displaced for me to become a homeowner. There are moral choices that all people make to become homeowners; we should encourage some, and discourage others.

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