April 2001

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April Is National Poetry Month

April 1­May 15 Silent Voices Speak: An Art Exhibition and Lecture Series on The

Holocaust and Social Injustice Today. Herbst International Exhibition

Hall, The Presidio. Call 415/928-2992, for more info. Free.

Tues., April 3 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. All welcome!

Tues., April 3, 10 and 17 7:00 p.m.

The History and Future of Pacifica (KPFA). A series of classes in the

history and future of this and other progressive radio ventures.

First Unitarian Church, Franklin and Geary.

Thurs., April 12 10:00­noon

SAN General Meeting. Conference Center, St. Mary's Cathedral,

1111 Gough at Geary.

Tues., April 17 12:30­3:00 p.m.

General Meeting: Supervisor Matt Gonzalez will delve into affordable

housing and related issues. First Unitarian Church, Franklin and


Tues., April 17 10:30­11:30 a.m.

The New Forum, "Making Your Health Care Wishes Known­The

New Form." Free lecture, 415/423-3155 for more info.

Sun., April 22 3:00 p.m.

Classical music concert at SFSU. McKenna Theatre, free.

Sun., April 22 Pro Choice March in Washington, D.C.

Check the NOW web site <www.now.org> for related local events.

Sat., April 28 10:30 a.m.­12:30 p.m.

OWL meeting: How Culture and Belief Affect Aging. Interactive lecture

by Marita Grudzen, Stanford University School of Medicine. Info


Our First Green Party Supervisor

Matt Gonzalez ran on a Green Party platform and promises to stick with the principles advocated by that party. He will speak to us about his fight for affordable housing and related people-oriented issues.

He has a history of activism in our community, having served in the Office of the Public Defender, and run for District Attorney defending causes from advocating for the underprivileged, against illegal evictions, for affordable housing and community policing to protecting workers' rights. Though a long-time Mission resident, he currently lives in the Western Addition and runs his press (FMSBW) which publishes Beat poets.

The Supervisor will present the agenda of this new Board of Supervisors and look for Gray Panthers suggestions of support for the innovative goals and means for achieving them.

Unlimited Possibilities

In this city "anything and everything is possible" according to Sophie Maxwell at our March meeting.We now have seven community activists on our Board of Supervisors. But to change things, and to know what to change and how, they need our vocal, visible, steady support.

After thanking the GPs for our long-time advocacy of progressive issues, Supervisor Maxwell described some of the problems she is currently concerned with: forming a municipal utility district (MUD)* with an eye to long-term gas and electricity supply, solar and wind generation perhaps under the aegis of Hetch-Hetchy, and immediate steps to protect S.F. residents from utility over-charging; health in the city"health should not be a matter of making money"; "people welfare"is as important as or more important than "industrialized welfare"; revitalizing small and neighborhood businessesto name a few things keeping her busy. Being a S.F. supervisor, she said enthusiastically and ruefully, is a 24/7 job.

S.F., this inspiring people's supervisor assured us, is one of the country'sthe world'smost caring citiesand aims to get better. People power elected her, not money, and she needs that power to continue. So don't get tired pushing: calling, writing, e-mailing, appearing in person, advocating. Her passionate message to us and our passionate reply: You make a difference!

Some of the points made in the lively question and answer session after Sup. Maxwell's talk to her overflow audience: There is a health crisis in Bayview/Hunters Point, and part of it is air pollution. So new, less-polluting buses should go first to BVHP, not only to improve air quality but because district transportation needs are woefully underserved. Lots of ways to improve things in the city are already on the booksthey need to be enforced. They are looking into server farmsserver farms don't need to be in the city, they can be anywhere, and they use ten times as much power as a comparable office building; the city Planning Commission didn't stop them or do any future planning.

* Action Alert *

To make it easier to form a Municipal Power District, Assembly Bill 47X and Senate Bill 23X must be passed! Tell our State Representatives so by phoning, writing, or e-mailing, but tell them!

Arsenic Is Good for You!

So implies the latest block of Clinton administration decisions to sharply cut allowable amounts of arsenic in drinking water. U.S. Environmental Agency chief Christie Whitmand says she wants to make sure that "arsenic, while naturally occurring, is something that needs to be regulated."

The EPA's current standard, which was set in 1975 based on 1942 public health information, could result in an additional cancer risk of one case per 100 people. The EPA is facing heavy pressure from the mining industry (which typically discharges arsenic in its wastewater) and some water utilities (which complained about the cost of new filtration equipment).

Kyoto Protocol Down the Drain?

Margot Wallstrom, European Commissioner for the environment, called the Bush decision to abandon a campaign promise to regulate power station emissions of carbon dioxide "totally unacceptable." She was joined by concerned European leaders Germany's Juergen Tritten and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, though the Brussels protocol still hopes the Kyoto process can be salvaged.

Bipartisan Push for Clean Air Legislation

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing ahead with legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, despite President Bush's reversal on the issue. "Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of air pollution, mercury contami-nation and greenhouse gas emissions in the nation," said Sen. Susan Collins, R­Maine, one of the bill's sponsors. "They are horrific polluters." Should the bill pass Congress, it faces the threat of a Bush veto!

McCain­Feingold Bill in Jeopardy

There are numerous amendments to the McCain-Feingold bill, expected to be offered over the next two weeks, details of which will not me known until shortly before votes. Most are undesirable, such as the various "millionaire candidate" amendments that were voted on. These would increase drastically individual contribution limits for candidates running against opponents who spend their own money lavishly. They would compound the problem of corruption in campaign finance in an attempt to protect incumbents against rich opponents.

The focus of Public Citizen's Congress Watchdog's grass roots effort is on "poison pill" amendments which would be likely to break apart the coalition behind the bill and lead it to be defeated. These are:

· The Hagel bill capsrather than bansnational party soft money contributions at $60,000 per year, and allows unlimited soft money contributions to state parties for federal elections. It also triples individual contribution limits (hard money) to candidates, PACs and parties plus triples the amount an individual can contribute annually from $25,000 to $75,000.

· Nonseverability is a time bomb against the soft money ban and the rest of the bill. It says if any one provision, however minor, is judged unconstitutional, the whole bill is null and void.

· Paycheck protection would require union members (or non-members paying fees for union representation in the workplace) to individually authorize in advance any amounts of their dues spent for political purposes. This is a discriminatory provision directed only at unions, not groups like the NRA or corporations, and is designed to weaken them politically.

· A provision drawn from the Hagel bill would triple what individuals could give to candidates from $1,000 per election to $3,000 and allow almost as much new money from wealthy individuals into politics as the corporate, union and individual soft money eliminated by the bill.

Congress Watchdog also opposes deletion of Snowe-Jeffords language on phony issue ads. This language is important to curb corporate and union financing of the broadcast of phony issue ads shortly before elections, and to require disclosure of donors to such ads run by nonprofit advocacy groups.

The Newsletter of the San Francisco Gray Panthers is published each month, and distributed free of charge to members and friends of this nonprofit organization.

Editorial Board: Rebecca Hirshleifer, Mitzi Raas; Publisher, Astrid M. Spector; Art Director, Fannie Biderman; Proof, Lurilla Harris; Circulation: Harold Greenblatt and Mary Francis Smith. Printed by Graffik Natwicks; Webpage design: Barry Simpkins

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