CALENDAR OF EVENTS
On your mark, get ready: Let's Go to the 11th Biennial
Convention of the Gray Panthers!
We have just three months to get it all together and make this San Francisco convention a roaring success. Three major committees have been named to coordinate the West Coast participation in this rare event. Volunteers are needed in the following areas:
or, call the office at 552-8800 and a committee member will get back to you.
I just finished reading an outstanding book, And the Waters Turned to Blood by Rodney Barker. It's informative, dramatic and it is about a deadly organism reawakened by man-made pollution. It is scary. Clarissa Ward
Welfare and Jobs
The goal of the Action Assembly on June 23 was to try to craft a better plan for "welfare reform" than now exists. A living wage, child nurturing, sustainable jobs, education and training were discussed.… Gray Panthers saw some new faces, heard some new stories and ideas. Illogical "reform" of a serious social problem makes even more serious problems. The challenge is for reform with justice. It must not be ignored. All of our children are involved. Contact Family Rights and Dignity at 431-9370, San Franciscans for Tax Justice at 648-1904 or Gray Panthers.
Special thanks to Jackie Henderson and Robert Lehman for their excellent panel presentations and to Potrero Hill Neighborhood House for their donation of space, refreshments and help.
At our July 15th meeting, Joel Ventresca, former Environmental Commissioner of the city and county of San Francisco, will speak on the political environment of San Francisco-the positive and negative actions that have taken place since Willie Brown was elected mayor. You are invited to voice your opinions after Mr. Ventresca presents his views of the political scene.
Budget Allocation for the
San Francisco Public Library
Steve Agostini reported to the Library Commission on June 10 that $3.4 million was being added to the Library's operating costs in the Mayor's Budget for 1997-98. In the course of his presentation he spoke very firmly to the effect that the Library must operate within the approximately $40 million that will now be in their budget.
We have heard this refrain at the Library numer- ous times recently, but still the coffers run dry and ad- ditional funds are needed. This is due to conditions that are not being corrected with this emergency first aid that, thankfully, will solve the shelving backlog (if there is enough shelf space on which to put the 57,000 books currently languishing in the shelving room!) and will replace some of the frontline staff that has been lost due to attrition. These uncorrected condi- tions include the greatly increased overhead for run- ning the new Main facility, the huge amounts of money that are still owing on backroom-deal contracts for all the computer technology recently added to the Library's operations and that are committed into the indefinite future for operating costs, upkeep, upgrade, etc., on this unprecedented expansion into telecom- munications technology. In addition, no adequate ac- counting has been forthcoming of either the contribu- tions or expenses of the Library Foundation, which enjoys the use of Library space at the taxpayer's ex- pense, a sweetheart MOU that allows it privileges as re- gards Library policy, and a cozy relationship between its Board, the President of the Commission, and the City Librarian.
In consideration of such facts as these, I am con- cerned that we are throwing good money after bad, without any rational plan for stemming the flow of money down the unaccounting tubes. My concern stems from both my role as citizen aware that there are many pressing needs in the city, not all of which are being met, and my role as library patron working to protect the integrity and accessibility of the library's book collections, which are at risk from the mindless investment of resources in high-tech systems that benefit the corporations providing them more than the patrons using the library.
A particular item in point: According to Mr. Agostini's report to the Commission, the Mayor's budget allocates $64,000 for staff training, apparently for Internet competency among other things. The li- brary staff should be trained in using the online cata- log and its search capabilities, but any additional in- vestment of any kind in Internet services, which it should be understood are not directly related to the li- brary's function as a library, should be put on ice un- til the basic functions of the library are being per- formed adequately and the patrons have free access to all of the books in the library's collection that they have the right to expect.
It's a matter of priorities. Until the library is per- forming its fundamental mission adequately, fancy (and expensive) trimmings like Internet access, devel- opment of databases, exhibits, etc., need to be put on hold. Promoting the new Main library as a tourist at- traction or for cutrate computer use is of less than zero benefit to the patrons of the system at a time when their books are not being made accessible to them as they should be. Such use of the building only makes it more crowded and noisy than it already is and wastes resources that are needed for preserving, acquiring, handling and accessing books.
An overhaul of the administrative processes and management policies of the library is urgently needed in order to bring the library into smooth and afford- able operation. Even the audit confirmed this although it may not have printed all the relevant figures. Meanwhile, the less money spent on nonessential functions the better. Who it is that could achieve this effect even if there were a way to adopt the intention, I do not know-because the ship seems to be without a captain or even a navigator. The crew is running around wringing their hands and saying What shall we do? What shall we do? The books are being thrown overboard to lighten the load, the sosh's parties go on event after event. (Nero's surely fiddling somewhere in the stacks-perhaps one can hear him at night when the sound tunnel-aka as the atrium-quiets down.) Meanwhile the booklovers are wandering around the new Main during its open hours, asking after the books, grousing at its various deficiencies, and won- dering if they're in a floundering ship or an invaded city. Deetje Boler
Your newsletter is taking a summer break. The office will be open its usual hours and all committees are doing "their thing." Enjoy your summer!
Danger! Plutonium on the Loose
In October of this year NASA is planning to send up the Cassini Probe, a space probe planned to circle twice around Venus and then, after going back into earth's atmosphere, it will be "sling shot" to Saturn. This probe will carry 70 pounds of plutonium-not for propulsion, but to power the instrument panel! Why is NASA doing this when solar power and long-lived power cells have proved absolutely adequate for this purpose? Why should we be exposed to the possibility of this deadly poison being accidently released into earth's atmosphere? Voice your concern by contacting the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in space, P.O. Box 90035, Gainesville, FL 32607; Tel/Fax 352-463-3295.
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.