June 1996 Newsletter

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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:Agnes Batteiger, 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

May Meeting Recap

Universal health coverage, single payer-what ever terminology is used-has been one of the top priorities of the Gray Panthers at the national and regional level for years. Will we ever achieve that goal? In order to find out what the prospects for improved health care coverage in California are, Dr. Jim Kahn from the UCSF Institute of Health Policy Studies and a member of the Physicians National Health Program was invited to speak to the GP membership on what is happening in the health field. Dr. Kahn supports the Health Care Patient Protection Act of 1966, an initiative sponsored by SEIU in consultation with physicians. He enumerated some of the provisions of the bill to protect patients against the excesses of HMO's and to provide doctors with more control over the needs of patients and how their care is to be implemented.
Although the California Nurses Association initiative and the Patient Care Act will both be on the November ballot, they do not begin to compensate for national health coverage. These acts, if passed, will only be the first step in the process of eventually insuring health coverage for everyone. "We need one win to spur us on to a single-payer health plan," Dr. Kahn said.


Pesticides Surround Us

The Gray Panthers has endorsed a campaign to ban the use of dangerous pesticides by the City and County of San Francisco in the parks, medians and public buildings in the city. A hearing on this by the Rules Committee of the S.F. Board of Supervisors will be held on a Tuesday morning early in June. Please check with the office for the date and plan to attend. Meanwhile, please write letters immediately to the members of the committee, Supervisors Ammiano, Leal and Shelley, indicating that you support a ban on toxic pesticides in the parks and conversion to nontoxic techniques of park and building maintenance. Also, we have in the office petitions available for circulation which we believe you could easily get filled because it's our experience that everyone seems willing to sign.
We owe it to ourselves, our children, our pets, and the wildlife in the parks to provide a safe environment in which to live. Our own government should not be poisoning us. We have the right to a healthy environment; let's assert it. Deetje Boler

When Noa Ben Artzi-Pelossof (Yitzhak Rabin's granddaughter) visited the Brandeis Hillel Day School recently, she was asked by students what they could bring back to their classmates as a message. "Live at peace with yourself," she said, "because you can't please everybody." [Amen!]

Poison in the Panhandle

The article, "A Disturbing Sequel To 'Silent Spring'"by Huey D. Johnson (Opinion Page, May 5) struck home. As I have walked in the Panhandle recently I have been unpleasantly affected by the sight of dead yellowed grass all along the walkways and in large circles under the trees. I understand this is the result of sprayed herbicides. I would want to know what the active and "inert" ingredients are that result in this depressing sight.
I strongly object to this ugly, unnecessary and possibly toxic practice in our recreational environment. Even if it were asserted that whatever is sprayed is relatively harmless, I would still object. the so-called "inert" ingredients in these commercial products are not even known, not to mention tested, because they are considered protected trade secrets. I think the public health is more important.
Investigate and inform the public about the use of toxic chemicals in the parks and other public places. I urge the public to protest this use to the Board of Supervisors and the Recreation and Park Commission and demand a non-toxic policy.

Deetje Boler, Sunday Examiner 5/12/96

Billions For Weapons: Not One Cent For Education, Health, Housing,Child Care.

Republicans love to spend money on the military. The GAO informed our duly elected representatives that the cost of a missile defense system would be astronomical, but some congressmen keep pressing for Star Wars missiles no matter what the cost or if it will work. President Clinton says he will veto such a bill. We shall see. Republicans gave $7 billion more to the Pentagon than it asked for this year; their budget plan calls for adding $13 billion to its request for next year.
For its part, the Administration is seeking more than $73 billion for investment in new weapons next year, more than any other country will spend on its entire military. What dire"requirements" do the brass have? The Navy wants money for a new attack submarine, even as it squanders billions building a Seawolf sub it doesn't need. The Marines want more V-22 Ospreys, a plane President Bush tried to cancel. The Air Force wants more jets as an "attrition reserve" for the big war we will never fight.
What's sad about this burlesque is that every dollar lavished on the bloated Pentagon will be take from threadbare domestic programs. We will pay the cost in low-weight babies, children with no preschool programs, students without textbooks, water that is unsafe to drink. The Chiefs wanted the ability to wage a war on two fronts-too bad the rest of us are one of them.
Another cause for concern is the use of land-mines in combat zones. In 1994 President Clinton spoke out for a comprehensive ban on land mines when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Since that time he has toed the line for the Pentagon which has steadfastly opposed this goal. The effect of the proliferation of mines and the casualties caused in Bosnia has begun to hit home. This grim reality, as well as growing international pressure to face the crisis is finally forcing the U.S. government to acknowledge that land mines are an intolerable threat to soldier and civilian alike.

Excerpts from "Bravehearts" and "Dangerous Ground", The Nation, 5/13/96.

Group Letter Writing

At the last general meeting, three letters to the mayor and supervisors, plus appropriate commissions and departments, were circulated for individual signatures.

Digital Cellular Phone Transmitters

We requested the development of an impartial regulatory telecom commisions, as proposed by supervisor Bierman, to record, analyze, and coordinate the health effects of the thousands of projected sites for transmission and receiving sites of the new, untested, digital cellar phones, with a moratorium on ANY permit approvals in the meantime.

Racial Environmental Discrimination

We requested the blocking of another polluting power plant in Bayview Hunters Point because of the disproportionately high rate of breast and cervical cancer and respiratory illnesses in the area.

Owner Move-Ins

Presently tenants cannot contest the "intention" of an unproven, undocumented owner move-in.

Destruction of Presidio Housing

Presently $1,389,000.00 has been paid by taxpayers to demolish only the first 11 buildings at Wherry Housing. Another several million dollars will be needed to demolish hundreds more units-money which should be used to create housing, not destroy it. There are 12,000 homeless residents of San Francisco, many of them families with children, competing for l,400 shelter beds in our city.

If you would like to participate in this letter writing involvement and want more information, call Aroza Simpson at 567-5348.

Ready For A Challenge?

The staff of your newsletter needs your input. We few are left to find the info, write it up, make it fit, and put it into publishable form. Though we receive many kudos and very few complaints, we rarely receive any offer of help, any written contributions, any timely advice or notice of things to come.

Hindsight is fine; foresight is better. Contribute some of yours. Call 415-474-9411 and vent!

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