May 2000

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Wed., May 3 6:00­8:00 p.m.

San Francisco Alliance for Health will meet at the Gray Panthers office. Info 415/567-5348.

Thurs., May 4 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. All welcome!

Sat., May 13 10:00 a.m.­12:30 p.m.

Women in Transition Talking (WITT). Sponsored by OWL at the First Unitarian Church, Franklin at Geary. Free, info 415/989-4422.

Sat., May 13 1:00 p.m.

Western Regional Mass Demonstration for Mumia. Assemble,

11:00 a.m. Justin Herman Plaza. Rally 1:00 p.m., S.F. Civic Center

Sun., May 14 Mothers' March in Washington, D.C.

Million Mom March for gun safety.

Mon. May 15 1:00­4:00 p.m.

Glaucoma screening. Free at the Community Health Resource Center, 2100 Webster Street. Info and registration, 415/923-3155.

Sat., May 20 12:30­3:00 p.m.

Coalition Meeting: Economic Boom for Whom? Teach-in on the People's Budget at 474 Valencia St., at 16 St.

Wed., May 24 Senior Rally in Sacramento

SAN will have a bus. Call the office for info.

Thurs., May 25 2:00 p.m.

SAN's Gray Cabaret. Presented at the Center for the Arts Theater at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Tickets $8.00 from SAN or Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Box Office.

Sat., May 27 10:30 a.m­12:15 p.m.

OWL: Prescription Drug Coverage and Older Women and "Can We Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs?" A panel discussion.

Info 415/989-4422.

Sun., June 4 12:00­6:00 p.m.

SF Food Not Bombs' Soupstock 2000. Dolores Park, free,

info 415/675-9928.

Boom for Whom?

San Francisco is fortunate to have the People's Budget Cooaborative to call out to all of us that there are permanent solutions to poverty. Funding prevention pays off. For example, it has been show that for every $1.00 spent on substance abuse treatment, $7.00 is saved in social services, emergency room and criminal justice costs.

On Saturday, May 20 at 474 Valencia (near 16th street), Gray Panthers will host a teach-in on how to prioritize expenditures in the upcoming S.F. budget negotiations so that basic human needs are met. Six neighborhood meetings by the Board of Supervisors will hear public comments on the priorities of the S.F. budget for the coming year.

For three years the People's Budget has worked for and won City money for human rights, economic security and dignity for people traditionally left out of the budget priorities. This year's San Francisco's budget is on the table. Learn how your input can make a difference.

Social time is 12:30. Presentation and audience participation from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Let's spread the word and get a turnout to show our support for the hard work of the People's Budget Collaborative.

Whose World Is It?

Tom Dickerman, Simon Harris and Jasmin de la Rosa gave GPs information regarding fuel cells, petitions for safe food and youth activism at our April 18 meeting..

Tom is the author of Global Warming and Its Solution: Sustainable Energy. His presentation focused on replacing fossil fuel with alternate forms of energy. Hydrogen fuel cells are used in space and will soon be available for cars. A Municipal Utility District iniative is presently being circulated which would encourage low cost solar energy implementation in S.F. as well as lower utility rate. Tom is a Gray Panther, a Green Party activist and a main organizer of the November 7 Alliance for Municipal Power. For more information or to order his inexpensive and informative book: 650/992-3963. < or>.

Simon explained the "other side" of the corporate propaganda that genetically modified food will save the world from starvation. His organization, Organic Consumers Association, is gathering signatures on a petition Food Agenda 2000 which would call for:

1. A global moratorium on genetically engineered food and crops.

2. Stop factory farming and phase out industrial agriculture.

3. Convert U.S. agriculture to at least 30% organic by 2010.

For more information: 415/643-2592. <campaign@organic, <>

Jasmin lifted all our spirits by recounting youth activism of Third Eye against Proposition 21. California is 41st in spending on education and first in spending on prisons. Proposition 21 used "gang" very loosely, with serious effects on justice for young people. Putting youth in jail with hardened criminals will not solve the problem of crime. Corporations, such as PGE, Hilton and Chevron, which contributed heavily to put Prop 21 on the ballot, made a big mistake. Third Eye needs support for their continuing effort toward educating youth as to their rights and encouraging youth in visions for a reasonable future. Jasmin can be reached at 415/951-4844.

Common Cause

Common Cause is leading an effort to get the domination of big money out of San Francisco city elections. Common Cause and its coalition partners are seeking to qualify an initiative for November 2000 that would limit soft money to independent expenditures and offer public financing in San Francisco elections. The optional public financing plan would cover the Board of Supervisors and Mayoral races. The initiative will also limit contributions to independent expenditure committees. Common Cause is seeking cosponsors as well as help with collecting signatures. For more information call 415/543-7000 or Joan Mandle at 510/382-9787.

Downgrading Paramedic Staff

Currently, if you call "911" an ambulance will arrive staffed by two highly trained paramedics. If the Fire Department has its way, soon there will be one paramedic and one "advanced first aid person," as was the system before 1981. This seems to be a case of internal politics over public benefit since the cost would remain about the same. Call 415/431-7760 for more info.

S.F. Alliance for Health

Gray Panthers are participating in the Emergency Coalition for Public Health and the S.F.Alliance for Health. With an increasing number of uninsured persons in S.F. and a decreasing amount of money available from the federal and state government, public health services are suffering.

Mayor Brown has mandated that money from the S.F. general fund be kept at the same level as last year. Service cuts such as the planned closure of the S.F. General Hospital Pharmacy, the elimination of psychiatric ward beds, an ongoing freeze on hiring are further decimating an already tottering system of public health.

Some persons are theorizing that public health services are being weakened so they can be privatized. Others are saying that nonprofit hospitals are doing their fair share of caring for the uninsured. Others are pointing out that corporations which do not pay health insurance benefits for employees are really taking an unfair profit advantage and should contribute money to help alleviate the Department of Public Health's budgetary woes. Others say that the cuts are not democratically planned and that administrators are still on the gravy train. Gray Panthers is working for Universal Health Care in 2000. The problem of public health affects us all in one way or another.

To get involved in these important public health advocacies call 415/431-7760.

Excerpt from a Jon Carroll column in an April S.F.Chronicle

I looked at an interesting Web site the other day: It purports to have listings of all campaign contributions. For the current election season, which is a long way from being over, there are reports on 32 drug-company political action committees. The big ones have already given six figures each to various campaigns, mostly, although not entirely, to Republicans.

The numbers are likely to increase dramatically. Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington, a Republican up for re-election this year, is breaking party ranks to draft legislation aimed at forcing down drug prices. Senators from northern states are sensitized to the issue because their constituents are aware of the huge price gap between the cost of drugs in Canada and the cost of drugs in the United States.

"I was astounded to learn," said Gorton, "that for the 10 most commonly prescribed drugs, average prices are 64 percent lower in Canada than in Washington state. This is outrageous."

It is outrageous. It is yet another symptom of the dysfunctional health-care system. Drug companies oppose any attempt to reduce this outrageousnesss. They are not in this business for their health.

Their customers are, though. That's the problem.

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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