September 1996 Newsletter

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Thurs., Sept. 5 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. Community Mini-Summit at New Main Library (Koret Aud.). Info 554-9751
Sat., Sept 7
Neighborhood Meeting with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi describing a National 11:00 a.m. Agenda for America's Families. Neighborhood House, 953 DeHaro Street
Wed., Sept. 11
Board meeting at the office. All welcome. 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Thurs., Sept 19
21st Annual SeniorFest Picnic. Band Shell, Golden Gate Park. $3.00 seniors, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. $6:00 nonseniors. Info & reservations, 777-5350
Thurs., Sept. 19
SAN. St. Mary's Cathedral; Geary and Gough. 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon N2N at 2600 Mission Street (22nd St.) 6:30 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 21
Membership Meeting, Forum, and Workshop: The public financing of elections 2:00-5:00 p.m. and information on proportional representation. Presented by Betty Traynor of the SF Greens, for The Task Force on Electoral Reform of the San Francisco Alliance in coalition with the Gray Panthers of SF and the SF Greens. New College Cultural Center, 766 Valencia St.
Wed., Sept 25
The Greening of Cuba: profiles the women and men pioneering the organic 8:00 p.m. agriculture movement in Cuba. First GreenTalk of fall 1996. The Women's Building, 18th St., near Valencia. Info 905-4212

A reminder: The Greenspan Commission created the hoax that Social Security was careening toward bankruptcy. The Pentagon (or Congress on its behalf) owes the trust funds some $30 BILLION!

Library update . . .
Deetje and Miriam B., along with other Gray Panthers, have been keeping a close eye on the library situation. They are particularly concerned about the card catalog and the book "giveaway."

Because of community efforts, the card catalogs will be rescued from the old Main and stored in Brooks Hall basement. Then there will be further ef- forts to move them to the new Main and make them available.

The book giveaways will probably continue as is- nobody knowing what is being given away, what's left, who is getting what. What will happen to the rest of the "unwanted" books is still up in the air.

Overall, our library watchdogs want to make sure that our libraries are still for books before computers.

Update on Issues of Social Justice
Many issues, few volunteers? No problem. This is in- formation from an activist's perspective. This update goes on the assumption you have read previous news- letters and attended general meetings. If you want more information call 567-5348. Electro-magnetic Fields The controversy centers on over 1,000 transmission sites in San Francisco to accommodate the new digital cellular phones. The recent telecommunication bill mandates that no permit be denied on health grounds if the installation meets FCC guidelines. The latest wrinkle is that all buildings getting funds from the federal government will automatically be approved for these EMF emitting sites. Cutting Old Growth Trees. A recent salvage logging rider to a budget bill allows cutting in forests previously off limits because of endangered species. Headwaters Forest is due to be cut September 15, and large numbers of persons are readying themselves to prevent the logging by protesting. Charles Hurwitz, who bought Pacific Lumber with junk bonds and a hostile takeover, is willing to sell a portion of the old growth for a land swap or large amounts of money, but justice seems to demand he exchange it for the $1.6 billion he owes the government-a huge Savings and Loan debt. Medical Marijuana Club Bust The State Attorney General's Office raided the club because of allegations it was selling to persons not medically ill, and that children were allowed on the premises and inhaled the smoke. S.F. mayor, district attorney and sheriff said the state had no right to interfere in the affairs of the city. San Bruno Mountain A attempt will be made to buy the Ohlone Indian shell mound site from the hotel in order to preserve it. The hotel plans to cement it over for a parking lot.

Gray Panthers of S.F. Statement on the Medical Use of Marijuana
The Gray Panthers is a national advocacy organization that works to make the world a better place to grow old in. In that vein, we have long argued for reform of our health care system to make it comprehensive in treatment and accessible to all. Since the system does not include the medical use of marijuana in its phar- macopeia, the Gray Panthers of S.F. supports the Medical Marijuana Initiative in order to make this means of relief of pain and suffering available to those who choose it.

Furthermore, we deplore the recent wantonly vio- lent and destructive raid by the state on a facility at- tempting to fill this unmet need for health care in our city. The estimated half-million dollars spent on this drug-war attack on our citizens could have been much better spent providing food or shelter or health care to those going wanting during this period of ongoing economic crisis.

We urge the authorities of this city to do whatever needs to be done to continue to permit the medical use of marijuana until the Medical Marijuana Initiative is passed.

Military-Industrial Complex
According to a revealing new study on the taxpayer costs of the U.S. arms trade, by William Hartung, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, taxpayer subsidies for American arms merchants hit $7.6 billion in 1995. That made the arms export industry the sec- ond largest government subsidy program in the na- tion, behind agricultural price supports. But We Have Competition in Developing Nations A new report by the Congressional Research Service calculated that Russian arms sales to developing na- tions rebounded from a slump that set in after the breakup of the Soviet Union, growing by 62 percent last year-to $6 billion in 1995, up from $3.7 billion in 1994-and that its most important buyer was China.

July Meeting
David Schooley, a champion of the San Bruno Mountain, has been striving to save a few precious acres on the mountain from developers. The area shelters endangered species of plants and butterflies that are not found any place else as well as Ohlone Indian shell mounds.

The Gray Panthers were fortunate to have David present a slide show of the area that revealed to us the fragile beauty of the mountain and how important it is to preserve the area from commercial encroachment.

In September: Task Force on Electoral Reform
The S.F. Alliance will present a teach-in on public financing of elections and proportional representation in coalition with the Gray Panthers and the S.F. Greens. The discussion will be based on model legislation drafted by the Working Group on Electoral Democracy that would eliminate all private financial contributions.

The teach-in will also explain proportional repre- sentation voting, an electoral method used by most of the world's major democracies.

The teach-in will be held Saturday, September 21, 2:00-5:00 p.m., New College Cultural Center, 766 Valencia St., San Francisco.

Celebration of a Life
You read it in the newspapers, saw it on TV, but being at the memorial celebrating the wonderful life of Jes- sica (Decca) Mitford was an experience full of laugh- ter, music, and heartfelt tributes. "She would have loved it," said her son, Benjamin Treuhaft (Pianos to Havana). Those of us who have lived in her time re- spect and admire her as the outstanding woman she was.

In Memorial
Our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Frank Joseph Salet who died August 15. He was an active Gray Panther and supporter and activist in San Francisco politics and senior causes. He shall be missed.

Age and Youth in Action
What are you doing to further this goal? On our Web site- -we are promoting cooperation in bringing the generations together. Let's hear your ideas, your actions with peo- ple of other ages aimed at making this a better climate for all of us.

If The U.S. Can't or Won't Do It, Maybe S.F. Can!
We worked and continue to work hard for national universal health care, but until that can be achieved, the City and County of San Francisco has convened a "health summit" which committed itself to designate a task force to draft just such an all-encompassing plan. Our own Clarissa Ward addressed the summit describing what a single-payer plan would mean for all of us.

Who would operate the public nonprofit plan is still unclear, although Mayor Brown and Dr. Sandra Hernandez, director of the San Francisco Health Department, favor a publicly appointed governing board. Brown's former budget chief, Margaret Kisliuk, would be the mayor's liaison to the panel. The plan would be paid for by a large single trust fund, supported by money pooled from Medicaid and MediCal, participating employers, city funds and patients' pockets.

A patient would buy into the system, with price of the premium based on the choice of benefit package. Among the options could be Kaiser, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and a cheaper and more modest public clinic package.

Patients would receive a single card, lke a Social Security card, which they would take to participating doctors' offices, hospitals or health maintenance organizations.

Doctors would be reimbursed by The City's insurance plan.

The plan attempts to solve the problem of the growing number of uninsured, whose needs haven't been met in the new lean-and-mean, market-driven health care system. About 15 percent of San Franciscans are without insurance and fail to get preventive care, and so end up in public hospitals at huge expense.

The plan aims to compete with existing insurers to attract young, healthy and employed San Francisco residents.

By offering a strong package of guaranteed basic benefits-such as catastrophic, primary and specially care, mental health services and long-term nursing- The City could force other insurers to adopt similar standards.

In many respects, the plan is a home-grown version of Clinton's health care plan, with one exception: Employers would not be required to contribute. Also, insurers are a less formidable special interest here than in Washington, D.C. And San Franciscans have always been receptive to health care innovation.

Brown did not specify a time line for either drafting or implementing the plan, but Hernandez said she would like to get a long-term care strategy sketched out by year's end.

Shakespearean Picnic in the Park
Usher in Fall and say "Good-bye" to Summer on Sunday, September 29 at Golden Gate Park. That's the last day of this year's S.F. Shakespeare Festival performance of Loves Labour's Lost. The show starts at 1:30 p.m., but we could stake out a great viewing place by having a potluck picnic before the perform- ance and making a real party of it. Call Lurilla at 648- 1868 if the idea appeals and you'd like to join in.

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

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