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Letters to the Editor
A Better Way to Push Those
Red, White, and Blue Buttons
With regard to your story in last month's Voice ["Marks on Harry Aleo's Window Show an Ugly Side," September 2001]: It is clear that Harry Aleo's beliefs and values were formed in the less complicated and simpler world of the '40s and '50s. The Republicans were even the good guys for a time.
However, he has clung to these beliefs, as is his right, in spite of a changed world. He gleefully tweaks the residents of the progressive Noe Valley neighborhood each time he puts up a new hand-lettered sign celebrating some dubious Republican accomplishment or lauding a Republican politician while denigrating a Democrat.
Sure, it's his property, and of course he can do what he wants with it; that's not the issue. But by putting his opinions upfront, for the neighborhood to see and evaluate, he's inviting responses, and it is to be expected that he will draw responses from extremists who have no sense of proportion in political matters and no respect for other people's property.
It goes without saying that he has a First Amendment right to free speech, and so do the thugs who plastered his window with swastikas. But how better to push the red, white, and blue buttons of this veteran who served three years "fighting for freedom" than by defacing his property with this most repugnant of political symbols. More reasonable people know they can demonstrate their lack of agreement with his beliefs by simply not doing business with him, either by not transacting real estate deals with Twin Peaks Properties or by not using Aleo's services as a notary public.
Support Your Neighbors
In the wake of the tragedies of Sept. 11, and in anticipation of what is to come, it is important to remember that although San Francisco is diverse, it is all one community. We need to behave as such, instead of turning against one another.
It seems that incidents of racism, particularly directed at those who are perceived to be Muslim, are on the rise in San Francisco. We cannot allow this to happen. We are better than this. San Francisco is a large and diverse community, and it is our diversity that makes us strong.
Some people seem to think that it's acceptable to target Muslims for abuse because of the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This is as ridiculous as persecuting Christians for the activities of the IRA. The attackers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon did not attack because they were Muslim, they attacked because they were insane. Real Muslims, like real Christians, are peace-loving people. Do not hold them accountable for the insanity of a few.
While a recent article in the Noe Valley Voice [July/August 2001] pointed out that our population is predominantly white, we do have several local merchants who are Muslim. These merchants are our friends and neighbors. They provide valuable services to our community and should be treated with respect. It is important now more than ever that we patronize our local Muslim shopkeepers and show them that we are not the weak-minded fools that our attackers believe us to be. We must also be vigilant against reprisals aimed at these merchants (or any of our neighbors).
If you see someone hassling one of our shopkeepers or neighbors because of race or religion, step in. Speak up. Stand up and be counted among those who would defend what the United States is supposed to be: a place of liberty and justice for all.
Casualty of Rent Control
A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of an old friend, Bill Bradley. Bill was the longtime former owner of a building on the corner of Jersey and Castro, which was recently sold on the open market to a local investor/owner of multiple San Francisco properties. Prior to this sale, the building had been sold "on the courthouse steps," to an attorney representing one of Bill's tenants, for an extremely low price, enabling this tenant to make quite a profit.
It seems Bill had attempted to illegally evict said tenant -- contrary to everyone's advice -- not believing he could actually lose the building if he screwed it up! His stubbornness and naiveté -- he was in his 80s -- cost him his children's inheritance, and according to his kids, "broke his spirit." He died not long after losing the building.
Since Bill's kids have accepted their loss -- their dad was wrong, the tenant was right, and all was legal -- they will not be complaining to anyone. As an old friend of the family, I want to make sure Bill's fate is known: There is no limit to what you can lose if you run afoul of San Francisco's rent control laws!
Noe Valley resident
Be Responsible for Your Dog
While walking my two dogs on leash at 7:45 a.m. one recent morning, a large (85 to 100 pounds), intact male dog bounded off the property at the rear of a house on Noe Street, ran across the street, and charged straight at me and my dogs. The owner of this dog was nowhere in sight and made no verbal or physical effort to stop her dog from charging us. By the time she finally ran across the street, all three dogs were in contact with each other as I tried to separate them to prevent a possible dog fight or attack.
This is the second time that this woman has allowed her dog to run off her property, race across the street, and charge at me and my two dogs. Not only did the situation frighten me both times, but the dog owner put her own dog in serious jeopardy by allowing him to run across a busy street unescorted and unrestrained.
Given the recent tragic events surrounding the death of Diane Whipple, I find it shocking that any dog owner could be so reckless and irresponsible.
One of my dogs is blind, and surprise approaches from strange dogs can be frightening for her. My other dog is also often afraid of strange dogs, especially large ones.
Owners whose dogs are off leash often say to me, "Don't worry -- my dog is friendly," not stopping to think that when strange dogs come together, the results can sometimes be anything but friendly.
Both of my dogs are licensed with the city, and I keep them on leashes at all times when walking in public areas. It is outrageous that others cannot be considerate enough to do the same.
Greetings from 'Way, Way Back'
I was visiting the Noe Valley area yesterday and came upon your great paper, and was wondering if this paper can be sent out to areas other than in the San Francisco area. (Yes, it can. See subscription information on page 4. --Ed.)
I lived on 22nd Street back in the '40s (4016 22nd Street) and visit the area quite often. My family lived in "the Valley" for years, and my uncle had the old Florence Market across from St. Clair's Liquor Store "way, way back."
In fact, I remember when the old coal store was next to the Bank of America -- my God, am I getting old!
Keep me posted if you would. Thanks for keeping Noe Valley as great, beautiful, and classy as it is.
Deputy Fire Chief Joe Quadt
Hillsborough Fire Department
1600 Floribunda Ave.
Hillsborough, CA 94010
How Patriotic Is Flag Waving?
Since the tragic and diabolical terrorism perpetuated on our nation, American flags have had a ubiquitous presence. The people who wave these flags think that by doing so that they are showing their patriotism. However, patriotism takes more than waving an American flag during a time of crisis.
True patriotism in my view is something you do every day by helping your nation to be just and fair to all citizens. This takes work, such as being involved in civic and community affairs. This takes being aware of how our government works and how we can make it work for the betterment of not only our country but also all countries throughout the world. This means keeping up with government activities and getting involved in our neighborhood, our community, our workplaces, our local and state governments and ultimately in our national government.
How many of those jingoistic flag wavers can really say they are patriots? Being a citizen of the United States or waving an American flag does not a patriot make.
Focus on Peace
We have the opportunity to turn a very negative series of occurrences into something very positive and beautiful...a chance to ensure that the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks didn't die in vain.
It's a very simple thing, really. Focus one moment on peace....
These events spoke of something more than racial or political blind hatred. Like all wars, they began with a severe breakdown in communication, a loss of intent to be in coexistence with one another.
We need a true dialogue between all people about all things. We as a world need to grow up and take an honest look around. We've made a collective mess of it. Time to clean up our rooms and put up our toys for a while.
Talk of war, vengeance, violence, and hatred may feel good for us right now. But we can learn to do something creative, instead of destructive, with this complex combination of emotions. Treat the crimes as crimes, seeking the criminals and proving the actions and intents in the World Court. Let a global consensus occur that shows that as a planet, terrorism is an unacceptable form of behavior.
But then, do more. Sit down at the table with those who have issues. Listen to one another as human beings, not enemies. See the commonalities beyond the differences. Learn to co-exist.
Focus on peace, just a few minutes a day.
Rev. Sister Rosemarie, DSM
Third Order Disciples of St. Martin de Porres, St. Martin de Porres Chapel, San Francisco
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