Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 42 / 20 October 2016

Letters to the Editor

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Kim's vote for nudists

As a resident and businessman in the Castro for more than 50 years, I strongly support Scott Wiener for state Senate. I would also like to remind Patrick Batt [Mailstrom, October 13] it was Jane Kim who voted as a member of the Board of Supervisors to allow people to walk around our city and, especially our neighborhood, completely nude.

James Robbie Robinson

San Francisco


Wiener ranks among top officials

I strongly disagree with the sentiments expressed in the letter of Patrick Batt.

I have been a registered San Francisco voter since 1973, and have voted in every election. I was an elected member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee for 35 years (1980-1995). I personally knew the late Harvey Milk and worked on his four political campaigns.

Based on my political experience, I make the following observations:

Over 50 different people have served as supervisors since I became eligible to vote. Of the many past members, I have always considered my friend Milk and Sue Bierman to have been the best past supervisors. Scott Wiener is also a great supervisor, ranking with Milk and Bierman.

I served under about 10 past chairs of the SFDCCC. Of these, Wiener did the best job.

San Francisco has had some past state senators who were mediocre (John Foran) and one who was a crook (Leland Yee). But we had two great senators: George Moscone and Milton Marks. I believe that Wiener should be elected because he will be a great legislator in the tradition of Moscone and Marks.

I have respect for Jane Kim but believe she is too ideological to make the necessary Sacramento deals that legislators have to perfect.


Arlo Hale Smith

San Francisco


Vote for public health

I'm writing to urge yes votes on California's Proposition 56, San Francisco's Proposition V, and Oakland's Measure HH. These public health measures are being opposed by Big Tobacco and Big Sugar, with many tens of millions of dollars to promote big lies.

Surprisingly, California ranks 37th in state tobacco taxes at 87 cents a pack. Our Legislature won't raise the tax because key members take money from the tobacco industry, so the public must vote on it. Prop 56 would set the tax at $2.87, ranking us ninth. Few measures reduce consumption as effectively as price increases, especially among youth. More than 70 percent of smokers wish they didn't smoke and a majority support initiatives that encourage quitting. The cost of lost productivity and treating tobacco-caused disease in the U.S. is a staggering $300 billion annually. This measure will save countless lives and billions of dollars.

The revenue will reinvigorate California's phenomenally successful program to reduce smoking and give Medi-Cal a much-needed infusion to help care for the state's neediest patients. But no matter how the revenue is spent – the money could be burned! – just raising the price on a pack cuts consumption. After New York raised its tobacco tax to $4.35 a pack, smoking rates plummeted, especially among youth. That's what the industry is afraid of.

Prop V and Measure HH impose a penny tax per ounce on drinks with added sugar. The American Beverage Association is flooding all media with disinformation, dubbing the measures a "grocery tax" when it should be called the "childhood diabetes prevention tax." There's an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among kids to an extent never seen before. Just like the tobacco industry – according to a recent UCSF study – the sugar industry lied about its own research, which implicated sugar in cardiovascular disease. Just like Big Tobacco, it spread fear, warning that the tax will put grocers out of business. That never happened when Berkeley adopted a soda tax a few years ago. Raising the price of sugary drinks will highlight the problem, encourage consumers to make healthier purchases, and fund programs promoting healthier lives.

As a founding member of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, I am especially disappointed that the club opposes Prop V, labeling it a regressive tax. The club's history of accepting money from the American Beverage Association raises questions about its position. If a tax discourages use of a harmful product, is it fair to dismiss it as regressive?

Supporting these measures is the progressive thing to do. If anyone is the 1 percent, it's Big Tobacco and Big Sugar, who influence government to get subsidies and other favorable regulations, and use their enormous wealth to mislead voters. The flood of ads against these measures reveals the core issue: the industries' fears for their profits. A great opportunity to counter their disdain for our well-being is at the polls. Please vote yes on 56, V, and HH.


Naphtali Offen, President

Coalition of Lavender-Americans on Smoking or Health (CLASH)

San Francisco



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