Letters from our Readers: Lack of Defender funds should be on gaffes list 

Columnist Ken Garcia’s Jan. 4 list of 2009’s biggest political gaffes accuses me of “grandstanding” because I appeared at budget hearings and advocated for proper funding of the Public Defender’s Office. According to the city charter, presenting my office’s budget is part of my job description.

When the mayor announced he was cutting the Public Defender’s Office by $2 million, I felt obligated to inform the Board of Supervisors this would only worsen the city’s financial troubles.

The 28,000 people we are assigned to represent each year are constitutionally entitled to legal representation. Because of the high unemployment rate and economic downturn, the need for our services has soared.

A city controller’s study showed that public defenders worked an average of 50-70 hours per week, without earning overtime and that our attorneys were handling caseloads 50 percent higher than those allowed by the American Bar Association’s national standards.

Garcia fails to mention that The City must now pay an additional $3.2 million for private attorneys to take on the cases that the Public Defender’s Office can no longer handle because of staffing cuts.

I recently requested less than one-fourth of this amount to handle these cases but no action was taken. This unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money should have made Garcia’s list, had he bothered to research the issue.

Jeff Adachi, Public Defender, San Francisco

Get Castro facts straight

Your Dec. 20 feature story, “What is your ideal neighborhood?” wrote about Castro-Upper Market: “The neighborhood, known for its large gay population, has one of the lowest marriage rates on The City. However, families are beginning to move into the area.”

That low marriage rate is probably due to gay people not yet having the right to marry their partners. Also there have always been many families in the Castro. A large proportion of the neighborhood’s gay couples have children.

Dominique Bremond, San Francisco

Wrong approach to graffiti

At a time when one of the nation’s most important needs is paid jobs, the city of San Francisco is providing Saturday training for volunteers to paint over graffiti on public property and “adopt” a minimum of four city blocks.

Since graffiti has been a long and increasing public problem, one would think that the remedy would be to round up the vandalizing “taggers” and prevent their continued blighting of neighborhoods, as our highly paid police and traffic control officers do when rounding up other offenders and ticketing parking scofflaws.

But now The City expects us to also clean up public property as well as our own private property.

Frank Norton, San Francisco

Churchill vs. Reagan

On several occasions, your conservative contributors have equated Winston Churchill with Ronald Reagan. But Churchill truly confronted a dynamic and bellicose evil, whereas Reagan opportunistically badmouthed a moribund and tottering regime failing of its own accord. It should be easy to discern who the real hero was.

Gordon D. Robertson, San Francisco

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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