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march 17, 2000
Bouquets all ‘round

In 1995, while dodging outraged brickbats from the U.S. Congress and the United Nations Truth Commission, the CIA fired its Latin American Division chief, Terry Ward. The agency admitted using known human rights abusers in Guatemala as paid informants; the critics lambasted the United States government for continuing its program of military aid and training to Guatemala despite clear evidence of army-assisted atrocities there.

On March 23, 2000 the CIA about-faced and presented Ward with its prestigious Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, citing political reasons for his firing. According to one senior intelligence official, "(Ward) served in a number of places where the world was particularly dangerous. By virtue of what he did, he helped save lives. He did some really, really good things."

At the same time, the Guatemala Human Rights Commission sponsored a mass and silent vigil in front of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia to honor "all victims of the CIA-sponsored repression" in Latin America. In the spirit of spring and new life, the invitation included a request: "PLEASE BRING FLOWERS whether nosegays, bouquets or funeral wreathes. Flowers should be our unifying symbol."


Drawing lines

This November San Francisco will once again elect its supervisors by district. The population-based boundaries for the new system have brought together some mighty strange bedfellows, as politickers throughout the city are discovering.

Take District 10, where traditionally low-turnout Bayview–Hunters Point and Visitation Valley must organize if they’re to avoid being overrun by the energetic voters on Potrero Hill. Or District 6, which is trying to bring some sort of order to the hodgepodge electorate inhabiting Hayes Valley, the Tenderloin, SOMA, and the offshore territory of Treasure Island.

In the Mission, Tom Mayer points out, the problem is reversed. The venerable district (small "d") is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and with a wing missing as well. The "Inner Mission" — from 13th to 17th — will have to fight it out with the other District 6 contenders. The two-block strip between Guerrero and Church — including Mission Dolores itself — is lumped together with the upper-scale Castro and Noe Valley. Only the remainder seems to have found a happy mate, pairing up with Bernal Heights.

Subscribers to conspiracy theories might find a diabolical hand lurking somewhere in this confusion. Or is it simply blind bureaucracy at work?

Tenderloin blues

Recently, the Call focused on the Alexander Residence in the Tenderloin, trying to make sense of a convoluted purchase plan that has captured the attention of the Redevelopment Agency, the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Agency, and the residents of several hotels in various parts of the city.

Worried that readers would get the wrong impression, Fred Crosson and Robert Zebro, ten-year residents of the Alexander, called to register a vote in favor of the place they call home. It’s the best place they’ve ever lived, they say — clean, well-maintained, and friendly.

On March 23, Michael Nulty reports, the puzzled residents of the Alexander and four other hotels found a letter from the landlord in their mailbox or posted on their door. In accord with state law, Security Properties served them with a nine-month notice that it intends to prepay the rest of its mortgage on the buildings.

Curiouser and curiouser.