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may 22, 2000

Corporate punishment. Rep. Richard W. Pombo has introduced a widely hailed bill into Congress, designed — the Tracy-based Republican says — to "improve the process of regulating potentially dangerous pesticides." But the Washington Post of May 13 reports that the bill reiterates nearly word for word a piece of draft legislation prepared in March 1999 for IWG, a coalition of pesticide, agricultural, and food-processing interests. The man who wrote the draft, Edward C. Gray, used to run EPA’s pesticide branch. His former boss, EPA administrator Carol M. Browner, is akin to mass murderer John Wayne Gacy, the food industry alleges, because present EPA-supported pesticide regulations will hurt growers economically, thereby depriving millions of innocent American children of their much needed veggies. <> Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly for May 18 notes that organized labor can help to narrow the income gap often associated with America’s health and environmental problems. But the battle is lopsided. Corporatization is a piece of cake. "A group of people want to form a corporation. They call a meeting (freedom of assembly) and discuss (freedom of speech) their options and decide they want corporate recognition. Then they send a representative to their state capital and file some papers. That's it. Their corporation is recognized by the rest of the society. No cards are signed; no campaign is waged, no one gets fired and no election occurs. Just recognition." Unionization, any organizer will tell you, is a hard-won, often-lost battle.

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Playgrounds for all ages. MUNI provides a constant source of amusement. On a recent bus trip through the Mission, a well-dressed older woman sat among a group of mothers and infants. When the bus stopped at an intersection, she leaped to her feet, caroling, "It’s the girls!" She ushered aboard two tiny old ladies, handsomely dressed, carefully made up, their blond hair gleaming. They found places in the front seat, a silver cane balanced between them. One pulled a pastry from her bag, and the trio settled down for a cozy chat. <> Bright yellow and orange structures are sprouting in the Tenderloin. Workers are transforming long-locked Sergeant John Macauley Park, at Larkin and O’Farrell into a playground for little folks, complete with slides and a spare tire to swing on. An iron fence has held the area captive since 1995, but soon the gates will open wide — this summer, predicts Midge Wilson of the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center, whose eyes have firmly held this vision from the beginning.

Wuxtry! Wuxtry! Read all about it! As the courts review the Brand Ex newspaper squabble, DPW is moving forward its own Brand Why News Rack Campaign. San Francisco plans to bring order to its streets by moving publications from messy privately owned news racks into city-owned forest green battleships. A trial run is scheduled to begin this summer in the City Hall area and near PacBell Park. For a place in the test racks, program manager Daniel B. Brugmann announced recently, publishers must fax an application to his office "between 9 a.m. (local time) on May 17, 2000 and 5 p.m. (local time) on May 18, 2000," with space allotted on a first come, first served basis. Kinda reminds you of those radio quizzes, where the 20th caller wins. Meanwhile, plans for the Real Thing have taken on a life of their own. A meeting last week of the News Rack Advisory Committee was asked to "recommend" the jolly green giants’ first resting place. Seemed a cut-and-dried location: Market Street from Steuart to Van Ness. But the committee didn’t think so, with a vote of 3 ayes and 5 abstaining. Could be the members are a little miffed. At their last meeting, in March, they voted to recommend a number of substantial changes in the program’s proposed guidelines. But on May 5, DPW director Mark A. Primeau approved the final set of guidelines, with no alterations. Or it could be that everyone’s simply treading water until the courts tackle the issue.