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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 30    <>  MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2001

this & that

hotphoto.jpg (29636 bytes)Weaving tangled webs. The August 16 issue of AsianWeek carries a long feature article on Asian Pacific Islander American home ownership — a salutary custom in the eyes of many APIAs, and many other Americans as well.

It’s a booming market, says reporter Janet Ng. “Asian Pacific Islander Americans are purchasing property in record numbers. In fact, statistics in the 2000 Census reveal that in the last 10 years, minority home-ownership has been on the rise. Moreover, among minority groups, APIAs have the highest home-ownership rates: 57.3 percent in the Bay Area (compared to 34 percent in the general population) and 55.1 percent statewide.”

The Bay Area is still a tight housing market, notes Fremont real estate agent Steve Dillon, and prices in San Francisco are still “damn expensive.”

No longer, if the ad placed smack dab in the middle of the article can be believed: FOR SALE: Below-Market Condos. “Win-win!” it adds, employing the favored phrase of the Sarosh Kumana, founder of Home Ownership for Tenants (HOT). (Click on the thumbnail at the beginning of this article to see the ad.)

An image springs to mind of hard-pressed APIA families eagerly lining up to take advantage of the program.

There’s only one snag, which the ad omits: HOT is a pipe dream, a gleam in Kumana’s eye.

Nor does the article set matters straight. The closest it comes to mentioning HOT is a paragraph buried toward the end:

Amid the debate, a new approach to relieve the housing situation might be included on the November ballot. Legislation to create condominiums and bypass the lottery is being promoted by Sarosh Kumana, president of the Affordable Home-Ownership Alliance and a member of Home-Ownership for Tenants, and Supervisor Tony Hall. The proposal includes a voluntary agreement between landlords and at least 25 percent of their tenants who wish to own their apartments.

Might be included on the November ballot.

Especially if the measure is impelled by hundreds of APIAs who have heeded the call to “get info and sign up.”

By the way, if you’ve forgotten the allusion in the heading to this item, no, it’s not from Shakespeare. Sir Walter Scott, in a now happily forgotten poem called “Marmion, A Tale of Flodden Field,” said, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.”

Back atchya, Dubya. Cyberspace has been buzzing with do-good ways to spend your tax refund. I like the logic of this one, proposed by the MoveOn Political Action Committee, a group that raised more than $2 million in small donations during the 2000 election. Here’s part of the spiel:

Bush and Cheney seem to goad us with a new outrage each week. 

But this time, they’re giving us an easy way to fight back.  We can commit our rebate checks to elect good leadership in Congress.  It takes just a second to make the pledge at: www.moveon.org/rebatepledge/

Certainly, many people will have to spend their $300 to $600 to meet immediate, personal needs.  Many will donate theirs to social service agencies meeting the immediate needs of others.  Many will refuse their checks, returning them to pay down the national debt.  All of these are reasonable and worthy choices.

Yet I hope you’ll consider joining me in responding in the strongest and most direct way — removing Bush’s and Cheney’s allies from power, by pledging your rebate to the MoveOn Political Action Committee.