I read this article by Steve Rubenstein in SFGate today: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-history-on-view-at-Old-Mint-expo-6107758.php
This post is an insult to anyone with enough intelligence to see through it. Before the first line of the article, the lack of proper title case, “S.F. history on view at Old Mint expo,” gives the reader a clue of how sloppy of an article Steve and his editor (or lack of an editor) saw fit to publish.
This is the first line: “They’re having something called a History Expo,” but who is they? The reader has to wonder who did what, for paragraphs while Steve makes observations that would only be informative to someone without a brain “gaze at … objects from the past, which is when history took place.” Steve’s tone is just as unprofessional as his sloppy writing and smacks of someone that didn’t want the assignment in the first place. Instead of writing about the expo itself, which is what the title of the article suggests, what it really is, is an assassination piece from a PoV of someone that didn’t do any research at all before writing, and it shows.
The writer goes on about how long it has taken to renovate the Old Mint, and how the city is fed up with the time its taken. It paints the SF Museum and Historical Society (the unnamed “they” from the first line) as inept in tone but also mentioning the society has spent millions of dollars removing asbestos, which should be a clue as to another article that could have been written about why it has taken so long. This piece should have been about the various non-profits showing things off. And had he actually written about the more interesting booths instead of highly loaded slams against a few organizations, it might have been a decent and on topic piece.
The obvious bias this writer has imposed into this article is trying to make fools of people, and judging by the comments, it has worked. Steve, why don’t you do some research and mention WHY this hasn’t happened? Here, I’ll help you: start with funding. Steve doesn’t bother with looking into funding — how much they get, from whom and the budget they need to restore it.
So, instead of asking and answering why it takes YEARS to renovate the old Mint We are left with this article that wouldn’t even be fit for a college student’s “Whatever” blog.
Here is just one example of the answers to the question the “reporter” could have found if he knew anything about the process of building restoration.
(1) Professionals that remove asbestos must conform to safety regulations, making clean up costs skyrocket. This requires specialized equipment including filtration systems to protect worker health along with more expensive disposal procedures.It’s not as simple as having a bunch of day workers to rip out all the asbestos, toss it into dumpsters.
(2) Without funding they can only afford so much work that needs to be done, and most SF residents would rather funnel money into infrastructure: rightfully so. So, it is up to those with deeper pockets to decide where to allocate resources. Without digging into these details the reader is no more informed than the writer. And without any substantive information, this article’s actual focus (which is anything but the expo itself) doesn’t actually warrant being under the news category. Instead it should be filed under opinion and — more specifically — an uninformed, snap judgement at that.
(3) The professional craftspeople needed to do restoration jobs like these are actually among the highest paid type of worker because it takes extra knowledge and skill to restore things properly. Also, they do not work for free.
(4) The numerous regulations and building codes in effect add costs to the effort that only large cash-rich entities can spare. Non-profits trying to preserve history are a niche market, and are left having to raise the funds thorough grants and fundraising activities. Thus the $14 commemorative metal lunch boxes, $20 Coit Tower glassware, etc.
I’m guessing the concept of quality is something Steve’s familiar w/judging from this post. If Steve had bothered to walk into the first room on the left, he would have seen the multitude of buildings that need restoration and where any attendee could have added to the list of suggested historic sites.
Had Steve talked about specifics of the costs of restoration in a different piece, he could have found out that even a 1500 square foot firehouse from the turn of the last century can easily cost 8 figures to restore. But he didn’t bother because he didn’t care enough to dig deeper — which is an attitude that actual reporters bother to do. It is sad that such an assignment was given to him, and sadder still that SF Gate chose to publish it without any decent copy-editing.
But don’t take my word for it, you can actually still go see for yourself how large a structure needs to be rehabilitated. http://sfhistoryexpo.org