There's been a lot of news recently about Bay Area animal-rights activists being targeted by federal investigators. But you may not have heard about animal-rights activists setting their crosshairs on an Oakland archery club that uses images of animals such as deer and turkeys for target practice.
Last month, the Mill Valley-based group In Defense of Animals put out an "action alert" to its members suggesting they write a "polite letter" to the Redwood Bowmen club at Redwood Regional Park to stop using the targets. "Let them know that animal images should not be used as targets," the notice said, "as it is inappropriate and incites violence against animals."
Dr. Elliot Katz, executive director of In Defense of Animals, told Feeder that using such targets especially desensitizes children, who will come away thinking it's okay to shoot animals. This is particularly the case here, he added, since the archery range is in a public park right next to the Chabot Space & Science Center, a favorite destination for families with kids. "It seems to me," Katz reasoned, "that if people want to go target shooting, a plain old bull's-eye would be just fine."
When Feeder contacted Bruce Cull, president of the National Field Archery Association, which establishes guidelines for archery clubs like Oakland's Redwood Bowmen, he was puzzled by the unexpected fuss. Cull noted that his organization has been using animal images on its targets since its inception in 1939 and he hasn't heard any complaints before. After all, he reasoned, many archers are hunters: "These are animals that are legally hunted throughout the United States," he said.
IDA reps were unsure exactly how the issue came across their radar. Laura Beck, a development assistant for In Defense of Animals, guessed that an activist probably "stumbled upon" the archery range. When Feeder stumbled over to the range to talk to the locals, bowman Lewis Fish said the club now gets a lot of "walker-downers" from the science center, which opened five years ago. (Maybe walker-downers aren't a problem for the archery club at Lafayette's Briones Park, where they use lifelike 3-D game targets every Monday night in the summer.) The three Oakland bowmen letting fly that day hardly seemed like sadists to small critters -- during an impromptu tour of the range, a hungry squirrel, clearly unafraid for its life, ran up to Fish and Feeder looking for a handout. Still, the archers didn't sound particularly amenable to the animal-rightists' pleas. "They got their agenda; we just shoot targets," snorted an archery-club board member named Bob.
BART management may have settled its differences with the unions last week, but it still has to deal with contrarian BART board member Zoyd Luce. The Dublin resident has been on the board less than a year, and has already distinguished himself for saying what other directors won't say -- at least publicly -- by dissing executive perks and BART cops for spending more time in their cars than inside stations. A fellow board director jokingly refers to him as "Luce Lips." Some of his needling is no doubt payback for all those years he toiled as a mid-level BART manager until being forced into retirement two years ago. Still, he makes some good points. And, well, you can't blame the guy for wanting to tell off his jerky old boss, GM Tom Margro, now that Luce is one of Margro's bosses on the board.
Luce says management dislikes him making waves, a fact that became all too clear, he says, when a producer for KGO Radio host Gene Burns tried to schedule an in-depth interview with him following a recent plug from Chron columnists Matier & Ross. When Luce arrived for his radio interview, he says KGO staffers told him how BART's chief press officer Linton Johnson pressed them to interview other directors instead. Afterward, Luce asked BART's general counsel Sherwood Wakeman to look into Johnson's handling of the matter. Wakeman forwarded Luce the e-mail correspondence, which does show that Johnson tried to point KGO producer Jonathan Serviss in another direction, but that he didn't go so far as quashing an interview.
"Just to give you some sort of context," Johnson replied to Serviss, "we have 9 elected directors. So Director Luce's opinion counts as one of 9. ... The only reason Director Luce is getting any media attention is because Matier & Ross happened to print them. How that makes Director Luce's more 'valid' than the other Directors' opinions, I don't know."
Johnson recommended that Serviss come to a board meeting (big fun!) to hear other opinions. But Serviss pressed Johnson to hook him up with Luce, so Johnson did. Still, Luce didn't like what he read and fired off an angry letter to Johnson: "I feel that you were doing what you felt was 'politically correct' or at the direction of some managerial position at BART," he wrote. He goes on to tell Johnson that in the future he should forward all reporters to him directly "without your comments, politicizing, and management propaganda."
Johnson wouldn't comment for this item, but Serviss backs up the BART flack. The producer says that, after all, Johnson put him in touch with Luce despite his initial hesitation. Serviss, however, did get the sense that Luce was not the most popular guy among his colleagues: "They were definitely taken aback by the amount of attention he was receiving," he says.
Memo to the KGO kids: Next time, try looking in the White Pages for contact info first instead of going through the press guy. That's how Feeder tracked down Luce.