Monday, March 31, 2014

SFPD Update: List of Civilians Killed by Cops?

At the police commission's March 26 hearing in the Tenderloin, the tension and anger over the officer-involved killing of young Latino Alejandro "Alex" Nieto in Bernal Heights filled the room. Another person in San Francisco was dead because of the cops and I used my public comment time to call for creating a list of all civilians killed by members of the police force.

There is a wall in the lobby of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street listing the names of officers killed in the line of duty, and City dollars are spent maintaining the names of those deceased public servants. As far as I know, no City funds go toward keeping a list of members of the public killed by police officers and there is no permanent marker for them.

To start the process of developing such a list, after the commission meeting I filed an immediate disclosure request with Chief Greg Suhr for the names of civilians killed by the SFPD since 2000 and today the department's head of legal affairs, Maureen Conefrey, sent this reply:

In response to your IDR received Friday afternoon, I have been informed by Lt. Plyer of Homicide, that we will need to invoke an extension of time, due to the need to consult with another component of the Police Department. See CA Govt Code Section 6253(c). We anticipate having this information to you within the week, but no later than April 14, 2014. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Let's what my records request eventually produces from the police department. Rather curious if they maintain such a list and whether they have reservations for withholding it. If you know of a community-created list of names of the civilian deaths, please let me know about it.

This request for public documents is dedicated in memory of Alex Nieto, pictured in this public domain photo.
P-Party Supervisor Campaign Launch: Castro Public Toilet April 5 

Please join me as the next phase of my effort to run for District 8 Supervisor unfolds in the heart of Castro gayborhood on Saturday, April 5 at noon, and I begin soliciting funds.

(My life-partner of 18-fabulous-years, Mike Merrigan, and I at the Department of Elections when I pulled the papers to run for political office.)

This coming week, I'm taking care of setting up a committee and following the campaign finance rules of the Ethics Commission, establishing a bank account and method of accepting online donations, creating a Facebook page and other social media outlets, and working to meet my first goal for getting on the November ballot: raising $500 for the processing fee.

Details about how to donate, along with more info about my platform and other important matters will be announced at the April 5 campaign kickoff outside the public toilet kiosk at Jane Warner Plaza, located at Market near Castro Street.

This spot was chosen because it enables me to highlight a few of my concerns:

Increasing the number of public toilets, addressing safety issues for transgender people in lavatories, opening public bathhouses for homeless people and freeing the libraries of patrons bathing in sinks, decreasing the risk of disease and unsanitary conditions from human defecation and urination on City streets. We must also remember not to waste water during times of drought or when we are flush with rainwater in reservoirs.

Given the recent and prominent focus of local mainstream and alternative news outlets from the SF Chronicle to the SF Weekly on public restrooms, I am persuaded that pee-and-poop issues are a top quality of life concern for District 8 residents.

Under the P-Party name, I intend to build name-awareness among voters and highlight important concerns such as reclaiming public property from private merchant organizations, probing wasteful use of public funds at nonprofits, and enhancing civic engagement at City Hall and government commissions with new rules for public comment time.

Other pertinent P concerns are public housing that is affordable for low and moderate income people, public health-care delivery scrutiny through more transparency thanks to my campaign to get Department of Pubic Health meetings aired on TV, and peas as in food security for all persons. Oh, I'm also hoping to receive the endorsement of the influential League of Pissed Off Voters of San Francisco.

There's also that very unplanned photo-op I had with the incumbent, which led to him abuse the power of his office to exact a legal vendetta against me that cost the City $26,000, an incident that the press won't let me forget. But my campaign is so much more than addressing that unfortunate case. Check out my announcement in November about this effort, to learn more about my platform.

I hope to see you this Saturday at noon at Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro!

Castro's Rainbow Flag Blight Must be Eradicated by DPW

This letter and the photos have been sent to the head of the Department of Public Work and several of his deputies down at City Hall. I'll let you know when I heard back from them.

Dear Mohammed Nuru,

This is a request to have your department quickly remove the filthy and faded rainbow flags currently on display attached to City utility and light poles around my District 8 neighborhood. Some say these banners were installed when Sup. Bevan Dufty represented the area at City Hall, but I can't pin the install date down.

Regardless, as you can see from these photos the rainbow colors are heavily washed out, some banners are torn and others caked with soot. And it's not just one or two but at least a dozen, perhaps more that I missed capturing on my camera, and they are clustered around a few cross-streets.

These four banners fly on 17th Street between Castro and Sanchez Streets, and they greet visitors arriving to the world-famous gay-boy-hood via the iconic and historic F car Muni line.

Along the much-traveled by all means of transportation Church Street corridor is where these banners hang, in all their dirtiness.

Here is perhaps the most in need of removal flag, located at Market and 14th Streets. It's faded, torn in several places and layered with filth. A real eyesore. 

At the intersection of 16th, Sanchez and Market Streets is where your removal crews can find these rainbow banners.

I've heard talk that the Merchants of Upper Market Castro are the group responsible for replacing the banners on their dime when they become disreputable, and I can't figure out why this blight on public property has gone unnoticed for many years. Those banners didn't get that way overnight.

Please eradicate these and all other similar rainbow flags on DPW property as soon as possible. The Castro residents and visitors would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gay Inc v. Russia Today: Obama Visits Homo-Beheading Saudi Arabia

Late last week, reader Brian Heiss shared this letter with me:

With President Obama visiting Saudi Arabia [Friday and Saturday], why has the media not covered how Saudi Arabia treats gay men and why President Obama remains silent about this? 

“I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” - Obama (The Tonight Show, August 6, 2013) 

FACT: In Saudi Arabia homosexual conduct is punishable by death. 

"Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights." - Obama (Brussels, March 26, 2014) 

FACT: In Saudi Arabia gays are often banned from schools, thrown in jail, and even whipped simply for the crime of being gay. 

As the President visits Saudi Arabia, the complete silence from LGBT groups and the media is baffling. The voices that protested Russia’s laws should be a million times louder against Saudi Arabia’s laws yet the world remains silent as Saudi Arabia executes gay men.

Unfamiliar with the killing of gays by the Saudis, I asked Brian for more info and he shared links from the BBC and Reuters about such executions. I also read the latest U.S. State Department human rights report for the country and the desperate situation for our brothers and sisters in the kingdom is noted:

Under sharia, as interpreted in the country, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is punishable by death or flogging, depending on the perceived seriousness of the case. It is illegal for men “to behave like women” or to wear women’s clothes, and vice versa. Due to social conventions and potential persecution, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations did not operate openly, nor were there gay rights advocacy events of any kind. - See more at:
Under sharia, as interpreted in the country, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is punishable by death or flogging, depending on the perceived seriousness of the case. It is illegal for men “to behave like women” or to wear women’s clothes, and vice versa. Due to social conventions and potential persecution, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations did not operate openly, nor were there gay rights advocacy events of any kind. - See more at:
Under sharia, as interpreted in the country, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is punishable by death or flogging, depending on the perceived seriousness of the case. It is illegal for men “to behave like women” or to wear women’s clothes, and vice versa. Due to social conventions and potential persecution, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations did not operate openly, nor were there gay rights advocacy events of any kind. 

(Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud greeting Obama in Riyadh last week. Credit: AP.)

I couldn't locate anything online from domestic or international LGBT advocacy groups urging Obama to raise gay concerns while in Saudi Arabia, but the Huffington Post reported on one conservative non-profit outfit demanding action:

Citing paragraphs that disparage Christians, label Jews “pigs,” and teach that execution is an Islamic response to gay sex, some Americans are asking President Obama to demand that Saudi Arabia remove religious bigotry from its official school textbooks. [...] Led by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank, American groups are also pressuring the president to release a 2012 State Department report that details offensive material within the books.

One source has reported on Obama's silence, the Kremlin-funded propaganda machine Russia Today, from a hypocritical perspective but at least it reported something about gays and executions:

The American president did not raise concerns of human rights violations during his dialogue with King Abdullah, despite the kingdom’s notoriously abhorrent human rights record, which includes the severe repression of women’s rights and capital punishment (often by beheading) for engaging in apostasy, adultery, sorcery or homosexuality.

If the gay advocacy groups raised their voices last week, I can't find proof of it and if you have some, share the evidence, please.

For now, we have silence from Gay Inc over LGBT oppression in Saudi Arabia related to the president's state visit versus an iota of attention from Putin's news agency and advocacy from a conservative think-tank. That says plenty about the state of global LGBT advocacy.
Queers Cheer Liza at Her Fabulous San Francisco Concert: Video

All she had to do was make an entrance on the stage at Davies Hall a few minutes after 8 pm on Friday night, and she received a roaring standing ovation.

Basking in the adulation, the legendary Liza Minnelli smiled and bowed in appreciation before thanking us fans and launching into her first number "Teach Me Tonight".

Mike and I were in homo-heaven finally seeing her perform live, and being in the on-stage terrace right section made the evening more special because we were so close to her.

Liza was joined by an excellent seven-man band, including Billy Stritch the longtime music arranger, pianist and accompanist to many a diva.

The song selection featured hits from "Cabaret" and "New York, New York", and hearing tunes from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie ignited a desire to see the restored version of it up on the Castro Theatre's enormous silver screen.

At one point, in between songs, her speaking voice was eerily young again to the point in her career when she played Pookie Adams in "The Sterile Cuckoo" for which she received her first Oscar nomination in 1969. I remember seeing it at the Claremont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey, and even at age 10 knew I was seeing an emotionally honest actress turn in a wonderful performance.

Liza's fabulous show on Friday made us hungry for more of her, so I shot this short video of her before she did the encore number to have a visual memento of the evening. Like her mother Judy Garland's concert hall shows, the gay men are besides themselves with joy and making themselves hoarse cheering their approval and love.

There were three dolled up girls around age 10 whom we could see from our perch, and I'm so pleased one of them rushed the stage in my video to hand Liza a bouquet. Nice to see some of the (very) younger generation learning diva worship in their tween years.

From Michael and Mike, we give four big enthusiastic thumbs up to the great Liza!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

CNN's Van Jones' Tirade at SF Ethics Commission: Video

As a devoted follower of San Francisco's various commissions, I can say with certainty that one of the most dysfunctional and lazy ones is the Ethics Commission. It's easier to find missing that missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 jet than timely, effective and consistent watchdogging from this body.

The dysfunction harms most City residents, be they old, young, black, white, gay or straight. Those not hurt in any way are the myriad politicians and public servants in desperate need of ethical oversight, and there is no serious effort by the Board of Supervisors to address this deplorable weak lapdog-to-the-powerful commission.

(Public domain photo.)

On Monday, March 24, public comment was item two on the agenda and there was a large turnout and roiling tensions from supporters of Juliet Ellis, pictured, a deputy manager at the SF Public Utilities Commission who was the subject of a resolution condemning her ethical lapse in 2012 when she helped steer a no-bid contract the East Bay charity Green for All. She was on the group's board at the time.

The resolution, introduced by commissioner Peter Keane, which is an advisory document and nothing more, noted that Ellis admitted committed two violations of the local Campaign and Government Conduct Code and the commission was merely recommending her employment be terminated.

It took two years for this matter to come before the Ethics Commission, proving my point about how slow it is in delivering even a modicum of accountability.

The hearing room was packed with black political and religious leaders raising the specter of racism as the driving force behind the Ellis resolution. None of them addressed the longstanding, deep general problems with the commission, not even to place their charge of racism in a larger context of the operations of this government body.

I'm not dismissing the concerns of the black politicians and advocates, and folks of other races who spoke at the hearing, but I do wish they had include equally important concerns about incompetence and manipulation at the commission.

One of the longest speeches during public comment, going way over the allotted three-minutes per speaker, was delivered by ambitious black political advocate and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" show Van Jones. He's also the co-founder of the Green for All nonprofit. I've no problem with him expressing his anger over racism and social ills harming the black community, but he didn't address the core matter: Ellis admitting two violations of good government codes.

Btw, commissioner Keane withdrew his resolution after hearing from the public so no vote was taken on the matter. One more act of cowardice from this commission.

Check out the video and the SF GovTV close-captioned transcript of Jones' tirade on Monday.

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TRANSCRIPT [Jones starts to speak at the 00:50:00 mark]:

hi, I sure don't want to be y'all. [Laughter] I really wouldn't. You are clearly ill-advised and I feel sorry for you. i have been in public life, as are you, and sometimes you just step in it. And it's good to go ahead and admit that early.

Sometimes it makes it a little bit easier. Before I get to my comments, I have to give some respect to my mentors and my elders who are here who helped me when I lived in this town as a young activist. Reverend amos brown who is here who led the fight for justice.

Mother rookses, [Speaker not understood] Daydon who is here, and so many others . They raised me up and they raise your head up. and I am ashamed that we have not done a better job as a generation to be able to protect our own peers from these kinds of attacks and that we still have to rely on our mentors to come here and defend and protect us. But let me say this.

My name is van jones. i used to be a local activist. I used to try to help kids who were sent away to prison. I saw kids being sent away to prison for doing things in bayview hunters point that my classmates were doing at yale law school. I saw my classmates smoking dope at yale law school. They didn't go to prison. But I saw kids the same age down here at bayview hunters point that still have not come back, and that bothered me. And I took my law degree to try to do something about it, and I burned out. 

It was too hard. I went to too many funerals. I'm not as strong as my mentors and elders. Too many funerals. Too many young people laying in kass lets and grown folks sitting up in the peughs with white hair. Do that enough times, it does something to you. Caskets. And I started to look at myself, what could I do to make a positive difference to make a better future for these young people? And there was one person I was able to reach out to who was able to help me get through that situation and come up with a months positive answer. Her name was juliet ellis. 

She joined the board of the baker for human rights [Speaker not understood] And helped that organization. Turn around for just a politics without rage and [Speaker not understood] And come up with positive solutions and those positive solutions were called green jobs. And he helped us get the city of oakland to create a green jobs core and that green jobs core started putting african men and women latino men and women to work. [Speaker not understood] 

Nancy pelosi heard about the work that juliet ellis and lisa and myself were doing and she took me by the hand in washington, D.C., a man by the name of george w. Bush was so inspired by the work that juliet ellis was helping us do that he signed into law a bill called the green jobs act in 2007. juliet ellis counseled me to write a book, a man named barack obama read the book. Senator barack obama read the book and he said, these ideas are so good that you've come up with in the bay area. 

>> excuse me, but you're over time and we have many speakers. thank you very much.  >>> 

And he said, I want you to come to the white house. 

>> thank you, sir. >>> 

and at the white house he said, these ideas so so good that we're going to put $80 billion behind them. That is [Inaudible].

>> sir, please, there are many speakers behind you. >>> 

Can't do that. Can't do that. so good that the President Of the united states [Speaker not understood] Ideas. The speaker of the house [Speaker not understood] The congresswoman of this city [Speaker not understood] George w. Bush [Speaker not understood] Her idea. [Speaker not understood]. She made a mistake. She made a mistake. And I was taught by my own men tore, when you make a mistake, don't lie about it. Mentor don't hide it. come forward. Make apology, make an amend, and then try to make a difference. That is what she is doing. Applause:  now, if she hadn't followed the rules, you have to follow the rules. [Cheering and applauding] there is something called a state bar association and the state bar association was very, very untimely of why people have law degrees and have [Speaker not understood] And who abuse their authority. They will be hearing about this no matter what you do today. Thank you very much. [Cheering and applauding] 

>> ladies and gentlemen, there is a three-minute time limit. Please observe that because those are also the rules. >>> 

I follow the rules, you follow the rules. [Speaker not understood]. I'll follow the rules.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gay NYC Pol Corey Johnson's Money Trail Leads to the 1%

A hearty salute to investigative citizen journalist Seth Barron of the City Council Watch site for following the money that's flowed to the always-climbing-the-gay-Democratic-political-ladder Corey Johnson and reporting on his findings. Barron looked at plenty more pols in New York and who's sprinkling their bank accounts with greenbacks, and I feel a kindred spirit between us.

There simply are not enough watchdogs keeping tabs on politicians and a good number of them following the money, but don't blog or otherwise share their findings online. We'd have a lot more government transparency if only a handful more of citizen watchdogs put their research and questions and all on the web for everyone to read. Come on, people!

Spill some beans. As the recent indictment of California state Sen. Leland Yee shows, there are an endless array of folks talking now about what they supposedly knew before his scandal of gun running and money laundering accusations became public knowledge. Speak out before the politician gets too corrupt or cozy with elite power-brokers or indicted and do democracy a huge favor.

(Photo credit: Miguel Dominguez.)

Read these excerpts from Barron's reporting earlier this week at the City & State news portal:

New York City Councilman Corey Johnson, who represents Chelsea, the West Village and Hell’s Kitchen, threw himself an elegant inauguration costing upwards of $30,000, including $1,500 on flowers. 

Rather than sourcing this business to one of his district’s many high-end florists, or to the city’s flower district on 28th Street, Johnson hired his chief of staff’s mother, who owns a flower shop 150 miles away in Norwich, Conn., to provide the floral arrangements for his swearing-in celebration. The councilman also spent $14,000 on food with a caterer based in New Jersey. 

Johnson’s chief of staff, Jeffrey LeFrancois, did not respond to questions as to why his mother’s business was chosen to supply the Johnson inaugural with its table arrangements. 

 According to the city’s Campaign Finance Board’s rules, Transition and Inauguration (TIE) funds are not matched by public funding, so elected officials are free to distribute the money they raise for those purposes largely at their own discretion. As such, TIE funds are a gray area of political financing, not just because they are mostly spent on parties, but also because they do not receive a lot of scrutiny. [...] 

Johnson also accepted $2,500 from Judith Rubin. Rubin is the wife of Robert Rubin, Clinton’s secretary of the Treasury. Secretary Rubin oversaw the dismantling of regulatory oversight of the financial industry, and urged caution regarding the regulation of credit derivatives. [...]

Is there a contradiction inherent in a supposed “progressive” who aggressively touts his family’s labor background partying on the dime of a person who perhaps typifies the “1 percent”?  [...]

Are the progressives who now constitute the Council leadership any different from the typical big city machine politician with a wide smile and an open palm?

Excellent work, Seth! Keep asking those tough questions and maintain pressure on Johnson and his staff to provide answers.
Robbery Report: Liza Tix OK, Electronics Need Replacing

Dear Friends and Family,

You may have heard that our apartment was burglarized on Monday. We've finally determined all that was stolen and needs to be replaced. And I have taken this negative and turned it into a positive: I am organizing my extensive activist archive.

Many huge thanks to all of you who have expressed concern and love during this traumatic episode. Special shout outs to some folks who went out of their way to help us get over this crime: Rick Gerharter, Tate Swindell, Jay Blotcher and Ken Hodnett.

First up, neighbors here in The Mission have been alerted to the crime. Everyone is a bit rattled that the robbery happened during the afternoon when the street is busy with foot and vehicular traffic. Asking around, I've learned that in the past two weeks the Friends School was broken into during a weekend day. Also, two cars have had their windows smashed and property stolen. Plus a man sitting on the bench in front of the St Francis of Assisi Senior Center in the early evening was robbed of his laptop by three young adults. Clearly a rash of crimes are happening in our area.

Some have asked if I think this was a payback message from one of my political enemies and the idea has crossed my mind. But in the context of crime in our part of the Mission and other factors, it's highly unlikely the robbery was political revenge. When my enemies in San Francisco want to come after me, they use other tactics: they bring charges via the District Attorney and drag me through the criminal "justice" system.

As my friend Gregg Scott said, if they truly wanted revenge that would sting, they would have stolen our tickets to tonight's Liza Minnelli concert! Happy to say the tickets are safe and you can be damn sure Mike and I are ready for a night of entertainment with the legendary Liza.

Other good news is that cherished mementos from my late mother Rose weren't harmed or taken. All of my photos and paper documents, along with content on my hard drive, are also safe. Some of what was robbed has been replaced by friends, including a monitor and medicine.

Now, here's the list of items stolen that need to be replaced: Two winter coats, my passes and gift cards for the Roxie, Landmark and Cinemark Theaters.

The electronic equipment includes a 2008 pay-as-you-go cell phone, one small camera, three battery rechargers, rechargeable batteries, the LifeCam for my PC, various cables and adapters, a CD/radio player. > What was not stolen was an external hard drive and I need one so I can back up all the government documents and other important records on my hard drive.

If you would like to donate any of those electronic devices, please let me know. And should you wish to make a monetary contribution to replace these items, I would be grateful. Just click on the PayPal Donate button on the upper right of this page. Or contact me for our snail mail address if you want to send a check or an electronic device.

Again, much gratitude to all who've offered comfort and understanding. While this week started with the burglary ... it ends with the beauty of Liza, Liza, Liza!

Best to all,
Michael and Mike

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Public Citizens Demand 'Three Minutes!' at SF Police Hearing: Video

Having watched the SF GovTV video from last night's police commission meeting in the Tenderloin district, I am even more persuaded that this reckless commission engaged in a serious dereliction of duty in keeping the public citizens waiting for more than an hour as they put on a dog-and-pony show.

Watch for yourself just how disorganized it was as we went from an 15-minute, with a five minute hijacking by Sup. Jane Kim to shine us on with her lovely smile, presentation of blathering from Cpt. Jason Cherniss about how terrific his TL police station is, with no clear verbal guidance from SF Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco we devolved into chaos and chanting.

This video shows how community policing plays out in San Francisco on the part of those with the power. It's gotta change, starting with assessing how the police commission disrespected the grassroots folks last night and holding those responsible for failure to conduct a meeting that lessened tensions.

Put public comment at the start of the meeting, give the citizens our three minutes, and either put the elected officials on the agenda after public comment, or make them speak during public comment and with the same time limit as everyone else.

No more special privileges for Supervisors to just parachute in, say a few warm and fuzzy remarks without a time limit, then split as we all wait to speak.

If you can watch this excerpt and say with a serious face that this was a shining moment for community policing under Mayor Ed Lee, Jane Kim, Thomas Mazzucco and Chief Greg Suhr, you're smoking pretty good weed.

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SF Writer Arthur Evans May Be Honored at Scotland's GlasGay Fair

He was one of the modern American gay movement's most original thinkers and an activist to be reckoned with, who made many friendships and enemies in his long life. I first met Arthur Evans in 1987 during the AIDS plague years and we maintained a deep and warm and friendship together. You can refresh your memory, or learn about him for the first time, by reading his self-penned obituary.

This week was brightened with this note from abroad that touched me, and I think lots of Arthur's pals and adversaries will get a kick out of learning he and his writings may be part of a festival in the UK. I wrote back to Oliver Braid and suggested he contact Naphtali Offen, who was Arthur's best friend, and gave him his addy. There also may be others who wish to assist with how the fair presents Arthur's legacy.

If you wish to reach Oliver about the plans to honor Arthur at the GlasGay event, shoot him an email: OliverBraid[at] Here's his lovely note:

My name is Oliver Braid and I am an artist based in Glasgow, Scotland. This year I am working with my friend Marc Cairns, a designer from the collaborative group Pidgin Perfect, to curate Glasgay’s first annual visual arts programme. 

Glasgay is Scotland’s annual celebration of queer culture and this year, to mark their 21st anniversary in the city, the director has invited a selection of guest curators to programme different aspects of the festival. For our contribution, the visual arts section, we are keen to develop an investigation into queer relationships with the occult and esoteric. 

As part of this we are hoping to develop a strand of the exhibition that looks at the some of the ideas explored in Arthur Evans’ publications Witchcraft & the Gay Counterculture and Critique of Patriarchal Reason. 

We would really like to develop an Arthur Evans element to the project (perhaps an archive of previous work, a reading room or another suitable form) and so I am hoping to enquire as to whether you may be a good starting point for collating information about Evans’ work and life and if you would be available and interested in working with us on this. 

We are currently writing budgets and making additional funding applications, but the time frame we are looking at to deliver the work would be late October-early November 2014. 

We appreciate that with this short notice you may already be engaged but if you do have time in your schedule and would be interested in developing some ideas of how we can bring Evans’ work to the public in this format then it would be brilliant to hear your response and initial thoughts.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Angry Public Acts Up at SF Police Meeting in the Tenderloin

Unlike the March 12 police commission meeting, which didn't happen because three members - Julius Turman, Joe Marshal, Petra DeJesus - failed to show up and quorum was not met, tonight's police commission meeting took place and it was a classic example of a San Francisco government appointed panel disrespecting the public.

(Credit for all photos goes to Forrest Schmidt of the ANSWER Coalition.)

The community room at Tenderloin Recreation Center was overflowing with friends and family of Alex Nieto, the young Latino killed on Friday in an officer-involved shooting at Bernal Heights Park, District 6 residents and Supervisor Jane Kim, and members of the general public such as myself.

The first act of dissing was not putting public comment at the top of the agenda, which would have done a tremendous good and defused some of the justifiable anger in the room. You'd think after the extremely heated town hall in the Mission last night about Nieto's killing and rising tensions, the commissioners would have smartly used their privilege of adjusting the agenda during a meeting and not violating sunshine laws.

Nah, we had to sit through Chief Greg Suhr recent activities report, a staffer from the Office of Citizens Complaints reading a 6-page speech, reports from the commissioners, and no time limits for any of them. Despite the required taking of public comment after every item, and all those reports were one item, no public comment was allowed.

Yeah, I objected and commission president Thomas Mazzucco had to deal with my verbal complaint and the commission said they would take all public comment at the very end.

Next up was Cpt. Jason Cherniss, at podium, head of the Tenderloin station and his 22-slide PowerPoint presentation, full of just the most wonderful stats about how terrific a job his force is performing, and he went on so long I interrupted and asked if there was a time limit for him. Commissioners curtly said no, and soon enough Mazzucco changed the agenda and allowed Sup. Kim to deliver her Oscar speech in the middle of Cherniss' lecture.

More dissing of the public waiting to speak. I'm way over stopping any SFMTA or commission meeting and allowing a Supervisor to hijack the agenda and with no time limit. Either put the pols on the agenda or make them wait for public comment.

Kim thanked this one and that one, acknowledged community folks, said upbeat things about her district, and was received very warmly, why I don't know. She had at least four-minutes of prime time and then apologized for needing to split but mentioned her aide would stay.

Cherniss finally finished and there was rush for the podium for public comment. It was now 75-minutes into the meeting and tempers were flaring. Mazzucco had not made a single announcement about how public comment would be handled, so there was a scramble to line up.

He said each speaker would get only two minutes and all hell broke loose. After enduring their endless dissing of us we were admonished by Mazzucco and other commissioners to respect the process. Folks began shouting that the printed agenda promised three minutes and "three minutes!" became our rallying cry.

Felt damn fine to be among like-minded folks acting up over reclaiming our commissions and forcing them to listen to us.

The clash between the cops and community was on full display, amply showing us again just how incompetent and unprepared the commission, the chief, the department and the Tenderloin station staff are when it comes to, what is that great-sounding but meaningless phrase they throw around so much?

Oh, yes. Community policing. The SFPD all around gets more failing grades on community policy and I defy anyone who was present tonight or who watches the airing of it to try and persuade me that what we saw from the commission and department was effective leadership and commitment to better engage the public. Because it was out in the field, the meeting wasn't televised live but will be available on Thursday on-demand at SF GovTV.

During my two minutes of public comment, I talked about the stalking of homeless people in public restrooms at the main library by SF Chronicle photographers and held up a few of the laminated images and that it's good the SFPD has launched two investigations over this invasion of privacy.

My other point was a demand for the SFPD to spend money compiling a list of names of the dead folks killed by officers in the past thirty years. We have the wall of remembrance listing the names of officers killed the line of duty at the Hall of Justice on display at the entrance, but where is the list of people killed in officer-involved shootings?

It does not exist and it ought to be created, by the department and community groups.

I give two big thumbs down to all the officials from the SFPD, the OCC and Jane Kim for allowing such a mess of a meeting happen. If these folks can't even run a two-hour commission meeting that respects the general public and curbs the speechifying of pols and cops, and bridges the huge divides, what hope do we have that they can address the larger police department issues with effective leadership?
Amount CA Withheld from Russian Firms Due to Gay Sen. Leno?

Since Sunday, I've been emailing Ali Bay who is out state Sen. Mark Leno's communications chief, requesting answers to questions about his resolution from September that passed the senate and urged California's pension fund to curb future investment in Russia. This resolution was spurred by the anti-gay propaganda law and rising violence against LGBT people in Russia. The key word is urged.

When first introduced at a committee, Leno, pictured in a courtesy photo, received glowing coverage from the SF Chronicle's Marisa Lagos who reported:

The Senate resolution, which Leno said will be passed in the coming weeks, could be the precursor to actual legislation barring investments in Russia.

Anyone seen that legislation? A few weeks later, the paper's chief political correspondent Carla Marinucci wrote:

State Sen. Mark Leno, whose resolution would curb investments from the state's largest pension funds, said Russian officials' dismissive attitude toward the backlash over the law shows that they are in "deep denial."

Actually, no the resolution didn't do that as it was merely an advisory to the state pension fund leaders. I've asked Carla to run a correction because the resolution urged cutting back on Russian investment and had no binding requirement.

When Leno's resolution passed the full senate, his office issued a release that featured quotes from Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and John O'Connor of Equality California, where Ali Bay used to be the communications director. Small world, huh?

My questions to Leno's office included, were hearings held or are they to be scheduled to debate actually using the state's pension funds to advance gay and human rights in Russia? What has happened in Sacramento since the resolution passed, anything close to actually flexing California's pension fund muscles? The resolution called for no future investment in Russia by our great state. Has that been the reality since September or might be in the near future?

Nothing complicated really, but after three days of attempts to get a response from Leno's communications chief, there has been no response.

For some reason, today out of the blue, NCLR and EQCA put out a release announcing a petition drive to the pension funds urging them to divest from Russian companies and their headline said:

NCLR and EQCA Urge CA to Divest From Russian Companies Supporting Attacks on LGBT Youth

Compare that with Leno's headline from September:

SR 18 Urges CalPERS and CalSTRS to End Future Investments in Russia 

Well, I'd like to urge an end to useless resolutions from Leno and petitions from Gay Inc groups, all designed to generate good PR and nothing of genuine substance.

Leno and his allies at NCLR and EQCA have been pushing this resolution nonsense since August, and nearly eight months later there is no evidence that a single dollars has been withheld by the California pensions in Russian businesses.

In other gay Russian matters, still no communication from AllOut leaders about their lack of info regarding their months of selling Principle 6 clothing, in a business collaboration with American Apparel, that was supposed to raise money for LGBT Russian groups and a promise of transparency.

If I didn't know any better, I might think Mark Leno and AllOut leaders were merely using the plight of gay Russians to feed their own egos and generate news clippings, and nothing more.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SF Police: New Probe of Other Chronicle Pee-n-Poop Pix

To recap, there's an investigation underway by Sgt. Anthony Damato of the San Francisco Police Department over my complaint that the Chronicle's staff photographer Lea Suzuki violated the penal code barring taking pictures in public restrooms. 

She snapped two pictures of homeless women changing clothes in the main library public restroom that ran on March 9, including this one.

Separate from that are the images her colleague Michael Macor took of homeless men, including images of guys on toilets behind metal doors or at a urinal, that appeared in the paper on October 3, 2013. Another violation of 647(j)(1) and one that I requested be investigated by the police in a fresh complaint filed last week. 

That complaint brought forth this reply today from Sgt. Damato:

I have been assigned these new allegations against the Chronicle. I have all the emails that you have provided to the Chief's office, and will enclose them in the original case file. Please keep me updated on any information that you believe may be helpful.  I will be out of the office next week, but please feel free to keep me updated through email.

Let's see if either investigation turns up evidence of any crimes. Rest assured, I'm staying in touch with the sergeant.
Is City Attorney Herrera Investigating Charlotte Shultz's Charity?

When he's not advancing his political opportunities, and keeping tabs on individuals and Democratic clubs important to the rise of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, gay professional Matt Dorsey collects a paycheck serving as the mouthpiece for Herrera.

(Herrera, left, with Dorsey at the U.S. Supreme Court for a photo-op that cost the City $17,000 and the cost of which became public after I raised questions about the City Attorney's DC junket last March.)

Make no mistake about it. Everything Dorsey says and does is as part of Team Herrera and should not be viewed as anything more than an operative of City Hall forces.

This note was sent to Herrera yesterday:

I am lodging a complaint with you against the nonprofit group San Francisco Host Committee, which for the past seven years has received $250,000 annually from the City. The committee is led by Charlotte Maillaird Shultz who also serves as the City's Protocol Chief. As you know, the voters overwhelmingly passed Prop F in 1998 explicitly barring the use of City funds for duties and parties in any way linked to the Protocol Chief, yet public records from the General Services Administration reveal that the committee is indeed spending taxpayer dollars for such activities. 

Please visit my blog post about this misuse of public funds by Shultz and view a small portion of the GSA's documents about how she spends her City grant. And go here to reread the language of Prop F.  

I request that you immediately begin an investigation into my allegations that Shultz and her SF Host Committee have directly broken City law. 

My intention is to use a (nominally) public watchdog office for the benefit of the public as part of my follow the public money campaign and I've started with the most likely candidate, the City Attorney. He is monitoring how nonprofits spend City funds and ensuring a high-profile charity follows the law, right? Oh, and we the people can depend on him for basic transparency, too. Yes?

This is the response I received from Dorsey:

I respond on behalf of City Attorney Dennis Herrera to acknowledge receiving the email you sent earlier today entitled "Complaint against SF Host Cmte's use of City dollars," in which you ask this office to investigate allegations you've made about possible wrongdoing. 

Apart from acknowledging its receipt, I can only assure you that I've forwarded your email to appropriate attorneys in this office. Beyond that, you should be aware that the San Francisco City Attorney's Office's longstanding policy requires that I neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations. 

This policy mirrors identical practices by most other public law offices and investigative bodies. 

How convenient that all Dorsey need do to move me along, and any member of the public, is say it's been Herrera's policy to keep info about public funds and public charities private. I don't remember the public getting a say in this decision and if ain't a law that Herrera can maintain silence after a complaint is filed, I wanna see the statute.

I'm not impressed Dorsey cites alleged similar policies at other unnamed public law offices. I've had complaints lodged against me with public law enforcement bodies and let me tell you, they very much went out of their way to confirm that an investigation was underway or had produced findings leading to an indictment.

We need the City Attorney providing transparent oversight to the public regarding how charities use our dollars, and not hiding behind a Herrera-created policy that may not be based on legal requirements.

Why should any watchdog member of the public bother to file a complaint with Herrera if we know it will disappear into a vortex of darkness and no nothing from the very office that should be barking up the trees of a few nonprofits?

San Francsico's City Attorney is no friend of nonprofit accountability.

Monday, March 24, 2014

We Were Burglarized Today, Robbers Left Big Mess

To put it mildly, I've been traumatized since coming home earlier this evening to find our apartment broken into and a serious mess. Mike is as upset aa I am and we're dealing with the aftermath of knowing a person was in our home to ransack it.

Were there two burglars? No one can say.

Computer and various electronic components and other items were stolen. Glass was broken, precious person momentos were trampled on and our sense of security violated.

Two officers from the San Francisco Police Department arrived here within fifteen minutes after we called the non-emergecy line. A report was taken and I have the case number. They're going to check with the Friends School of SF directly across the street, to see if their building has security cameras mounted on the outside and if anyting was caught on tape. The cops said I should check with the administrators, teacher, students and their parents to see if they saw any unusual activity outside our apartment this afternoon.

My friend Tate has loaned me his Mac laptop, which is how I'm able to write and publish this report and photos.

Wish Mike and I the best for getting to sleep tonight and facing the morning finishing up the cleaning. Replacing the stolen items should be too expensive or troublesome. Restoring a sense of security in our home is going to take a few changes starting with installing our own security cams, to monitor our apartment and hopefully prevent another burglary.

Here are a few photos of the mess the robbers left, before we cleaned up the apartment.

SF Public Library: Chronicle's Homeless Restroom Photos 'Illegal'

Thanks to a public records request I filed last week, we learn that the executive assistant to the City Librarian Luis Herrera deemed the March 9 SF Chronicle photos of homeless women using the public restroom at the main library as "illegal".

Those images were credited to the paper's staff photographer Lea Suzuki and the article, penned by Heather Knight, was all about levying heavy penalties against homeless folks who break library rules and the law. How ironic and hypocritical of the SF Chronicle to wage a continuing campaign to have rules and laws applied to the homeless, as the paper's photographers and assignment editors also violate rules and laws.

How interesting that the executive assistant to the City Librarian says the images are illegal, something not disputed in followup emails other City officials in the responsive records, and yet the library is way more concerned with ignoring me and not taking administrative or legal action against the SF Chronicle.

What's up with that?

Then we have special assistant to Mayor Ed Lee for library and homeless issues, Hydra Mendoza, weighing in and saying an unidentified "they" have not resolved this whole matter. She also does not like that I'm blasting my email exchanges with various folks and she says it's "ridiculous" this has not been resolved.

This is the only email from her in the responsive public records I received and I don't know if she's verbally conveyed to the library administrators any concerns on her part or for the mayor, about potential violation of privacy for the homeless by the Chronicle or breaking of statutes and the library's code of conduct.

Mendoza asks if the Mayor's Office needs to do anything else about this matter, and I say yes, given that it was not just the March 9 photos but also the October 3, 2013, photo series of homeless and other men in the public restroom at the main library. Two of those images show men behind metal partitions sitting on toilets and another pic is of a guy using a urinal.

One reason this matter has not been resolved is because library officials and the mayor's special assistants including homeless czar Bevan Dufty, are more energetic about covering their assess than addressing the various legal and ethical concerns I'm raising. This matter is not going away.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Another SF Chronicle Public Restroom Pix: Man at Urinal

This is the third time I've found separate stories about the homeless in the San Francisco Chronicle and one of the photos is of someone in a public restroom, and the question must be asked if all the persons in the pictures gave permission to be photographed.

Today I discovered an August 5, 2013, story by Kevin Fagan about the formerly homeless and how they survive, hold on to their housing and earn a few bucks, and Chronicle photographer Brant Ward posted a photo of a man using a sink in a public restroom near Fisherman's Wharf and directly behind is a visible portion of a urinal. A man stands in front of it, his back to the camera and his head is cast downward as if he's looking at his dick. Did he give permission to be photographed?

In October 2013, the Chronicle's Vivian Ho reported on the odors of the public restrooms at the library and staff photographer Michael Macor provided five photos of ten folks, some of them homeless, and no indication given as to whether they consented to be caught on his camera. Two of the images showed men sitting on the toilet behind metal partitions and their pants around their ankles and footwear visible. Can we see independent evidence that these men have bowel movements and others in the images granted permission to be caught on camera?

Earlier this month, the paper demonized smelly homeless people at the main library with a Heather Knight story and two photos by Lea Suzuki of homeless women and a janitor in the public restroom. One image shows a young woman's midriff section, her pants unbuttoned and the top of her underwear. Has anyone spoken with these individuals to verify they gave consent to the Chronicle employee?

These three photo series are not isolated instances. They are part of a pattern of SF Chronicle photographers on assignment from editors, twice probably tasked with lurking in the restrooms, and are certainly violations of public library prohibitions on photography in the building and the images could be breaking state penal code section 647(j)(1).

That statute appears to apply in each of the instances and yet none of the photographers have been charged by the District Attorney with the violating privacy law, the police department is investigating only the Suzuki episode and as far as I know has not opened investigations in the Macor and Brant photographs.

I'm starting to wonder if the law enforcement agencies in San Francisco only investigate potential violations of 647(j)(1) when the person photographed in a public restroom is a powerful and ambitious politician who plays a pivotal role in determining the agencies budgets, and if the politician wants to exact a vendetta against an adversary and is willing to abuse if elected office to do so.

Yet when the major daily consistently snaps and publishes similar public restroom photos but of politically weak homeless people, those agencies don't appear to invest the same personnel time and City dollars on investigations and if warranted, indictments and prosecutions.

Could there be double-standards at play and is Lady Justice in San Francisco lifting up her blindfold regarding privacy and photos in restrooms?
Weekend Woof #69: Fine Straight Silver Beard Daddy

The Bay Area again was blessed with fantastic weather and I've been admiring the looks of many a man on the streets or otherwise crossing my path. Here's my latest batch of sexy fellas seen here and there, and as always a big shout of appreciation to all the boys for gracing the lens of my camera. And how was your week for dude-watching?

Each of these guys was strutting down the street when I saw them. The shirtless young one was seen at the South Van Ness and 14th Street corner building where Woody Allen set several scenes in "Blue Jasmine" outside the apartment of where Cate Blanchette crashes with her step-sister Sally Hawkins.

There were a few bears waiting in the sun late this afternoon on Church Street waiting for the sushi boat restaurant to open and begin servicing food, and this large fella had a fine muscle belly that I imagined was covered in fur the shade of gray in his bushy beard.

Say hello to one fine straight silver beard daddy, Mark, who was at the San Francisco Opera company's costume sale this afternoon. He laid eyes on me in a Russian peasant shirt, warmly smiled and asked where he knew me from. "I wish I knew you."

Minutes later I said he was so sexy and friendly I had to snap photos of him, as he kept grinning trying to think of where he's seen me. Mark introduced me to his female companion, whom he described as his life-partner, and I told her I wanted to share her man. "OK, with me and he's a real sweetie." "Can I clone him?"

Chatting about how Mark would end up on this blog because of his handsome looks, he asked what a blog was and his companion promised to tell him later, and they went on their merry way. For a straight dude and lady, they sure would cool about my lust for Mark and he loved knowing his visage would be posted to the web.

Five minutes later, he came back to ask for the address of my blog and all I had to give him was my risque sex calling-card, that made him laugh again when he read my graphic sex email address. "Contact me, Mark. Even just to chat."

Soon his woman wearing a happy and knowing look, came looking for him and I said he was coming with me as one my items from the costume sale. We all laugh and I ended the exchange telling them to read my blog.

Mark, when you read this, know that you really made this wonderful day even better. Call or email me!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Brava, SF Health Czarina Barbara Garcia!

The most beautiful faces in San Francisco this week are the ones that appeared during the historical first airing of a health commission meeting on March 18, on SF GovTV, which you can watch here.

Yes, after years of pushing from the Sunshine Posse and myself, the director of the Department of Public Health Barbara Garcia, pictured, decided it was time to televise meetings, and make them available on-demand on any computer. This means thousands of people who can't make the bi-monthly meetings but want to keep tabs on the commissioners can do so at their convenience.

You might think every member of the Board of Supervisors and their staffs, would have advocated for expanded government transparency and urged DPH to make full use of the City TV and media channels, to better inform and engage the public and folks who use DPH facilities. Oh, there is also the matter of following the DPH budget, which is the largest piece of the City's budget pie, and the implementation of Obamacare, more reasons our Supes should have been leaders on this.

Alas, none of the Supervisors and for some odd reason, considering they could pick up the Sunshine Bloc vote in their tight fight for state assembly, neither David Campos nor David Chiu made a peep for televising the commission's hearings.

Previous posts on DPH and SF GovTV are here and here and here and here and here.

Today I'm gleefully singing the praises of Barbara because she delivered on getting SF GovTV cameras and lights from City Hall to cross Grove Street and set up in health department's third floor auditorium. Muchas gracias, Barbara.

Let the sun shine in!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Homeless Czar Dufty & SF Chronicle's Stigmatizing Restroom Pix

When I spoke with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's point-person on homeless issues, Bevan Dufty, on Monday about the recent dehumanizing photos in the SF Chronicle of homeless people using the public restroom at the main library, I didn't put much stock in his promise.

He said, and then also put it in writing, that he would take action by Tuesday morning regarding my plea for him to take a stand against the stalking of homeless folks by Chronicle photographers, all in the name of the paper writing articles about penalizing homeless people breaking laws and the code of conduct at the library while the journalists themselves violate laws and rules. Bevan wrote:

I will follow up on this tomorrow. I will also connect with the Mayor's staff person who is taking the lead on this issue. You will hear from me tomorrow late morning.

He also shared a tweet of mine about the matter:

Michael Petrelis,
Your Tweet got retweeted!
  Michael Petrelis

Michael Petrelis

Hope @BevanDufty takes strong stand against @sfchronicle stigmatizing #homeless ppl using library bathroom. @sfbos @MilkClub @DavidCamposSF

04:44 PM - 17 Mar 14

Retweeted by

Bevan Dufty
Bevan Dufty @BevanDufty
To 3378 followers.

View their profile

Here it is four days later and Bevan didn't keep his promise to me. OK, what's one more public official not keeping a promise to this blogger? A big yawn, but on the matter of SF's Homeless Czar being an independent advocate for the homeless folks regardless of the powerful institutions like the Chronicle stigmatizing them, well, Bevan is not that advocate.

While he didn't have time to keep his promise of delivering a statement over the photos, he had plenty of free time to host a fundraiser for his friend David Campos and his campaign for state assembly. Check out Bevan's Twitter feed to learn more about his efforts this week to help Campos move up the political ladder.

This photo showing Bevan on the left, a chef for the catered political party, and Campos on the right, is credited to Sofia E. Kleck.

And the beat goes on . . .