Sunday, January 31, 2016

Vice Mayor Kawa Meetings With Homeless Inc's Friedenbach

Looking over Mayor Ed Lee's chief of staff Steve Kawa's calendar for 1/1-1/17/2016, we see that on January 11th he held a followup meeting with Jennifer Friedenbach who's the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness. Our surprise stems from mistakenly thinking she doesn't have the ear of Kawa to speak into, who's essentially the vice mayor for San Francisco.

Just last week, she penned a column berating the "clusterfuck that is City Hall's approach to handling homeless people in a life-threatening situation" for, a site well-known as the stenography pool for David Campos and progressives.

What does she discuss with Kawa? Her email to him after the meeting sheds light on her agenda, which I wish she had disclosed in her column. We believe she has a responsibility to inform homeless stakeholders of her engagement with Kawa and other City Hall leaders.

Not to give Kawa a free ride on making his engagement with Homeless Inc (and other City stakeholders), so we call upon him to also disclose what plans he's discussing regarding homeless folks and programs.

Friedenbach says she'll be in touch with Kawa's aide to schedule their next meeting. We'd like to know when that is and what's on the agenda, and hope she begins telling stakeholders what she'll be promoting to Kawa and reporting back to us about her ongoing conversations with the vice mayor.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Royal Philharmonic's Safe Mozart Selections

Our performing arts calendar got off to a pleasant enough start last weekend, when we heard the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall with Pinchas Zukerman at the podium.

The program was safe and uninspiring, opening with a rousing rendition of the overture to Mozart's "The Magic Flute" and then his Piano Concerto No. 1, with Jonathan Biss, pictured, delivering a commanding performance at the keyboard.

The standing ovation for him was well-earned.

This orchestra's talented players performed with enthusiasm, and subtlety that delighted our ears, we only wished their selections were more adventuresome.

We anticipate additional times at the hall with our cherished San Francisco Symphony taking us on daring and robust musical adventures in the coming months.

How was the start of your performing arts new year?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

SFFD: $1.3 Million in Upgrades for Chief's Empty Residence

My jaw dropped yesterday, at the San Francisco fire commission meeting at City Hall when I read the budget request to the taxpayers because it included $1,366,580 for the Chief's Residence.

The SFFD claims the residence, located at 870 Bush Street, serves as a secondary center of operations in case of a disaster, a claim I find hard to swallow even with a grain or two of salt.

I'd like the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to consider selling this property or putting it to good use on daily basis. It currently sits empty and was used as temporary housing for City department bosses, until an act of vandalism in 2008.

At that time, Mayor Newsom's planning department boss John Rahaim's boyfriend set fire to a bed and caused other damage to the property.

SFFD's request for over a million dollars for repairs and upgrades to this mansion should be closely scrutinized.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

NGLTF's IRS Filings: Deficit Up, Revenue & Assets Down

With the National LGBTQ Task Force, formerly NGLTF, facing withering criticism from all sides about its debacle at the Creating Change meeting over the weekend in Chicago, over Israeli and Palestinian controversies, I decided it was time to read their latest IRS tax filings.

First of all, I wish to commend the task force for voluntarily posting four-years of IRS 990 reports on their site. Before we go over what's posted, I must point out that the 2015 filing wasn't there so I asked for it. Mark Daley, the communications chief, said: "We are in our federally approved extension period and expect to file on or before Feb 15."

The day any nonprofit files with the IRS is the day they have to make the filing available for public inspection, so I'll be watching the task force's site for their latest return.

In 2011, the task force had revenue of $8.1 million (line 8), a deficit that year of $351,000 (line 19), and assets listed at $5.5 million (line 22).

During 2012, the revenue was $7.1 million, the deficit was $637,000 and had assets of $4.8 million.

For 2013, revenue came in at $6.5 million, deficit amount was $498,000 and assets were at  $4.3 million.

In 2014, they had revenue of $5.2 million, a whopping $2.1 million deficit and assets plummeted to a low of $2.1 million.

Btw, executive director Rea Carey's salary last year was $252,200.

My read of these numbers is that the task force is not raking in as much money as it did four years ago and they've had to dip into their assets to pay the bills. Let's see what their 2015 tax return shows in a few weeks.
It's My 57th Birthday Today!

Dear Friends and Family,

As I celebrate my birthday on this chilly San Francisco morning, my heart is warmed by the love of my life-mate and husband Mike, and the presence of you in my life.

We snapped this photo last night in our kitchen and behind us is our Christmas card from 1996, the first full calendar year of our partnership together.

What a terrific life I've lead, in quite interesting times to put it mildly, and the greatest present, after my Mikey, is the gift of still being alive and kicking.

Love, big bear hugs and queer cheers to all!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mayor's 2-Week Deletion-of-Files Policy Under SOTF Review

Here's the update on my Sunshine Ordinance Task Force complaint against the Mayor's Office and Ed Lee's policy, approved by City Attorney Dennis Herrera (no friend of open govt), allowing his staff to delete public records after retaining them for only two-weeks.

On January 11, the SOTF's committee for education and outreach heard my concerns and two representatives from the Mayor's Office defended the destruction of City Hall files. The complaint stems from my public records request for a copy of Mayor Lee's chief of staff Steve Kawa's calendar and the response stating his calendars were deleted every two-weeks.

The committee ruled my complaint was valid and it's been forwarded to the full task force for further review, tentatively scheduled for March 2. Committee members said the Mayor's Office may have violated sunshine laws over "failure to maintain records in a professional manner."

While I'm not pleased this complaint will take three-months to be fully adjudicated by the SOTF, as mayoral records are routinely shredded thus denying the public access to them, at least we have the SOTF to bring more transparency to City Hall.

Every two-weeks, I file a new request with the Mayor's Office for Kawa's schedule, which is the only way currently to retain this City Hall powerbroker's calendar. What amount of public records are regularly destroyed by Ed Lee's advisers? We need a lot of answers to that question.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

SFFD Rejects Homeless Welcome Toilet Access Signs

Before we jump into the signage matter, please read Chief Joanne Hayes-White's monthly calendar for 2015 posted here as two PDFs.

Last spring, I persuaded the fire, health and public works departments to collaborate and make the homeless aware of expanded toilet access at taxpayer funded firehouses. I now am demanding the fire department install signs at all firehouses saying "Public Toilets Open to All. Everyday from 9 am to 6 pm."

This response from Mark Gonzales, deputy chief of operations, today lays out convoluted rationale about station operations, which has nothing to do with toilet access toilet access. In essence, to me, the SFFD is rejecting "homeless welcome" signage and expanded public use of the restrooms.

Currently, every station has a large sign out front announcing it's a safe surrender site for unwanted babies. I see no reason why similar signage won't be installed regarding toilet access hours and that everyone is welcome to use bathrooms.

Let's put aside the condescending tone from Gonzales and continue to advocate on behalf of the many homeless trying to survive on the tough San Francisco streets, during the continuing El Nino storms and frigid temperatures.

If you support toilet signage at firehouses, please attend the next fire commission meeting on Wednesday, January 27 at 5 pm at City Hall in Room 400.
You can reach Gonzales at 415-558-3402 and here's his addy:

Excerpts from his letter:

"I was asked to respond to your request to Chief Hayes-White from January 16, 2016. I am responding to the issues that you raised at the January 13, 2016 Fire Commission meeting regarding public access to Fire Station restrooms.

"I appreciate your advocacy for the homeless population in this regard; however, I believe such access is not operationally feasible in most cases for the public or the Department members. [...]

"The SFFD prides itself in meeting or exceeding our response times to emergencies. This is accomplished through quick apparatus boarding and immediate travel out of the Firehouse to the emergency incident.

"Given the totality of all these considerations, although your idea is well-intentioned, the SFFD cannot accommodate the request to immediately place signage at all Fire Houses with public toilet availability."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sunshine Complaint: SFPD Omits Mario Woods Death from Agenda

The administrator for the open government body at City Hall confirmed receipt of my complaint filed today and is processing it accordingly. 

I've been demanding the police commission and Chief Greg Suhr formally put the death of of Mario Woods by members of the police force, pictured, on their agenda and getting nowhere. 

Look at the vague commission agendas below. It's not enough that Suhr and the commissioners make comments about the Woods murder, and public comment is taken up with folks speaking their views.

The commission needs to get with preparing detailed advance agendas and finally putting the Woods killing on it. Here's my complaint:

Sunshine Ordinance Task Force

Dear Administrator,

I wish to lodge a complaint against the San Francisco police commission for failures to fully comply with open meeting laws. 

The agendas for the January meetings, as with most every other commission agenda, is criminally absent details about "recent activities" of the police chief, the head of the Office of Citizen Complaints and president of the commission. Not once has the public been told in advance exactly what matter will be on the agenda and it is clear from having attended these meetings, that the three persons cited are _always_ ready to give specifics on various matters.

Recently, several SFPD officers killed a young black man named Mario Woods, causing much concern and outrage leading the chief, OCC boss and commission president to address his death and the City's response. Woods was murdered on December 2, 2015, yet one would not know this based on the printed advance agenda.

Yet, at every commission since his death, the chief and his deputies have presented numerous reports about the Woods killing and aftermath.

In my view, the police commission is not compliant with all open meeting laws and I ask the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force to consider my complaint.

Michael Petrelis

January 6, 2016

3. Reports and Announcements 
a. Chief’s report (DISCUSSION) 
- Review of recent activities 
- Update on the Department’s Super Bowl 50 Planning 
- Status Update regarding Social Media Policy 
b. OCC Director’s report (DISCUSSION) 
- Review of recent activities 
- Presentation of the OCC’s 3rd Quarter 2015 Statistical Report 
- Presentation of the OCC’s Monthly Statistical and Companion Reports for September, October, & November 2015 
c. Commission reports (DISCUSSION) 
- Commission President’s report 
- Commissioners’ reports 
d. Commission announcements and scheduling of items identified for consideration at future Commission meetings (ACTION) 

January 13, 2016

4. Reports and Announcements 
a. Chief’s report (DISCUSSION) 
- Review of recent activities 
- Presentation of the annual report regarding the Department’s work with the Joint Terrorism Task Force “JTTF” 
- Presentation of the 4th Quarter 2015 FDRB Findings & Recommendations & OIS Investigative Summary 
b. OCC Director’s report (DISCUSSION) 
- Review of recent activities 
c. Commission reports (DISCUSSION) 
- Commission President’s report 
- Commissioners’ reports 
d. Commission announcements and scheduling of items identified for consideration at future Commission meetings (ACTION) 

January 20, 2016

1. Reports to the Commission (DISCUSSION) 
a. Chief's Report 
- Review of Recent Activities 
b. OCC Director's Report 
- Review of Recent Activities 
c. Commission Reports 
- Commission President's Report 
- Commissioners' Reports 
d. Commission announcements and scheduling of items identified for consideration at future Commission meetings (ACTION) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

SF AIDS Fdtn's 8 AM Community Mtg Avoids the Castro

As a nonprofit receiving millions in City funds, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is required to hold at least two open board meetings for the public. I recently requested meeting notices of all charities subject to the Nonprofit Public Access Ordinance, which are kept on paper by the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Angela Calvillo.

Notices from January through February 11 are here.

The SFAF is holding a community meeting on Saturday, January 23rd, at 8 am down at the Morrison and Foerster law firm, 425 Market Street, according to their notice.

Genuine community engagement, beyond ribbon-cutting, would dictate SFAF leaders hold their meeting at a more accommodating hour and at their new Strut facility on Castro Street. I can't fathom why this nonprofit is going to saw lengths to minimize public participation at the meeting.

After a year in which the SFAF faced major challenges over renaming their Magnet program and finishing their rented multi-level Strut building in the heart of the gayborhood, and the resignation of Arizona-based executive director Neil Giuliano (pay = $327,000) necessitating the search for a replacement, and the widening of PrEP and Truvada availability to prevent transmission of HIV among other queer male health concerns, the foundation has a duty to better engage their stakeholders.

A meeting that starts at 8 am on a Saturday and isn't in the Upper Market or Castro areas is a dereliction of leadership.

I reached out to SFAF spokesman Andrew Hattori and he replied their will be another board meeting months down the road at their Market Street headquarters in the evening on a weekday. Hattori explained:

"Approximately one month in advance, a staff member reaches out to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and the General Information Center at the San Francisco Public Library to post the notices and make them available to the public.

"At each meeting, we slate time for public comment. There is no legal requirement to make agendas available in advance. Agendas are available at the meetings."

All that nonprofitese basically telling me to get lost, actually, the entire larger community to stay away. Omitted from the SFAF site is info about the meetings, because the "community-based" organization is only to jump as high as legally required and alerting everyone via their vast social media just ain't part of their agenda.

Oh, and forget knowing when the board wants to hear from anyone. It could be at 8:30 or 10:15 am, but the board won't do us any favors and let us know beforehand.

We may have legally-mandated and extremely limited access to the AIDS foundation's board, but unnecessary hurdles show this nonprofit lacks the spirit to meaningfully engage stakeholders.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Govt Access Project - Disrupting City Hall Darkness

After collecting lots of calendar data from public servants of all stripes, I've started a new site widening government transparency in San Francisco and beyond - the Govt Access Project.

Please make a donation today via our IndieGogo page or PayPal and support this valuable sunshine effort.

Check out the growing amount of calendars at the Govt Access Project and tell your social media friends about it. Thanks much!

Here's our fundraising appeal explaining our goals:

All elected San Francisco officials,from the Board of Supervisors to City department chiefs, thanks to open government laws, must make their work calendars public but no statute mandates posting the calendars online.
Not a single Supervisor or department chief posts his or her calendar on the web. That must change.
The Govt Access Project will enhance transparency expanding the public's access to govt information, making our leaders fully accountable to voters and taxpayers by showing how they spend their time, issues on their agenda and who they meet with.
GAP needs funding to create a calendar database just a few clicks away for the public and press to access. We're prepared to upload dozens of calendars in our possession.
Here's how GAP will disrupt City Hall's data darkness:
Phase 1 - Gather and store calendar data from Supervisors and other public servants, solicit donations and support: Now till January 15.
Phase 2 - Standardize monthly requests to City Hall officialsfollow-up when records are withheld, late or incomplete, develop layout and navigation of database site: Now and ongoing.
Phase 3 – Launch the site with Supervisors' calendar data on January 18; other officials' calendars published January 25.
Phase 4 – Keep calendars flowing from City Hall and quickly posted to our database, raise funds to sustain the project: February onward.
This valuable sunshine effort is a time-intensive project. Funds raised go toward a much-needed computer hardware upgrade and technical assistance, already costing us $1,000, high speed web access, time spent requesting and archiving calendar data.
With your contribution, GAP will deliver enhanced open government and democracy in San Francisco. Tell your friends to also donate, please!
Here is the list of thirty-four public servants whose calendar data will be collected and shared:
Board of Supervisors:
Avalos, John
Breed, London
Calvillo, Angela (Clerk of the Board)
Campos, David
Cohen, Malia
Christensen, Julie (Term ended in November)
Farrell, Mark
Kim, Jane
Mar, Eric
Peskin, Aaron (Term started in December)
Tang, Katy
Yee, Norman
Other Elected Officials and Department Chiefs:
Arts Commission, Tom DeCaigney
Assessor-Recorder, Carmen Chu
Budget and Legislative Analyst, Harvey Rose
City Administrator, Naomi Kelly
City Attorney, Dennis Herrera
City Controller, Ben Rosenfield
Department of Public Health, Barbara Garcia
Department of Public Works, Mohammed Nuru
District Attorney George Gascon
Ethics Commission, LeeAnn Pelham
Fire Department, Joanne Hayes-White
Mayor Ed Lee
Planning Department, John Rahaim
Police Department, Greg Suhr
Office of Citizen Complaints, Joyce Hicks
Recreation and Parks, Phil Ginsburg
San Francisco Airport, John L. Martin
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Ed Reiskin
San Francisco Unified School District, Richard Carranza
Sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi (Term ends in December)
Sheriff, Vicky Hennessy(Term begins in January)
Treasurer, Jose Cisneros
Vice Mayor, Steve Kawa

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Needle in Gutter Outside of SF Dept of Public Health

As a matter of harm reduction and good public health practices, I fully embrace needle distribution by the government and private nonprofits.

Today, outside the San Francisco Department of Public Health's headquarters and in the shadows City Hall, I shot a short video of a needle in the gutter.

The City needs to quickly fund and install secure metal syringe drop-boxes on the streets, as part of a harm reduction program for everyone.

Let's hope our public servants get the drop-boxes in place within few months.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mario Woods Killing Not on SFPD Commission Agenda

If you look at the official agendas of the San Francisco police commission since a young black man named Mario Woods was killed by cops in a torrent of gunshots in the Bayview, you won't find his name or murder listed as an item for discussion.

At the January 6 commission meeting, I used public comment to criticize the body over this matter. The closed-caption transcript (pardon the grammatical errors in the original text) reads:

"I'd like to point out that there is nothing on the written agenda about mario woods but the super bowl and now you're describing this item that about accepting a grants for the boots on the ground and waterways I'm saying if you put those items on an agenda since the most meeting you should have put on the agendas a specific item about mario woods killing and the actions that being taken is there any additional public comment?"

Yes, the death-by-cops of Mario Woods has come up at the commission meetings but this body is woefully remiss about being fully transparent about agenda before meetings take place.

The above excerpt of the January 13 agenda is the usual vague and incomplete document, failing to give the public a full sense of exactly what is to be discussed. Look at this section:

"Chief’s report (DISCUSSION)
 - Review of recent activities
 - Presentation of the annual report regarding the Department’s work with the Joint Terrorism Task Force “JTTF”
 - Presentation of the 4th Quarter 2015 FDRB Findings & Recommendations & OIS Investigative Summary"

Telling us Chief Greg Suhr's report, which by the way is never in writing thereby making it harder to hold him, the SFPD and the commission to account, will include a "review of recent activities."

Police commissioners, Mayor Ed Lee and various SFPD officials have been saying for weeks they're looking for new and better ways of policing. Well, how about including developing a better transparency agenda and one that includes better advance agendas?

I, for one, believe this commission has a duty to make the Chief's reports something put down on paper and online, specifics in advance of what will be in his report and once and for all put the Mario Woods killing officially and clearly on the agenda.

Monday, January 11, 2016

SOTF: Petrelis vs SF Police & Vice Mayor Kawa Today

There's been expedited processing of two of my recent complaints lodged with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, compared with other complaints to this vital San Francisco agency and one that long ago ought to be aired on SFGovTV.

In November, after requesting a few months' of Vice Mayor Steve Kawa's calendar and learning that the Mayor's Office has a two-week retention policy of public records before they are permanently destroyed and public inspection of them impossible, I filed my complaint. The mayor's reply above shocked me.

How the heck did we get to the point where City Hall and mayoral records are tossed into the ash heap and reduced to nothingness, every two weeks? An answer should be told at the SOTF hearing today, Monday, January 11, at 4 pm at City Hall in Room 408.

My second complaint to be heard is against the police department for refusing to accept a request for public records made via Twitter. The SFPD operates dozens of official City-funded profile, yet lacks clear or written social media policies. Given that tweets are written communication, that should be enough to kick in sunshine laws when requesting public records through Twitter and other social media. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Mission Arson Complaint & SF Fire Dept's 1/13 Agenda

At the December 3rd meeting of the San Francisco fire commission, agenda item number 6 was listed as a report from the fire prevention and investigation unit which is responsible for arson issues.

Per SFFD custom, the item omitted crucial details including the fact that the arson deputy would discuss claims that the Mission is experiencing a large volume of arson fires.

I made a video of a portion of the arson investigator's report to the commission and it captured the attention of Mission Local, Capp Street Crap and Spike Kahn's Facebook page.

Fed up with unreasonably vague agendas, I lodged an open govt violation complaint against the fire commission with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, in the hope that it would force the fire department to get with a genuine transparency program that finally equals honest agendas.

It's my contention the fire officials knew the Mission arson controversy was on the December 3rd agenda and made no effort to publicize this so Mission residents would be in attendance to add their voices to the discussion.

The fire commission's president, Andrea Evans, replied to the SOTF complaint yesterday and her letter was forward to me. In it, Evans vaguely says "the agenda item relating to the Chief of Department's report was broadly worded." Yes, it was and so is this letter. 

Not once does the letter mention the words Mission arsons!

It goes on: "In the instance that gave rise to Mr. Petrelis' complaint, the intention was to have staff quickly provide information relating to the a public comment. The discussion stretched on longer than intended."

This isn't my recollection of how this item went down and I can't recall the commission in other matters reacting in such detail and at great length, to a public comment.

Something doesn't smell right when a San Francisco commission can't once clearly spell out what the complaint is about and I believe this is a subtle way of the fire department again diminishing Mission concerns about fires that may be arson.

As regular readers know, since October 2014 I've waged a sometimes lonely campaign to get the fire commission to move its meetings from SFFD headquarters at Second and Townsend Streets to City Hall and aired on SFGovTV.

To their credit, commissioners Ken Cleaveland and Francee Covington and president Evans, advocated on behalf of the City Hall move. I believe they join me, pleased that starting this Wednesday, January 13, at 9 am, fire commission meetings are at City Hall, vastly more accessible via public transit than headquarters, and on TV and the web.

My SOTF complaint about Mission arsons omitted from the commission's December 3rd agenda proves again how just filing complaints can bring about needed transparency changes to our City government.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Exciting Berlin & Beyond Film Fest at the Castro Theatre

Another terrific cinematic year for Bay Area foreign film lovers kicks off soon with the latest edition of the Berlin & Beyond German language movie smorgasbord at our cherish Castro Theater.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of this always-stimulating festival and the program is eclectic and sure stimulate the eyes, and many discussions after the films are show on the big screen.

Two highlights for me include "Iraqi Odyssey", which is Switzerland's Oscar 2016 submission, and the silent classic "Berlin, Symphony of a Great City", a film I haven't seen since the 1980s. The print was faded, but its beauty shone through regardless.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to see a clean print of "Berlin, Symphony of a Great City" and presented with live musical accompaniment.

Click here for more info on the movies, show times and tickets. How many flicks will you see? Excerpted from the official press announcement:

"The 20th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival (Jan 14-Jan 20) is excited to return to San Francisco’s beautiful Castro Theatre movie palace and the Goethe-Institut auditorium to celebrate its 20th year with a selection of the best award-winning films and talents in contemporary European cinema.
"This year’s festival boasts a selection of the best films from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and a rising crop of international co-productions as well as a number of premieres, including the international premiere of Lars Kraume’s ensemble comedy/drama Family Party, Germany’s answer to Thomas Vinterberg’s memorable A Celebration (Festen)the North American premiere of spy drama After Spring Comes Fall and the US premiere of Martin Hawie’s gritty, black-and-white Toro.
"The 2016 festival program will open with a rare appearance by rising international star Tom Schilling, who will receive the festival’s Spotlight Award for Acting before the opening night  screening of his latest starring role, the German Film Award-winning blockbuster Who Am I – No System Is Safe. The actor, seen recently by American audiences in The Woman In Gold (2015), will also be present for a Castro screening of his international breakout, Jan-Ole Gersters’s critical darling A Coffee In Berlin (Oh Boy).
"The festival’s other highly notable celebrity appearance will come in the form of beloved comedienne Anke Engelke, the German voice of Marge Simpson, Engelke will appear in conversation with her new comedy Ms. Müeller Must Go on Sunday evening at the Castro. 

"The festival’s Castro closing on the same night will present a rare opportunity to see Wather Ruttman’s city opus Berlin, Symphony of a Great City on the big screen—and a first in recent Berlin & Beyond history—a classic silent accompanied by a live musical performance by German electronic/acoustic band ALP.

"Switzerland’s Official 2016 Academy Awards Entry, director Samir’s lauded generational doc, Iraqi Odyssey, will also receive a rare 3D screening at the Castro."

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

SF DA: No Criteria About Our Twitter-Blocking Rules

Ambitious political animal and longtime law enforcement official George Gascon currently serves at the District Attorney of San Francisco, and his staff replied to my request for all public records about whom the DA blocks on his two City-funded Twitter accounts.

As you read in these excerpts from Gascon's assistant, I am one of two Twitter users blocked from reading or engaging with the @SFDAOffice account. Why is this so?

"We do not have a list detailing the reason why each respective account has been blocked, however, as per Government Code section 6252(e), our office has no duty to create such a list. As such, we have no records responsive to that request," according to the DA's office.

Blocking a San Francisco resident from reading the SF DA's tweets is a form of censorship and not having stated public reasons for blocking is the height of arrogance from a public servant.

I asked government transparency advocate Angela Greben, of the fantastic Discourse on Democracy and Twitter blog, where she tracks the accounts and blocking policies and practices of many elected and public officials, to weigh in on Gascon's reply to me:

"You ask an important question about Gascon's account.  Keep in mind he responded to my request back in August.  If you are sure you were blocked by Gascon during that time then I would really question the accuracy of his response to my public records request.

"You also raised another important question about blocking criteria.  When I bring up this issue on my blog I'm trying to explain to readers about the 14th Amendment right to due process.  Basically, if your government is going to deny you some rights you have the right to know what the charges are etc.  So, if a public official or agency is going to conduct business on a social media account then if they are going to block, then there needs to be a process for doing so.

"So, if Gascon is blocking you then, as a SF resident, you absolutely have a right to know why.  Again, the 14th Amendment says that your rights (ie access to public records) cannot be denied arbitrarily."

San Francisco needs its district attorney to develop some criteria about how he operates his City-funded social media outlets and for him to publicly explain his arbitrary blocking rules.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

My SFPD Social Media Complaints Prod Chief's Reply

Since late November, I've complained to several panels and persons regarding sloppy and inconsistent social media engagement by San Francisco's police force personnel. Previous posts in recent weeks on SFPD, accountability and transparency concerns, and social media are here, here, here, here, and here.

At the December 9 police commission hearing, president Suzy Loftus calendared social media and mug shot regulations for discussion in January. 

The agenda for the January 6 commission meeting shows that Chief Greg Suhr will present details about the department social media policy. Many folks, I'm sure, are keen to hear what he has to say.

A few days back, Briseida Banuelos of the SFPD legal division, replied to my public records request stating they need more time to gather the lists of all official Twitter users, every social media platform they use, and the names and duties of every staffer in the public information office. Let's hope SFPD officers locate all the info I've asked for and that it's presented on January 6.

In addition to requesting public records and bringing my issues directly to the police commission, I've also asked the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force to weigh in on whether the SFPD should process records requests via Twitter. The matter is on the agenda of a task force committee on January 11.

Then there's my complaint to the Office of Citizen Complaints, alleging questionable behavior by the SFPD's public information office regarding release of only certain mugshots online and withholding for two-weeks the booking photo of Chris Kohrs, the Hot Cop of the Castro arrested for hit-and-run felony charges.

To bring even a modicum of better policing to San Francisco, not to mention accountability over cops killing civilians and use-of-force rules, and better engagement by the police department, the commission and the OCC, it's going to require a whole lot of folks to demand change.

While working toward that change, I wish to again request that Mayor Ed Lee stop hiding from the communities upset with SFPD officers over the officer-involved killing of Mario Woods in the Bayview in December. Mayor Lee needs to hold town halls and hear from constituents directly.

Better policing starts with the mayor being accountable to citizens.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Happy 2016: Mike + Mike's Xmas at the St Francis Hotel

Was it just over a week ago that we were enjoying two fabulous nights of a San Francisco staycation? We could not have been more pleased with the friendly and attentive staff at the St Francis Hotel on Union Square.

Strolling around Nob Hill on Christmas Day, stopping in at the very end of services at Grace Cathedral and visiting the AIDS Memorial Chapel with a beautiful metal altar created by Keith Haring, catching Todd Haynes' masterful new film "Carol", visiting sections of town off our beaten path and simply being two gay men in love made for a memorable time.

After a very challenging year for Mike and I with various health concerns and surgeries for both of us, it was terrific to spend time together in a new environment dotted with people in good moods.

Best wishes to all for health and happiness in 2016. Please check out our short vid of images from our staycation: