Sunday, June 28, 2015

6-Hours: SF Pride Parade or Lav Diaz's New Film?

I hear there's a loud crowd of homosexuals and their pals creating much hoopla on Market Street for a little ol' parade today. Should last about six-hours, if all goes well with gaps between contingents at the SF Pride parade.

Not my scene and as my luck with the Cinema Gods would have it, today is a screening of director Lav Diaz's new almost-six-hour film from the Philippines, "From What is Before", at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. My ticket was purchased in advance, just in case the showing sold-out. You never know!

For me, Gay Day Pride is every day and I'm quite queerly pleased for all the folks celebrating in downtown San Francisco and soon at United Nations Plaza and the Civic Center, but the crowds and horrible music are not for me so I'm off to what is sure to be another masterpiece from a leading light of global cinema.

Enjoy the day, everyone, and be safe whatever you do.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SF Pride's Top-Spots Lineup: AirBnB, Cops & Sheriff, Pelosi & Mayor

Regardless of the old anti-Chelsea Manning board replaced with "reformers" two years ago, the SF Pride Parade lineup is very telling about the same old boring corporate, law-and-order agencies and Democratic Party dominance of the prime event of the entire weekend.

As in previous years, the lineup's composition was made behind closed doors without transparency by the SF Pride board president Gary Virginia, veep and longtime parade control queen Marsha Levine, and executive director George Ridgely.

Among the folks getting prime-time at the parade, in the first twenty top-spots are AirBnB, Apple, the SF Police Department and Sheriff's Office, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, and a few nonprofits and grand marshals.

The parade is not liberation. Remember when we queers were fighting for that in all aspects of our lives, at least among those of us wanting more from SF Pride than just Democratic politics and profits from attracting LGBT dollars? Yes, a long time ago but that is no reason to totally sell-out.

If the transgender and queer folks acted up at the Compton Cafeteria in the Tenderloin, protesting abuse by the police force, an issue still with us today and more so for black folks across the City and America, just so law enforcement agencies could lead a parade, then they demonstrated in vain.

Here's the list of top-spots for tomorrow's parade. Full list is here.

Oaklander Sets SF's Activist Housing Agenda: Maria Zamudio

If you've attended any of Plaza 16's meetings or protests at San Francisco's City Hall or at the BART Plaza at 16th and Mission Streets, you've seen paid organizer Maria Zamudio of Causa Justa literally running the show.

No matter when or where Plaza 16 puts on an event, Zamudio is front and center hogging the mic and limelight, and more problematically, setting the San Francisco Mission housing activist agenda, as the above photo montage illustrates.

Many folks are not aware that Zamudio and her girlfriend live in Oakland. There is a lot radically wrong with Plaza 16 allowing an East Bay resident to have so much power over who sets the Mission's course of action to either stop the Maximus Partner's condo project or deciding who gets time to speak at meetings, or even attend "community" meetings.

Recently, Zamudio and her partner were experiencing housing troubles and they launched an online fundraising effort to gain housing security:

"Unfortunately, within a week of signing our new lease our landlords informed us that our home was on the market [...] Because we live in Oakland, there are no requirements for anyone doing an Owner Move-In eviction to provide relocation support for the tenants."

Why has it not been continually disclosed at Plaza 16 events that Zamudio lives in Oakland? Sure, no matter where she resides her right to have an opinion about San Francisco housing issues allow her a say but she dominates the agenda that people who actually live in the Mission don't have influence over.

I wish to also point out that her nonprofit, Causa Justa, and the other charities running Plaza 16 as their front-group, come to the community and position themselves as "the" community's voices. The nonprofit footprint of reps such as Zamudio in Plaza 16 and the Mission is too large and needs curbing.

Not only must there be a challenge made to the dominance of Zamudio and nonprofits, we also need to look at activists attending the board meetings of Causa Justa, PODER, MEDA, the Housing Rights Committee/SF, Dolores Street Community Services and Mission SRO Collaborative. If they can come to our community meetings, they should reciprocate and allow activists to attend theirs.

Related to all this are fascinating quotes HRC/SF executive director Sara Shortt gave to the San Francisco Business Times in March, about the SF Bay Area Renters Federation and its leader Sonja Trauss who, like Zamudio, resides in Oakland:

"'I think they are a sham group that is acting as a shill for market-rate developers and other pro-development groups. I find it offensive that they are purporting to represent the voice of renters.'"

"Shortt said that Trauss has 'no experience or qualification in the field of housing,' lives in Oakland and doesn't speak for San Francisco renters. 'I think it's very deceptive. They haven't proven themselves to be a representation of the community.'"

I'm of the opinion that some aspects of Plaza 16 are a sham, that it shills for nonprofits and purports to be the voice of Mission renters and others, that if we're going to criticize Trauss for living in the East Bay and advocating policies in San Francisco the same standard should be applied to Zamudio, and Plaza 16 has proven themselves to be a restrictive organization where all are not welcomed.

It's time to question who leads Plaza 16 and look at where their steering committee members live.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Plaza 16 = Undemocratic Cabal of Nonprofits & Campos

The Mission is well-known for the vibrancy of the Latino, queer and artistic cultures long-established but ever-diminishing in the district and our neighbor suffers greatly from the lack of political vibrancy, not to mention genuine democracy and transparency, and the reason is Plaza 16.

This front group for the nonprofits receiving millions in City and other government and private grants sucks up the most political oxygen and frustrations of Mission and citywide folks, and it's time to look at the Plaza 16 foundation laid down via Team Campos at his City Hall office.

Responsive public records from Campos generated by my request shed necessary light on how a cabal was created. Let's start at the beginning.

(Click on each image to enlarge for easier reading.)

After having contact with Bert Polacci, Maximus Partners' lobbyist, Campos' right-hand Nate Allbee contacted reps at two nonprofits, the key person being Oscar Grande at People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic RightsPODER.

On September 13, 2013, Allbee began soliciting feedback on arranging meetings between Maximus and nonprofits, asking a rep of Dolores Street Community Services, DSCS. to attend a meeting of "community" based organizations to attend and wondered if a subsidiary of her group, the Mission SRO Collaborative, MSROC, would also be present.

Previously released Campos emails disclosed this note:

"From: Oscar Grande []
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:59 PM
To: Allbee, Nate Subject:
Re: Meeting with 16th and Mission Development

"Nate, Both those dates work fine with me. Also, when we spoke over the summer we talked about getting a meeting of stakeholders together on the state of affordable housing in the district. From your vantage point do you feel it's an issue the Supervisor wants to get a handle on/prioritize? Our interest is in having a back and forth with smart folks on when and how to move forward (together) on the opportunity sites like 17th & Folsom, 1950 Mission, Shotwell (oyster development offsite), others... Thanks!"

Make note, please, of Grande not pushing Campos to meet any demand and no mention is made of opening the debate to the at-large community beyond Allbee's nonprofit contacts. Those "smart folks" Grande cites ain't the riff-raff who don't work in grant-driven advocacy.

"From: Bert Polacci []
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:34 AM
To: Allbee, Nate Subject:
Re: Meetings with CBO's

""Thanks Nate. Lets talk before we set up any more..
On Sep 24, 2013, at 2:57 PM, "Allbee, Nate" wrote: > 
Hi Bert, > > So schedule is as follows: > > Fri, September 27: > > PODER:10:00am - 10:30am > Dolores St:10:30am - 11:00am > Carecen:11:00am - 11:30am > > Setting up more service oriented CBO's for the next week and working on that neighborhood group as well. Have you had a chance to meet with the Principal of Marshall Elementary yet? > > Nate"

From the get-go, no effort was made by Grande and Allbee to deliver transparency to the real community. No public letters were circulated, no town hall held, nothing posted on an open web site.

A few meetings between Maximus and the nonprofits took place and we, the people, were not informed of any of this. The above email is dated October 2, 2013. Democracy isn't a big concern to Grande and the nonprofit reps Gabriel Medina of Mission Economic Development Agency, MEDA,  Fernando Marti of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, CCHO, and Vero Majano of the Mission Neighborhood Resource Organization, MNRO.

On October 3, 2013, Medina circulated a proposed agenda for an upcoming meeting of the nonprofit cabal and he audaciously listed info sharing, the community's need, everyone's vision and inviting other possible stakeholders/partners. 

The cabal met behind closed doors at MNRC on October 9, 2013, as documented in Grande's email.

The next day, October 10, 2013, Grande sent out notes from the meeting. We see that Maria Zamudio, who resides in the East Bay but works at Causa Justa, Wendy Phillips of DSCS, Laura Guzman of the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, MNHC, and Joel Streicker of the Central American Resource Center, CARC, joined the cabal.

They discussed what role Campos would play in addressing Maximus and building a major condo complex at Mission and 16th Streets and whom to invite to the next in a continuing series of invitation-only meetings. 
Those folks included Roberto Hernandez, executive director of the Carnaval Celebration that has received robust six-figure grants from the City and Victor Marquez, Latino lawyer and Democratic Party stalwart.

Grande announces he's off on a junket to the Philippines for a week's confab. 

An October 24, 2013, from Grande reveals he invited more nonprofit reps to the meeting including Sara Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee/SF, HRCSF, Allbee from Team Campos, Andy Blue, an anti-developers gadfly, Christina Olague and Mara Rosales of the SF Latino Democratic Club, SFLDC, Jose Carrasco of Our Mission No Eviction, OMNE, an ad hod committee, and Erick Arguello of Calle 24, a Latino advocacy group.

More than a month after Allbee began his outreach to a restricted list of nonprofits and Campos supporters about Maximus, none of these or other emails release show a shred of concern to make this info and process transparent to the larger Mission community. The nonprofit cabal kept a tight grip on invitations and sharing of emails.

Again, an email from Grande shows his key position in this cabal, dated Nov 1, 2013, about the previous well-attended meeting at a nonprofit (city-funded) office. Because of the length, the email was divided into two screen-grabs with part one above.

Part two of Grande's email reveals the cabal in secrecy decided these ideals were important: inclusion of those most impacted by the problem of Maximus' condo plan, put community needs above the needs of individual organizations, articulating what the community really needs.

It's the height of domineering arrogance that Mission Housing Inc, my term for the nonprofits, to see how these "community" leaders agree on the agenda for the rest of us, all done without any sunshine or voices outside the cabal's circle.

One month later, Campos aide Hilary Ronen circulated an email on December 9, 2013, concerning future closed-door meetings of the cabal. She writes of the sensitivity, without specifics, of the meeting and that only folks in previous meetings should be at the January 2014 sessions. Very telling, Ronen moved conversations from the email-trail to the telephone and no public record of those verbal communications.

This December 19, 2013, Grande email is probably the most telling about his (and by extension the other nonprofit cabal members') ultimate motivation: his organization. Grande writes he must skip a meeting and has staff evaluations to attend to and that "staff stuff trumps all else". Yes, those four words scream what is the central problem of the Plaza 16 leaders and their stewardship.

Their organizations and the government and foundation and corporate grants and donations, and everyone's paycheck, trumps all else.

So, when did these un-democratic leaders finally get around to sharing a smidgen of their activities and knowledge about Maximus and related issues? 

On May 16, 2014, at the Victoria Theater opposite where Maximus would build its condos, eight long months after a lotta meetings and emails and phone chats amongst themselves, the nonprofits held a public meeting giving formal birth to Plaza 16 with themselves in charge of the agenda.

There can be no political vibrancy and effective, authentic grassroots community organizing in the Mission until such time as the nonprofits are held to account and made fully transparent. 
SF Pride Has 226 Parade Contingents But . . .

Every year at this time, I'm always curious to see the lineup of the SF Pride Parade's contingents and with Sunday just days away, here's the reply I received this morning from Marsha Levine who is vice president of the board and parade manager:

"As you can imagine, we’re very busy right now, and even so, the line up is still in a bit of flux and not yet finalized. We’d prefer not to put out misinformation and create confusion for the contingents. The best we can offer you, right now and pre-event, is the Alpha List of all registered contingents. Should we get the opportunity closer to the event, we’ll post an update."

If the SF Pride leaders can't finalize the lineup with five-days to go before the parade, I suggest they change the wording on their Parade Lineup page since the pertinent info is missing. I've posted the Alpha List at my Google Docs page here, which should also be shared on SF Pride's site.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

LGBT Asians Begin TV Campaign Featuring Their Parents

Every day brings more folks out of the closet from all countries and societies, including across Asia and the Pacific Islands and here in America. A new social marketing campaign launched this month promoting visibility in these communities and I'm giving their news release a bit of attention.

Unfortunately, one of the nonprofits behind this laudable campaign, the Asian Pride Project, has disabled the embed function of their powerful videos but you can view them at the project's YouTube channel.

Many conversations will take place because of the TV ads and social media attention, conversations that will advance acceptance and love in Asian and Pacific Islander families for their queer friends and relatives.

Here's some info:

For Pride Month 2015, we pause to commemorate the powerful achievements in our struggle for LGBT equality. There is much to celebrate. However, some LGBT communities continue to face resistance. Especially the LGBT Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Due to centuries of religious and cultural tradition, many LGBT Asian-Americans remain in the closet. Or if they come out, they risk being exiled from family. This month, a powerful new television advertising campaign depicts Asian and Pacific Islander parents declaring unconditional love and support for their LGBT children.

This groundbreaking series of public service announcements will air on Asian television stations across America during Pride Month. Airing in 8 Asian languages and dialects, the PSAs will reach millions of viewers. The attached media release explains more – and provides links to these powerful public service announcements. The series was created by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and Asian Pride Project.
Mike + Mike Celebrate 20th Anniversary Today

My, how the years fly by when you're happily partnered with a fantastic life-mate to share the joys, challenges, laughter and a few tears of living together.

On June 21, 1995, Mike Merrigan and I met through mutual friends and here it is twenty-years later we are celebrating a milestone.

The journey of our deep friendship and the creativity necessary to still love each other and enjoy being a couple, is my greatest accomplishment.

Mike and I are husbands, even though we "live in sin" without a marriage license, because we reclaim the term hubby for ourselves every time we say it.

Please share in our celebration today, as we take pride in our love and two decades united as one terrific couple!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Obama Lowered US Flag for Aurora, Newton, Boston not Charleston

After a dozen individuals died in the Aurora, Colorado, theater act of domestic terrorism, President Obama used his power of proclamation to lower the Stars and Stripes flown at half staff to honor the victims in July 2012.

At the end of 2012, after another gun-related act of homegrown terrorism in Newton, Connecticut, fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults, President Obama decreed flags on government property lowered out of respect to the dead.

When three people were killed and more than 250 were maimed and injured after the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing in March 2013, President Obama issued a another flag lowering proclamation.

But when a white gunman carried out one more act of American terrorism, armed with legally-obtained arms, on sacred soil in Charleston, South Carolina, leaving 9 black persons dead, President Obama didn't order his usual proclamation directing Old Glory to fly at lowered height to honor the murdered folks.

What's up with that?

His most recent proclamation was on June 12 commemorating Flag Day and National Flag Week. I'd like the Confederate Flag removed from South Carolina's capital grounds and American and LGBT Rainbow Pride Flag lowered to half mast in honor the dead of Charleston.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Supe Breed Lies About Her Calendar & Sunshine

There are numerous violations from the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force levied against Supervisor London Breed for her failures to comply with my requests for her calendar.

On June 2, the SOTF went on record expressing dissatisfaction she failed to send one of her three paid legislative aides to the hearing to explain why she ceased keeping a calendar as of February 1, in response to my asking to see a copy of it.

I was amused to watch and listen to Breed at the June 16 Board of Supervisors meeting state on camera that she maintains a calendar and complies with requests to make it transparent. Try telling that to the SOTF, Madame President of the Board.

Frankly, she lies when verbally claiming a calendar is kept and that it's so complex she needs new technology for her and three staffers to keep it current and properly categorized.

Watch this video of Breed lying at the June 16 meeting:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Plaza 16 Orgs Wanted $1.25M from Maximus Partners in 2013?

The Mission rumor mill's been humming since Plaza 16 bullies barred freelance journalist George McIntire, SFBARF leader Sonja Trauss and myself from attending their alleged community meeting, with speculation that several nonprofits sought large donations from Maximus Partners in the fall of 2013. Here's what I know.

It is said that at September 2013 meetings arranged via Sup. David Campos' office between the developer that wants to build a condo complex at BART's 16th and Mission Plaza, representatives of nonprofits who now steer Plaza 16, each requested $250,000 community outreach grants from Maximus Partners in order for the groups to support the project.

The groups were Causa Justa, Central American Resource Center, Council of Community Housing Organizations, MEDA and PODER.

(L-to-R: Ex-Milk Club prez Tom Temprano, Campos, Allbee.)

Longtime Campos right-hand and former president of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, Nate Allbee, now heading up Aaron Peskin's campaign for his old supervisorial seat, collaborated with Maximus Partner's lobbyist Bert Polacci and meetings were held at Campos' City Hall office. The nonprofits didn't receive the money they requested for their "community" cooperation, is what I've heard from reliable sources.

I'm trying to get confirmation about the alleged requests for donations and amounts, and will update when and if I get more info. Some background you should read.

My public records request in February to Campos for emails related to the housing crises in the Mission produced the following documents.

"From: Bert Polacci []
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:34 AM
To: Allbee, Nate
Subject: Re: Meetings with CBO's

"Thanks Nate. Lets talk before we set up any more..

"On Sep 24, 2013, at 2:57 PM, "Allbee, Nate" wrote: > Hi Bert, > > So schedule is as follows: > > Fri, September 27: > > PODER:10:00am - 10:30am > Dolores St:10:30am - 11:00am > Carecen:11:00am - 11:30am > > 

"Setting up more service oriented CBO's for the next week and working on that neighborhood group as well. Have you had a chance to meet with the Principal of Marshall Elementary yet? > > Nate"

Very curious that instead of getting all the community based organizations in the same Campos City Hall room at the same time, the meetings were stacked for each group separately. I've filed a new request today for more emails from Campos about his collaboration with the groups.

Everyone concerned about the Mission should be mightily demanding reps from those groups explain in writing and public meetings, what they said when they met with Maximus Partners. It surely wasn't cookie recipes they discussed.

Those groups and their reps have positioned themselves and Plaza 16 as _the_ only folks to lead Mission community organizing about both the Maximus Partners project, which Plaza 16 has said nothing about for weeks and weeks, and all housing issues in the Mission and any question of their stewardship is dismissed as racism or sexism or betrayal of progressive ideals.

Um, we just want to hold Plaza 16 leaders accountable and learn who they've spoken to behind closed doors. Look at whom Janan New, both a Maximus Partners and SF Apartment Association lobbying, wanted to meet with in December 2013:

[CORRECTION: In December 2014 is when Ms. New and Campos' office were trying to arrange another meeting with the nonprofits to take place in January 2015. Why would Plaza 16 reps, who spent all of 2014 mobilizing against Maximus Partners, be invited to a meeting with the developer in 2015? Answers are needed.]
"From Janan New
To Allbee, Nate
Subject 16th and Mission
Date Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:04:26 +0000

"Here are some dates that work for us on the 16th and Mission meeting:
Thursday, January 15th in the morning
Friday, January 16th, in the morning
Wednesday, January 21st in the afternoon
"The people we would like to invite are:
Supervisor Campos, you, Maria Zamudio, Gabriel Medina, Fernando Marti and Oscar Grande. -Janan."
Let's back up to November 2013 and look at an excerpt of an email about a closed-door meeting of the nonprofits, to strategize about Maximus Partners where decisions were made about community engagement which average activists and tenants had no idea was going on. Same old Mission Inc/Housing Inc names, many of whom are now running the Plaza 16 show:

"From: Oscar Grande []
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2013 4:19 PM
To: Kendra Froshman; Wendy Phillips; Andy Blue; Jose Carrasco; Laura Guzman; Fernando Marti; Mara Rosales; Erick Arguello; Sara Shortt; Gabriel Medina; Veronica Majano
Subject: 16th/Mission Monday Meeting 12pm Community Group 6th &

"Mission Proposed Market Rate Development
Notes from 10/28/13

"CompaƱer@s, Quick little reminder for our next meeting and follow up notes from this past week. We are meeting this Monday 12pm @ PODER

"And here are the rough notes that I could gather from the white board and from my notebook:
Present: Kendra Froshman/DSCS, Wenday Phillips/DSCS, Andy Blue, Jose Carraso/Good Samaritan, Karoleen Fong/MEDA, Laura Guzman/MNRC, Fernando Marti/CCHO, Mara Rosales/SFLDC, Sara Shortt/HRCSF, Erick Arguello/Calle 24, Gabriel Medina/MEDA, Vero Majano/MNRC."

These folks owe everyone in the Mission answers to my questions about why they met with Maximus Partners in 2013 and what was on the agenda. Let's not allow the nonprofits and Democratic Party activists continue to hijack the grassroots agenda and community suffering without fuller accountability.