Thursday, October 30, 2014

Closed-Door Job Evaluation of SF Fire Chief Protested
By Michael Petrelis

The San Francisco Fire Commission met yesterday afternoon for a regularly scheduled meeting and I was there for a few reasons, starting with verbally protesting how Chief Joanne Hayes-White's performance would be discussed out of public view.

As you may know, she's been under withering criticism from Supervisor London Breed, a former member of the fire commission, members of the firefighters union and its bosses, and ambulance workers and their parent companies over issues such as long response time for EMT vehicles.

However, Mayor Ed Lee has stood by Hayes-White and has given no indication that he's unsatisfied with her leadership and several women in leadership positions at City Hall have come to her defense.

During public comment about Hayes-White's report to the commission, I protested the closed-door evaluation that would happen at the end of the meeting and stated it was a huge disservice to the taxpayers, the general public and the safety of citizens to conduct the evaluation out of public view.

I mentioned that she's faced a pitchfork brigade and a trial by fire, no pun intended, in the media, and that I wanted facts unfiltered about her leadership protecting the public from fires and solving the ambulance response time crisis.

Even though the job evaluation would be behind closed-doors, I still requested a summary be issued to the public about what transpired in the session. I also distributed my #VotePetrelis campaign cards to folks.

How the heck are we taxpayers supposed to fairly judge Hayes-White's performance if we don't have access to the information and details presented to and debated by the fire commission? Yes, I understand privacy protections for public employees, but when that employee is responsible for a vast portion of public safety a way must be found to provide some degree of transparency to the public.

The fire commission owes everyone additional data about the job performance and evaluation of the chief.


Chief Hayes-White giving her report.

 Two ambulance workers. Minutes do not reflect the diversity of attendees at commission meetings.

Yours truly at the podium before the meeting began.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'Petrelis Requested Records' Page Created at City Attorney's Site
By Michael Petrelis

Sure wish I knew what brought a complete turnaround from City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his staff regarding my May request for his right-hand's emails, which are created with taxpayer infrastructure and public documents. I'd like to repeat the achievement here with other elected officials.

Herrera's City-funded site now includes a Resources page entitled "Michael Petrelis Requested Records" (http://tinyurl.com/SFCityAtty-Petrelis-page), and reads:

"[Here] are records responsive to Michael Petrelis' request for emails to and from Tara Collins between March 1 and May 28, 2014. Because the large file sizes -- which together exceed 68 MB -- may be unwieldy for some email systems, these have been uploaded to this web page for the requester's convenience."

A huge leap forward for San Francisco government transparency has been accomplished with these emails now on the web and just a few clicks away.

First, the City Attorney ended months of ignoring my request. Second, the office profusely apologized for the tardiness and neglect in responding. Third, they agreed to produce the public records.

Now, the fourth and biggest sunshine accomplishment here is the City Attorney has previously unreleased public records, a total of six (6) volumes, available for anyone to read.

This development begs the question of why can't we have Herrera and every City department sharing every public records request made to them and the responsive documents posted on their department's web sites? Doing this on a monthly basis would greatly expand San Francisco's City Hall transparency and make our elected officials more accountable to taxpayers.





Monday, October 27, 2014

African-American Dem Club Endorses #VotePetrelis
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

We've received our first and only endorsement from a local political group. Word came earlier this week from the African-American Democratic Club that they've given us their third choice endorsement and we're pleased to have this stamp of approval.

Honestly, we were surprised when the email from club president Jo Elias-Jackson, arrived informing of us this endorsement because we hadn't received a questionnaire from the club but we're surely delighted they found reason to like our DIY Democracy effort.

The African-American Democratic Club's endorsement is the second backing from a San Francisco based organization, as we previously received the support of the Anti Eviction Mapping Project, which doesn't endorse candidates but their members felt strongly enough about our candidacy to throw some love our way.

Thank you, Jo Elias-Jackson, pictured, and fellow leaders of the African-American Democratic Club for your endorsement.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

City Attorney Apologizes for 'Tardiness and Neglect'
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

Never underestimate the amount of bull fecal matter that can flow from an elected official in San Francisco when having to adhere to open governmentsunshine laws, especially City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office.

He's supposed to be the chief enforcer of such laws and yet his office has ignored my public records request filed on May 30, for copies of the emails from Herrera's top assistant Tara Collins.

As our #VotePetrelis team noted on October 17, the City Attorney sought a continuance regarding our impending hearing at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force regarding the failure to produce the public records, and Herrera cited no reason for the continuance which we emphatically opposed.

A few days ago, Herrera's staff publicist Matt Dorsey, who was copied on my original records request and subsequent emails to the City Attorney's Office, sent this remarkable note:

It came to my attention earlier this week that our office had never responded to your request for emails to and from Tara Collins between March 1 and May 28, 2014, and I write to apologize to you on behalf of the City Attorney's Office for our tardiness and neglect.

I also want to apologize to you personally, because my team is ultimately responsible for processing Sunshine requests, and it is clear that I was less diligent in my oversight than I should have been in making sure your request was being handled appropriately.

A number of people pitched-in over the last few days to go through the material you requested as expeditiously as possible, in order to make the necessary redactions, and I now have six PDFs of responsive records to send to you. [...]

Again, my apologies for this. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yes, it's good to see the City Attorney acknowledge this outrageous tardiness and neglect, which is sadly standard operating procedure for Herrera's staff and we look forward to poring over the responsive records, however, we intend to pursue our SOTF complaint in order to once and for all put an end to the delays and obfuscations of Herrera's office.

We must point out Dorsey is a member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and once told the New York Times the SOTF was a "rogue, lawless jury" and its meetings "tedious kangaroo court (http://tinyurl.com/Dorsey-NYTimes), to bolster our case that he is a professional and loyal functionary of the permanent ruling class at City Hall and within the Democratic Party.

Don't like this sort of underhandedness from a public servant, at the City Attorney's Office where the incumbent District 8 Supervisor was a deputy before being elected to the Board of Supervisors? Want to send a message to Herrera, Dorsey, City Hall and Democratic loyalists carving up San Francisco for the rich and powerful?

If you're pissed off, #VotePetrelis!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Guardian Staff-Deleted Public Comments Scrubbed 
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

Crucial progressive San Francisco history has been scrubbed from the defunct Bay Guardian's still-functioning web site (http://www.sfbg.com/),and the culprits for the massive deletion aren't the corporate owners but the former staffers.

Back in August, the editorial staffers were so fed up with public comments on the paper's site that they discontinued commenting for a number of reasons:

"We’ve decided to indefinitely suspend comments on SFBG.com. [...] But the anonymity that Guardian commenters enjoy on our current website has poisoned the well and rendered this forum a poor place for respectful public debate. [...] But the daily free-for-all is over, at least for now. Trolls and spammers begone." (Source: http://tinyurl.com/Guardian-scrubs-all-comments.)

Not only were the trolls and spammers gone, but so were years of comments (some positive, other negative, along with responses from Guardian staff, etc.) were scrubbed and few raised a complaint. We took to Twitter and said Stalin would approve of the scrubbing.

It's one thing to end commenting when you can't afford a moderator, but it's a whole other ball of wax for the Guardian staff to also scrub important criticism and praise and debate because they don't approve of what was written or who wrote the words.

Yesterday, the longtime editor who resigned last year over staff cuts, Tim Redmond, at his new site 48 Hills, was remarkably unconcerned (ignorant perhaps?) of the missing comments:

"The owners of the Bay Guardian, who shut the paper down Monday, have at least gotten one message: It’s not okay to take offline the website and digital archive of the paper. After going down for two days, sfbg.com was live late this afternoon. So the years and years of back stories can once again be found." (http://tinyurl.com/Remond-Guardian-archive.)

If only the owners, the former staff and Redmond all got the message that it's wrong to scrub the Guardian's site of historical commentary, including from their own remarks to the critics. The #VotePetrelis team wants the comments restored to the paper's site and hope all progressives agree with us that such history must be preserved.


Friday, October 24, 2014

City Attorney Seeks Delay on Emails Complaint
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

San Francisco's enforcer of all applicable open government and transparency laws is supposed to be City Attorney Dennis Herrera, yet he and his office staff are widely recognized as hindrances in terms of enforcement and compliance.

Earlier this year, the #VotePetrelis team filed public records requests for emails related to Jo Becker's gay marriage book "Forcing the Spring", and we showed that the City Attorney had practically turned his office into a boutique PR firm for the author and her book tour stop in San Francisco.

Since Herrera follows Willie Brown's dictum of never writing anything down and leaving a paper or email trail, he does not receive or send any emails from his official city addy.

However, his deputy assistant Tara Collins serves as his email gatekeeper and we filed a request in May for her emails and work calender for a few months, but we never received any responsive public records so a complaint was lodged with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

Last week, we were informed that our complaint would be heard next week but we knew this didn't mean we'd finally have the matter adjudicated by the SOTF because we expected a delay or obfuscation attempt by the City Attorney. Lo, that's what happened.

Here's the SOTF note explaining the delay request:

"The Respondent (Office of the City Attorney) in the above mentioned matters has requested a continuance on the hearing of the complaint scheduled for October 28, 2014, to the next regularly scheduled meeting.

"The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force's complaint procedure states in Section B.8..b: If a respondent submits a request for continuance at least three business days in advance, upon agreement of the complainant the continuance shall be granted. If the complainant does not agree to the continuance, the request for continuance is not made within three business days, or the respondent is requesting a subsequent continuance, such continuance shall be granted by a simple majority vote of the members present.

"Please let me know if you agree or disagree with the request for continuance.

"File No. 14066: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against Tara Collins, City Attorney’s Office, for allegedly violating Sunshine Ordinance Section 67.25 for failure to respond to a request for public documents in a timely manner dated May 30, 2014."


Yes, we've responded to the SOTF disagreeing with the delay request and we now wait to hear from the task force regarding next steps.

The City Attorney has never acknowledged receiving our request and failed to comply with responsive public records created with taxpayer funds, and for unstated reasons want to push back when the SOTF would delve into the matter.

Standard operating b.s. for San Francisco's top sunshine enforcer and Dennis Herrera should be widely criticized for blocking access to public records from his office.

In this photo from a recent Sundance Film Festival, Herrera is on the right next to former Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solomnese. Thanks to a public records request, we learned that Herrera billed San Francisco taxpayer for his junket and promotion of a film in which he appeared.

Silent Epic Classic 'Eliso' at PFA, Score Performed Live


You have two opportunities to experience a rare cinematic treat over in Berkeley this weekend. The Pacific Film Archive presents two screenings of the silent classic "Eliso" as part of their extensive retrospective of Georgian cinema, and as added bonus a new score will be performed live by the Trio Kavkasia.

Here's an excerpt from the program notes to whet your celluloid appetite about "Eliso":

This historical epic evokes the tragic fate of a nation pacified in 1864 by the Tsarist Russian Empire. When authorities begin to appropriate arable lands, the peasants are forced to evacuate under terrible conditions. In the village of Verdi, we find Eliso, whose love for Vazho is encumbered by differences of class and religion. Yet the most overwhelming passion in this cherished classic is the depiction of Georgia’s majestic landscape and the deep-rooted traditions of its people.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of discovering the visually astonishing and criminally over-looked Georgian masterpiece "Molba" at the PFA with a full and appreciative audience. "Molba" was so thrilling and just a small taste of this nation's rich cinematic history, I wished the PFA were closer so I could catch more of this series.

If you have any interest in silent films or classics from Eastern Europe, don't miss this exclusive chance to view "Eliso" on the big screen and experience the score, commissioned by the PFA, filling your ears as it's played and sung live by the Trio Kavkasia musicians.

A note to San Francisco cineastes and adventuresome budding film-lovers, who maybe not be familiar with the location of the PFA. It's situated on the University of California at Berkeley campus and short walk from the downtown Berkeley BART station, and well worth traveling to for "Eliso".

"Eliso" plays on Saturday, October 25, at 6:30 pm and again on Sunday, October 26, at 4:00 pm. I'm catching the screening and performance. Click here for more info and details about purchasing advance tickets.
AIDS Healthcare Fdtn Shuts Church Street Pharmacy
By Michael Petrelis

An agreement was recently reached between the Maitri Hospice and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's over the former's lawsuit against the latter which was a tenant under the hospice's facility on Church and Duboce Streets.

At issue was the foundation's failure to pay rent for the space it was renting to operate a thrift store in the front, with counseling services and a pharmacy in the back.

Last week's Bay Area Reporter said the agreement was confidential and that AHF was expected to vacate the Maitri premises by November 15. That space would be a great #VotePetrelis office!

You may recall a number of AIDS and healthcare advocates, myself included, launched a boycott of the AHF pharmacy on 18th Street in the Castro over AHF's opposition to use of Truvada as a prevention strategy for men and women at-risk of contracting HIV.

This AIDS nonprofit faces much criticism from many HIV prevention experts and activists, charity watchdogs, adult erotic performers and the porn industry. AHF is widely known for refusing to cooperate with community organizers or porn producers.

AHF is in the process of expanding their pharmacy in the Castro and I remind everyone who opposes the conservative approach of the nonprofit to boycott the pharmacy.

I passed by their Church and Duboce location recently and snapped these photos showing AHF has moved out. If only the empty space equaled curbing the Nanny State policies of the group's leader Michael Weinstein and a reduction of their influence, I'd be quite pleased.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sean Strub, Poz Mag Founder, Donates to #VotePetrelis
By Michael Petrelis

My friend Sean Strub published a memoir this year entitled "Body Counts" and he graciously mentioned my unique brand of HIV advocacy on the first page, which was an 
honor to be included in his personal history book.

Sean has spent decades advocating for the rights of LGBT folks and people living with AIDS, and many know him as the founder of Poz magazine. We met back during the dark plague years when we both were members of ACT UP/New York.

Today he made a generous contribution to our DIY Democracy campaign of $100, as a show of support for me individually and the ideal of more HIV positive people running for elective office.

It's my hope that you'll be inspired by his donation and today make a contribution to my campaign for District 8 Supervisor. All the info you need to do this is in the About box on the left of this Facebook page.

There are only three weeks left until Election Day and a donation of any amount from $5 to the maximum allowed of $500, would go a long way toward assisting me in garnering votes. Please give today.

And thank you, Sean, for the monetary support and friendship!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

12 Reasons to #VotePetrelis
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

A District 8 voter asked recently us why he should vote for Michael, now that he's received his vote-by-mail ballot and wants to send it back to the Department of Elections.

We reeled off several reasons he should use his first ranked-choice vote for us, starting with he's not pleased with the politics of the incumbent Supervisor.

Then we provided him with a few accomplishments we brought about this year that he should consider as cause to vote for us:

1. Persuaded the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to repaint white bike lane stripes protecting riders near the dangerous Market and Octavia Street intersection at the ramp to the highway. The repainting was done in August.

2. Succeeded in getting the Department of Public Works to steam clean hazardous pigeon poop from surfaces at the 16th Street BART Plaza, while also nudging the Department of Public Health, the SFMTA and BART to expand pigeon proofing and other measures to increase sanitary conditions at this transit hub. This multi-agency advocacy project transpired over June and July.

3. Obtained emails from the City Attorney Dennis Herrera's staff revealing that this office provided extensive public relations assistance, using taxpayer-funded infrastructure including organizing an author meet-and-greet inside the City Attorney's City Hall office, to assist promoting a book about Prop 8 that showcases Herrera in a favorable light. This act of civic transparency and accountability was in May.

4. Requested and received the names and demographics on all city residents killed by members of the San Francisco Police Department, in officer-involved-shootings. For the first time ever, we had a central list of all 168 such fatal shootings stretching back to 1939. The SFPD released this info in April.

5. Posted on the web in May, for the first time, a similar list of all BART police officer-involved fatal shootings.

6. After seven years of lobbying, in March convinced the DPH's director Barbara Garcia and the Health Commission to broadcast their bi-monthly meetings on SF Gov TV, bringing much-needed transparency to the DPH and its decision-making process.

7. Revealed that Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz has a nonprofit group that receives $250,000 annually in taxpayer funds to host soirees and she's violated the sunshine law requiring the nonprofit's board to hold two public meetings each year. It took six months of public records requests to hold Shultz accountable and follow the city dollars that she uses for parties with her friends.

8. Showed that Mayor Ed Lee and his staff hadn't sent a condolence note to Alex Nieto's family and friends after he was fatally shot by an SFPD office, to express condolences over his death. This info came to light after a public records act request was made in September.

9. Obtained the list of all attendees at Mayor Ed Lee's invitation-only meeting with tech firms and executives, where current and future city policies related to the tech industry were discussed, providing sunshine over whom the Mayor meets with behind closed doors. The list was posted on the web in January.

10. Organized a picket and press conference in July at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's pharmacy in the Castro to protest their unscientific opposition to using Truvada as a method to prevent HIV transmission to negative individuals.

11. Asked for and received monthly calendars from nine of the eleven members of the Board of Supervisors, along with the calendars from the Clerk of Board, and in January shared them on the web while calling on the Supervisors to voluntarily post their monthly calendars on their-city funded web sites.

12. For the first time, making the full audio of Dan White's bone-chilling confession to murdering George Moscone and Harvey Milk available on the web, after requesting a copy of it from the city archive at the San Francisco Public Library back in April. There can never be too much multi-media LGBT history on the web.

Just a few reasons why District 8 voters should make Petrelis their number one choice on their ballots in the remaining three weeks before Election Day.

Here's a photo of Petrelis with his friend and endorser Veronika Fimbres.