Monday, October 05, 2015


Irving Cops Hiding 100s of Ahmed Emails: No Releasable Records

My curiosity's been piqued by the case of Ahmed Mohamed, the Muslim teenager in Texas becoming a legal and cultural cause celebre due to a homemade clock, especially wanting to see the public records that were created with taxpayers dollars at the Irving, Texas, police department. It was just a hunch that the cops were receiving large amounts of public communications.

I filed a public records request on Friday, Sept. 25th, and today received a four-page response from the Irving police absolving themselves of any governmental duty to release a single public record related to Mohamed's case.

There is no valid reason for Irving, Texas, to hide all these emails. The cops say they can without _every_ communication they received, whether containing a threat or not because some of the emails they got were hostile toward cops.

We cannot accept the department claim of "hundreds of emails, telephone calls, tweets and facebook posts, a number of which impliedly [sic] conveyed threats (e.g. a picture of a sniper rifle with the annotation 'time to go pig hunting')" at face value.

Specific number of emails received, which is what I requested and didn't want a damn bit of information about telephone calls, tweets or facebook posts, are need from the cops. Exactly how many came in and even if hostile emails were sent, they do not give the police the privilege of withholding any and all emails with _no_ threats.

The Irving police claim no info, not event the names of the officers involved in the matter or the department's brass, is releasable but on page one of their letter to the Texas attorney general and doubling as their brush-off to FOIA requesters, or even one email of any nature, the cops print my name and email address along with the same info of other requesters in their response. So much for blanket confidentiality. 

Besides myself, Avi Selk of the Dallas Morning News and Justin Moyer of the Washington Post, and seven other folks wanna see Irving's public police records on Mohamed. 

Regarding withholding files related directly to Mohamed, the cops note that confidentiality bar release of those files to the public, however, I hope and would expect Mohamed and his legal representatives that have made a request to Irving for the records.

On the matter of no records releasable on Irving police personnel, the cops cite the inclusion of personal info such as Social Security number and date of birth, and home addresses. Get a Sharpie and simply redact that info and release reports on the cops pertaining to their conduct while working for and getting paid by the public.

Let the sun shine in on Irving's police department!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Mustache Bad Biker of Critical Mass Fears Camera: VIDEO

As a slow bicyclist very concerned with safety issues for myself, other riders, folks in vehicles and pedestrians, I was upset with the hipster dude sporting a handlebar mustache who ruined August's Critical Mass bike ride.

In a widely-viewed video, Ian Hespelt, a 39-year-old San Francisco resident, is seen going against traffic in the Marina District forcing a woman in a car to abruptly halt, as he starts yelling at her and throwing his bike under her front end before hammering her windows with a bike lock.

Yesterday, Monday, September 28, I saw Hespelt in front of me on line at the Fox Plaza post office. I'm not sure I would have recognized him without that distinctive hipster mustache. I shot this short video of me asking him questions and letting him know what I thought of his actions. Let's hope Hespelt bad biker behavior leads to better and safer biking and safer streets for all persons.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Prop I Posters: Yes vs. No and Best Messaging for Voters

When I think of my Mission neighborhood, my mind conjures images of colorful Latino murals, the Roxie and Victoria theaters, and the 16th and 24th Street BART plazas among other site-specific scenes. What I never think of is the 1970s "I Heart NY" design for the Big Apple.

That design for New York City is the basis for the Save the Mission's poster about the market-rate housing moratorium on the November ballot designated Prop I. Frankly, I think it sucks. The bulk of the poster is taken up with "I Heart SF" appearing horizontally, while the wording which way to vote message of "Yes on Prop" is on the side left side in down-to-up vertical lettering.

Maybe there's some secret political playbook Save the Mission and Plaza 16 are using, that says a bifurcated message is the best way to motivate voters, but I think the Yes on I's sign is confusing and sorely lacks a Mission-specific message.

For the No on I campaigners, they've gone the traditional route. Their posters clearly read "No On Prop I" and they use an eye image above the letter I. Nothing says San Francisco except in the phrasing about joining the local Democratic Party in voting against the prop.

As with so much from Plaza 16 and Mission Inc groups, especially the leaders at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), their campaign poster is confusing and muddled.

Classic 4 DeSica Films at the Castro Theater on Saturday

Bay Area cineastes and lovers of Italian culture have a special day-long treat on tap tomorrow, Sept. 26th, at the Castro Theater.

Four newly-restored prints of films by Vittorio DeSica will be projected up on the Castro's enormous screen, allowing to view the works as they were intended to be exhibited.

The day starts with "Two Women" at 11:30 am, starring Sophia Loren in her Oscar winning performance. Next up is "The Gold of Naples" also with Loren, the great comedian Toto and screen siren Silvana Mangano playing at 2 pm.

At 5 pm, it's the classic international hit comedy "Marriage Italian Style" also starring Loren and the ever-suave Marcello Mastroianni. 

The day's films concludes with a 7:30 pm screening of "The Garden of the Finzi Continis", which won the best foreign language Oscar in 1971. No, Loren is not in it but Dominique Sanda and Helmut Berger are and they're wonderful.

My hope is to catch "The Gold of Naples" and "Marriage Italian Style", neither of which I've seen, and then see "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" for the third time. I've seen "Two Women" twice and if you've not see it, be sure to watch it tomorrow at this rare theatrical showing.

I can think of no better way to spend my Saturday than indulging in the multitude of pleasures in these DeSica films. More info on the films and ticket can be found here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

SFPD Spent $45,000 Sending Officers to Cop Funerals

The San Francisco Police Department needs to explains why it's supposedly part of dozens of brass and beat officers to attend funerals of cops shot in the line of duty. Tragic as those deaths are, I don't see a compelling reason why SFPD must take cops off their regular duties and pay them to be at funerals.

My recent public records request to the department for names and costs associated with all out of town funerals attended by SFPD personnel in so far in 2015 produced this document, pertaining to the April funeral of San Jose police officer Michael Johnson. The total for SFPD personnel's attendance was $13,816.

The September funeral for Hayward cop Scott Lunger cost the SFPD $30,994, when dozens of our police officials participated in the event, according to public records sent by the department's legal affairs officer Briseida Banuelos.

Grand total for San Francisco taxpayers so SFPD could be very well represented at these two Bay Area cop funerals comes to $44,810. That amount is excessive, in my view, and we need to have a City-wide discussion about keeping our cops on local streets or at stations doing their required duties. Making appearances at funerals should not be part of those duties and we shouldn't be footing the bill.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SF Chronicle: Stonewall Riots of August 1969 - Wrong Month!

Every June, a whole lot of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks, along with many allies, mark the Stonewall Riots of 1969 with parades (too corporatized, IMHO) and celebrations, and a look back at how far we've come in our liberation struggle.

One of the biggest celebrations at the end of each June is in San Francisco and one would expect the Chronicle newspaper, especially the arts desk, to be fully aware of when the riots occurred. Here is what freelancer and frequent contributor Pam Grady wrote on Sunday in the entertainment Pink Section:

"During a recent phone conversation, director Roland Emmerich revealed how hard it was finding a location to re-create the New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood circa the summer of 1969, when riots erupted after a police raid of the Stonewall Inn — a gathering spot for gays, lesbians and transgender people — for his new drama 'Stonewall.'

"He finally found the right place in Montreal, where he re-created the events that are generally credited with igniting the LGBT pride movement. A line in can be drawn from those hot August nights to this summer’s historic Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage."

Hot August nights? Oops, no, the Chronicle is off by two-months. What surprises me is that this paper, in general, and the entertainment section, particularly, got such an important month wrong. As of this writing on Tuesday afternoon, no correction has been made at the Chronicle's original article.

A small mistake, granted, but a big reminder that we LGBT people need to remain vigilant about our history and how it is represented in the mass media.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Is the Lawsuit Against SF Pride Moving Forward?

The email below came my way recently and reminded me that SF Pride is being sued over safety and security issues.

While I have no patience anymore for SF Pride b.s. like Parade-Manager-For-Life Marsha Levine's ignorance about the bloat of her contingent line-up and 7-hour plus parade, corporate dominance of it all and members not running the membership committee among many concerns, I'm also not interested in dealing with a lawyer in Los Angeles and his client suing the organization.

Frankly, even if I weren't in phase-one of my recovery from stomach bypass surgery, I would  have no desire to give up any time to an attorney on such a matter. He can find his own battle with SF Pride, if there really is absolutely no other way to address what allegedly happened to his client and not take up my time.

I wonder if the lawsuit is moving forward and expect to read reporting in the Bay Area Reporter if that is the case, and I haven't seen such coverage of late. Here's the entire email in question:

"Hello Mr. Petrelis,

"I hope this email finds you well. I am an attorney in Los Angeles, and you may have heard about my client, Trevor Gardner, who has brought an action against San Francisco Pride arising from the shooting which occurred at the event in 2013.

"I have read portions of your blog and see that you have written prolifically on the subject of safety at Pride. I would be grateful for an opportunity to speak with you at some point. Judging by your blog, I assume you will be recovering from surgery this week.

"I look forward to hearing from you when you are able. In the meantime, best wishes with your recovery. 

"Very truly yours, Joshua Herr"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SF Ex Op-Ed Writers = All Male Club

There's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, Joel P. Engardio, Nato Green, Stuart Schuffman, Kelly Dessaint and Paul Drexler.

Seven male writers privileged with a weekly op-ed column in the San Francisco Examiner. Not one female writer is given any opinion space in the paper. Regarding racial composition, as far as I know, none of the men are African-American and only one is half Latino. What's up with that?

The current crop of GOP presidential contenders, on the other hand, includes an African-American and one woman candidate.

Pretty strange, don't you agree, that the freaking field of Republican wannabe successors to Barack Obama is more diverse on the gender and black spectrum than one of San Francisco's dailies?

If the Examiner's editor want this white male news consumer's advice, here it is. Radically diversify your line-up of daily opinion writers and better reflect the news audience in the City.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Willie Brown Institute Received Only $4,000 in Last Fiscal Year

Seems like tough times for the vanity charity known as the Willie L. Brown Institute on Politics and Public Service, according to this 501(c)3 nonprofit's last IRS tax filing for fiscal year 2013.

Only $4,000 was received in 2013, a steep drop from the $291,000 that filled the coffers in the previous fiscal year.

Corrupt lobbyist and power-broker, former San Francisco mayor and society columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown had to drip into the institute's assets to cover the $104,000 in expenses incurred during 2013.

Over the last three years, Brown has filed his institute's 990 with the IRS in either April or May, but for 2015 no tax report was filed. Most likely, that is due to Brown not receiving the minimum donation requiring the filing of a 990.

What public good, yeah right, or exactly what purpose this institute served is not explained at its web site. Anyone know if the institute still exists?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tummy Surgery Success: Best & Worst of UCSF Experience

Please join Mike and I in quietly celebrating my successful stomach bypass surgery on Tuesday, Sept. 8th. Throughout the three very long days at UCSF in pre-op, the operating theater, post-anesthesia clinic and then a private hospital room, with many ups and down, I am quite convinced I made the right decision to go under the knife.

Huge thanks to all of you who've expressed love and support, shared prayers, and gave me reason to chuckle and smile. I also say I'm sorry not to have the energy to reply to everyone.

I was discharged Thursday, Sept. 10th, and my gut feeling, ahem, that getting a ride home from our friend Bill Wilson, who was his usual light and giggly self behind the wheel ("Driving Miss Michael"), would be a most welcomed reentry to life outside the UCSF medical center was correct.

The lifestyle changes begun in the past ten-months are now greatly expanded, but on a very slow hour-by-hour basis, to shed additional excess weight and related health morbidities. Updates provided when necessary and now it's on to the best and worst of what I've been through. Let's start with the best first.

1. The promises I made to myself to have the surgery and first lose a few pounds in preparation were kept.

2. Waking up post-op and severely doped up, hearing and seeing Mike was a fantastic comfort. He took vacation time this week from his job, as if taking care of this gay grouch is anything like a holiday!

3. Three UCSF nurses deserve medals for dealing with me in my most painful and confused states, while always keeping info simple. Valerie, for her wealth of knowledge, patience and good humor, made me look forward to her time in my room. Thanks for the good-bye hug, Valerie! Katie, with a smart-ass attitude, tenacious follow-up with various docs and discharge papers, and party-girl attitude.

Then there's Kathy, a fellow New Jersey native with her small physique and deeply caring and can-do approach. A few hours post-op, while still feeling the effects of the anesthesia and getting as much self-administered morphine as allowed, Kathy looked me in the eye and said "we" were getting out of bed.

Using simple language and directions, she guided me to sit up, move my legs off to hang over the side, then grab her thin forearms and I stood upright. Sure, I was dizzy and fearful but she had me take some steps before getting me back in bed. This was the turning point to recovery. Before I was discharged, Kathy saw me walking in the hallway with Mike and came over to share her smile, then kissed my left cheek.

4. The student surgeon, Dr. Phillip Bilderback, a handsome 31-year-old openly gay man who assisted the primary surgeon, Dr. John Carter, stopped by on day one to check on me. I got on the topic of my decades of activism, the importance of questioning doctors, and Mike mentioned I was among the original founders of ACT UP.

Hearing that homo history, Philip asked: "Oh, were you at the Stonewall Riot?" Mike and I cracked up. Felt good to be thought of as old enough to have been at the NYC gay bar rebellion in 1969.

After Philip examined me the next day, I was high on morphine and blurted out with no forethought: "So, how long were you in me yesterday?" Seconds after starting to laugh, Philip blushed, looking even more adorable and told him he needs to blush more!

5. My last dose of liquid narcotic painkiller was right before leaving the hospital. Liquid Tylenol has been managing the minor pain very well. Yes, I said minor pain. Amazing what strides I've taken on my short recovery path.

Mike and I have adapted my my protein and water intake to included the various meds and vitamins necessary for my wellness. Proud that on Friday, had no problem down 64 ounces of water and getting 70 grams of protein.

Have been to my chiropractor Dr. Andy Lesko three times since discharged and will get daily adjustments from him. Totally helping reduce body stress and knots, aiding my healing.

What were the worst parts of this week?

1. My liquid and crushed meds were not all arranged prior to surgery, despite taking the initiative two-weeks before with the Walgreens specialty pharmacy on 18th Street in the Castro and my HIV doc.

The day after surgery, a student pharmacist based in the hospital came to my room six times trying to go over my old and news meds, and arrange new prescriptions for everything. He had to run back with my answers to his supervisor who soon showed up to question me. Sure didn't need this annoying stress.

What I strongly recommend to UCSF's bariatric clinic is that patients deal with all/most medicine needs the week before surgery and not in hospital, and don't put the patient through rounds of questioning with a student pharmacist when trying to recover from surgery and grapple with all the new blood work and other results.

2. Without any notice, a team of four doctors and students showed up right after self-dosing with morphine and I needed desperately to pee. I ordered them out, especially since I had already received a visit from Philip.

When the team marched into my room the next day and didn't ask for permission for all of them to be present for the consultation, I said only one person could remain. Turned out the visit was around five minutes and the doctor said I should have allowed the full team to remain to help them gain knowledge. No, my responsibility is my body and health, not training all these students and certainly not when they're being bossy in their white coats.

3. When a blood test came back showing my potassium level was at 3.8, the low range for this electrolyte crucial to heart health is 3.5, I was given a potassium drip ordered by the physician's assistant Dr. Lea Ross at the request of the surgeon who performed the operation, Dr. John Carter.

Valeria the nurse had warned me the potassium caused a burning in many patients and she was quite concerned I quickly let her know if I felt the burn. When I did, I had to ring for her, say what was happening, then she went to the nurses' station to call Dr. Ross who had to check with Dr. Carter.

Meanwhile, the burning got worse and after forty-minutes of awful pain in the right bicep and shoulder, the potassium drip was removed. For the next five-hours, I hit the morphine drip at every available opportunity. The next day and even this morning, the lingering pain's been felt.

Okay, that's plenty of info for now. Here are some pics during my hospital stay and were a lot of fun to take. Hope they make you smile and giggle.

With the self-dosing morphine device in one hand and an empty urinal in the other, you get a sense of just how doped up I was at one point. 

I was barking about something and Mike thought the blood pressure cuff would make a great gag to hush me up. As if mere rubber would silence my mouth!