Thursday, November 19, 2015

Truck Hits Hydrant, Wasting Water from Gorgeous Geyser

Remember my post and video from May about a truck knocking over the fire hydrant on our block, creating a river in the street as the water flowed into the sewers?

Well, on Tuesday, November 17th, another truck hit the same hydrant and the result was similar to what happened in May.

A geyser of water shot up into the air on Clinton Park, for about ten minutes before fire fighters arrived to cap the gusher.

The problem appears to be truckers park their vehicles half on the sidewalk and half on the street, a few feet above the hydrant on the sloped section of our block, and when they shift gears and their trucks lurch forward by accident, the hydrant gets knocked over with ease. Too much ease!

Yes, the geyser was a gorgeous thing for the eye to behold but the thousands of gallons of water wasted, especially during this horrible drought, was thankfully stopped by the fire fighters in a relatively short amount of time.

Maybe it's time for the City to erect a barrier around the hydrant or find other means of preventing another geyser. Check out this video:

Monday, November 16, 2015

PC Problems & 1,700 Write-Ins Uncounted

My desktop computer experienced terrible problems last week, after an automatic Windows Vista updating on my system caused trouble. Had to bring my PC into the repair shop and the small problem was solved but I need to upgrade my system.

With the troubles and shop repair, I took a bit of a break from the web.

Regarding the write-in tally for votes cast almost two weeks ago, the San Francisco Elections Department has accumulated about 1,700 write-ins of which only 59 have been counted.

My vote total stands at 36 and all other write-in candidates are below 10 votes each, so far.

The department has until December 1st to certify the San Francisco results, as required by state law, and then the numbers are turned over to the Secretary of State in Sacramento.

Until that date, the department will release the latest counts every work day at 4 pm at City Hall and on the elections web site.

Will the San Francisco write-ins for mayor be more fully counted today or tomorrow?

Photo snapped by Bill Wilson.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

978 Write-In Votes Need Counting by Elections Dept
It was quite a low turnout for last week's election in San Francisco and the underwhelming number of voters had no impact on the Elections Department, in terms of counting the 978 mayoral write-in ballots.
Today's new numbers show 32 write-ins tallied with yours truly in the lead, wow, with 16 votes which equals to 0.01% of total ballots cast. Should it take more than a week for our local election officials to determine write-ins?
I don't think so and now is a good time for the department to develop a sub-group of counters, solely for write-ins, and better practices that would give candidates and voters answers more quickly.

Bach's Brandenburgs Played This Week Around SF Bay Area

It's a bit embarrassing to confess I've never had the pleasure of hearing these concertos performed live, after decades of listening to Bach's music played in concert halls here and abroad. That's soon changing. I'm attending the Thursday, November 12 performance by this orchestra of well-earned renown at the Herbst Theater. What better venue to give the ears a treat from dear old Johann Sebastian than this newly, and fabulously, restored and spiffed up hall? Excepts from the orchestra's release:

In November, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra welcomes acclaimed conductor and harpsichordist from the Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr, pictured, to guest conduct the orchestra in historically informed performances of Bach’s popular Brandenburg Concertos.

Egarr is listed as both conductor and harpsichordist for these concerts as he will perform as part of the ensemble. “This repertoire is really big chamber music and it’s important, I feel, not to be conducting something like the Brandenburgs” says Egarr.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra music director, Nicholas McGegan – who is celebrating his 30th season with the orchestra – selected the repertoire as the second concert set of the 2015/2016 season. “[The Brandenburgs] are some of the most wonderful of all Baroque music. Bach wrote them in the teens of the 18th century. They are wonderful for Philharmonia because they feature so many of the musicians in a solo role” says McGegan.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1, 3, 5 and 4 with Richard Egarr throughout the San Francisco Bay Area starting November 12 at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco followed by a sold-out performance at Bing Concert Hall in Palo Alto on November 13 and at Berkeley's First Congregational Church on Saturday, November 14 and Sunday November 15. Tickets start at $25. For more information about the concerts and tickets, click here:

Monday, November 09, 2015

Navy's File Reveals Truth Behind Gay Sailor Schindler's Murder

Many thanks to my longtime, dear friend and comrade in the struggle Jay Blotcher for his editorial assistance in creating this package of info. We both advocated for justice on behalf of Allen Schindler and this week, as the nation marks Veterans Day, we're here to bear witness to the U.S. military's complicity in Schindler's demise and honor this fallen gay youth. Read on.

SAN FRANCISCO – The truth behind the 1992 gay-bashing murder of US Navy serviceman Allen Schindler has finally been uncovered.

The 900-page file from the United States Navy has only been made public now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request made by veteran gay activist Michael Petrelis of San Francisco. Buried in these pages are eight startling facts previously not made public.

Schindler, a young U.S. sailor, was stationed in Sasebo, Japan. After numerous episodes of harassment and beatings, Schindler sought to get out of the military. However, on October 27, 1992, Schindler was brutally beaten and killed by two fellow sailors. The murder took place in a men's restroom on the grounds of a public park. His head was bashed repeatedly against a urinal so violently that the porcelain broke. Schindler’s own mother, Dorothy Hadjys, was unable to identify the mutilated and disfigured corpse.

The murder took place during a time when President Bill Clinton was reviewing the military’s policy of excluding gay and lesbian people from the military, and the decades of abuse – and killings – inflicted upon suspected homosexuals while serving their country.

The Navy covered up the Schindler killing, granting a sweetheart immunity plea bargain to one of the suspects, Charles Vins, and convicting the other, Terry Helvey. But gay friends of Schindler's demanded that justice be served; they shared information about the miscarriage of justice with the Stars & Stripes newspaper, which wrote the first news story about the murder.

Lawyers for the killer attempted to use a gay-panic defense, with their client erroneously claiming Schindler had tried to entice the suspects into sex inside the restroom. Even though two sailors admitted causing bodily harm on Schindler, only one received an appropriate sentence.

Activist Michael Petrelis, a member of the direct-action organization Queer Nation, traveled twice to Japan to research the case. His travel was sponsored by many LGBT activists. Petrelis lobbied energetically on behalf of justice for Schindler, and to hold the Navy accountable.

“Allen Schindler was destined to become yet another gay man killed and forgotten,” said Michael Petrelis. “Now, 23 years after his death, we finally share the full details of his murder. In doing so, we honor his memory on Veterans Day 2015. People must know the role that governmental homophobia played in his murder and the subsequent cover-up.”

Mr. Petrelis is sharing the Allen Schindler file here with reporters who plan to file a story on the case. He has highlighted eight salient facts about the gay-bashing murder that have never been shared before with the media or public.

The U.S. Navy’s Gay Witch Hunt: 8 Facts About the Schindler Murder

Here are the major revelations in the Allen Schindler file, unveiled for the first time:

1. A Sodomy Witch Hunt: During its wide-ranging and comprehensive criminal investigation, the Naval Investigative Service questioned Schindler's acquaintances in the service. However, telling the truth about Schindler made his colleagues vulnerable to persecution under the military’s archaic anti-sodomy laws. (Pages 286 - 297)

2. Constant Anti-Gay Harassment: Allen Schindler's berthing area on his ship, the USS Belleau Wood, was defaced with the words "ball-gazer" – just one part of a constant and escalating campaign of homophobic harassment he faced from fellow sailors. (Page 729)

3. A Diary of Persecution: Allen Schindler meticulously chronicled the anguish and abuse he experienced in a diary he kept in the weeks leading up to his murder. The entire diary, part of the evidence at trial, is now available to the media. (Pages 379-412)

4. Public Humiliation: Radioman Petty Officer Schindler filed for a discharge because of his homosexuality and requesting a closed and private hearing. Instead, sadistically, the ship's captain discussed the matter in front of other shipmates, accelerating the climate of danger that led to Schindler’s brutal killing. (Page 133)

5. Private Humiliation: Medical examiners performed post-mortem rape protocol tests on Schindler’s corpse by taking a rectal swab and mouth smear. (Page 570)

6. Perjury: Terry Helvey, the convicted killer now serving a life sentence at the Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary, initially made a bogus confession to naval authorities. Later, it was amended in his own hand-writing and presented to the judge, including honest details of the fatal beating and killing of Allen Schindler. (Page 608)

7. Beaten to Death: Accomplice Charles Vins, who served only four-months in the brig in exchange for testimony against Helvey, confessed to kicking and stomping Schindler as he lay dying on the public restroom floor. Vins also admitted guilt to a sodomy charge, but did not name his sexual partner. Because of his sweetheart deal, Vins was protected from the typical punishment for servicemen convicted for sodomy. He was ultimately given an honorable discharge in June, 1993. (Pages 27, 753-761)

8. Gay Media Watchdogs: The Navy closely monitored the gay media's coverage of the investigation and trial, paying particular attention to stories in San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, Chicago’s Windy City Times and San Diego’s Update. (Pages 133, 182 - 186)

9. The Murder Scene: Local Japanese police in Sasebo took extensive photographs of the crime scene within hours of Schindler's brutal death. These graphic images were shared with the Naval investigators, who nonetheless covered up the facts. (Pages 516-562)

ATTENTION MEDIA: Michael Petrelis is available for interviews about his years of investigation into the Allen Schindler murder case. He can also make available three additional files in connection with the Schindler case. Call (415) 621-6267 or email

Sunday, November 08, 2015

SF Mayoral Candidates Caught in Compromising Photo!

On my way to Rainbow Grocery yesterday, a lovely Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, I spent a few moments on the Folsom Street sidewalk chatting with Broke Ass Stuart Schuffman. Like me, he was a candidate for mayor and was on ballot, while I was a write-in hopeful.

Collectively, all challengers to Ron Conway's puppet-mayor Ed Lee garner 43 percent of the vote. This achievement happened without any help from slimy Tim Redmond, formerly of the dead Bay Guardian rag and now providing stenography PR for his small circle of buddies.

Redmond gave scant pre-election attention to Schuffman, Green Party candidate Francisco Herrera and Amy Weiss who together waged a successful "1-2-3: Anyone But Ed Lee" strategy, which he very begrudgingly, after knocking each of the three, sorta endorsed with caveats. But I digress.

I asked Schuffman why he wasn't identified by his alias Broke-Ass Stuart on election materials, as was write-in challenger Karla Gottschalk. As shown on the preliminary vote totals, she got an "a.k.a Belle Starr" identification after he name.

Schuffman was unaware she had this privilege and he said Gregory P. Slocum of the Elections Department told him aliases weren't not allow by law, and he wondered if there were different ballot listing requirements for those on the ballot versus write-ins.

Not sure and mentioned that Slocum told me, after I inquired about Gottschalk's alias at least on the results, that Schuffman hadn't requested being identified as Broke Ass Stuart. He could have racked up a few more votes with that well-known designation of his.

Here's hoping Schuffman uses his status as a mayoral candidate to stay engaged with the San Francisco political world.

Lastly, John Arntz, the director of the Elections Department informed me on Friday that he hopes on Monday to have preliminary breakdown figures for the 453 write-in votes cast. Who knew San Francisco officials need almost a full week to count write-ins?

Friday, November 06, 2015

SF Election Dept: No Write-In Tally 2-Days After Voting

Friends and family have asked how many write-in votes I got in the mayoral race. On Twitter, my critics have crowed that, based on info from the San Francisco Election Department, I didn't vote for myself because the department's site shows zeroes for all write-in candidates.

Yes, two-days after only 30% of registered voters cast ballots, the department was unable to produce a breakdown of the 453 write-ins cast in the mayoral race.

Why can't the San Francisco Election Department count and release the tally of a few hundred write-ins, in two-and-half-days?

I've emailed and left vmail for department chief John Arntz, seeking answers about this ridiculous delay and when his staff will finally have counted the write-ins. When he gets back to me, I'll share his reply.

The latest numbers, maybe even for write-ins, will be released today, Friday, November 6, at 4 pm both at City Hall and online. Will the department finally provide voters and the public with the write-in figures?

Finally, big congrats to the alternative on-ballot candidates who received 43% of the vote!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Vote Tally Today from SF Election Department?

At 4 pm yesterday, Wednesday, November 4th, the San Francisco Election Department was supposed to release the write-in vote tally in the mayoral race. However, poll workers were too busy counting regular ballots and didn't have time to sort and count write-in ballots.

So, today and every day until all the ballots are counted for all race and propositions, the department will release the latest numbers at 4 pm. Let's hope we get our write-in figure later today.

Regardless of our write-in figure, we're very pleased to have participated in the electoral process as a candidate in San Francisco two-years running!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Will UK's Cameron & Foreign Office Release LGBT Jamaica Emails?

On October 5th, I submitted the same basic Freedom of Information Act request with the United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for copies of files related to gays in Jamaica.

Cameron was preparing for an official visit to the former colony and questions were asked by British journalists and gays if he would broach the topic of LGBT human rights. I was curious to learn what emails and letters may have flowed from the UK embassy in Kingston to 10 Downing Street pertaining in any way to Jamaica's gay community.

Today, both the PM's office and the FCO emailed official replies to my FOIA request. Cameron's office claims they would need a large amount of time, costing them a tidy sum, to search for the requested files:

"Our records are managed by broad subject area, and we do not hold a single file relating to LGBT issues in Jamaica in which the information you request could be easily and swiftly located. We would therefore in this instance have to ask all members of staff to search through their records going back over 10 months to identify and provide relevant information, as well as make a search of our official records.

"Should you wish to submit a refined request, for example by narrowing the date range of your request, it might be that we could comply with that request within the appropriate limit, although I cannot guarantee that this will be the case. I should add that even if you do refine your request and the information is held one or more exemptions specified within the Act may apply."

Yes, I am submitting an amended request and will see how the prime minister's FOIA officer responds, and I'm surprised they claim not to maintain a file just on LGBT concerns in Jamaica. Surely, the PM's officers have files on single topics such as Jamaican reparations' demands, immigration, trade and prisons, so why no file on the gays?

Here's the FCO's response confirming they have information I am seeking, but there's further review needed:

"I can confirm that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does hold information falling within the terms of your request.

"The FOI Act obliges us to respond to requests promptly, and in any case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request. However, when a qualified exemption applies to the information and the public interest test is engaged, the Act allows the time for response to be longer than 20 working days, and a full response must be provided within such time as is reasonable in all circumstances of the case. We do, of course, aim to make all decisions within 20 working days, including in cases where we need to consider where the public interest lies in respect of a request for exempt information. In this case, however, we have not yet reached a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies.

"In your case we estimate that it will take an additional 20 days to take a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies Therefore, we plan to let you have a response by 30 November 2015. If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we will keep you informed."

Updates will be shared, as new letters come from London in the coming weeks.

PM's letter:

FCO letter:

Monday, November 02, 2015


What's SFPD's Twitter-Sharing Mugshot Policy?

After seeing a mugshot of an arrestee posted by the San Francisco Police Department on their Twitter feed, I tweeted to their spokesman Albie Esparza about what criteria the department used when deciding which mugshots to share online.

The mugshot and SFPD tweet of it are in the comments.

I asked him simple questions. Does the SFPD post all mugshots? Only a select few? Instead of giving me direct answers, Esparza engaged in spin and grandly opined he had answered my questions when all he did was spin and deflect.

See the image below in the comments of our back-and-forth.

So, I filed a public records request for any files about departmental policy regarding mugshots shared on Twitter. Here's the response from Briseida Banuelos of the legal division of the SFPD:

"In response to your request, please be advised that there are no responsive records to your request. The department does not have a written policy, and the decision to release mugshots is discretionary."

IMHO, the police need to develop some standards about whose mugshot gets posted on Twitter and other social media. If they release all mugshots regardless of news value, state that, but if the whims of the public info officers is to post mugshots of arrestees generating media attention or whom department officials don't like for whatever reason, then that needs to be scrutinized.