Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sullybait: HRC in 2007: Voiding Gay Marriages Not a 'Real Problem'

This note was emailed earlier today to Andrew Sullivan, who's been holding New York Times reporter Jo Becker accountable for numerous problems, omissions, distortions and wrongful glorification in her new book "Forcing the Spring" about gay and lesbian marriage after Prop 8 passed in California.

(Joe Solmonese. Public domain photo.)
Hey Andrew - 
You wrote last night about a former communications staffer at the Human Rights Campaign named Steven Fisher weighing in your criticism against Becker and HRC's history: 
As for Fisher, take a look at this NYT story from December 2004, reporting that HRC had decided even at that late date to drop marriage equality as an issue. And who in that piece is quoted backing this surrender? Steve Fisher! 
What caught my eye was your referring to December 2004 as "that late date" and not mentioning where HRC stood in February 2007 on gay marriage. You'll recall that a courageous and straight, young Republican legislator in Wyoming, Dan Zwonitizer, made an impassioned speech before voting against a bill that would have voided gay marriages performed in Massachusetts if the couples moved to his state. The Associated Press wrote
Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, echoed that: "Surely the Wyoming legislature has real problems to deal with." 
After reading that quote, I spoke with Zwonitizer and he shared his remarks with me and they resonated around the gay blogsphere and in LGBT papers. I also took HRC to task for again minimizing discussion about gay marriage, this time at the state level and for failing to give recognition to the young GOP politician who stuck his neck out for us. See here and here
My nemesis former Washington Blade publisher Chris Crain opined
Longtime gay and HIV activist-blogger Michael Petrelis, who is also a long-standing [critic of HRC executive director Joe Solmonese], most recently questioned HRC's refusal to acknowledge the remarkable stand taken by several Republicans in the Wyoming state legislature, who blocked passage of a bill that would have refused recognition of gay marriage licenses issued by Massachusetts. One in particular, Republican Dan Zwonitzer, said, "If it costs me my seat, … I can say I stood up for basic rights, and history can be my judge."  
HRC not only stayed mum about these courageous Republicans, it stuck to the usual party line that the Wyoming legislature had more important, "real issues" [sic] to worry about — a bit of tired rhetoric that minimizes our own struggle and always acts to cover weak-kneed Democrats who want to stop anti-gay laws without coming off as (ick!) pro-gay. 
Silence or tired rhetoric, that's what we got from HRC in February 2007. By March 2007, when Solmonese finally got around to issuing a release about Zwoniter and the Wyoming gay marriage debate, it was in the form of a letter to him and another legislator and HRC omitted the word marriage. So much for HRC using every opportunity to argue forcefully for gay marriage when it cropped up in the news. 
Yes, HRC was missing in action in December 2004 on gay marriage and that status continued for a solid three more years. 

SF Chron: Punish Homeless Library Patrons, Not Photogs' Lawbreaking

Journalistic hypocrisy thy name is the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle and its editors.

Over the past seven months, the major daily has gone after homeless people at the main public library for violating library rules and breaking the law and demanded Mayor Ed Lee and the library commission enhance punishment for homeless patrons who don't follow the rules and law. Previous posts on the Chronicle's photos are here and here.

(Photo credit: Michael Macor, SF Chronicle.)

It is against the library's code of conduct to snap photos anywhere in the main branch at Civic Center, and state law prohibits photographing individuals in public restrooms as explained in section 647(j)(1) of the penal code.

Yet, none of that stopped Chronicle editors, reporters and staff photographers from coordinating the taking of photos of homeless folks in the library's restrooms including images of a man at a urinal, top image, and men behind metal partitions clearly sitting on toilets. The photos appeared in the print edition of the Chronicle and on their web site.

The Chronicle on Monday editorialized in favor of enhanced punishment -- for some library users -- totally ignoring their photographers' potentially illegal behavior:

With the support of Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco Public Library is trying to crack down on unruly behavior. It's about time.

Frequent patrons to some of the library's branches, especially the main branch downtown, are plenty familiar with the kind of behavior that the library commission is seeking to restrict.

Incidents such as indecent exposure, verbal harassment and outright assault happen all too regularly in the aisles, and it can make the library a frightening experience for its patrons. Lee called for an overhaul of the rules after a string of events that included the assault of a patron with a chair and someone urinating on a bookshelf.

Yes, there are problems among some library patrons and a better solution to dealing with the unruly folks would be stationing social workers at the main branch to provide outreach and mental health services. The paper goes on to say:

The proposed revisions beef up penalties for some existing violations, like fighting and misusing the restrooms. 

Well, if we're going to address misusing the restrooms we need to address the Chronicle's hypocrisy of sending photographers into them and taking photos. Of course, the editors conveniently omit the bad behavior of their employees at the library.

If we're going to have a crackdown on such behavior, let's be sure the authorities also target Chronicle photographers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City Delaying Charlotte Shultz Charity Law-Breaking Investigations?

(Shultz, lower left, at her annual taxpayer-funded diplomatic City Hall party in December 2013. Credit: Catherine Bigelow, SF Chronicle.)

There are two San Franciscos. One is for the elite 1% where they wield power and public money at City Hall, and pay no heed to good government laws and ballot propositions they don't like. The other San Francisco is for the rest of us who will be arrested and charged at the drop of a hat for minor infractions of the law.

This month marks the fifth month I've been investigating Mayor Ed Lee's director of protocol, socialite and party-giver on the taxpayer's dime Charlotte Shultz and how she receives a nice chunk of City change and evades a few laws in the process.

I've written to the head of the General Services Administration, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, to see if the City is delaying the two investigations it has opened against Shultz. My letter sent today:

Dear Ms. Kelly,

In March, I brought several complaints to your attention regarding the annual $250,000 City grant to Charlotte Shultz's SF Host Committee charity your General Services Agency administers. Your department has confirmed that Shultz and her nonprofit have not complied with City law requiring open board meetings annually, as one legal requirement in exchange for municipal money, for at least the past six years.

Indeed, in a written response to you at the end of March from Shultz's attorney, he admits the committee has never met this the requirements of Sunshine laws and were unaware of the full laws that apply to them.

Your deputy Bill Barnes in early March wrote:

"After receiving a response, the City Administrator will swiftly make a determination and/or request additional information. The grantee and the complainant will be notified of the results. If the grantee is deemed to have violated the provision, the City Administrator will consider next steps based on the seriousness of the violation and the provisions included in the Administrative Code."

Additionally, I've complained that Shultz is violating the 1998 Prop F law passed at the ballot box, barring the use of City funds for Protocol Office expenses and functions because her committee spends its $250,000 on diplomatic events and such. Also in March, your department wrote to me saying you'd asked the City Attorney to investigate the potential violation to Prop F.

Mr. Barnes in said:

"The Proposition F issue, which we are treating as a separate request, relates to a ballot initiative from 1998 which references policies in effect in 1989. Therefore, additional research is required to properly respond. Once that research is complete, we may find it necessary to consult with the City Attorney. Such consultation would be subject to attorney-client privilege. We will inform you once we have completed this research, received advice, if any, and made a determination of how to proceed." 

Thanks to a public records request I made because your office was refusing to respond to requests for updates, in early April you wrote to Shultz's attorney saying you would investigate the apparent breaking of City law and for several years.

Today I am requesting an update on both the Sunshine complaint and the City Attorney's investigation, and any steps you've taken regarding these several apparent violations of the law. Please provide me with a status report by the close of business on Wednesday, April 23. 
Sups. Chiu & Campos's Offices: Public Comment Around 3 PM Today

(Campos, left, and Chiu, are competing in June's primary for Assembly District 17's seat in Sacramento. Public domain photo.)

A short while ago, I spoke with Taylor in board president Sup. David Chiu's office and her counterpart Meredith in Sup. David Campos's office and they each guesstimated public comment today would start between 3 and 3:30 pm today. Spread the word so more folks can take advantage of this info.

It's just one way the Board of Supervisors disrespect the taxpayers. While each Tuesday's full board meetings always include public comment time, the supervisors make no effort at allowing the taxpayers to show up at a fixed time to address our public officials. Sometimes public comment is early in the meeting or way at the end, forcing working people to take off from their jobs and give up pay in order to make use of 2 minutes of public comment.

I've advocated with staffers at Chiu and Campos' offices for each to take up the cause of a fixed time for general public comment on Tuesdays, if only to win a few votes as they compete against each other for the district 17 seat in the state Assembly. Unfortunately, neither candidate addresses this matter but that could change between now and the June election.

Practically all City commissions and advisory panels, like the police and healthy commissions and the HIV community boards, put public comment at the top of the agenda which allows for taxpayers to show at a certain time and know they can speak. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force's monthly meetings always start at 4 pm and regardless of the agenda, when the clock strikes 5 pm they take public comments on matters not on the agenda. So civilized!

For the past few weeks, I've emailed most of the supervisors and their aides, along with Clerk of the Board Angela Calvillo, urging a set time for public comment. The supervisors and staffers haven't replied, but Calvillo shared these details:

California Government Code Section 54954.3(b) and Administrative Code Section 67.15(c) state that a policy body may adopt reasonable rules and regulations relating to public comment. In Chapter one of the Board’s Rules of Order, while various rules have been adopted pertaining to public comment, a time certain Rule has not been codified. 

As you know, the Board welcomes input from members of the public on items of interest that are within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board, including items being considered at the meeting which have not been referred to committee, public comment is placed on the Agenda in order to fulfill both types of public comment. 

Thus, the current placement of public comment on the Board’s agenda is to allow working individuals a chance to get off work and get to the meeting and still have the opportunity to provide either general public comment or public comment on those items not referred to committee. This would not be the case should public comment be placed at the beginning of the meeting. [...] Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide anyone with an estimated time when any item, including general public comment, will begin.

Well, it's not rocket science to determine a set time for public comment and our supervisors should address this subject so that taxpayers can make regular appearance at the Tuesday meetings, and not waste hours of our precious time.
SF Ex: Gay Man Living With AIDS Faces June 1st Eviction

Kudos to reporter Chris Roberts who yesterday had a cover story in the SF Examiner about a gay man living with AIDS facing eviction from his loft. The one bright spot in this matter is that this guy is being offered a market rate apartment in the city, something rarely happens with other people dealing with an eviction notice.

A reminder. Last October, KQED published a story about gay men of a certain age living with HIV in the Castro district, either homeless or facing eviction, and it was pointed out that they had survived the challenges of AIDS, but maintaining their wellness was seriously challenged by lack of affordable housing.

I believe that mainstream media coverage and attention from bloggers and via social networks, can assist folks facing eviction in either helping them retain their current housing at an affordable rate or obtaining increased compensation from speculators. Just one reason why I'm blogging about the Ex story today.

(Jon Stoa and his dog in his loft. Photo credit: Mike Koozmin, SF Examiner.)

From Roberts' article:

Live-work lofts were a flashpoint during San Francisco’s first dot-com boom over a decade ago, and now they are again wrapped up in a city housing controversy. No tenants are feeling this more than those living in the several Potrero Hill and South of Market buildings that comprise the Bennett Lofts, where an eviction crisis is threatening to develop. [...] 

Jon Stoa moved into his airy ground-floor loft on Pennsylvania Avenue in Potrero Hill in the early 2000s. He’s not anti-tech — in fact, he worked for Apple as an art director on one of the most important projects in the Silicon Valley titan’s history, the launch of the first iPhone. [...] 

Stoa and as many as 24 other households in the Bennett Lofts -- 147 units in two buildings in Potrero Hill and three in SoMa — received eviction notices last month from property owner Essex Trust. [...] The company is using the “discovery” that it bought illegal units as a pretext to get tenants like Stoa to vacate by June 1 [...]

If Stoa leaves the Bennett Lofts, he will be given 60 days to move and $500 in relocation assistance — or $1,000 if he agrees to move to a market-rate unit at another Essex property, such as Fox Plaza on Market Street. “That won’t even cover the U-Haul,” he said.

Despite the pressure from city officials, there appears to be little they can do to help Stoa — who said he has lived with AIDS for 20 years and is on full disability following a motorcycle accident — or his neighbors.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dangling Castro Rainbow Banner Blight Worsens: Removal When?

The Castro district was full of happy, peppy people and much beauty on 4/20 and Easter Sunday with all that beautiful sunshine beaming down on everyone and everything yesterday. Unfortunately, the blight of faded and soiled rainbow banners on City utility poles hung over the streets, and at Market and 14th Street the terrible condition of one banner showed serious deterioration.

This photo was snapped at the end of March and was sent along to Mohammed Nuru, head of the Department of Public Works, with other photos of similar dirty and tattered rainbow banners and a complaint requesting immediate removal of the blight. On April 7, I blogged about and shared emails between DPW and the administrator of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro, Richard Magary.

The City and the private merchants group were trying to determine which flags were the responsibility of DPW or MUMC, and the fate of each banner.

I took this photo yesterday afternoon and as you can see the rainbow banner is now split, torn and blowing in the breeze like a windsock. Since this location is several blocks distance from all the tearing up of Castro Street's roadway pavement and sidewalk cement, there is no reason to delay it's removal until after that urban redesign work is finished in the summer.

This note was sent to DPW from Magary of MUMC earlier this month:

Upon current inspection, this Banner, in our opinion, is in poor repair and should be removed promptly, along with its outdated hardware. It is torn and overly soiled. This Banner is NOT part of CASTRO MERCHANTS' SFDPW-BSM Permit and is not our responsibility. It was not installed by us, nor has it ever been maintained by us. [...] Removal of the Banner shown in [Petrelis' photo] is NOT our responsibility.

On April 16th, in response to my request for an update, DPW's Mindy Linetzky shared this info:

The Department of Public Works Bureau of Street Use and Mapping has contacted permit holder Richard Magary regarding the banners.  He is coordinating removal of most of the banners with the Castro Streetscape Improvement project and they have asked him to remove them as soon as possible.

It is our understanding that when the Castro Streetscape Improvement project is complete, all the banners will be replaced. Mr. Magary is also removing the banner [at Market and 14th Street] right away.

Since MUMC is saying one thing and DPW another, I've written to DPW for both clarification and renewed by request for removal of the banner in question. I'll update when the City responds.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Woof #72: For Boy Lovers

Was today the most fantastic 4/20 celebration and enjoyable Easter revelry day of sunshine, great people and abundant love you could imagine? It certainly was for Mike and I, as we mellow out for the evening.

Presenting a bevy of boys who caught the attention of my queer eye, and reminded me of the gift of being gay. While not representative of my usual taste for the mature male of the human species, I occasionally have to salute the under 30-somethings.

Thanks to Mike and these fellas for making it a groovy week!

BART boys smiling for my camera.

 Boy in blue checking his cell phone messages as Valencia Street baked in the sun.

 Latin boys from Noticias 14 fiddling with their electronics near the Twitter headquarters.

Construction boy of the large and fine chunky variety near a Muni stop.

 Boy in orange playing with his big stick and digging up Market Street pavement.

Super smooth boy waiting for the light to change near Fox Plaza.

168 Civilians Killed in SFPD Officer-Involved Shootings Since 1939

I now have as complete a list as possible of all civilians who died in officer-involved shootings with members of the San Francisco Police Department. My previous posts on this subject are here and here and here.

Last week, I made my final public records request to the department's legal counsel Maureen Conefrey and she explained that OIS deaths' record-keeping went back to 1939. The more recent batch of names were added to the previous editions of the list and we now know there have been at least 168 civilians shot and killed by SFPD officers. I say at least because as you see in this note from Lt. Tim Plyer, an entire year's list of potential names cannot be located. From the SFPD:

Here is the list we put together for O.I.S incidents, between 1939-1979, where the suspect was killed during the incident. This is as accurate as we can make it. Some of the race and age/ DOB information was not provided in the log books that we have. The year 1959 is missing altogether. Some of the years they listed the incident as "justified" and the Police officer is listed as the defendant and the victim/ suspect is listed as deceased. We are drawing the conclusion that this was an O.I.S. and the suspect was killed. Each incident was not researched as to the exact facts of the incident. We are only using the information from the log books that we have. 

1939: One: Castro, Carlos (White male)
1940: One: O’Toole, John (White male)
1941: Three: Church, Richard (White male), Brown, Joseph (White male), Imperiale, John (White male)
1942: Two: Silvestri, Joseph (White male), Walker, Harvey (White male)
1943: Four: Weber, Howard B. (White male), Warner, Glenn K. (White male), Dallas, William L. (White male), Pruszynski, Valdimir (White male)
1944: Four: Artega, Julio (White male), Anderson, Robert (White male), Taylor, Paul (White male), Adams, James (White male)
1945: Six: Buchanan, Willie (White male), Melendez, Francisco (White male), Brown, Paul Jr. (White male), Murphy, James (White male), Hayward, Bert (Unknown race), Pellan, William (Unknown race)
1946: Three: Copeland, John T. (White male), Ping, Lou (Oriental male),  Armelin, Eustice (Filipino male)
1947: Three: Knego, Frank (White male), Dabandan, Apolonio (White male), Ella, Edison Griffith (White male)
1948: Zero
1949: Three: Pixley, Ernest (White male), Leonard, Frank (White male), Chene, Dennis L. (White male),
1950: Two: Lassen, Dwaine (White male), Stanek, Robert (White male)
1951: One: Moss, Francis H. (White male)
1952: One: Lewis, Harper (White male)
1953: Three: Martinez, John (White male), Bishop, James L. (White male), Nichols, Jack (White male)
1954: One: Aladrid, Ernest P. (White male)
1955: Two: Ewen, Paul D. (White male), Smith, Albert (White male)
1956: Zero
1957: Zero
1958: Zero
1960: Two: Padron, Liborio (Filipino male), Bruce, Paul (White male), Cronin, Joseph (White male)
1961: Two: Porter, Lester (White male), Barajas, Joaquin (White male)
1962: One: Medina, Ernest Isaels (White male)
1963: Zero
1964: Zero
1965: Four:  Besk, Knute A. (White male), Vogel, Joseph Adam (White male), Cortez, Govea (White male), Camargo, John A. (White male)
1966: Two: Johnson, Mathew (Black male), Klebanew, Richard (White male)
1967: Zero
1968: One: Rains, James A. (White male)
1969: Six: Pollard, William H. (White male), Linthcome, Al (Black male),
Ross, Lannie (Black male), Ogden, Larry L. (White male), Brumfield, Charles (Black male), Martin, David O. (White male)
1970: Five: Clancy, Gerald M. (White male), Beavers, Miles T. (Black male) Morton, Charles (Black male), Prince, Van Allen (Black male), Williams, Alfado (Black male)
1971: Four: Torres, Christopher (White male), Legault, Ronald (White male), Faletoso, Maya (Spanish male), Johnson, Clarence (Black male)
1972: Three: Deer, Earl (Black male), Scarborough, Earl (Black male), Fowler, Raymond (White male)
1973: Three: Pratt, Josiah (Black male), Alexander, Dennis (Black male), Lenton, Albert (Black male)
1974: Four: Bacy, Wilber (Black male), Mueller, Herbert (White male), Hughes, Andre (Black male), Quinteno, Ivan Peter (White male)
1975: Zero
1976: Zero
1977: One:  Hill, Lloyd H. (Black male), Wells, Coleman A. (Black male), Riegel, Robert (White male)
1978: Zero:
1979: Two: Hughes, Perry (Black male), Sorrel, Roger (White male)
1980: Four: Grillo, Patrick (White male); Garrett, Vernell J. (Black male); Mata, George (White male); Hill, Raymond (White male)
1981: Two: David, Wayne M. (White male); Thomas, David J. (Black male)
1982: Two: Contawe, Ricardo (Asian male); Middleton, Victoria (White female)
1983: Two: Payne, Demetrius (Black male); Truong, Vo Tuoc (Asian male)
1984: One: Hoard, Jackie (Black female)
1985: One: Farrow, Warren (Black male)
1986: Three: Lumpkin, Larry (Black male); Flores, Charles (White male); Yip, Nesly (Asian male)
1987: Zero
1988: Four: Groshe, Tony (Other race male); Dixon, Ronald (White male); Bell, Charles (Black male); Barnett, Abraham (Black male)
1989: Three: Cafaro, Joseph (While male); Mason, Martin (White male); Nasalgay, Rene B. (White male)
1990: Seven: Bouyer, Allen (White male); Singh, Narinder (Other race male); Montes, Manuel (White male); Villanueva, Raymond (Asian male); DOE, John (Other race male); Quaid, Henry (White male); Wadsworth, Norman (Black male)
1991: Two: Galen, William (White male); Dixon, Edward (Black male)
1992: Three: Gardner, Scott (White male); Griffin, Glend (Black male); Washington, Damon (Black male)
1993: Three: Williams, Frank (Black male); Houston, Albert (Black male); Flores, Juan (Asian male)
1994: Three: Huang, Sai Ting (Asian male); Moore, Sidney W. (Black male); Boutwell, Victor (White male)
1995: Three: Boss, David (Black male); Hankston, William (Black male); Sheenan, Edwin (Black male)
1996: One: Thibeaus, Lernest (Black male)
1997: Two: Truong, Hue (Other race male); Solano, Silvano (Hispanic male)
1998: Two: Madrid, Jessie (White male); Smart, John M. (White male)
1999: Two: Nguyen, Phuc (Asian male); White, Bufford (Black male)
2000: Zero
2001: Two: Stelley, Idris (Black male); Smith, Randy (White male)
2002: Five: Hooper, Gregory (Black male); Tims, Richard (Black male); Ruffin, Robert (Black male); Tan, Jerry (Asian male); Akbar, Jihad (Black male)
2003: One: Moll, Michael (White male)
2004: Four: Dean, Paul (Other race male); Boyd, Cammerin (Black male); Angulo, Carlos (Hispanic male); Rugley, Gustavo J. (Black male)
2005: Zero
2006: Four: Harrington, Michael (White male); Ruff, Marlon (Black male); Breed, Charles (Black male); Eklund, Karen (White female)
2007: Two: Vargas, Mario Javier (White male); Robinson, Rene (Black male)
2008: One: Cole, Leonard (White male)
2009: One: Li, Xiyu (Asian male)
2010: Three: Bui, Vinh (Asian male); Lee, Michael (Other race male); Smith, Edward (White male)
2011: Six: Smith, Joshua (White male); Hill, Charles (White male) (BART police department officer involved shooting); Sicat, Roselyndo (Asian male); Woo, Peter (Asian male); Harding, Kenneth (Black male); Young, Steven (White male)
2012: Two: Pralourng, Pralith (Asian male); Hughes, Dennis (White male)
2013: One: Wilkerson, Dale (White male)
2014: One: Nieto, Alejandro (Hispanic male)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gentrification May End New SF Gay Sex Club & Old Glory Hole Arcade 

Back in June 2012, I reported on what was supposed to be just a temporary closure of the Mack Prison sex space on Folsom Street near 9th, to a new location in the South of Market area. The owner had passed away and the landlord ended the lease but the survivors of the owner promised on a now-closed web site that they would reopen nearby in a short period. Didn't happen.

(The two adult sex spaces at 960 and 962 Folsom Street, before The Brig opened for business. Public domain photo.)

Commercial spaces for consenting queer males to gather for sexual liaisons may suffer another loss in a few months. Thanks to Jim Provenzano editor of the BAR Tab rag, details are coming out about another negative impact on San Francisco because of the rampant march to build more new condos for the tech class. From Jim's article:

Only a few months after it opened, South of Market's newest sex club may have to move, as gentrification swiftly turns the once-cruisy bar district into open season for even more pricey residential housing.

Scott Morris, co-owner of The Brig, confirmed that the owners of the building at 962 Folsom Street have sold the property, and the building will possibly be demolished to make room for residential housing. [...]

Morris, who heard about the building's sale two weeks ago, said, "I know we'll be in there through June. We have enough visitors to keep promoting the events, and to keep the idea going. And we're looking for other venues." The building sale is indicative of a larger issue that Morris raised about the once-active gay bar and nightclub scene in SoMa.

"South of Market is losing its identity," he said. "A couple of buildings away, some large condo complexes keep going up. It's sad, because we're losing it block by block."

Morris is speaking much truth and I salute him for taking a chance on giving gay kinksters a comfortable playspace. Wishing him all the best for supportive patronage and staying in business if he's force to vacate the premises in the summer.

It's not just the potential of losing The Brig but also the separate glory hole arcade on the first floor of the building that may cease to provide much needed services to the horny homosexuals.

Sure, they may find other locations in which to operate for the thousands of gays who aren't into using online hookup sites or apps, but given how we've lost the bathhouses, the back room institution My Place and Mack Prison, and probably other clubs I can't recall right now, I won't hold my breath on that happening.

Please visit your local commercial queer sex space today, get off with a buddy or two or three, and keep bricks-and-mortar gay playspaces alive and thriving.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gilead on Weinstein & Truvada = Party Drug; AHF Got $10M in Grants 

Earlier this week, the executive director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Michael Weinstein had this to say to AP reporter David Crary about using Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV infection among negative gay men:

"Let's be honest: It's a party drug."

Talk about scientific ignorance and adding stigma to Truvada and gays using it properly to avert acquiring HIV. Sheesh. That comment, and years of bullying on a host of AIDS issues by Weinstein, pictured, triggered a much-needed backlash and Los Angeles gay leader Eric Leue began a petition to have him removed from AHF.

Curious about how much money Weinstein and AHF have accepted from Gilead over the years, I pored over the IRS 990s for the Gilead Foundation and here are the figures I found:

2005: $600,000

2006: $750,000

2007: $1,500,000

2008: $1,750,000

2009: $1,000,000

2010: $1,000,000

2011: $1,000,000

2012: Zero


That total apparently is not the full amount.

I reached out to Gilead's representative Amy Flood who is a director of their foundation, asking questions about these numbers and any other donations they have made to AHF, and for a reaction to Weinstein's "party drug" remark. Flood replied:

With regards to grant funding, in some cases your numbers are off (that may be because in certain years the Gilead Foundation grant was paid in two installments). Gilead Foundation funding from 2005-2011 totals $10,600,000. 

Over roughly the same time period, other grant funding or project support from Gilead Sciences, Inc. totals approximately $600,000. Gilead also provides funding for a direct product donation to Uganda Cares, a clinic in Uganda, not captured in the previous numbers. 

With respect to Michael Weinstein’s statement, we aren’t going to comment other than to say Gilead believes PrEP has an important role to play as part of the HIV prevention landscape, as evidenced by clinical data. 

As you are likely aware, we are not promoting Truvada as PrEP but we are actively engaged in helping to communicate accurate and appropriate information about its usage. We have, for example, supported (and we continue to support) the efforts of community-based organizations and public health agencies to educate their constituents about the role of PrEP as part of comprehensive HIV prevention. 

One question among many I'd like Weinstein to answer is why he's biting the Gilead hand that has so generously fed his AHF coffers. He should be subject to much more scrutiny regarding his opposition based on ignorance against Truvada as an HIV prevention option.