Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DPH Chief Barbara Garcia Preps SF Bathhouse Statement

(Credit: Rick Gerharter, Gay Area Reporter.)

The director of the San Francisco Department of Pubic Health is Barbara Garcia, pictured, an out lesbian who was the former director Dr. Mitch Katz's deputy for eleven years before being appointed to the top spot in 2010 by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom.

After the recent hearing of the permits division of the police department, where massage parlors were applying for bathhouse permits, I emailed her a few questions seeking much-needed clarification about those applications and the matter of the still-standing ban on bathhouses:

As you may know, the San Francisco Police Department is considering six applications for bathhouses via their permits division. Officer Troy Dangerfield has explained that the health department licenses massage parlors but bathhouses receive permits from the cops. 

However, the views of your department are taken into account when considering the granting of bathhouse permits. I'd like to know your view on a few related matters starting with the pending applications now before the police department, and if you back or oppose the applications. 

Regarding the still in effect Superior Court injunction from 1984 closing bathhouses, how do you interpret the current status of the injunction? 

My interpretation of the 14-page injunction and supporting exhibit is that the bathhouse ban could be rescinded if the epidemic were controlled. Considering that San Francisco meeting the medical definition of an epidemic, an expanding health menace, long ago passed when HIV transmission peaked more than a decade ago. 

The local AIDS epidemic entered an endemic phase, as well documented by DPH statistics and reports, when HIV transmissions became stable, before finally and thankfully going steadily on the decline. 

With San Francisco clearly no longer meeting the scientific definition of epidemic regarding AIDS, and has not for many years, now would be a good time to once and for all eradicate the bathhouse ban from the 1984 court injunction. 

We've seen the ban on gays in the military lifted and the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act that banned federal recognition of gay marriages, and I believe we need to lift the prohibition on bathhouses for gays and straights in San Francisco. 

Do you agree that we are no longer experiencing an AIDS epidemic and that bathhouses can reopen? 

After a week of nudging Garcia for a substantive reply, she today said:

We are working on it. Our health officer wants to bring some staff to together so we will respond to you soon as possible. Just give us a bit more time, it's a important decision as you know. I'm giving the group to have a statement by August 10th.

While I'm pleased a statement is in the works, I have concerns that it's being developed out of public view. However, let's see what DPH says when their new position statement on all the issues I've raised is released to the public.
SFPD: 4 Bathhouse Permits on Today's Agenda

Here's some followup on my post earlier this month about several businesspeople applying for bathhouse permits. The full 1984 injunction that is still in effect and keeps bathhouses shuttered in the City, is available here.

The San Francisco Police Department's permits committee meets today and the calendar shows four applications pending to operate a public bathhouse.

I just spoke with Christine Fountain, Chief Greg Suhr's aide, about the time and location of today's hearing. It is at 1 pm at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street, and will be held on the first floor in the Coroner's Conference Room. She says notices will be posted at the metal detectors instructing the public and press where to to.

This time, I'm bring a copy of the 1984 court injunction so I can quote from it before the hearing officer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

SF Examiner Shills for Stoli; NY Dump 7/31 at Russian Consulate

In June 2007, the homophobic violence and rhetoric in Russia was so deplorable gay activists, myself among them, in New York City and San Francisco launched a boycott against Stolichnaya vodka. We poured the liquor down the sewer in front of the Russian consulates and generated a fair amount of attention.

Since then the Russian government has enacted draconian anti-gay laws and LGBT citizens continue to be attacked at Pride marches or just for being out and proud on the streets.

In the past month, with an escalation of violence targeting LGBT Russians and laws against gays being used to arrest native-born and foreign queers, activists worldwide have launched a new boycott of Stoli, a debate is underway about boycotting the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and protests are planned against at the consulates in New York City and San Francisco this week.

If you're in Manhattan tomorrow, Wednesday, July 31, please join Queer Nation and RUSA LGBT at 12:00 pm (noon) at the Russian consulate located at 9 East 91st Street. 

Over at the San Francisco Examiner, a newly hired writer named Oscar Raymundo penned a column on Monday denouncing the Stoli boycott and defending the company that owns the brand:

Full disclaimer: My employer, GayCities, is currently spearheading a multifaceted digital campaign and live event series with SPI-owned Stoli. From working personally with them I can tell you SPI cares about the gay community.

Sure, because there's lots of money to be made from gay bars and drinkers the SPI Group wants us to keep buying their product and not pressure them to flex corporate muscle against the Russian government over the mistreatment of homosexuals. At least Raymundo makes his disclosure plain but his arguments why grassroots gays should lay off SPI Group are weak:

Over the years, [a local gay SPI sales rep] has secured more than a million dollars worth of Stoli sponsorships for LGBT nonprofits, including the Castro Street Fair, Richmond-Ermet AIDS Foundation, GLAAD, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Harvey Milk Foundation, AIDS LifeCycle and HRC. Why are we so easily persuaded to start stabbing our own allies?

Um, what is so great about GLAAD, HRC and the SF AIDS Foundation's AIDS LifeCycle to start with, and why should we buy Stoli just to support them while Russian queers are bashed and brutalized? I'd also like to see independent verification of this alleged $1 million in donations to the groups. Here's what further troubles Raymundo:

My fear is that Stoli will be turned off by the whole situation. It will stop employing people like [their gay sales rep], stop providing incentives to bars like Beatbox, stop spending money to put an ad in the Bay Area Reporter, stop partnering with GayCities and stop helping pride celebrations around the world break even. 

Oh, heaven's to Betsy! That sales rep would have a heckuva lawsuit if he were fired over the actions of protesters, BeatBox would simply have to find another vodka company for drink specials, the millionaire publisher of the BAR would have a few less bucks and gay Pride events would be free of a small part of the corporate colonization of Pride Marches.

Many of the comments at the Examiner page for Raymundo's nonsense are critical of him and his shilling in the newspaper for Stoli, which pleases me. Boycott Stoli! Solidarity with Russian LGBT people!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Woof #49: Dore Alley Wiener, Big Bear & Twister

She didn't cooperate. Mother Nature failed to deliver a solid hour of sunshine for the Dore Alley Fair yesterday, as Queer Law requires. The chilled wind, gray fog and overcast sky all conspired to put a damper on the kink and nudity.

I give the 2013 edition of Up Your Alley, on a scale of 1-to-10, a strong 7 rating for the fair over all and the dudes and dudettes who made it happen by showing up, and a solid 10 for attitude and vibes, not to mention music that didn't deafen or irritate my ears.

Thumbs up to the clean up crew for getting in their positions at the appointed end-time of 6 pm, orange vests and gray gloves on everyone, brooms in hand, and not blowing loudly on their whistles signaling the closure of the fair. The fair was considerably thinned out by then and most folks know the drill that the sweeping begins promptly at 6 pm, so their was no need to get assertive. Nice touch!

Black and white wieners were on display, but due to Blogger policies they are not shown here.

An ebony-and-ivory version of Twister courtesy of the Berkeley's Steamworks bathhouse.

During a ten minute show of orange sunshine, these two dudes showed the hots for each other and a few of us appreciating them and snapping pix.

Is the theme of this pix series black-and-white or what? White butt, okay red from getting spanked, in a black jock strap, and a young black butt wearing a white athletic supporter.  

 The pair of legs on a man belonged to this fella in the blue high heels that brought out the best of his calves. Vive "Laurence Anyways"!

This young gentle giant bear drew lots of loving gazes, as he worked security at the gate and inside the fair. There were many guys, myself included, like the man in the green sweatshirt, happy to look up at this big bear with lewd and lascivious thoughts. Great deep voice on him.

 Gratuitous furry faced youngish blonde guy picking up the trash.

Just a few more of the attractive dudes who caught my queer eye. The one with the very spikey Mohawk cut always had someone snapping his photo whenever I saw him.

OMG. Some men actually saw Johnny Depp's latest flop film "The Lone Ranger"! 

Kudos to the queers and fetishists of all stripes who let it all hang out, the volunteers and security of Folsom Street Events and the people staffing the booths. Let's hope Folsom Street Fair has warmer weather and lots of sunshine!
Why Out Lesbian Nuns Are Missing from 'Band of Sisters'

(Sister Carol Coston, top, and Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis, who appear in the film. Courtesy photos.)

A new documentary by Mary Fishman about several Catholic nuns engaged in social and economic justice work since the 1960s, "Band of Sisters", was shown this month at the Yerba Buena Screening Room. Because of competition event, I was able to see only one-hour of the 90-minute film, which I found over all very illuminating and engaging without preaching.

Some of the more impressive sections showed the sisters fighting for better prison conditions for people incarcerated and against deportation of undocumented individuals. These woman are not the least bit coy in their advocacy on lots of controversial issues.

However, there was nothing said or shown related to LGBT matters either within the church or society, and none of the women who registered on my gaydar discuss their sexual orientation. I contacted Fishman to express my admiration for her documentary and asking questions about why gay and lesbian issues and out people were omitted. Fishman replied:

To address your questions briefly- there are many important human rights issues related to the Catholic church that the film does not address: women's reproductive rights, the sexual abuse crisis, to name a few. There are also many social justice ministries that Catholic sisters work on that are not in the film- human trafficking, anti-racism, etc. No documentary could cover all the issues, and every filmmaker has to chose from among many good possibilities.
There is already a film that I am sure you are familiar with, IN GOOD CONSCIENCE, about Sister Jeannine Gramick's wonderful work in support of gay and lesbian Catholics. I did not want to go over the same ground. Jeannine is in my film, talking about El Salvador and the Pope's visit. I thought that was a way of giving her fans another side of her work that was not in the previous film.
As for whether any of the sisters come out as lesbians in the film- why should they? The film is about the transformation of sisters after Vatican II, their work for social justice, and their spirituality. Throughout the film, and especially at the end, there are strong statements about the oneness of creation, the need to accept and welcome our diversity, and in fact to encourage our differences. 

The sisters in the film express their support for diversity, and by extension, LGBT people, and that is what is relevant to the film.
In my response to Fishman, I noted that I've not seen or heard of "In Good Conscience", and that it would have deepened the impact of "Band of Sisters" if a simple acknowledgement about the out lesbians were included, regardless of that other doc.

Regarding why the sisters should come out, well, Fishman herself gives the answer in reaffirming that the film is about their transformation after Vatican II, a transformation that included stepping out of the closet.

The fight for queer visibility is a constant still-with-us dynamic, even with all the advances in recent years and I was reminded of this two-weeks back when the Bradley Manning Support Network was soliciting money for a full-page ad in the New York Times and his gayness was not mentioned.

Our LGBT stories need to be told over and over, and our lives and social activism work made abundantly visible at all times.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Corey Johnson: San Francisco Magazine Coverboy in 2001

(Click on the images to enlarge.)

He got his 15-minutes of San Francisco fame back in June 2001. Before settling in Manhattan, Corey Johnson traveled the country and spent some time here. 

While passing through, he graced the cover of San Francisco magazine's Gay Pride issue that year and was identified as a "role model". The magazine hosted a gab-fest for (mostly) local queers then printed the transcript. Pretty standard topics broached and comments made.

San Francisco magazine's online archive does not include this issue, so I made a copy at the main library from the paper edition. Included are all of Johnson's remarks.
Funds for Wolfson's Freedom to Marry Pay, not SF Gay Shelter?

(Queer homeless 24-bed shelter on S. Van Ness Avenue is in Supervisor David Campos' district and needs money to open in January 2014. Credit: Rick Gerharter, Bay Area Reporter.)

Professional public relations expert Jennifer Jacobson emailed me this month with the following pitch:

I thought you would like to know about the new crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the nonprofit, Freedom to Marry. The campaign just launched and was started by four LGBT companies who are donating all of the campaign's "thank you gifts" - Wolfe Video, Sweet Travel, and

As if gay marriage efforts and Evan Wolfson's Freedom to Marry organization don't have enough funds, Jacobson is trying to use my blog to ship money to a nonprofit whose revenue in 2011 was $5 million. I was only interested in posing questions to Jacobson and had no interest in helping pay Wolfson's $213,600 salary.

If Wolfson were committed to transparency and posting the IRS 990s for FTM and FTM Action on his site, I'd link to his tax reports, but he refuses to voluntarily post the 990s as dozens of other LGBT nonprofits do on their sites.

My questions to Jacobson asked why FTM couldn't turn to FTM donors Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband Sean Eldridge and ask those super wealthy gays for the $25,000 she hoped to raise via crowdfunding, what exactly the money would go toward, could she and her colleagues instead raise funds for an LGBT homeless shelter in San Francisco's Mission District and expressed my fatigue over gay marriage pushing economic hardship many queers are dealing with off the Gay Agenda.

Jacobson replied:

I agree that there is more to be done, that this is not the only issue. The companies involved and Freedom to Marry (as well as myself personally) see marriage equality as a human issue; the more people who know about it, care about it and offer to help, the better. Is it only part of a larger narrative? Yes. Is there more that can be done to help the LGBT community? Of course. 

Why not do something different? We believe this is a key issue toward equal treatment for the LGBT community in the U.S. and this is a time in which we can have a large impact. We will of course, consider other crowdfunding campaigns in the future, but we have to start somewhere.

But while she's feeding me platitudes about equality and human issues, thousands of needy and economically-hurting queers are waiting for our issues of affordable housing, decent healthcare services, employment with a few benefits, education without crushing debt - regardless of marital status - keep wondering when our issues will be addressed.

As to your other point [about rich gays Hughes and Eldridge], I think it's valid, but we do not think anyone should simply rely on the wealthy to affect social change (though we couldn't do it without them). This campaign is about getting everyone involved; it gives everyone a chance to say they were a part of something meaningful, regardless of how much they can personally give.

Just how vague can this campaign be over all and why can't Jacobson explain what the money raised will be used for? Even if it's not for Wolfson's generous compensation package, the money will be a drop in FTM big money bucket. 

The resources expended on this crowdfunding effort would be much better put to use buying beds and toiletries for the desperately-needed queer homeless shelter in San Francisco. Let's reorganize our priorities and find a better balance to our collective gay concerns.
Poz Facial Fill Procedure Costs How Much in SF?

My new physician Dr. Toby Dyner and were talking about removing the skin tags on my neck during my recent visit with her. I always have a pad with questions and concerns written out before seeing my physician, and the tags were on my list.

She recommended consulting with dermatologist Dr. Kurtis Opp and I saw him last week. He explained that because of my public insurance, I'm on Medi-Care and Medi-Cal, and the mountain of paperwork required to get reimbursed for simply procedures like removing skin tags he would get rid of a dozen large tags as a favor to me. If I want to remove the remaining tags, he'll charge me $150 directly.

Opp and I talked about Dr. Marcus Conant, one of the first doctors to recognize the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s in San Francisco who was my previous dermatologist until endless, complicated billing practices with public and private insurance carriers led him to retire. [UPDATE: A reader sent the link to the 2010 story in the SF Chronicle about Conant closing up shop.]

Actually, I should semi-retirement since he conducts occasional all-day clinics just for facial fill procedures for people living with AIDS, according to Opp who works with Conant's clinic and performs the procedure.

I am not interested in the procedure at this time, but out of curiosity asked Opp about the latest advances for PWAs who get facial fill. Opp said there's still a small degree of pain when they have to numb the cheeks before injecting the fat material, and that the face stays full for a few years.

The price is $400 for the entire procedure and no insurance is accepted by Conant, all due to the incredible hassles with paperwork and insurance carriers.

The site reports that Medi-Care decided in 2010 to cover the facial fill procedure, but what good is that decision when doctors in San Francisco and probably other cities opt-out of seeking reimbursement and the person with AIDS has to make an out-of-pocket payment?

Let's see if this situation changes when Obamacare rolls out starting on October 1.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hudson Yards: Corey Johnson Resigned in March from the Board

Captured today:

On his campaign site today, out candidate Corey Johnson, who wants to win NYC City Council's district 3 seat, states he's currently a director of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation. Well, he isn't and hasn't been associated with the enormous and costly real estate project for the past five months.

My curiosity piqued seeing HYDC listed on Johnson's 2011 and 2012 financial disclosures with the Conflicts of Interest Board, I posed a few questions to the corporation and this afternoon received a response:

Mr. Petrelis:

I have set forth below, in red, HYDC’s responses to your questions concerning Corey Johnson.
The Chairperson of Community Board 4 is an ex officio Member and Director of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation (HYDC), so Mr. Johnson became a Member and Director of HYDC when he was appointed Chair of CB4 in 2011.   

Because he is running for election, Mr. Johnson resigned from his positions as Member and Director of HYDC in March 2013, and CB4 appointed another CB4 official to serve on the HYDC Board.
1) Is he compensated in any way for serving as a director?  No HYDC Director has ever been compensated in any way for serving as a director.

2) If yes, please explain how he's compensated and how much money he receives in this role.

3) What exactly are his duties as a director?
   During Mr. Johnson’s tenure, HYDC Directors met two or three times per year primarily to review and approve HYDC’s operating budget and annual financial statements.

4) Can you estimate the amount of time he puts in on a monthly basis for HYDC?
  Annually, less than 5 hours.

5) Are any directors or persons affiliated with HYDC formally endorsing his candidacy and if so, who are they?
  We don’t have any information about endorsements.      

Please feel free to send along any additional information regarding Johnson's service with the HYDC over the years. Thanks.
  All HYDC Board minutes are posted on HYDC’s website.  See
David Farber
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
Hudson Yards Development Corporation

Interesting that Johnson resigned from the corporation months ago and hasn't been transparent about it on his site, nor has he announced who from Community Board 4, which he is the chairman of, has replaced him at the HYDC. Has he resigned from any other posts because of his City Council quest?

Regarding his puny time commitment, I don't imagine he had much influence over anything of substance and reading between the lines of what the senior VP and general counsel says, it sounds like the board is a rubber-stamp for HYDC. Makes me think he'll be rubber-stamping HYDC matters coming before the City Council, if he's elected and if he is not required to recuse himself from voting on anything to do with HYDC.

While we wait for Johnson to address those concerns, at minimum he should update his campaign site to reflect the fact that he hasn't been a director at HYDC for a number of months.

(Thanks, Louis Flores of the Queers Against Christine Quinn network for capturing Johnson's biographical web page for me.)
Which $234,000 AIDS Executive is on 3-Month Paid Leave?

(Marjorie Hill, the CEO of the Gay Men's Health Crisis. Credit: Saude AIDS Brazil.)

Doesn't your queer heart just break for our well-compensated executive directors of LGBT and AIDS nonprofits, knowing that in addition to robust six-figure salaries and lots of benefits they also get months off from work and still get paid?

Earlier this month, I blogged about Kevin Cathcart at Lambda Legal, whose salary is $318,650, going on a two-month sabbatical. He's not the only queer nonprofit on paid-leave this summer.

Over at Gay City News, reporter Duncan Osborne's story about a mayoral candidates' forum about HIV/AIDS issues in New York City that took place at the offices of the Gay Men's Health Crisis sheds light on that agency's CEO and her present employment status:

Asked how they would select members of New York City advisory bodies, such as the one that decides how the city should spend the roughly $100 million in AIDS funds it receives annually from the federal government, all the candidates said they would consult with community groups. When Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, suggested he would put [GMHC CEO Marjorie] Hill on the AIDS advisory board that drew a chorus of loud boos.

Hill, who has headed the AIDS agency since 2006, started a paid leave on July 1 and will return on October 1. Two senior GMHC staffers said that reports that Hill would leave GMHC after the three months of paid leave were incorrect.

According to GMHC's 2012 IRS 990 filing, Hill was compensated $234,000 for her services, and thanks to Gay City News we know about the nonprofit liberal paid leave policy for the top person. Nice work and perks, if you can get 'em!

Please let me know if you notice any difference in advocacy or impact upon queers and people living with AIDS at either Lambda Legal or GMHC with the top executives taking the summer off.
SF Cop Rides Bike on Sidewalk, Breaks Law: Pix

Too many sidewalks downtown and around the city are plagued with bicyclists riding in an area that's supposed to be reserved for pedestrians. It's not as if bikers don't have wide lanes on the streets dedicated for them and they have to use the sidewalks to get around.

Average citizens aren't the only bikers who break the law and ride on the sidewalks. Bike cops can frequently be seen on Mission Street sidewalks near the Yerba Buena/Metreon complex and Market Street from 5th to Polk Streets.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had just finished lunch at the Turkish restaurant on Grove Street opposite the main library's entrance when a cop on a bike came riding up the sidewalk from Hyde toward Larkin. He ignored the pedestrians and tight space on the narrow strip of sidewalk, peddling away and looking for criminals. One was reflected in the store windows as he rode by.

Even the SF Bike Coalition, a group not known for wagging a finger at errant bikers, is publicly opposed to bikers riding on sidewalks and the group says so on its web site, and also cites the law about this:

[In] San Francisco it's against the law for anyone 13 years of age and older to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. SF Transportation Code (SFTC) Sec. 7.2.12 forbids sidewalk bicycle riding, while Sec. 1007 states "children under the age of 13 may ride a bicycle on any sidewalk except as otherwise posted". [...]

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is sometimes contacted by people who feel threatened by and are angry with people who ride bicycles on the sidewalk. Our position is clear that sidewalks are for people to walk. 

With so many bike lanes in the streets, there is no reason for bicyclists including police officers to be riding on the sidewalks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Corey Johnson's $$ Disclosures Online: Is He Living Rent-Free?

(Cover page of Johnson's 2012 disclosure form.)

To obtain a New York City politician's financial disclosures on file with the Conflicts of Interest Board, which are public records, the law requires you to provide them with a copy of your photo ID which is passed along to the politician along with your request. In my decades of filing for public documents, I've never experienced this requirement.

The COIB does not post the annual disclosures on its web site, however, for New York State legislators and statewide elected officials their financial disclosures are just a few clicks away at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Albany, one of the most dysfunctional capitals in America, is more transparent than New York City on politicians financial filings. Go figure.

I wonder if Corey Johnson, who is running for the District 3 seat of the NYC City Council, will come out in support of mandating COIB post the disclosures of all NYC electeds on their web site. That would make it easier for citizens to follow the money.

After jumping through COIB's hoops, I've obtained Johnson's only disclosures with the agency for 2011, posted here at my Google docs page, and 2012, which is here. The entire disclosures can be read at the links.

One thing stood out. In the 2011 disclosure, the question asked is: "Do you or your spouse/registered domestic partner or your unemancipated child personally (NOT through a corporation or partnership) currently own, rent to anyone or rent from anyone any residential, commercial, retail, or industrial real property in the City of New York?"

The form explains: "Do NOT include any residences in which you or your spouse, registered domestic partner, child, stepchild, brother, sister, parent, stepparent, grandparent, or step-grandparent, or their spouses or registered domestic partners live."

Johnson checked no as his answer and I wonder how he can claim he doesn't own or rent his apartment from anyone. Does he have a sweetheart deal with a developer or real estate firm? This something I believe his campaign should clarify.

The 2012 disclosure shows Johnson received a salary between $44,000 and $60,000 from the Sydell Group, which describes itself as a New York based owner and developer of lifestyle oriented hotels.

He sure has made a career for himself in the real estate development sector. Not only is he working for the Sydell Group, he's also a director of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation and was formerly employed by the GFI Development Corporation. If elected to the City Council, will he have to recuse himself on votes involving the real estate firms he's either worked for or advised?

Check out the 2011 and 2012 financial disclosures, and help bring more transparency to Johnson and his campaign.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

GMHC: Weiner Sexting Presser At Our Office Not an Endorsement

(Weiner listens as Abedin speaks at a presser inside GMHC's headquarters on July 23. Credit: Kathy Willens, AP.)

New York City mayoral wannabe Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin yesterday met with a horde of reporters, camera people and bloggers yesterday to discuss his sexting activity. They did so inside the offices of the AIDS service organization Gay Men's Health Crisis in Chelsea.

Weiner was at the agency because it was holding a candidates' forum about HIV issues soon after the presser.

Concerned that the AIDS nonprofit allowed its space to be used in such a partisan political fashion, with the candidate's campaign setting up a podium inside GMHC with his Weiner for Mayor sign on it, instead of having the event on the public sidewalk, I asked the agency's spokeswoman Krishna Stone for clarification.

On behalf of Seth Rosen, director of GMHC's communications department, this statement was sent to me:

GMHC was contacted by staff members in Mr. Weiner’s campaign office to request a non-descript space in which to hold the press conference. They anticipated the voluminous amount of press that would want to cover the conference and knew that being outside in front of our offices would not work. 

In fact, there were protesters from ACTUP who were raising awareness about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and groups of campaign supporters in front and on both sides of our entrance. 

There was a window of 30 minutes in which the conference could be held before the mayoral candidate forum. Mr. Weiner arrived to an area in our offices that did not have any GMHC signage. 

We were careful to make clear we are not endorsing the campaign. After the conference, we were able to start the forum. 

The majority of the media who attended the conference actually stayed for the forum which was beneficial as the candidates discussed the critical issues of HIV and AIDS. 

As a 501C3 non-profit organization, we remain committed to not endorsing any candidates.

I have requested that GMHC send out the statement to its full media list and to also post it to their page for press releases. The agency must share the clarification and explanation far and wide. In the future, I hope GMHC will not allow any politician to stage such events on their private property.

Finally, I'm very pleased to learn members of ACT UP were picketing outside the forum calling much-needed attention to HIV prevention issues such as PEP.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Council Watch: Corey Johnson & Affordable Homes in Brooklyn

The fantastic muckraking blogger behind New York's City Council Watch, Seth Barron, continues to keep tabs on Corey Johnson, his record of accomplishments or lack of them and to question his integrity as he campaigns for District 3's seat. A shout-out to Barron for his latest commendable act of sleuthing:

Last month, City Council Watch broke the story of Corey Johnson’s work for real estate developer GFI, which he had scrubbed from his record. In response, Johnson has changed his campaign website, adding some information about his work history and his present employment: "[…serving] at GFI Development Company on community outreach on two hotel projects in Manhattan and an affordable housing related project in Brooklyn.[...]"

The “affordable housing related project” Johnson refers to is 470 Vanderbilt Avenue [...]

As part of the deal to allow GFI to build out the structure [...] the company agreed to build a 350-unit residential building on the site of the building’s parking lot. The company [...] agreed to include 90 affordable units, more than the usual 20% allowance in such projects.

Corey Johnson worked for the GFI development team at 470 Vanderbilt, and at a West Village community forum on June 19, he made a strong case for the good work he and GFI did in increasing the stock of affordable housing in Brooklyn.

Video was taken of his speech, and we have transcribed his comments:

"One more thing, to be fully transparent: the same company that built that hotel on 29th and Broadway, they were going to do a residential building in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, on a former manufacturing lot. They asked me to come in and work with the local community board in Fort Greene, and the local Council Member, to make sure there was an affordable housing component to that building. When we started off, before I came in, they were going to do 20% affordable housing. When the rezoning was over, I got them up to 26% affordable housing, and maximized the number of two-bedrooms, for people in the community that needed affordable housing."

Sounds great! [...] As he says, he single-handedly pushed GFI to increase the amount of affordable housing they were going to build.

The only problem is that none of the housing was ever built. 470 Vanderbilt is an office building. Nobody lives there, and nobody can live there, because the entire lot, including the part where the residential units were to be built, was zoned as commercial real estate by GFI in 2011, while Johnson was still employed by the company. 
Kudos to Barron for sunshining more of Johnson's record. Let's hope District 3 voters are paying attention to the City Council Watch's reporting and taking these facts into account as they consider who to vote for the September primary.
'Openly Gay Soldier' Now in NYT Bradley Manning Ad

Here's the follow up to my blog post over the weekend about the omission by the Bradley Manning Support Network regarding the WikiLeaks hero's homosexuality from a pending full-page ad in the print edition of the New York Times.

After many queers lobbied the network, wording identifying Manning, pictured, as gay was added to the text and big thanks for this amending goes to the network's leaders. This is the pertinent excerpt from the revised ad with underlining inserted by me:

Finally, we call on President Barack Obama to pardon Bradley Manning. This 25-year-old, openly gay soldier from Oklahoma does not deserve to spend one more day in prison for informing the public of our government’s policies. 

Bradley Manning believed you, Mr. President, when you came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that you would protect whistle-blowers. 

Now would be a good time to start upholding that pledged transparency, beginning with PFC Manning.
Chronicle, Guardian Omit 58% Overhead of SF AIDS Walk

If you gave a dollar to the San Francisco AIDS Walk on Sunday at the annual event in Golden Gate Park, only 42 cents went to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation which is the beneficiary of the fundraiser. Fifty-eight cents of every dollar donated went to Craig Miller's MZA Productions, a commercial fundraising operation.

California's attorney general Kamala Harris' yearly report on commercial fundraisers for 2011, the most recent available, on page 110 shows that MZA Productions returned only 42% ($1.2 million) of total money raised ($2.8 million) at that year's SF AIDS Walk to the foundation.

MZA and the foundation last year told me in writing they were committed to lowering the 58% of proceeds going for overhead costs at the 2013 AIDS Walk, and I hope they succeeded doing that. However, neither entity expected significant reduction of production expenses this year.

Don't expect either the SF Chronicle or the Bay Guardian to delve into the matter of overhead in their coverage of yesterday's walk in Golden Gate Park.

The Chronicle's Kristen V. Brown wrote the usual "SF AIDS Foundation said. Period, end of story" article tugging at heartstrings and sharing scary stats, and over all numbers for money raised across the decades. Not one word about the pretty penny it takes to put on the walk. The story might as well be sponsored content.

Speaking of which, that's exactly what the Bay Guardian is providing for the AIDS Walk but you have to look very closely at their post to see the small disclosure that the post is actually a promotion.

Leading up to the event, the Guardian, never known for much interest in excessive salaries at AIDS Inc groups or the costs of long-distance bike rides and galas hosted by the Academy of Friends at Oscar time, created what appears to be a regular news blog post. It asks "Why do you walk?", the theme of the fundraiser this past Sunday.

If you look closely under the Guardian's search box the "Promo" disclosure is there in small type, which I missed the first time looking at the post, and unlike regular posts it's not possible to leave a comment.

Well, at least the Guardian was honest (in tiny type) about their pre-event coverage being sponsored content and didn't masquerade it as "news" like the Chronicle did. What's the value to news consumers if both a daily and an alternative weekly ignore the very high overhead costs of the San Francisco AIDS Walk, as documented by the state attorney general?

The Chronicle and the Guardian need to be reminded AIDS fundraisers don't come cheap and readers should be regularly informed of the price tag for walk and bicycle related marathons.

Dore Kink Fair: Music Volume & Nudity Policies Explained

The 2012 edition of the Dore Alley Fair, held the last Sunday of every July in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, was the best ever in my opinion and a huge reason why was the decrease in the usual level of music sounds.

Demetri Moshoyannis, pictured, director the fair and longtime friend and activist colleague, sent these replies today regarding my sound level questions and concerns that nudist pals risked arrest heading to or leaving the fair:

MUSIC. Our DJs are Jim Piechota, James Torres, LUTHER, and David Harness. As the day picks up, you'll probably end up hearing LUTHER and David the most. LUTHER is more of a deep house sound so it's not quite so shrill, and David you may remember from the Universe/Pleasuredome days. 

Now, if you find the music to be at all too loud, please feel free to introduce yourself to Troy Markle who is the Entertainment Manager (and you'll probably find him behind the stage). He can ask that JK Sound adjust the output/volume. Sometimes our DJs get a little out of hand, but I always debrief with my team in the morning and we can always adjust as the day progresses. 

NUDITY. We have our regular morning debrief with SFPD at 10:00am. We will review nudity as an issue, of course. I don't know what kind of education and training has been done within the ranks of SFPD; but, I do know what I can review with them at our event. And, I don't know if you know this or not, but we have dedicated free space on the fairgrounds to nudist activist Mitch Hightower and his folks to help educate people about the nudity law.

Very happy Demetri and his team have, um, heard the concerns of fair-goers who don't want music so loud you can't chat or hear the crack o' the whip or the dogs barkin' and we know who to connect with on Sunday with music concerns. Good to see continuing engagement between the producers and activists!

I won't get pushy (moi?) this year about a change in music styles I wish to propose to Folsom Street Events, the fabulous producers of the Dore and Folsom kink fairs. At future fairs and SF Pride celebrations, though, I'd like time set aside for any of the following: Motown girl-groups, rousing Bowie or Springsteen or Rolling Stone or Sly and the Family Stone.

Thanks Demetri for the transparency on two crucial elements that make for gratifying queer and kink street events.

Here's to the best Dore Alley Fair ever on Sunday. See you there!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bloomberg, Gay City: ACT UP's PEP Rally at Mt Sinai

(Courtesy photo.)

Last week, I blogged about an upcoming demonstration organized by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power back East and am pleased to report the action was a success on many levels, including generating productive media attention. An estimated thirty-five activists turned out for the picket, reminding the New York City that AIDS is not over and there is still a need for an un-bought and un-bossed ACT UP.

Let's start with Duncan Osborne's story in Gay City News:

Members of ACT UP protested outside of Mt. Sinai Medical Center after a gay man who had recently had unsafe sex visited the emergency department there and had difficulty getting a regimen of anti-HIV drugs that can prevent infection with the virus.

“These people are not given care,” said Jim Eigo, a member the AIDS activist group, during the July 17 protest at the Upper East Side hospital. “It’s such a wasted opportunity.” [...]

ACT UP has compiled a log of six examples, ranging from 2009 to the July 5 incident at Mt. Sinai, in which people were either denied PEP or encountered obstacles to getting PEP at six New York City hospitals. Four of the six occurred in late 2012 or 2013. [...]

When Gay City News contacted the city’s 311 system in April, that system had no information about PEP. On July 17, an operator advised that a caller should visit a healthcare provider or emergency room “immediately” to get PEP, though the emergency system does not list the emergency departments or clinics that are funded by the city or state to deliver PEP.

Louis Flores of Queers Against Christine Quinn made this excellent to-the-point video. Check out the Mt Sinai dyke security guard harassing the activists as officers of the NYPD stand by and stay silent.

Bloomberg TV News aired this very informative segment about PEP and its role in preventing HIV sero-conversions.

Kudos to the activists for organizing the demonstration, getting Mt Sinai's administrators to pay attention to demands of changes through education, generating gay and mainstream media stories and for ACTing UP.
Weekend Woof #48: Legal Eagles & BART Boy

Another week of hot days and cold nights in San Francisco, another week of snapping photos of attractive dudes in all their fineness regardless of the temperature. As always, big thanks to all the guys for gracing the lens of my camera. I couldn't continue this series without you!

Here's my friend Edward, who can usually be seen and heard making public comments at Board of Supervisors' meetings on Tuesdays at City Hall, showing off his political buttons and logos. With him is my pal Patrick, who works in the legal world and has a terrific Twitter feed well-worth reading.

Mark is the dean of Bay Area lawyers who has represented lots of radicals from across the ideological spectrum and provided expert advice to colleagues, and a fun guy too. I ran into him at Rainbow Grocery this week and he gave me his handsome smile for this photo.

This furry fella with the bald-on-top look was seen in the Haight, after he had watered the flower beds in front of his condo.

Say hello to the KTVU cameraman who was at the police department's permits hearing where a bathhouse application was on the agenda.

When he got on the BART train at Civic Center, this boy gave off vibes that said he was having a long and lazy day. Whatever music was streaming into his ears, I'm sure it was low-key, just like him.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Manning Network's Pending NYT Ad Omits His Gayness

(Coming out = whistle-blowing.)

The don't ask, don't tell policy pertaining to WikiLeaks hero Bradley Manning and that he's a gay man and soldier is alive and well, at of all places the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Two San Francisco queer progressives are upset an upcoming ad omits Manning homosexuality and calling on the network to revise their wording. I hope the network, which includes LGBT people, mentions that Manning is gay. From Joey Cain:

Below is the text of the ad that is to appear in the New York Times in support of Bradley Manning. Lori Nairne has brought it to my attention that no where in the text does it mention Bradley is Gay. Hundreds, no thousands of us have worked to educate our LGBTQ communities about Bradley's case and press the idea that he is a Gay Hero who should be honored as such and supported. Apparently, we now need to do some educating of our straight allies.

[The Bradley Manning Support Network needs] to recognize and honor him as the openly Queer person he is. It means a lot to us as LGBTQ people that Bradley did what he did in a great part because of what he experienced as a Queer person. It is also the truth. What lies at the core of every LGBTQ person's being is the act of telling the truth about who we are. We call it coming out and it is the basis of our whole freedom movement.

To not acknowledge the truth of Bradley's Queerness is to put him back into the closet that he so heroically freed himself from.

These concerns of my activist colleagues over this matter sum up where I stand. The support networks needs to hear this from queers. We, the gays, are Bradley Manning.

Read these excerpts then look over the entire pending ad, and details about when it will run in the NY Times:


We stand with WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning 

We are American military veterans, artists, journalists, educators, homemakers, lawyers, and citizens. We live in red states and in blue states, in communities urban and rural. 

We ask you to consider the facts, and join us in declaring: Enough is enough. Free Bradley Manning now. In a time of endless war and economic distress, a cloud of government secrecy has eclipsed our republic. [...]

Bradley Manning acted on his conscience, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the American public. “I believed that if the general public… had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan,” explained PFC Bradley Manning prior to his May 2010 arrest in Iraq. [...]

Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. [...]