Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CBS Poll: 57% of GOP Pro-Minimum Wage Increase; HRC Silent 

(Credit: Getty Images.)

The head of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, pictured, is one damn smart cookie and I wish he would put his brain to working with corporations and also addressing economic justice issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. There's been more sucking up to the business community at HRC than focus on money matters affecting low and moderate income LGBT people.

Yesterday's lead story in the New York Times was about the Democratic Party leaders and 2014 congressional candidates gearing up for using the need to raise the minimum wage as an election issue:

Democrats prize the issue of a minimum-wage increase because it would help address income inequality, which is galvanizing liberals at the moment and is popular with swing voters they will need in next year’s elections.

Sixty-four percent of independents and even 57 percent of Republicans said they supported increasing the minimum wage, according to a CBS News poll last month. Some 70 percent of self-described “moderates” said they supported an increase.

That 57 percent figure for the GOP's support of making the minimum wage more realistic startled me. Earlier this month, I tried to elicit a statement from HRC leaders about economic justice concerns and gays and all I got was silence.

Why can't the HRC, the gay division of the Democratic Party, address such concerns? I don't know if it's because of the robust six-figure salaries of the top HRC executives? Do such compensation amounts cut off their awareness of gays who don't make that kind of money? Is it because the minimum wage increase doesn't attract the attention of celebrities who appear at HRC dinners?

Thanks to the CBS News poll and the NYT, I know where many Republicans stand on increasing the minimum wage, versus the silence of HRC and no publicly stated position. Just a reminder how much HRC's top-ten executives made last year, according to their IRS 990 filing:

1) Chad Griffin, executive director started on June 11, 2012, base salary of $250,000, including a $20,000 incentive bonus, with an additional $50,000 bonus for an unstated reason, and $40,100 gross-up payment, for a total of $360,100.

2) Joe Solmonese, executive director through June 29, 2012, base salary of $238,300 plus $39,000 gross-up payment for a total of $277,300.

3) James Rinefierd, treasurer, base salary of $211,500 plus $64,000 gross-up payment for a total of $275,500.

4) Cathy Nelson, assistant vice president: $275,000.

5) Susanne Salkind, vice president, base salary of $212,700 plus $60,000 gross-up payment for a total of $272,700.

6) David M. Smith, vice president of programs: $250,300.

7) Fred Sainz, vice president of communications: $228,000.

8) Robert Falk, secretary, base salary of $166,500 plus $50,000 gross-up payment for a total of $216,500.

9) Allison Herwitt, legislative director: $197,500.

10) Ann Crowley, membership director: $175,000.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Russian Envoy Attends SF Mayor's Party; Dede Wilsey's 100 Guests

(Standing, l-to-r:  Catherine and Nigel Warren, the Australian consul general. Seated, l-to-r: Charlotte Shultz, George Shultz and Ed Lee. Credit: SF Chronicle.)

Until I read Catherine Bigelow's society column in the SF Chronicle on Christmas Eve and read about Mayor Ed Lee hosting a party at City Hall for the diplomatic corps based here, I didn't know the party was an annual December event attracting hundreds of people. Curious about whether the Russian consul general Sergey V. Petrov and his wife were present, I fired off a public records request for the guest list.

The mayor's staffer for sunshine requests provided me with the list today and I've posted it here.

It's fascinating to see who among diplomats, local politicians, mover and shakers were invited, who RSVPed and how many guest they brought. Not sure why BART and City College board members, or the head of the Exploratorium and scads of mayoral staffers were invited but that is how the elite of San Francisco operate at our City Hall - without a lot of scrutiny.

I was curious to learn that the governments of Botswana, Kazakhstan, Malta, Senegal, Slovenia and Yemen all have honorary consuls here. Plenty of names had no job titles or organizations listed next to their names and I wonder if they're just good party pals of Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, the mayor's Chief of Protocol, and her hubby George Shultz.

According to the guest list, one such Shultz pal, socialite and wealthy party-lover Dede Wilsey brought 100 guests with her. Being part of San Francisco's 1 percent certainly has its privileges at City Hall.

Mayor Lee has steadfastly refused to address requests this activist and other members of Gays Without Borders have made to him since August to forcefully denounce Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws. If he's made such a denunciation, I'm not aware of it.

However, on October 23 Rachel Swan of the SF Weekly reported that the mayor on behalf of the City would commemorate the Russian Imperial government assisting the Union side in our Civil War with armaments for troops shipped via San Francisco. However, Swan noted that plan was scuttled:

San Francisco administrators changed their tune shortly after the first vodka dump [staged by Gays Without Borders under the mayor's office], indicating that they no longer want to be seen cuddling up to any vestige of the Russian government -- even one from 150 years ago. [...]

[The local Russian organizer of the commemoration] says that he first heard about the LGBT community's disapproval of all things Russian via an e-mail from City Hall, and then from Matthew Goudeau, director of the Mayor's Office of Protocol.

Huh? The mayor and his protocol staffers were against engaging with the Russians before they were in favor of having the consul general attend the December party? Sure do wish the mayor had declined to extend an invitation to the Russian envoy and his wife this year, as a form of diplomatic protest on behalf of LGBT Russians.

How much did this shindig cost us taxpayers? Here's what the sunshine staffer said today about my request for an itemized breakdown of expenses for the party:

A staff member in the Mayor's Office that may have responsive documents is out of the office until January 2, 2014.  At that time, we will be able to finish reviewing the Office's files and can provide a final response to your request.  Therefore, we will be in contact again on January 2, 2014.   

I'll let you know what I hear from the mayor's office on Thursday.
SF Chronicle Omits People With AIDS From Profile of HIV Expert

(Public domain photo.)

We all aren't dead yet. I'm talking about people with HIV and AIDS, especially us longterm survivors, none of whom were included in a recent San Francisco Chronicle puff piece on an HIV expert.

Reporter Erin Allday on December 25 profiled Dr. Eric Goosby, pictured, who recently resigned as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and head of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and it can summed up thus: Goosby and his friends said. Period. End. Of. Story.

Not a single person living with AIDS was quoted by Allday, but she did include comments from Goosby's friends and colleagues Dr. Tony Fauci at NIAID, Dr. Paul Volberding and Dr. Stefano Bertozzi of UC Berkeley and Dr. Paul Volberding of UCSF. Of course, they all have kind words for their friend and the profile could have been written by Goosby in that there wasn't any criticism about him mentioned.

I'm not suggesting that Allday shouldn't have spoken with those doctor pals, but that in addition to their remarks it would have been great if she had located one or two folks living with HIV and quoted them, and also given some space to a critic of Goosby. Yeah, the man has critics after all his years in AIDS research, care and advocacy but you wouldn't know it from the SF Chronicle.

Allday explains why Goosby is making news:

But as of November, he's made [the Bay Area] his permanent address again, taking a faculty position on UCSF's Global Health Sciences team. Goosby is starting a program focused on the scientific study of improving health care efficiency.

Also omitted was reference to what Goosby is being compensated in his new UCSF position. As a longterm accountability activist I'm always interested in learning what AIDS researcher and consultants are paid for their expertise.

This passage could have been a great jumping off point to how longterm people with AIDS feel about what we saw in the 1990s and the grief and trauma we have learned to deal with:

The move [in 1991 to work in the Clinton Administration in Washington], Goosby said, came at a time when he was feeling beat up by the San Francisco epidemic - physically and emotionally exhausted, and full of grief over the patients he'd lost. "The saturation that all of us were feeling in San Francisco, around the death and dying, was a form of post-traumatic stress, I think, although we didn't recognize it at the time," Goosby said. "The Ryan White opportunity afforded me a decompression of that acute, unresolved grief."

What do PWAs and other AIDS activists think of Goosby's tenure heading running PEPFAR, and what do we expect he'll do that might impact our lives? These questions came to mind reading this Chronicle passage:

Goosby's field of focus is known as implementation science, and it involves applying rigorous scientific methods to programs designed to provide health care to large groups of people. [...] Goosby and his colleagues will be developing techniques to study and apply those methods to existing programs, both abroad and in the United States.

Yes, I expect the San Francisco Chronicle, of all the mainstream dailies in the country, to get the opinions of folks in those "large groups of people" who will be contending with decisions made by Goosby.

Unfortunately, despite several emails to Allday soliciting her response to my concerns she has not replied to me. If she had, I would have included her response. People with AIDS in San Francisco should have been part of her Goosby profile.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

SF Castro Tenants Convention Takes Place Jan. 11

This announcement gives me hope, as a renter in District 8, that resistance to the displacement happening to our neighbors could be entering a new phase and one that builds a force to be reckoned with at City Hall. I see the convention as one piece of a larger effort fighting the Tech Inc takeover of San Francisco that is making this City unaffordable for low and moderate income folks.

Make plans to attend this important meeting on Saturday, January 11 from noon to 2 pm. It takes place at the LGBT Community Center on Market Street near Octavia. I'll be attending and hope to see you there.

From the San Francisco Anti Displacement Coalition web site:

Join us as we meet with tenants from the Castro area to come up with strategies for fighting the evictions in our neighborhood and defend those who are being evicted, for stopping the gentrification of our gayborhood and the displacement of so many people, and for educating tenants about their rights and how they can fight when threatened with an eviction. 

Participants in the convention will also come up with suggestions for a ballot initiative next November, suggestions that will be presented to a citywide tenants convention in February. Other neighborhoods, including the Mission, Haight/Richmond, and Tenderloin/SOMA, are also holding — or have held — conventions and will be making recommendations to the citywide convention. The convention is free and open to all tenants.

Please spread the word and mark the date in your calendar now. If you’d like to get involved in the planning, email sfadcoalition@gmail.com. Organizers of the convention include Housing Rights Committee of SF, AIDS Housing Alliance, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and District 8 Democrats.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Will NYC Mayoral Loser Quinn Give Unspent $1.3M to Charity?

(Click to enlarge.)

She finished a distant third in the Democratic primary for New York City Mayor, but she's sitting on a handsome sum of funds to donate as she wishes. 

Out lesbian and soon-to-be ex-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn raised $11.5 overall for her campaign, according to the NYC Campaign Finance Board records. Just over $8 million of that was from private donors and $3.5 million came from public financing coffers.

As the year ends, Quinn has an estimated $4.8 million in the bank and after she returns her unspent public dollars she'll have $1.3 million to dole out, said a spokeswoman with the finance board earlier this week. The law requires Quinn to give back the public money by January 15 when she must also file her final paperwork with state, and after that she'll can donate disperse the $1.3M.

Quinn has several options for how to use that money, starting with rolling over it over into another campaign if she seeks another office. She can also issue refunds to donors, or write checks to other politicians or non-profit charities. 

Even though I'm quite critical of high salaries and excessive overhead at local tax-exempt organizations such as God's Love We Deliver, the LGBT Community Services Center and GMHC, and lack of open board meetings or meaningful engagement with the public, I still would like to see Quinn give her war-chest to worthy queer charities directly reaching people and with reasonable compensation and full transparency. 

A big note of thanks to my friend and longtime LGBT rights advocate Allen Roskoff for this news tip. What does he think should happen with all that money?

It would be really great if the money Quinn got from developers, landlords, Wall Street big shots, those expecting huge rewards and the rest of the 1%, had their money given to a worthy cause. However, I am not delusional. Quinn will do with it as she pleases, strictly in ways that will be beneficial to Quinn. 

Let's what decision she makes in mid January about how to use her unspent funds.
Season's Greetings From Mike and Mike

After a year packed-full of personal, medical and political challenges and triumphs for Mike and I, we celebrated the Christmas holiday this week with deep love and affection, not to mention healthy laughter too. Our home is decorated with lots of garlands and flowers, the aroma of fresh food and spices hangs in the air and our appreciation of life is reaffirmed daily.

In the coming days, we'll be seeing my sister Diane and her teenagers Rose and Keith, along with my brother John, visiting San Francisco for good times while the kids are off from school. We're looking forward to entertaining them and showing them the beauty and charms of our great city.

Wishing all of you a healthy and fun holiday season full of love and grace!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Utah Legalizes Gay Marriage, Evan Wolfson Vacationing in Asia

Here's something you can take to the bank. Handsomely compensated Gay Inc executive directors let nothing stop their two week vacations over the December holiday season. They're like members of the U.S. Congress, what with their assistants and staffs to do the heavy-lifting at their organizations and getting out of town for rest-and-relaxation. Here are auto-replies I've received from a few directors in the past week:

Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

I am out of the office for the holidays and will return to the office on Monday, January 6th. I wish you a wonderful end to 2013 and a Happy New Year!

Lorri Jean of the Los Angeles Lesbian and Gay Community Center:

I am out of the office for the holidays and have limited access to email. If you need immediate attention, please contact my assistant, Adriana Rosales, at 323-xxx-xxxx.

And the longest reply hails from Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry:

I'll be out of the office (and hemisphere) from Thursday, Dec. 19 - Jan. 5.  Internet permitting, I will check email, but expect to not have internet during some of the time, and will not be reachable at all by phone.  You may want to consider resending your email around Jan. 5.

In my absence, feel free to contact my assistant, April Domino or, if urgent, Freedom to Marry's national campaign director, Marc Solomon. And definitely please contact our development director, Juan Barajas, with questions about making a donation.

2013 was a momentous year for the freedom to marry, and we are already at work on our Roadmap to Victory plan to finish the job. Let's do it together!

Instead of making that donation to Freedom to Marry, consider buying flowers or wedding cake for some of the hundreds of gay and lesbian couples getting hitched in Mormon Country - the state of Utah. Not into the gay marriage fight and where to put your charity dollars? Give directly to homeless LGBT people on the streets or in the shelters, or queer friends struggling in these hard economic times.

Speaking of hell freezing over in Utah, my friend Chris Geidner posted this tweet that was news to me but not at all surprising:

This reminder needs to be made. The Marriage Equality Inc organizations were all opposed to the American Foundation for Equal Rights filing its legal challenge to Prop 8 in 2009, then tried to sign on to the historic case only to be told to take a hike by Chad Griffin.

When Evan returns from his vacation in Asia, I'm sure he'll have plenty to say about the Utah gay marriages and use the advances there to raise funds for his group. Some things never change.
Mandela Tribute: SF Milk Plaza on MLK Day Jan 20: Flag Lowering?

(From the left, Ian McKellen, Phumi Mtetwa, Nelson Mandela and the late gay AIDS advocate hero Simon Nkoli. Photo taken in February 1995. Public domain image.)

A diverse coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists are turning disappointment into hope, after San Francisco's Mayor Lee and the Castro Merchants refused to lower the iconic rainbow flag in the heart of Gay Mecca in honor of Nelson Mandela, upon his death earlier this month.

This alert gives the outline of our plans for January 20 and we're asking you to put the tribute and date on your calender, spread the word about the tribute and if you support this project to leave a comment with your name, group identification if any, and location in the comments.

Many thanks to the initial list of folks embracing this important project. Here's the text of the alert:


Dear Friends and Allies, 

We are collaborating together on an important project, one that we believe is of interest to you and your commitment to social justice. 

This coming Martin Luther King Jr holiday, celebrated on Monday, January 20, 2014, we will gather in historic Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's LGBT Castro district to honor the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela. 

Plans are in development to pay respects to MLK, Milk and Mandela, and to recommit ourselves to the shared struggles for racial, gender and sexual identity justice and freedom here at home and around the world. 

A request will be submitted before the end of December to Mayor Ed Lee and the Merchants of Upper Market Castro to work with us, and to either lower the rainbow flag at the plaza or raise the South African flag on MLK Day. At that point, we will seek signatures from activists endorsing the request. 

Please mark your calendar and plan to join us on January 20th in Harvey Milk Plaza as we pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and his inspiring legacy. 


Hugh Brockman and Henry Bantjes
Gay Flag
Johannesburg, South Africa

Veronika Fimbres 
African-American Transgender Advocate 
San Francisco, CA, USA 

Shaun Haines
Bayard Rustin Coalition, Member
San Francisco, CA, USA

Jason Latty-Travis
Caribbean Alliance for Equality, President
Newark, NJ, USA

Davis Mac-Illaya
Nigerian LGBT Advocate in Exile
London, UK

Melanie Nathan 
Marin County Human Rights Commission, Member
Marin, CA, USA 

Denis Nzioka
LGBTI and Sex Work Activist
Nairobi, Kenya

Michael Petrelis 
Gays Without Borders, Member
San Francisco, CA, USA
SF Controller: $817,500 Unspent in Supervisors' Slush Funds

In response to my recent public records request to the City Controller for the district allocations made by each member of the Board of Supervisors this fiscal year, I received the information above about how members spent their $100,000 in slush funds or how much they've kept in their accounts.

The members representing districts 1, Eric Mar; 2, Mark Farrell; 3, David Chui and 4, Katy Tang, each have $100,000 to spend since they've made no allocations. 

District 5 Supervisor London Breed allocated her entire fund thus:

CRN outreach: $50,000
Inner Sunset - street fair fees: $1,000
Cole Valley - street fair fees: $1,000
Haight Ashbuty - dog poop bags and dispensers: $5,000
Juneteenth - fair fees: $5,000
Alamo Square - flea market: $1,000
NOPNA - 2 street fairs: $1,300
Lower Haight - Pink Bunny: $2,500
Ariel Art Exhibition: $3,850
Holiday Food Boxes/Civic Engagement - Mo Magic: $29,250

In district 6, Supervisor Jane Kim used $20,000 of her allocation on these projects, leaving her with $80,000 still to spend:

Unified School District, Life Learning Academy, Treasure Island: $5,000
Unified School District, Bessie Carmichael Elementary: $10,000
Unified School District, Tenderloin Elementary School: $5,000

Supervisor Normal Yee from district 7 hasn't spent any of his $100,000 allocation yet. The City's most polarizing elected official, the Supervisor from district 8, spent $66,000 of his slush fund and has $34,000 remaining.

District 9 Supervisor David Campos had a single allocation, leaving $70,000 in his account:

Community Challenge Grants for completion of a mural at Bernal Library: $30,000

In the Bayview and Hunters Point district 10, Supervisor Malia Cohen hasn't used any of her allocated $100,000.

Supervisor John Avalos of district 11 used $66,500 of his funds thus and still retains $35,500 to allocate:

Cayuga Connectors: $6,500
Ney Street greening: $5,000
Ridge Lane safety and access improvements: $25,000
Athens/Avalon repair and grade steps for safe use: $20,000
Water mural: $10,000

According to the City Controller's office, the combined amount of money left unspent by the Supervisors as they year ends is $817,500. Nice chunk of City change and I'm curious to see how it get spent in the new year.
Is the Public Barred from SF Mayor's Tech Inc Committees?

(Economic and social justice activists, and the general public were literally locked out, notice the chains on the door handles, from Tech Inc's meeting on December 16 with their puppet Mayor Ed Lee. Credit: Chris Roberts.)

This just isn't passing the smell test one bit.

Last Monday, the San Francisco Examiner's Jonah Owen Lamb reported on the invitation-only lunch meeting Mayor Lee has been summoned to attend with Tech Inc titans, held at One Market Street where Salesforce is headquartered. They're hosting the pow-wow As the photo shows, no efforts was made to bridge the yawning chasm between the mayor, his pals and average citizens. The Ex said:

But the meeting, which will be hosted by Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway and Salesforce, whose CEO has received recognition for his local philanthropy, is not meant to plot a counterattack to the growing backlash on the tech industry, according to Christine Falvey, the mayor’s spokeswoman. “I don’t think the mayor's interested in what the tech sector's image is,” Falvey said.

Oh, really? Are we to believe in Santa Claus too? At the end of week, on December 20 angel venture capitalist Ron Conway's vanity charity SF Citi released this self-puffery:

Following that meeting, sf.citi is proud to announce the creation of three new committees that, in partnership with Mayor Lee, members of the Board of Supervisors and experienced leaders in their respective fields, will engage the broader tech community to give back and partner to develop innovative solutions to some of the most pressing issues impacting San Franciscans.
"More than ever, the industry as a whole is ready to roll up its sleeves and work together on issues impacting all San Franciscans and to make sure our City’s economic success reaches all of our residents and neighborhoods," stated sf.citi Chairman Ron Conway.
In collaboration with SPUR, the Salesforce.com Foundation, and the San Francisco Unified School District, sf.citi will launch and spearhead committees that will advocate for affordable housing development, increase philanthropic efforts and social responsibility within the tech community, and build a local jobs pipeline that will expand technical education programs for San Francisco students.
- See more at: http://www.sfciti.com/news/releases/tech-community-comes-together-to-give-back-partner-with-city-to-tackle-common-challenges#sthash.ffr53WCR.dpuf
Following that meeting, sf.citi is proud to announce the creation of three new committees that, in partnership with Mayor Lee, members of the Board of Supervisors and experienced leaders in their respective fields, will engage the broader tech community to give back and partner to develop innovative solutions to some of the most pressing issues impacting San Franciscans. [...]

In collaboration with SPUR, the Salesforce.com Foundation, and the San Francisco Unified District, will launch committees [to examine housing, philanthropic and social responsibility concerns of tech firms].

So who exactly has established the committees and is in charge of them, Tech Inc or the mayor? More questions. Since SF Citi and Conway claim the committees are in partnership with the mayor and the Board of Supervisors, what sunshine provisions are built in to their structure? Who else is on the committees? Where are the MOUs guiding them? What about public attendance and comment at the meetings of the committees? The sound of crickets chirping.

One answer about when a meeting will take place comes from Andrew S. Ross who reported on December 21 in the San Francisco Chronicle:

First meeting: early January. While the announcement came just days after Mayor Ed Lee held a private meeting with local tech executives, "this is not reactive. Sf.citi has already launched a number of initiatives," said spokesman Alex Tourk.

It's not reactive, sure just like the mayor isn't concerned with Tech Inc's image. Anyway, the Chronicle broached none of my concerns regarding transparency of the committees.

Gee, with all this exciting news from SF Citi and the Chronicle the mayor's communications staff must have a lot to say about it all, and maybe address public engagement when the committees meet, right? Wrong. The mayor has issued no release or announcement about this development with Tech Inc.

Guess there's no need for the mayor, who started his tenure at City Hall's Room 200 based on the lie that he would be only a caretaker mayor and not run for a full term, to bring sunshine to the committees. He's apparently happy to allow his Tech Inc masters pull his puppet strings.

Something tells me these committees will do nothing to ease the class warfare taking place weekly on the streets of San Francisco. Expect more blockading of Google buses.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Russian Straights for LGBTs: Putin Wins Golden Enema Prize

(The large gold enema bulb hat is for Putin. Credit: Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality Facebook page.)

This news from friends in Russia had me cracking up with gales of laughter. Sure, here in San Francisco our LGBT Pride committee gives out the Pink Brick every June before our Parade and Celebration, to the politician or organization doing harm to queers and deserve to be publicly shamed, but we don't have a ceremony to bestow the Pink Brick on the "winners".

It's fantastic to see the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality not only using this creative and satirical Golden Enema prize to attraction attention, but they also staged a mock ceremony with actual enema bulbs painted gold and took lots of photos of the event.

All this gives my activist heart great pleasure seeing such activism taking place, and that the straight allies know to document their fun, share the images with us Westerners and include a release in English. Carry on, with Pride and Love, LGBT Russians and allied friends!

From the release:

Last week, 18 December 2013, the St. Petersburg Press Club “Zelyonaya Lampa” [The Green Lamp] was the venue for this year’s Golden Enema Prize of Disgrace Ceremony. [...]

The “Grand Prix” was awarded to President Vladimir Putin. The Golden Enema is an annual Prize established in 2013 by the social organization “Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality”. The Golden Enema is awarded to politicians and officials, athletes and journalists, and people working in culture and religion, for services to homophobia through their recent public pronouncements. This is the second year of this prize of disgrace and this week it was presented to a prize-winner in each of seven categories, plus one Grand Prix. 

On Wednesday 18 December, Natalia Tsymbalova and Daniel Grachev, representing the “Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality” announced the winners. [...]

The winners were presented in absentia with their prizes – a golden enema and scrolls of dishonour mentioning their dubious achievements. Both items will later be forwarded to each of them by post. [...]

According to the organizers of the Golden Enema Prize of Disgrace, this year's competition was extremely stiff, and it was difficult to choose who had distinguished himself the most. Over the last year the social disease of homophobia has become an acute infection in Russian society. Whereas last year its epicentre was located in St. Petersburg, now the laurel crown has been won by the federal capital, for its success in making the policy of discriminating against and humiliating the LGBT community into a cornerstone of state ideology and propaganda.
Weekend Woof #61: Smiling Bearded Muscle Dude

We've had some hot weather in San Francisco and a few chills too this week, leading guys to either be fully bundled up, but still sexy of course, or showing some skin, always nice to see. Here's my latest batch of fine fellas who caught my queer eye recently.

Two nice examples, one ivory and the other ebony, of young dudes taking advantage of the warmer temperatures to be out and about without a jacket.

Even with their thick sweatshirts and bulky construction worker pants and jacket, these men still give off lots of attractive vibes.

Say hello to William. He didn't believe my question, "Do you work here in the vitamins section?", for one moment was genuine. Such a sexy, sweet and smart bearded muscle bear, he knew I was using it as a reason to chat with him. William was super friendly, said he's German-Italian and was looking for natural supplements at Rainbow Grocery for his body-building. Happy to pose for my camera, I asked that he smile for the second photo, but when I looked at the preview his full lips were not visible. "That was your smile?" "Yes, under my moustache!"

Many thanks, dudes, for gracing the lens of my camera.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

After Today's ER Visit, Gratitude for the Great Staff

Let's skip the boring details for just an outline of why I was back at the Davies Medical Center emergency room today, for the second time in three weeks. The pulmonary and congestion problems of the past two months worsened overnight.

The good news is the terrific nurses and doctors on duty today, with whom I'm on a first name basis after too many ER visits this year, think they figured out the current problems and put me on a couple of new meds.

I was unable to schedule an appointment with my regular physician at Castro Mission Health Center this week, as I had wanted, because there simply were no openings to see her. Well, surely I wouldn't allow the current troubles to grow worse while waiting for an appointment to open up and I'm grateful the ER was not crowded today.

The two-hour visit was actually quite pleasant and I've got nothing but thanks to offer the nursing staff and doctors who treated me. It ain't easy dealing with normal aging issues along with aspects of being a longterm AIDS survivor, but it certainly helps me regain wellness with the concern and advice of dedicated medical personnel. They wouldn't let me leave until we shared hugs, which were needed and one additional dose of healing from the nurses.

And now, time to play Scrabble with Mike!
Fassbinder's Transgender Tragedy 'Year With 13 Moons' Plays Tonite in SF

The three-month retrospective of Rainer Werner Fassbinder films at the Pacific Film Archive, the Roxie Theatre and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts comes to a close tonight. It's been a queer cineaste's dream gift to catch up with old favorites and see flicks we've missed.

The late gay director's transgender masterpiece "In a Year With 13 Moons" screens today at 7:30 pm down at the YBCA Screening Room on Mission near 4th Street. The center is showing a 35 mm print and thankfully not a digital print. I've seen this film only once, when it enjoyed a healthy run at the old Waverly Theatre in Manhattan, back before that venue was transformed into the IFC Center.

From the YBCA program notes:

This masterpiece defies categorization; it’s equal parts melodrama, dark comedy, tragedy, and probing character study. It features a breathtaking central performance by Volker Spengler as Elvira, a transgender man who has become a woman in an attempt to please a former lover.

If you've never seen a Fassbinder film, "In a Year With 13 Moons" is an excellent introduction to his work, and if you are familiar with his films, you know this film is one of his best. Click here for info on purchasing tickets.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pelosi Gives to Thin-Resume A-Gay Sean Eldridge's U.S. House Campaign

(Eldridge meeting voters or models? Credit: SeanEldridge.com.)

The rich. They stick together. Take for example my U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who has been silent on the worsening lack of affordable housing for low and moderate income folks and the eviction epidemic in her district.

In June her Nancy Pelosi for Congress PAC gave $2,000 to Democrat Sean Eldridge's campaign. He's the 26-year-old A-Gay husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes who owns the the New Republic magazine and whose net worth is at least $600 million, according to the Financial Times. I guess Pelosi wants a chit to call in, should by some miracle Eldridge get elected to Congress to represent New York's 19th district, and that's why she made her donation.

(Are those actual voters walking with the candidate in the center? Credit: SeanEldridge.com.)

Eldridge's resume is so thin anorexic super models have more meat on their bones than the scant accomplishments he has listed on his campaign web site, where this one accomplishment gave me reason to laugh:

Sean has been a leader in the fight to reform our broken campaign finance system and reduce the power of money and special interests in politics.

Reduce the power of money when, according to Federal Election Commission records for the current two-year reporting cycle, he's the largest donor to his campaign with $465,000 so far from his own bank account, representing 37% of all money raised. He probably wants other candidates to have less electoral power with their fortunes, while he self-finances his campaign in a district where he has no roots.

Eldridge's carpetbagging effort hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson, who has taken in a total of $713,000 for the same reporting cycle with zero dollars from his personal bank account.

Yes, I know the minimum qualifications for the House of Representatives are very low, and many other sitting members have purchased their seats with personal wealth, but what exactly are the reasons why voters of New York's 19th Congressional district should cast ballots for this young and super wealthy A-Gay?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

SF District Attorney Doesn't Have a FOIA Log

What to make of this admission from our top prosecutor? His office is subject to public records laws, yet George Gascon's chief of staff Cristine Soto Deberry maintains there is no log of all request for public documents.

In a written statement, pictured, Deberry said: The District Attorney does not have a record responsive to your request.

Makes me wonder if Gascon attended and graduated from the Willie "Create No Paper or Email Trail" Brown School of Public Service.

As the week draws to a close and my informal survey of the Mayor's Office, the San Francisco Police Department and the DA's Office produces results, we learned that the mayor's staff overstates how many requests it receives as voluminous while appearing to end maintaining a log and invokes extra time to produce a log, the police keep a log that they can share in less than a day and top prosecutor says he has no records request log.

The citizens of this City need to insist our public servants maintain a central records request log and greater scrutiny is needed from good government advocates, bloggers and the traditional media regarding overall compliance with sunshine laws. Let's push to have these logs made available for public inspection on City sites on a monthly basis.
SF Police FOIA Log: 400 Public Records Requests in 2013

(IMHO, every week is Sunshine Week! Credit: National Security Archive of George Washington University.)

This is quite curious. While San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who touts himself as very Tech Inc friendly and can't find enough hours in the day to meet with information technology leaders, is having trouble producing his public records request log for me and his office claims a scant 24 requests over three months is a voluminous amount and that he needs more than 10 days to respond to my request, the FOIA log story is so different over at the police department.

In less than twenty-four hours, after I emailed a request to Chief of Police Greg Suhr for his department's freedom of information request log, one of his assistants sent me the log. No muss, no fuss, no clutching of pearls and invoking a more time needed clause of our sunshine laws.

The San Francisco Police Department has produced a 27-page spread sheet revealing they've received almost 400 requests for public documents so far this year, and how the requests were disposed of. Considering the department does not enjoy a tech-savvy reputation, I am happily surprised the police turned over responsive records so quickly.

It pleases me to learn SFPD keeps a central log and this episode of sunshining more of our City government should serve as an example to the Mayor's Office and all City agencies in how to maintain a records request log, and release it when asked.

Actually, I propose that the Mayor and all City departments subject to public records laws post their FOIA logs on a monthly basis to their web sites. This will be a plank in my platform in my campaign for District 8 Supervisor next year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SF Chron: HIV Fell 23% in Six Years; Taxis Part of Quick Treatment

An important AIDS story in today's San Francisco Chronicle needs to get some attention from gay and AIDS bloggers and news sites for a number of reasons. First of all, there's this welcomed development of continuing declines of HIV infections (links to my posts regarding decreases in recent years are here). Reporter Erin Allday writes:

Almost 16,000 people in San Francisco are living with HIV, and a little more than 400 new cases are diagnosed every year. The number of new infections has declined in recent years, from 534 in 2007 to 413 in 2012.

Those stats come from the latest Department of Public Health annual HIV epi profile and I'm pleased to see them reported.

Allday's feature in the health section was about getting newly infected persons, especially those with acute HIV symptoms indicating the individual recently sero-converted from negative to positive or high viral loads, immediately on a drug cocktail. How quickly does the local public health care network move in some situations? This fast:

When a patient has been diagnosed with an acute infection, health care workers at the clinic page [Dr. Hiroyu] Hatano or one of her HIV-specialist colleagues. Then they send the patient immediately to the HIV clinic at San Francisco General Hospital - sometimes escorting them there in a cab.

At the HIV clinic, the patient meets with nurses and doctors who can explain the diagnosis and why drug therapy may be helpful. Meanwhile, a social worker gets the patient started on paperwork to help pay for drugs.

Ideally, the patient will take a first dose of antiretroviral therapy in the clinic, and leave with enough of a supply of drugs to last several days, until insurance or federal aid kick in.

"It used to be that (patients) would have an intake visit a couple of days after testing positive, and they'd see a nurse provider a few days after that, and maybe meet their long-term provider weeks after that," Hatano said. "And during all that time they were untreated.

"Now we give them a cup of water and they literally take their first dose in front of me. I literally have a bag of drug regimens that are stored upstairs."

The scariest word in this passage is untreated. We've come so far from the dark times of the 1980s when there were so few drug options and, despite what AMFAR's board president shoe designer Kenneth Cole said recently about gays being so scared back then we were fear-driven into silence, gay doctors and people with AIDS were demanding research and effective treatments.

We now have dozens of drug options and alternative health practices to balance out the treatments' side effects, mountains of global data about the drugs, an industry of care and advocacy, and one of the most crucial components to assisting a newly HIV infected person could be a taxi ride to obtain a supply of pills.
SF Mayor Ends Maintaining a Public Records Requests' Log?

(All of the requests made to the mayor for public documents until the end of April. Source: Mayor's Office of Communications.)

Last week, I filed an immediate disclosure request for all public records requests made to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's office and two offices under his control. After a few emails exchanges with his staffer responsible for such request, Kirsten Macaulay, she provided me the log for about three months of requests earlier this year and this explanation:

Please find a public records request log for the dates of January 13 through April 26, 2013. There is no log for the remainder of the year. The Mayor’s Communications Office receives and responds to requests sent to other Mayor Offices including the front Mayor's Office, the Office of Public Policy and Finance, and the Office of Legislative and Government Affairs. 

As you can see from the log for just part of 2013, the Mayor’s Office receives many public records requests. It will therefore require staff to spend a significant amount of time to collect and appropriately examine the voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are responsive to your request.

A couple of points. No details are provided as to why a log was kept and has been abandoned after April and I've asked why the log is not longer maintained as one record, there were only 24 requests (two from me) over nearly a three month period and this hardly qualifies as a voluminous amount.

Considering the mayor has so many contacts in with Tech Inc leaders and their firms, if he's having troubles maintaining a simply log of all public records requests made to his offices, and it is such a small number of them, the mayor should ask those leaders for advice how to solve this minor record-keeping problem.

The mayor's office has promised to provide me with all other responsive records by December 27. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SF Chron: WH Sending Gay Jocks to Sochi; Rainbow Flag Waving?

(A Russian police officer breaking up a gay rights rally earlier this year in St. Petersburg.)

Political reporter Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle called today to ask what I thought of the Obama administration announcing two out LGBT athletes are among our country's delegation to the Olympics. As always, I want the celebrities to do a whole heckuva lot more than just smile for the cameras and talk about their careers.

There must be strong and unqualified visible activism from the United States delegates heading to the games, and activism that directly engages with LGBT Russian citizens. Sure, my quotes here pertain only to the gay jocks in the delegation, but we really need to have every member of it finding creative and forceful ways to showcase the lives and struggles of gay Russians. Will that happen? We'll find in February when the games begin.

From Carla's reporting at the Chronicle site:

The White House has named two prominent gay athletes — skater Brian Boitano and tennis great Billie Jean King — to represent the country at the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics in February, a move that could spotlight growing protests over LGBT rights in Russia. [...]

San Francisco gay rights activist and blogger Michael Petrelis, who has reported on the protests leading up to the Sochi Olympics for months, says that the pressure will now be on Boitano and King — as well as other gay athletes, and UC President Janet Napolitano, leading the delegation — to make the Sochi games more than just an Olympics public relations event.

“What will the gay athletes do to protest Putin’s anti-gay propaganda laws?,” he asks. “Will they meet with LGBT Russians when they are there?” [...]

The law punishes anyone who “promotes” homosexuality to young people; critics have said that could extend even to athletes who bring rainbow flags — a symbol of gay rights — or who wear t-shirts or pins promoting LGBT rights. Others suggest that Russian LGBT parents may also become a target of prosecution. [...]

To counter, activists have called for boycotts of Russian consumer products and withdrawals of sister-city relationships and U.S. investments in Russia.

Petrelis, the Bay Area activist, has predicted the Winter Games are poised to become “a watershed moment for the global movement” toward LGBT rights.

Now he’s urging the athletes to take a stand — a big one. [...] “I’d like to see Billie Jean and Brian at a vigil for the victims of anti-gay violence in Russia,” he said. “I’d like to see them wave the rainbow flag outside the Olympic village with LGBT Russian at their side.”
AMFAR's Kenneth Cole Erases AIDS Survivors & Dead from History

(From the left, the late great gay and AIDS activist Michael Callen, Dr. Mathilde Krim and out gay Dr. Joseph Sonnabend. Michael and Joe, Mathilde too, were _not_ quiet in first decade of AIDS. Credit: Peter Serling.)

The pope is Jewish, the NSA is not spying on you and twenty-five years ago, gays were silent about the AIDS epidemic and not screaming about the dead and the dying. Of course, none of those statements is true to everyone except show mogul Kenneth Cole who is also the president of the American Foundation for AIDS Research board of directors.

Actually, more than twenty-five years back before the term AIDS had been created, my friend Mel Bronfman was sick with a mysterious set of ailments the doctors at St. Vincent's hospital in NYC's Greenwich Village couldn't cure. As he went in and out of the hospital, his longtime companion Ed Armstrong was desperately trying to keep Mel alive.

After Mel died, there was much crying and yelling and anger expressed at the failure of the medical profession to save our friend, and we made futile attempts to get straight City Councilmember Carol Greitzer to do and say something about dying gay men. She and Ed Koch deserve special mentions in AIDS Epidemic Hall of Shame.

Those dark days with Mel and Ed are on my mind today because of an outrageous belief on Cole's part expressed on a late night talk show last week promoting a movie he produced about AMFAR. I have friends and longterm AIDS survivors Sean Strub and Mark S. King to thank for making me aware of Cole's idiocy and for taking him to task.

First up, is Sean, underline added:

But last [week] Ken Cole was on Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately and uttered another flat-out mistruth—a fabrication that is an insult to an entire community: 

Handler: "How did you get involved with AIDS research?" 

Cole: "This is was like 25 years ago and people weren't talking about AIDS then because stigma was so devastating (and arguably stigma has killed more people than the virus itself has), and the gay community wasn't speaking up, they were afraid to."

I've got news for Ken Cole.  Twenty-five years ago, it was almost solely members of the gay community who were speaking up about AIDS. [...] For Cole to suggest that either the gay community "wasn't speaking up" or imply that there wasn't adequate attention to the disease until he got involved is wrong on so many levels. He owes the gay community—and all those who were "speaking up" in those years—an apology.

Yes, I totally agree an apology _and_ an extended explanation are in order from Cole and his PR team. Here's Mark King delivering more truth-telling:

Cole's remarks are part of a larger tendency of people re-framing AIDS history to suit their own purposes, in this case, promoting the amfAR documentary and canonizing two of its founders, Mathilde Krim and Elizabeth Taylor. 

And a storyline in which the straights come to rescue the diseased gays, I might add, may assuage heterosexual guilt for their own inaction. For his part, Kenneth Cole responded to my Twitter tirade about the vital role of the gay community during early AIDS by tweeting, "@MyFabDisease agree, our film Battle of amfAR confirms your point. I was saying that because of stigma, many others were reluctant to speak." 

But regrettably, the HBO documentary doesn't confirm the role of gay community at all. In fact, it minimizes it.

Look, I'm not saying the assistance from straight allies such as Krim and Taylor and others shouldn't be acknowledged. All I'm asking for is that longterm AIDS survivors and our dead who were not silent 25 years ago be recognized.

If Cole can't speak the truth and retract his lie, then the leaders of AMFAR should correct what he said. Hello, AMFAR executives? We need to hear from you!

Monday, December 16, 2013

BlackLight: Ammiano & Campos Mute No Castro Mandela Flag Honor

Sidney Brinkley is a longtime resident of the Castro and a black gay writer who operates the BlackLight Online site, and he is one to always speak his mind no matter whose toes he's stepping on. What's pissed him off recently is the collection of gay and straight politicians, and the Merchants of Upper Market Castro and the Bay Area Reporter.

Frankly, after all the polarizing and conservative legislative and community actions of the District 8 Supervisor that are greatly at odds with the progressive views of Tom Ammiano and David Campos, I didn't think I'd see the three of them agreeing on anything this year. Don't forget Cleve Jones is also fine with no flag honors for Mandela at Milk Plaza.

As Sidney points out, not one of them raised any objection to MUMC's refusal to pay respects to Mandela with lowering the rainbow flag. Yep, the Supervisor, Ammiano and Campos have no problems with how MUMC's bullies community activists who want equal access to historical public property.

I wonder how Ammiano and Campos can  go before progressive supporters, offering praise and love for Mandela's life of radical change and legacy of hope, while knowing that as the Castro Supervisor and MUMC were quite visibly using City property to dishonor Mandela, Ammiano and Campos chose silence instead of protest.

Let's give praise to Sidney for standing up and doing the right thing and calling out the powerful for their lack of backbone. Here are excerpts from his spot-on essay:

Nelson Mandela is gone. [...] On Wednesday morning, December 11th, San Francisco held its tribute to Mandela in the grand rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. An enormous photo of Mandela stood at the top of the ornate marble staircase and African Drummers played as hundreds of attendees took their seats. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had ordered all flags on city property to fly at half-staff until sunset on Sunday, December 15th.

In his remarks to the audience the mayor spoke warmly of Mandela’s support for Gay Rights, his support for people with AIDS, and his battle against oppression. “San Francisco mourns as we have lost a friend and truly inspirational leader who never stopped fighting for equality,” he said.

However, Mayor Lee wasn’t being entirely truthful. Not all of San Francisco was in mourning - and he knew it, along with a number of other people in that room, in particular District 8 Supervisor [redacted].

To see for themselves all anyone had to do was take a walk up Market street to the heart of the Castro, Supervisor [redacted]'s domain. Not far at all from where everyone was gushing about how much they honored and respected Nelson Mandela. All along the route one would’ve seen flags standing at half-staff. Flags flying over private entities were lowered as well, in solidarity.

However, upon reaching the corner of Market and Castro, site of Harvey Milk Plaza, one would’ve seen the Rainbow Flag flapping in the wind from the top of the flag pole. How can this be? Did someone not get the memo?

In fact, someone “did” get the memo to lower the flag - they just chose to ignore it. That someone was the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC), an organization of Gay business owners with establishments in the Castro. [...]

While activists like Michael Pretrelis howled in protest, and concerned ordinary citizens signed petitions calling for the flag to be lowered, not a single Gay politician with ties to the Castro is on record as being opposed to MUMC’s blatant act of defiance and disrespect [bolding added].

Not Supervisor [redacted] not former Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Mark Leno, both now California Assembly members, and not Supervisor David Campos, who wants to move up the political ladder by replacing Ammiano who’s being termed out of office - and is eyeing a possible run for San Francisco mayor in 2015. [...]

As expected, the BAR was full of tribute to Mandela. In fact, editor Cynthia Laird was positively effusive in her praise for Mandela. However, the BAR did not do a “news” story on the flag issue, which by then had been raging for days, something Laird was well aware of because Petrelis had told her about it earlier in the week. Instead, as a concession of sorts, Laird printed a “letter to the editor” from Michael Petrelis. For the BAR, as far as MUMC was concerned, that was it. There would be no story. End of story.

Good job, Sidney. Check this out from Campos last week:

Yeah sure, whatever, David. Mandela's spirit was not living in Milk Plaza lately thanks to your fear of standing up the District 8 Supervisor.

Go along, to get along, Campos was quite happy to be part of the official City remembrance and made sure his Twitter followers knew how he felt. Campos had nothing to say about the failure of MUMC to show respect for Mandela.
HIV PrEP Hits Craigslist M4M Sex Ads in SF; Fauci's Reaction?

During my chat with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health at the Lancet's AIDS conference here in San Francisco in November, I asked if he had looked at the Bay Area men-for-men sex ads lately on Craigslist lately. No surprise to hear him say no, so I filled him on a trend I've been watching for a few months.

Men posting ads have mentioned taking Truvada, a drug to treat HIV infection, as pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent acquiring the virus that causes AIDS, in addition to the usual details about their sexual interests and the sort of men they're into.

I asked Tony, in the context of lots of HIV negative gay men are engaging in butt-sex without condoms and using strategies such as sero-sorting, anal condoms, j/o only and PrEP, what he would recommend to butt-bottoms who won't use condoms. He suggests PrEP for them.

It's one additional tool in the arsenal of options to stop HIV transmissions. I'm sharing some of the Craigslist ads to show how, at the online cruising level, at least in the San Francisco Bay Area, gay men are including info about being on PrEP in their hunt for sexual pleasures.

This is quite a good development for so many reasons, including that all the horned dudes cruising these ads are having their PrEP awareness levels heightened.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

SF Chron Kisses Tech Inc Butt; Ex-WSJer Lessin's Tweet Reply

(Lessin on the staircase greeting friends last week. Credit: Brant Ward, SF Chronicle.)

The front page of the business section of the the paper version of the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday contained a gushing and puffy story that could easily have been penned by Jessica Lessin's public relations team, if she has one. If she doesn't, well, she may not need such PR assistance when she can count on such glowing and soft "news" pieces.

I wonder what arrangements the paper made with Lessin in order to send a reporter, Nellie Bowles, and photographer to such a swellegant invitation-only Tech Inc launch party up in Pacific Heights. The last thing I bet Lessin and her buddies would want around would be a reporter ready with hard-hitting questions.

From the opening, the piece reeks of  privilege and the elite 1 percent, as a young person of means starts pricey Tech Inc reporting site called The Information:

When former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin celebrated the launch of her journalism startup at a Pacific Heights mansion this week, the event attracted the tech A-list: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrived in a gray hoodie; Brit + Co founder Brit Morin brought flowers; and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo started hugging friends as soon as he walked through the door. [...]

Under a skylight that spanned the living room of the Broadway Street mansion, the 30-year-old Lessin wore gold sequins and seemed to glow in the appreciation of her considerable tech connections.

Gosh, so much gushing over her golden glow you know this Tech Inc butt-kissing of a high order. After two quotes from Lessin, we learn more about her privileged status, then one of a few favorable quotes about the Golden Girl:

Lessin grew up in Connecticut, the daughter of a consultant and investment banker, graduated from Harvard University on a Thursday and started as an intern at the Wall Street Journal on a Monday. She stayed there, covering Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Apple.

"She's fiercely smart and an absolutely relentless journalist," said Wendy Pollack, a former news editor at the Wall Street Journal. "To be anything other than hard hitting would be unfathomable to her."

(Zuckerberg smiling during the party. Credit: Brant Ward.)

Wow, a WSJ colleague singing her praises! The Chronicle then prints more love for Lessin, this time from one of the writers working for her:

"She's very precocious. I mean, she's only a year younger but she doesn't act her age." Before meeting Lessin, Efrati was wary of how friendly she was with the captains of tech she covers. "When I first got to S.F., I had this assumption about her - 'Is she too close to the industry?' " [Amir] Efrati said. "But she is more ethical, more conservative and more careful than I am. It's a very weird line to walk, but I think she's able to separate work and friends."

If this were decent and balanced journalism, we would now read a counter-quote about Lessin but no critical or unfavorable comments appear. Not had your fill of adoration by the Chronicle for Lessin? Get a load of this:

Brian Singerman, a partner at the Founders Fund [said], "She'll call me up and say, 'I just want to let you know I'm gonna write this story.' She's one of the best and most trusted reporters out there. She's also a close personal friend. And I know how it works."

Putting the cherry on top of the icing on a beautiful cake, the Chronicle ends with a remark from Lessin that will surely endear her even further to her Tech Inc pals:

"Our message is we're here, like all the startups you guys birthed, and we want you guys to come along for the ride," she said, referring to her guests.

Something tells me that ride won't be happening on Muni or BART. To sum up this article, it was Lessin and elite pals said. Period. End. Of. Story. No opposing views allowed by Nellie Bowles and her business section editors at the Chronicle.

Last night, I tweeted some snark at Lessin, kvetching that her operation was not interested in stories about renter's and the poor dealing with the eviction epidemic, and to my surprise she replied:

OK, I give her credit for responding in the positive, but you know what? If her startup The Information does write about Tech Inc's impact on folks being displaced and other negative impacts the industry is having on changing San Francisco, I'll only be able to read the headline. A yearly subscription to The Information costs $399 or $39 per month. That's beyond my budget.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekend Woof #60: Hardhat Sucking a Lollipop

The cold weather has dissipated this week and fine fellas are wearing tee shirts again, and I caught of few of them on the streets. With the boom of condo construction for Tech Inc leaders and workers, we have plenty of hardhat construction workers out and about, and they're practically the only benefit of so much housing b being built for techies.

I saw this gray bearded dude several times in the spring up in Jane Warner Plaza at Castro and Market Streets, usually doing nothing more than basking in the sunshine and enjoying the passersby. Here he in on Valencia Street waiting for the light to change.

This inked and pierced cub was waiting to purchase a ticket to last Sunday's screening at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts of Fassbinder's last film "Querelle". The film is still a mess and quite lifeless, with nary an ounce of eroticism, just how I felt when seeing it once before upon its initial release. Nice to have cub eye-candy though to please my queer eye before and after the film.

At Valencia and 20th Streets, a former gas station lot is undergoing preparation for laying the foundation of another building of high-priced condos. This construction worker was affixing screening to the fence today.

The combination of this hardhat's youthful and masculine swagger on Market Street, not to mention all that gear, sure was appealing enough, but when I saw he was sucking so slowly on a lollipop, I simply had to capture him on my camera.

And how was your week watching boys and men on the streets?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cleve Jones Exploits Mandela for Profit; OK Rainbow Flag Not Lowered?

(From Jones' Facebook page.)

There's been tremendous support among LGBT people and our allies in San Francisco and other locations to lower the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza to honor Nelson Mandela, but a leading supporter of MUMC's policies controlling the public flagpole is legendary activist Cleve Jones, who has not said a peep about paying respects to Mandela with flying the flag half-mast.

Just how committed is this progressive gay stalwart to embracing the Castro merchants never allowing community access to the flagpole? So much so Jones, an organizer with the Unite Here union of longstanding was proud to cross a picket line. From the October 17, 2012, Bay City New story via the SF Appeal:

Petrelis said MUMC needs to offer the Castro community more transparency with their decisions [regarding use of the flag]. “We are asking them to hold public meetings” and in the meantime asking customers to boycott Cliff’s, he said. [...]

Cleve Jones, a prominent LGBT activist who worked with assassinated San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk for human rights in the 1970s, walked through the store doors during the boycott to show his support for Asten Bennett and Cliff’s. 

What union organizer in his right mind do you know who would walk through a picket line like this? Shows you how deep in agreement he is with MUMC about no flag lowerings ever, not even for Mandela.

He had this to say in a February 23, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle hit-piece on my campaign to reclaim the flag. He sure does not sound like a peace and justice activist with an open mind about allowing the LGBT public to have equal access to the public space at, ahem, Harvey Milk Plaza named after his mentor! From the Chron:

Inevitably, controversy has sprung up around the flagpole. That's a shame because, as Cleve Jones, longtime gay activist, says, the solution is simple: "It should fly at full-staff, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

(From Jones' Facebook page.)

As more than a hundred people signed a petition to Mayor Ed Lee (signatures still welcomed here), Sidney Brinkley's San Francisco-based LGBT black news blog BlacklightOnline.com reported on MUMC not lowering the rainbow flag and Melanie Nathan from South Africa announces on her Facebook page that she is boycotting MUMC businesses, Cleve's been silent about the latest flap over the flag. He sure likes using Madiba's image as his Facebook cover photo and says the following empty words:

His memory will live on in the hearts of those who follow, wherever good men and women struggle together for justice and for peace.

Well, one place they're not gathering for justice and peace under a simple lowering rainbow flag, thanks in large part to Cleve giving activist cover to MUMC b.s., is in Harvey Milk Plaza.

As if all that weren't enough to make your blood boil, Cleve also uses Mandela's name and that of his country to profit personally. This is from one of Cleve's appeals to hire him as a paid speaker:

A dynamic and inspiring keynote speaker, Jones lectures at high schools, colleges and universities. He has met with Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and [...] Jones was a keynote speaker at the opening of the Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cleve's been integral to the Unite Here's effort to organize hotel workers with the Sleep With the Right People campaign. Good slogan. It also applies to how Cleve happily sleeps with MUMC and fully embraces their bullying control of the flagpole that prevented the flag from being lowered this week for Mandela.

It's a blot of shame on Cleve's resume that he's not seen fit to link Milk with Mandela with simply lowering a rainbow flag in the Castro.