Sunday, May 31, 2015

SF Mayor Lee's Homeless Center = 'Mission Accomplished'?

There's a banner at San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's homeless Navigation Center's entrance on Mission near 16th Street reading "Street to Home" and it reminded me of President George W. Bush's banner "Mission Accomplished" regarding alleged peace and democracy in Iraq.

It takes more than colorful signage with minimal wording to convince me a politician and his policies are actually solving a problem.

Check out this video that shows San Francisco's mayor hasn't exactly delivered on his promise of moving homeless folks from the street into a home:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

SF Fire Dept: Homeless Can Now Use Our Toilets to Poop

Here's some good news for homeless people and the general public that is a step in creating a better environment on San Francisco's streets and assisting the homeless with maintaining adequate personal hygiene. My toilet access project was seeded in February and has now borne fruit.

FYI, the toilets I've demanded public access to were all created and are maintained with taxpayer funds.

On behalf of the City, the Department of Public Health, after four months of pushing them and the Mayor's homeless office and director Bevan Dufty (who broke a promise to address lack of public toilets), and the top brass at the SF Fire Department, informed me of some radical changes:

"Thank you for your advocacy to increased toilet access for San Franciscans. We are pleased to update you on the following efforts to increase bathroom availability:

"Fire Station Restrooms: Nearly all of the San Francisco Fire Stations are open for public restroom use. Any member of the public may ring the Fire Station doorbell and will be let in to use the toilet between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

"Automatic Public Toilet Program: There are 25 self-cleaning public toilets in San Francisco. Here is a list of the locations:

"1. Fisherman's Wharf: Jefferson & Powell Sts. 2. Fisherman's Wharf: Jefferson & Powell Sts. 3. Bay & Taylor Sts. 4. Coit Tower, Pioneer Park 5. Washington Square: Union St. & Columbus Ave 6. Pier 7 7. Justin Herman Plaza 8. Market & California Sts. 9. Transbay Terminal: Mission & 1st Sts. 10. St. Mary's Square: Pine & Quincy Sts. 11. Union Square: Geary & Powell Sts. 12. MacCauley Park: Larkin & O'Farrell Sts. 13. Boedecker Park: Eddy & Jones Sts. 14. Market & Powell Sts. 15. Civic Center: Grove & Larkin Sts. 16. UN Plaza: Market & 7th Sts. 17. Embarcadero & Harrison Sts. 18. Stanyan & Waller Sts. 19. Market & Church Sts. 20. Market & 17th Sts. 21. Mission & 16th Sts. 22. Twin Peaks 23. Mission & 24th Sts. 24. South Van Ness Ave & Cesar Chavez St. 25. Drumm & Clay Sts.

"Pit Stop Program: San Francisco Department of Public Works has expanded their toilet access program from six toilets in three locations in the Tenderloin to include two toilets in the South of Market and to the Mission District where the Pit Stop program has taken over a JCDecaux public toilet.

"Outreach: To ensure that homeless individuals are aware of the bathroom options, flyers will be distributed at homeless shelters, via SFHOT, and at the Project Homeless Connect Every Day Connect office. Thank you again for your advocacy on this issue.

Chief Joanne Hayes-White, San Francisco Fire Department Director
Barbara Garcia, San Francisco Department of Public Health Director
Bevan Dufty, Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE)"

It's terrific that the homeless now have more places to poop and pee and also wash their hands, and on top of that the City is publicizing the expanded options. What needs to happen now is for the fire and health department public information offices, and the Mayor's Office, to issue press releases about the changes.

Here's the list of fire houses, there are over forty of them, where toilets are now available for public use every day:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

$22K for SFPD to Cover SF Giants Opening Day, But . . .

Earlier this month, I asked the San Francisco Police Department how many officers they assigned to cover the SF Giants opening game in April and was informed the number was more than 30 cops, but no price tag was disclosed. Follow up requests were sent to the department, producing more deets from three staffers in the legal division:

"1. You requested 'Names of all officers or personnel, their divisions or bureaus, assigned to the ball park and their duties that day.'

"As to the remaining number of officers and officer names, SFPD declines to disclose that information pursuant to Cal. Govt. Code § 6254(f).

"The number of officers and the names of the officers are considered intelligence information and security procedures, which if disclosed would compromise security and officer safety. These documents are records of security procedures compiled by SFPD for law enforcement purposes.

"As to your request for their duties, SFPD officers provided security at the ballpark.

"2. You requested 'Cost of total police time and expenses for SFPD coverage at the game.'"

"Cost total: $22,620.34"

That quite a few pretty pennies. The answers raised new concerns for me. Since the owners of the Giants have a few bucks in the bank, I wondered if they picked up that $22,600 tab. SFPD said:

"1) You requested, 'Was the City reimbursed by the SF Giants for the expenses listed or did taxpayers pick up the tab?"

"The SF Giants paid $15,287.83 to the City for SFPD services at the game.

"2) You requested, 'Why were so many cops pulled off their regular duties on opening day, regardless of whether the team paid for the $23,000 costs or not?'

The majority of the officers assigned to the SF Giants Opening Day on April 13, 2015 were scheduled off and were working overtime paid by the SF Giants. Therefore, most of the officers were not reassigned from their “regular duties” to provide SFPD services at the event.

Hmmm, I wonder what the actual number is for that "majority". We taxpayers were left with a minor tab of $7,300 or so, which is info that needs sharing and is in keeping with my effort to expand transparency at the police department. Among the SFPD officers at the game were the CSI unit's photographer and videographer.

Thanks to a public records request, I obtained fifteen-minutes of footage and trimmed it down to a wee bit over two-minutes. Check it out:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why Won't Lesbian Herstory Archives Join Pride This Year?

Let's get real about what LGBT Pride marches and celebrations in San Francisco, New York and a few other cities, have become. Parties certainly, vehicles for corporations to tap into the gay market and wallet, opportunities for straight and LGBT politicians to softly seek votes and donations, and political agendas that extend only from joining the military, marriage rights and ignore social justice concerns.

I laud the Lesbian Herstory Archives of New York City for opting out of participating in the Big Apple's huge Pride March. The women who made this decision are heroines of the highest homo order and we need more of them. Here's the email the group circulated today:

Due to the shift away from contingent-based groupings, the increased commercialization of the LGBT Pride March, and the diminishing interest of members of our communities in this event as reflected in fewer marchers each year behind the banner, the Lesbian Herstory Archives has decided not to officially participate in the Sunday June 28th Lesbian and Gay Pride March [in Manhattan].

We will be celebrating pride by taking part in the Brooklyn Pride Parade on Saturday June 13th, starting at twilight, and the Dyke March on Saturday June 27th, starting at 5 pm.

 Come March with us! Come help spread the word about the Archives! Happy Pride to all!
SF LGBT Homeless Shelter Opens June 17 in the Mission

The four-year long and tortuous route to begin operations at the two-dozen bed shelter for homeless LGBT folks, located at 1050 South Van Ness Avenue near 22nd Street, may soon reach its destination. As regular readers know, I've watchdogged this project after reading reporting from Seth Hemmelgarn at the BAR, and have often decried the lack of visible action, information and leadership from David Campos.

You'd expect an elected official who started his City Hall career in 1999, going from the City Attorney's Office to the Police Commission to the Board of Supervisors, would know how to press levers of power, but we're talking Campos here.

This note from Wendy Philips, the executive director of Dolores Street Community Services which has the contract to operate the shelter, heaps praise upon Campos and other City officials and that is part of her job. My task, however, is to pull back the curtain and request Campos' and his staff's emails about the shelter and see what they reveal.

Let's look at Mayor Ed Lee's energetic photo-ops, in an election year, putting the gloss on cutting ribbons at various housing and shelter projects.

There's the Navigation Center at Mission and 16th Street, the youth residence in a former hotel over in the Marina, a presser at the vets' statue next to the War Memorial Opera House promising give every homeless vet a place to live off the streets, the opening of veterans' housing at Mission Bay, and a few other events dutifully documented by the mayor and the media.

(Photo credit: Rick Gerharter.)

Expect a bit of civic hoopla at South Van Ness and 22nd come June 17, right smack dab in the middle of Pride. Philips' letter:

The shelter is scheduled to open on June 17th so the homeless folks would be able to move in that day. The construction is still in progress, including the ADA upgrades but the plan is for everything to be finished so all necessary inspections can be completed before folks are scheduled to move in.

As for City agencies and officials keeping their promises, I would say absolutely. Key leadership has been provided by Supervisor David Campos and his staff, Mayor’s Director of HOPE Bevan Dufty, and the Human Services Agency.

We have also had great support and cooperation from the Department of Building Inspection and the Mayor’s Office of Disability, as well as the SFPUC and SFFD, all of whom have responded very quickly to requests for inspections, modifications, etc.

Monday, May 25, 2015

NYT: Gay Irish Hero Panti Bliss Omitted, HRC & Adams Quoted

Here's a letter I'm circulating to my various global LGBT contacts, after the stunning victory over the past few days across the Republic of Ireland.

I'm calling b.s. and heaping shame on the Gray Lady, the New York Times, for ignoring and omitting the unquestionable and crucial role Panti Bliss, alias Rory O'Neill, a drag artiste of many talents, in legalizing gay marriage in Ireland.

Bliss kick-started the referendum a few years back, decrying anti-gay oppression and taking on the Catholic church and conservative leaders. She also operates a gay bar in Dublin, is openly HIV positive and was a dominant figure in mainstream and various social media platforms in Ireland and elsewhere. Pretty much everywhere except the Times. Here's my letter:

Dear Global Friends,

I join with you all celebrating the fantastic separation of church and state in Ireland this weekend, with the Irish electorate voting 62 percent yes for gay marriages. We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people were on the ballot and won, and we couldn't have done without many straight allies.

Powerful media outlets such as the New York Times must update their contact lists for global gay activists and groups. It shames me that the USA's most influential paper, and friend of the gays, couldn't find any LGBT activists beyond America's borders to comment on the importance of the Irish vote to folks abroad.

Sunday's Times coverage mentioned gay advocates around the world and their reaction, and the only group quoted was the Human Rights Campaign, an American organization known more for glitzy dinners and sucking up to the Democratic Party than anything to do with international LGBT issues.

No mention of Panti Bliss. Same goes for Monday's coverage which included a photo of her and Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams, enjoying the celebration at Dublin Castle on Saturday after the votes were counted.

The Times has given more space to Adams, a straight ally, and the HRC group, which is always hogging media attention that rightfully belongs to others who do actual and effective organizing, than to Panti Bliss. Some things never change.

As the world gives credit to where it is due, at the high-heeled feet of Panti Bliss, and all the LGBT and allied Irish voters for this major leap forward for social justice and so much more, I hold out hope that the New York Times will eventually profile Panti Bliss and her beautiful courage.

Queer cheers,

Joyous 'Carmina Burana' From SF Symphony Chorus

The Sunday, May 17, evening concert at Davies Hall by the San Francisco Symphony Chorus under the superb direction of conductor Ragnar Bohlin was like a glass both half empty and half full. Let me explain.

Starting with Igor Stravinsky's "Mass", which as performed sounded more like a sketch more than a complete work and didn't impress this listener, the first half of the concert was pleasant enough filler and also included a short choral work by Francis Poulenc. The chorus sounded fine, but in my section of the audience we were anxious to get to the intermission and section half of the evening.

The main attraction was Carl Orff's classic lustful and celebratory "Carmina Burana" and the singers and musicians performed with just the right amount of gusto to excite my ears, from start to finish.

When the drummers banged their instruments, a rich and vibrant sound stirred me. Many sections were sung with so much glee and verve by the symphony's chorus and the Pacific Boychoir, I wanted to join them in the singing and merry-making. Maybe the programmers will consider a sing-along "Carmina Burana" performance in the future. That would surely be a sell-out.

Soloists soprano Joanna Taber, tenor Jonathan Thomas and baritone Michael Taylor stood out with their remarkable vocal talents which blended so well with the hundred-plus choral members' joyous delivery.

Each piece of the work had its moment of glory and all added up to a marvelous performance that raised the roof of the hall. Well-earned rousing applause erupted at the conclusion, with the audience giving a much-deserved standing ovation to the artists on-stage. A joyous concert we will long remember.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Trans Flag Flies at Half-Mast to Mourn LGBT Teen Suicide

Tragedy strikes an individual member of our queer community. Another LGBT teenager has taken his own life. Some facts from the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News:

"On Monday, May 18, San Diego transgender teen Kyler Prescott died by suicide. He was 14-years-old. [...] and the world will never know him as an artist or an animal rights activist or an accomplished pianist. But one thing is for sure, his death will bring awareness to people and their need for education on issues that reach beyond the physical aspect of growing up and into the hearts of children and their coping spirits."

An indoor memorial was held for Kyler over the weekend and the rainbow flag that usually flies high in a public plaza in the heart of the gay section of the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego, was lowered in his remembrance. People also gathered at the flagpole for an outdoor candlelight service, according to this FB page created by Kyler's survivors. The Hillcrest business group that maintains the flagpole has a FB page that explains why the rainbow flag was replaced with the transgender flag for Kyler.

Dear Kyler, rest in peace. You died way too young.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

SF Mayor Lee: No Budget Files on US Mayors Confab

Like magic, nominally independent nonprofit committees spring up to assist Mayor Ed Lee and his tech titan buddies put out the City's red carpet for opulent photo-ops for themselves and at our expense. Sure, the mayor is claiming no records about the City's allocations for the upcoming U.S. Conference of Mayors, wink wink, but rest assured much time on the City's clock and municipal monies are being used for the event.

Earlier this week, after filing my request, I learned these deets from Emily Green of the SF Chronicle:

"The celebration [of City Hall's 100th anniversary]will coincide with the city’s hosting the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting. The celebration and lights are being paid for with $2.2 million in private dollars and $1.8 million in public funds."

Imagine that, close to two-million buck in public funds and the mayors has no budgetary records about it. If you believe in Santa Claus, you'll accept at face value the contention that the mayor's office also has no contact for the nonprofit outfit organizing the conference next month. The response from the mayor's sunshine liaison, which arrived yesterday:

"This letter responds to your Public Records Request sent on May 12 and your May 20 email clarifying your request, in which you request the following documents for the time period of January 1, 2014 through May 11, 2015:

"1. Any and all documents regarding budget allocations and expenses from the Mayor’s Office for the US Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.

"2. Documents regarding or reflecting all costs the City is ensuing for hosting the US Conference of Mayors in San Francisco.

"Response: The Mayor’s Office does not have any documents responsive to your request. Please note, the US Conference of Mayors San Francisco Host Committee is fundraising for and responsible for costs associated with hosting the US Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in San Francisco this June.

"I don’t have a contact for the US Conference of Mayors San Francisco Host Committee at this time, but I will obtain a contact if you’re interested."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

3 Events, Same Day/Time, Inept Organizers Killed the Mission

When I read legacy or social media comments about "saving" the Mission district of San Francisco, I pay no heed to the writer or person quoted. The bohemian Mission that many believe can be saved was lost more than a decade ago and the efforts to retain vestiges of what once an affordable and very artsy and Latino neighborhood, are not to be taken seriously. Let's go over four event today that back up my point.

First up, the coordinators of Plaza 16, San Francisco resident Andy Blue and Maria Zamudio, who lives in the East Bay and is a paid community organizer with Causa Justa, held their regular monthly meeting tonight, May 21 at 6 pm at St. John's Episcopal Church in the Mission. After two-years of existence, here is what Blue and Zamudio promised for tonight, the usual vagueness and no specific agenda:

"We are all City planners! The monthly Plaza 16 meetings at St. John’s Church are now focused on our community process to create a vision and plan for development at 16th and Mission that truly serves the needs of the existing community. This is exciting work and we need your contributions."

If after dozens of large and small meetings, some not open to all members of the Mission and controlled by the nonprofit mafia, this group does not have a vision and plan then there is nil reason to waste time at their meetings. Forget about influencing City policy or stopping developers from this gang that can't organize for shit. Occasional big rallies don't stop developers or Mayor Ed Lee and his cronies.

Second, also tonight and at the same time and promoted by Plaza 16, was this event at L's Cafe in the Mission:

"Plaza 16 joined forces with Our Mission No Eviction, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, ACCE, Eviction Free San Francisco, Poor Magazine, and other groups to organize the Mission Takes City Hall action on May 8. This group has its second follow up meeting this Thursday."

There is a finite number of folks who can make it to meetings and it's shameful that both meetings were at held simultaneously at different locations. Dividing and diluting the interest of regular folks and forcing them to choose one or the other meeting is a sign of terrible weak organizing and planning.

Third, would you believe there was a third event tonight? Guess the time. From the Plaza 16 Facebook page:

"May 21st: Steps of St. Peter’s Catholic Church (on Alabama St and 24th St) 
"6PM - 8PM
"Thousands of Working Families Displaced from the Mission and San Francisco; 
Latino Catholics Launch a Tenant Education Campaign. Prayer March in the heart of the Mission District to lift up the crisis faced by hundreds of families being pushed out of their homes, and to ask for a stop to Evictions and a Moratorium on Building of Luxury Apartments: We Need to Protect and Create Affordable Homes for Families."

If all the communication technology we have at our fingertips and in our palms are not currently used by the dozens of Mission Inc groups and community "organizers" to coordinate events and plan for maximum impact of actions, that don't all occur on the same day and time, I don't hold out hope that the leaders will gain the brains to overcome their ineptness.

Oh, but there is a fourth event you need to know about, again promoted by the Plaza 16 Facebook page for this event at 3 pm today in the Bayview district pulled together by the Alliance Californians for Community Empowerment:

"In the wake of the May 8th City Hall Shut down by Mission groups, Bayview residents facing immediate displacement, ACCE members, will be demanding to ensure that their neighborhood is included in a moratorium on market rate housing construction until local housing conditions, affordability, and preservation of existing African American community are addressed."

Just like the three 6 pm meetings tonight, this Bayview afternoon action is about the sure-to-fail moratorium on housing development in the Mission from Supervisor David Campos in same fashion.

So, we have Mission Inc leaders unable and unwilling to better coordinate events and actions, all eggs are placed in the Campos moratorium basket and the Mission will witness more market rate and luxury housing construction, and additional evictions. The old Mission is dead. Get used to it and part of the blame can be laid at the doorstep of Mission Inc.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Zero New Clients at Homeless Center Last Week of April

The latest stats and demographic data about clients entering San Francisco's Navigation Center for the homeless, referred to City workers as the dashboard, from the Office of Mayor Ed Lee released in response to my public records request reveals curious numbers.

Emails from Kyle Patterson, the numbers-cruncher from the Office of the City Controller, state the dashboard during the last week of April recorded zero new clients.

The first week of May's dashboard says only four new clients have been admitted to the Navigation Center.

Demographic numbers show that since the homeless center opened in late March, a total of sixty-three individuals have been clients and as of May 10 there were forty-four active clients.

The largest ethnic category shows 35% are white, 24% black, 19% Latino, 8% Native Americans, 3% Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, 2 % Asian and 10% other.

Asked if they identify as LGBTQ, 79% said no and 21% replied yes. There are 67% male clients, 27% female, 5% male to female transgenders and 2% female to male transgenders.

A lotta percentages for a relatively small group of homeless folks. Can Mayor Lee and his backer spin these numbers as a success in addressing the needs of homeless people on the streets, and getting them into the center or shelters or supportive housing or an affordable apartment?

The homeless center is located on Mission Street near 16th.

Airbnb's May 26 SF Pride Party: Zap Time?

While political leaders at City Hall reckon with myriad controversies about Airbnb not paying enough local taxes, enforcement of weak existing rules for the tech giant regarding private housing stock available for short term rentals, evidence that the company adds to the housing crisis because of rental stock removed from the reach of local low income and long-term residents, I received an invitation today to take advantage of Airbnb's services. Nice of SF Pride and Airbnb to ask me to a party but, no thanks.

In 2014, SF Pride sowed divisiveness when it accepted a $100,000 donation from Airbnb without any public debate allowed first. It's my hope that there is zap or picket of this event on Tuesday, May 26th.

For longtime San Francisco residents such as Mike and myself, we know the City cannot be "saved" as many Mission housing activists have been demanding. We can only hope to salvage vestiges of what existed before the Tech Boom disfigured the Mission, and fight like hell to keep low and moderate income folks in their homes.

I'm no longer attending SF Pride board or membership meetings because there is so little impact I or other members can have, and when the actual parade and weekend celebration roll around the events are so overwhelmed with corporate sponsorship or merchandising targeting LGBT dollars to expand their profits, or firms dominate legacy and social media coverage, while the parade is front-loaded with elected officials and law enforcement contingents. Not my idea of Queer Pride.

This Airbnb link is one additional reason I don't give my time and energy or support to SF Pride. Here's the invitation:

SF Pride is fast approaching, and thousands of visitors are looking for places to stay for the weekend. If you're lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, there's never been a better time to try Airbnb and #HostWithPride!

As the Official Alternative Accommodation partner for SF Pride, Airbnb invites you to be our guest and to learn about hosting! Join us at the #HostwithPride meetup in San Francisco, to hear from hosts in San Francisco, meet new people, and get your questions answered.

Where: Airbnb HQ, 888 Brannan Street
When: 5/26
Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Two 420 Compassionate Use Vapes Donated to Me

After chatting with my physician about using smokeable medical marijuana and my longstanding diminished respiratory functions in recent months, we agreed I would investigate using a vaporizer product as the best harm-reduction way of receiving 420 benefits. This person living with AIDS has need for herb.

Two months ago, I snailed-mailed a letter requesting a compassionate use vape to a dozen San Francisco medical marijuana dispensaries, explaining my medical condition and low budget. I also told lots of friends about this effort to see if a compassionate use program existed either at the clubs or through the manufacturers directly.

My thinking was that lots of pot heads have vapes they're not utilizing just sitting in a closet, so maybe there was an informal network that accepted donated vapes to pass along for compassionate use needs.

The Love Shack left vmail explaining they couldn't assist me and suggested I contact a nearby vape shop on Guerrero, one I had already visited asking if the shop had a compassionate program and they didn't.

My friend Elaine over the weekend gave me her never used battery-operated vape in a wooden case that I load with my fave 420 product, along with a recharger, glass stem for inhaling and brush for cleaning purposes.

I also heard from the Green Door on Howard Street and they agreed to give me a vape if I would visit their emporium. Yesterday, I did exactly that was given an already loaded vape pen with a price tag of $55 on it and thanked the young furry fella at the reception desk for the gift.

When I tried this vape with Mike looking on, I inhaled and watched little red lights flash at the tip then got a whiff of an unpleasant chemmy smell. Didn't like the taste of what I sucked in, but I'll try it again and know this will not become my method of 420 smoke delivery. I want control over that I put in my vape and a vape that is reusable.

I'll regift the vape pen to someone who'll appreciate it and put it to good use. Meanwhile, here's an idea for the billionaire dollar pot industry and vape manufacturers. Develop a patient assistance program (PAP) and better meet the needs of low and moderate income patients.

Vape products and my Write-In Petrelis for Mayor campaign card.

Recology's Hydrant Accident Wastes Water on SF Street

While looking out our front windows a bit before 10 am today, I saw a geyser of water gushing up high into the tall trees on the parklet area of the Saint Francis of Assisi Assisted Living Center up our block. Behind the thick plumes of thousands of gallons of precious water was the Recology truck half on the sidewalk. 

I ran outside with my camera and shot this video. Calls from others to 911 were made and it took more than ten, possibly fifteen, minutes before we saw San Francisco Fire Fighters show up to turn off the hydrant.

There is never enough water to waste and so many of my neighbors and passers-by expressed the same sentiment. What a shame in the middle of this horrible drought to see water going down the drain like this. By the way, today's episode is not the first time that hydrant has been busted by a truck. Here's my video:

Monday, May 18, 2015

SF HIV Rate Drops = No DPH Praise for Gays?

If the San Francisco Department of Public Health has officially and unequivocally saluted gay men in the past twenty-years for controlling the HIV plague, I didn't get the memo. Never mind the memo: where's the social marketing campaign not only praising gays for making AIDS a chronic, manageable disease for the vast majority of people living with HIV, but encouraging us to maintain healthy sexual behaviors?

I've seen this scenario too often, in which there is ample scientific evidence new HIV transmissions and infections are being averted and poz folks are living longer live, but DPH is simply incapable of saying a damn positive word or two about it. Such evidence is a mere footnote to continuing the sex-negative, stigmatizing programs.

Susan Philip, the director of STD prevention programs for the DPH, will present her "Responding to Increasing STDs in San Francisco" slide show tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19, at the health commission meeting at 101 Grove Street, starting at 4 pm.

The downward sloping red line of new HIV diagnoses should be a key element to a sex- and gay-positive social marketing campaign patting gays on the back and promoting sexual liaisons that are healthy and reducing HIV rates. Persuading DPH to finally underwrite such a campaign is as likely as Mayor Ed Lee failing to win reelection this November. Ain't gonna happen.

Too much institutional resources and many DPH staff and researchers are invested in always finding the negative downside, and to the healthcare workers there always are such things, about gay men and sexual activity and infections,

While DPH has long equated STD stats with HIV infections, their own evidence presented in the first slide showing a clear decline of HIV rates and this one with corresponding years presenting the gonorrhea rate for all persons as steady or stable. DPH is wrong to state STD rates equal HIV infections, but since their agenda is constant alarmism about all sexually transmitted infections much manipulation and cherry-picking of data is necessary for the DPH researchers.

A perfect example of the "there's never good news about gay men, sex, HIV and STDs" approach and propaganda of DPH. Sure, let's acknowledge that the condom code continues to not be part of HIV prevention for gays, but we also need the DPH to admit use of Truvada as a PrEP strategy is not only rising but it's at the same time as a steady reduction of HIV diagnoses. Nothing in the slides about those facts.

As a gay man living with AIDS who has survived and thrived through the plague years, and devoted much of adult life to stopping HIV and improving the wellness of gay men and engaged in activism that greatly expanded the budgets of government health agencies and nonprofit service organizations, I must again demand that these institutions with SF DPH in the lead must began putting out the praise and positive strokes toward the gay male community.

I'll say as much at the health commission on Tuesday.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekend Woof #100: Boys, Beards & Beef

I'm feeling so good about hitting the milestone of one-hundred posts in this series of handsome men of all sexual persuasions, featured either in photos or videos. A few words about the dudes in this edition.

My friend Bobby works at DeLessio's Cafe on Market and Valencia Streets and he can always crack me up. The snippets of my dear queer pal Todd, who giggled so sweetly before I hit the record button, and the handsome homo couple celebrating an important anniversary, were shot at this fine cafe.

Coffee-grinder Philip spoke in weird tones and after I stopped recording told me he was goofing on my speech pattern. Tom, the bear filmed at night, gave great hugs and mentioned he's seen me around and read about me for years, and was happy to meet me. Glad the camera wasn't filming me blush.

The last furry fella is Allen, who proclaimed his straightness and happily accepted the cruising and flirting of my friend Patrick, alias Uppity Fag, made two queens giddy with his sweet friendliness. I slipped him my Write-In Petrelis for Mayor 2015 business card and hope I earned his vote.

A loud thank you to all the men and boys who have made 100 versions of Weekend Woof possible. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

SF BART Plaza's Lack of Elevator Signage = ADA Violation

For a number of years, I've assisted folks in wheelchairs at the two BART Station plazas at 16th and Mission Streets locate the elevator to take them down to the trains, when I've seen them at the top of the stairs looking for appropriate signage as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act directing them to the elevator.

If you're a disabled person in a wheelchair or someone who can't walk down or up steep stairs, or otherwise need to use an elevator to access BART's public transportation system, you should have plenty signage indicating where the elevator is situated and signage should be in English and Spanish.

What troubles many disabled new users to the 16th Street plazas looking to access a train, especially at the plaza abutting a Wells Fargo branch, is that when they look across the Mission and 16th intersection toward the other plaza where the elevator is located, it's impossible to discern through all the wires and cables and street furniture and other things obscuring the view that the elevator is housed in a colored glass and sheet rock tower.

This video was created a few days ago, as part of my write-in candidacy for mayor in November's election, at the BART plazas that I use most frequently and serves as my complaint to the BART managers and directors. In particular, I urge the elected board director responsible for all issues at the 16th Street plazas, progressive and LGBT leader Tom Radulovich, to immediately address improving elevator access at the plazas.

All persons who have need of the elevator at these heavily-used BART plazas in San Francisco's Mission district, should always have highly-visible signs and directional arrows points them toward the elevator. Stay tuned for developments as I pursue this ADA complaint with BART.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mayor Ed Lie Thanks May 8 Mission Protesters!

No, this is not a responsive document released because I filed public records request. It's some of what may have crossed the mind of San Francisco's mayor, a man who gave his word to only be an interim occupant of City Hall's Room 200 which was of course a lie, about the recent show of anger by folks from and concerned about the Mission.

Much more humor and laughs and satires are needed to survive, stay sane and potentially thrive in the coming years, of more disfigurement and too much nonprofit mafia control of the "community" agenda in the Mission. Have a few chuckles and on to the spoof!

(Will the Mayor of San Francisco please raise his hand?)

Dear Mission Residents and Friends,

Thank you for paying a visit on May 8th to our City Hall and exercising your First Amendment rights, while judiciously cooperating with law enforcement agencies during your time in the building and refraining from being arrested.

The choreography and stage-management of your rally on the Charlotte Shultz Grand Staircase, yes, that is the official designation of the staircase, looked wonderful on TV reports and across social media. So colorful and multilingual. Congratulations on 15 minutes of social media fame.

I commend you for picking the slowest workday of the week for your visit and that you didn't disrupt any hearings. The City Family counts on you to not show up on a Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors meet, and if you do it's not to engage in civil disobedience such as what happened in Oakland last week.

Marching around in a few loops on the second floor was a wonderful way of getting your cardio workout for the day and building an appetite. I understand that while I was enjoying a private, catered luncheon with my good friend and adviser Ron Conway, you dined on pizza outside my office and dutifully cleaned up after yourselves.

That you didn't form affinity groups, each holding an open-mic sessions or calmly stating a case of doable action for my Office of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement, Office of Housing, Office of Neighborhood Development, the Office of Public Policy and Finance and the Department of Public Works, all located in City Hall and under my control, is a deficit you may want to debrief about.

While your shouting did reach the ears of staff in those offices, you were wise to not stage any theatrics or risk arrest inside their place of business because it went on as usual.

One of your key demands is to stop evictions, but no activists sat-in at the Sheriff's Office, which is responsible for removing tenants from property when required by law.

My City Hall staff and reelection campaign consultants, especially the public relations and communications experts, are breathing a sigh of deep relief that you didn't and are not showing up at my daily photo-ops. It would greatly displease us all if you were to press your demands when I'm cutting a ribbon or smiling for the cameras.

We also are happy no activists show up at the many City-funded parties I host at City Hall with much municipal monies for our socialite friends, foreign diplomats and tech titan who enrich San Francisco with their business-friendly agendas.

On behalf of my family, we're glad you stayed away from our home and have no plans to organize an Occupy encampment in front of where I comfortably sleep every night.

Now that your short action has concluded, I ask for your votes this November!

Your Mayor,
Ed Lie

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi Withholding Emails?

I have an outstanding complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force against Board of Supervisors President London Breed for failing to acknowledge my request for certain of her emails, never mind providing any records nor a rationale for ignoring the request for public documents. Here's another elected official experiencing difficulty complying with our open government laws.

My public records request dated March 16 to San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, was for electronic copies of his emails from October 1, 2012, through December 31, 2014.

Mirkarimi sent this reply the following day:

"As process requires I am copying our legal liaison, Mark Nicco, who is working to facilitate your request."

Then Nicco sent this info on March 17:

"This request for all emails sent or received from the specified email accounts is not a 'simple, routine or otherwise readily answerable request'. Therefore, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will require the additional 14 days permitted by state law [to search for responsive records].

On April 17, Nicco emailed me an update:

"I have been advised that the Sheriff’s Department Information and Technology Unit has received the raw data from the City’s Department of Technology. A review will now be conducted to determine what records are responsive to your request and what records are exempt from disclosure. This process will take additional time as there are a voluminous amount of records."

Excerpted from Nicco's April 29 note:

"I require the assistance of the IT unit to review the records for responsive documents. I do not have an estimated date yet for when this review can be completed."

May 1 rolled around and Nicco wrote:

"I am in the process of determining what records are responsive to your public records request."

Almost two months after initiating my immediate disclosure request to the sheriff, not a single email of his has been released to me, so I lodged a complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force whose administrator, Victor Young, today copied me on this letter to Mirkarimi:

"File No. 15074: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and the Sheriff’s Department for allegedly violating Administrative Code (Sunshine Ordinance), Sections 67.21 and 67.25, for failure to respond an Immediate Disclosure Request for public records in a timely and/or complete manner. 

"Please include the following information in your response if applicable:

"1. List all relevant records with descriptions that have been provided pursuant to the Complainant request.
"2. Date the relevant records were provided to the Complainant.
"3. Description of the method used, along with any relevant search terms used, to search for the relevant records.
"4. Statement/declaration that all relevant documents have been provided, does not exist, or has been excluded."

It's my hope that Mirkarimi and Nicco begin releasing responsive public records on a rolling basis to me this week, and then I can withdraw my SOTF complaint. Sure would be a welcome development if progressives and Democratic political clubs took an active interest in pressuring Supervisors and other elected to comply with all sunshine laws.

I'm tired of lodging complaints with the SOTF in order to force public officials to turn over documents created on the taxpayers' dime and time.

Monday, May 11, 2015

SF Festie-Besties: 5 Top Films at the International Festival

The just-concluded 58th annual San Francisco International Film Festival was a more than the usual terrific programming from around the globe and across genres, so much so I've created my own awards to honor what were the five best flicks for this queer cineaste.

The SF Festie-Besties are prizes for achievement in some aspect of cinema and works I think you should check out, whether you're looking for a humorous time or a dramatic challenge. Let's announce the winners.

1. "All of Me" ("Llevate Mis Amores"), is awarded the top honor winner of the SF Festie-Bestie Cinema Equals Life Prize. This Mexican documentary had me in tears during several key scenes when poor women and girls stand inches from a speeding train carrying hundreds of even more destitute men and boys heading to the U.S., holding plastic bags of food and water jugs on strings that the hungry migrants grab.

Humanity, stripped to a basic survival level of simple nutrition and desire for a better life, shines through as food is purchased, cooked and stuffed into large plastic bags and plastic soda bottles cleaned and filled with water, and people open up about their motivations.

Director Arturo González Villaseñor wisely lets the women of Las Patronas of Veracruz, Mexico, and the men who fall off the trains tell their life stories, without any pesky nonprofit executive or government executive giving a larger sociological analysis. Best line from one of the mothers: "God didn't create barriers. We did."

Told without the slickness and musical manipulation of an HBO style doc, it grabbed me by the throat and heart and didn't let go. "Llevate Mis Amores" hopefully will have a run at the Roxie, where it would certainly find an audience. "All of Me" captures despair and hope in ways Hollywood can only dream about.

Go out of your way to see this film. It's being distributed here by Todo Cine Latino.

2. "The Tribe" receives the SF Festie-Bestie Pure Cinema Prize. From Ukraine, this immersive story set at a state school for deaf and mute teenage thugs has not one word of dialogue, but speaks creates a taut and frightening narrative from the wildly expressive faces, hand gestures and body movements of the young cast.

Prominent display early on the Ukrainian flag and posters of the NATO and European Union flags in a classroom, adds an unmistakable political element to the story.

Just when you think there's been enough nasty fisticuffs, criminality and raw sexuality, including cock shots, and no more limits are left to break, director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy throws a new depredation in your face. Not for the squeamish, with foreboding slowly building in every long-take scene for a brutal conclusion that was repulsive and appropriate, with a smattering of blood.

An abortion-inducing scene set in a decrepit tenement bathroom, with excruciating moans from the young woman with her vagina spread wide with her legs elevated with a dirty rope as the abortifacient is indifferently inserted, was so tough and challenging I had to cover my eyes with my pad. That was followed by her boyfriend raping her in a drunken stupor.

"The Tribe" is cinema without words and outstanding camerawork and gritty production design values so real, I could smell the grime as oppressed youths oppressed other teenagers. Drafthouse Films is the American distributor.

3. "Tangerine", without question, is the recipient of the SF Festie-Bestie Queer as Fuck Prize. Director Sean Baker and writer Chris Bergoch, two forty-ish creative talents, identify as straight and deliver the goods with this film set over one Christmas Eve day and night, as a black trans sex worker hunts down her protector boyfriend after learning he cheated on her while she was in jail.

Completely shot on a few iPhones, with some sound recorded with a mic taped to a long painter's stick purchased at a hardware store, this film has a hyper-colorful saturated look and terrific camerawork especially considering the low-tech shooting conditions. This gay senior didn't relate to the music track much, but I bet young folks will love it.

At times, I missed bits of dialogue or a rapid-fire joke because my laughter was too loud or the audience was in hysterics. Signs of a honest crowd-pleaser with sass to spare. A sub-plot involving a closeted Armenian bisexual male cabbie showcases acting superstars from Armenia, adds to the outrageous entertainment.

Of all the cock shots I saw during the festival, the longest one belonged to a white skinny dude in a make-shift sex group sex space scene set at a tawdry motel.

This prize isn't so much for the transgender characters or sexual liaisons they engage in, but is given for the queer and politically incorrect approach to the production and fun as all-getout sensibility of the terrific actors in front of the iPhone cameras. Catch "Tangerine" with an audience when it hits theaters in July, thanks to Magnolia Pictures.


4. "Winter Sleep" gets the SF Festie-Bestie Tarkovsky Visionary Prize, as writer and director Nuri Bilge Ceylan delivers a three-hour-and-twenty-minutes contemplative and sometimes mordantly funny epic with a a small number of people navigating religious and cultural traditions and contemporary life in Turkey.

A wealthy arrogant landowner, writer and former actor contends with his divorced sister moving in with him and his younger naive wife living under the same roof, while a poor Muslim tenant farmer and his family scrape money together to avoid eviction from his property.

Set in the eye-pleasing Anatolia region of Turkey, the struggles of all the characters carry tremendous weight and at the end, the landowner has been humbled and his hard edges softened, making for an emotionally rich masterpiece. Every shot of the ravishing steady camera work is worth the time it occupies on the screen. Judicious editing from start to finish.

Special thanks to the festival programmers to bringing us this 2014 Cannes Palme D'Or winner, after the distributor couldn't any local theater to show "Winter Sleep" before the DVD's release from Adopt Films. Another example of the crucial need for the San Francisco Film Society's service to movie-lovers.

Not only was it shown, but "Winter Sleep" played in the largest Sundance Kabuki auditorium with a 60-foot screen. Arthouse cinema heaven!

5. "Black Coal, Thin Ice", hails from China and I bestow the SF Festie-Bestie Global Prize upon it. A grandly satisfying, twisty neon-noir concerns a mildly corrupt cop with drinking and women problems, his wife divorces him at the start, who spends years solving a murders of men whose body parts are dumped in coal factories or sold as meat to a cafe.

The female prime suspect objects to being under his surveillance and orders him to stop following her. Too late; he's in love with her regardless of the crimes he believes she committed without remorse.

One beautifully choreographed scene stands out. After a gunfight with a suspect they believe dead, set in a garishly lighted beauty salon, the cop and his partners don't notice his feet jerking, which seem to be a flub unnoticed by the director Diao Yinan, for a few seconds before he grabs a nearby gun killing a partner before taking a bullet to the chest.

Lead actor Liao Fan creates a complex man in a superb and electrifying performance, that keeps your eyes glued to him. His dance hall scene reveals his basic decency. Kudos to the cameraman and production designers, for the fine cinematography and handsome pictorial compositions. Unfortunately, "Black Coal, Thin Ice" lacks U.S. distribution.

Congratulations to all SF Festie-Bestie winners!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Friends School on Valencia: Meeting About Traffic, Not Gentrification

When my lifemate Mike first learned the San Francisco Friends School had purchased the old Levis building across the street from us in the mid-2000s, we immediately feared it would lead to our displacement. After major disruption to the neighborhood due to extensive rehabbing, classes began and so did a parade of luxury cars in the morning and afternoon.

Parents of wealth from other sections of the City ferried their kids daily to the private school, thus sending a visual message to developers and their ilk that an anchor institution was raising the value of the previously funky-ish area. Soon, our landlord tried to sell our six-unit building but no buyer was found.

Mike and I remain deeply concerned about the loss of our friends and neighbors forced out by tech wealth, in our immediate vicinity, and that we could one day be similarly evicted and displaced from our apartment where we have lived for 19-years.

This week, the school is holding a forum about their traffic issues and frankly, it's of minuscule concern how often the Mercedes-Benzs, occasional Hummer, and BMWs have to drive around the block or idle on Valencia Street in order to pick up the kids.

While the administrators, teachers and staff, and parents and students are socially-aware folks and have pitched in over the years to help our neighbors uprooted because of fires and worked to be good neighbors, the footprint of the school has spurred development around here. I've expressed this sentiment previously to the school folks and plan to restate it at the forum.

What responsibility do the parents, who parachute in twice daily and don't understand the fears of longtime residential renters and small businesses we live with after they've driven out of the neighborhood, as they enjoy their secure housing in homes they own in Pacific Heights or Cathedral Hill, have to address our worries?

Wish I had an answer to that, and will urge the administrators and parents to at least consider a community meeting about ways in which the can curb the rampant market rate condos or protect longtime residents, perhaps spur development of deeply affordable housing, or otherwise address the changing neighborhood. Here's the info:

Greetings neighbors, you're invited to a Community Meeting at SF Friends School. Details below. Please encourage other neighbors on Brosnan and Clinton Park to attend.

Topic: Friends School and Traffic on Valencia Street

Where: S.F. Friends School – 250 Valencia Street  (near Duboce)

When: Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 6:00 PM

The school is looking for your feedback and to hear your concerns relating to traffic conditions on Valencia during the school’s afternoon dismissal period. The school will share the results and recommendations of a recent traffic study it commissioned. Your input is desired and valuable.
Cost of 30 SFPD Cops On-Duty at SF Giants Opening Day?

Last I heard, the owners of our dynastic World Series-winning local baseball team have millions in various banks and can afford expensive players of the game, so why can't they provide their own security guards at home games? I'd be happy if they reimbursed us taxpayers for using our police force as their public safety control agents, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

We don't know what the cost was for at least thirty, perhaps more, SFPD officers and such for last month's big first game of the season. Let's follow my email trail with the department:

"The San Francisco Police Department (“SFPD”) received your Public Records Act request on April 17, 2015. On April 27, 2015, SFPD invoked an extension of time.

"You requested 'Records related to the SFPD’s involvement at the San Francisco Giant’s opening day on April 13, 2015.' In response to your request, SFPD's response is below.

"1. Your requested 'Names of all officers or personnel, their divisions or bureaus, assigned to the ball park and their duties that day.' Please find attached a responsive spreadsheet, including names of officers, their divisions and duties. The Department is still in the process of reviewing additional responsive documents, to include total number of officers and costs.

"We will endeavor to produce records, for requests numbered 1 and 2, cost of total police time and expenses for SFPD coverage at the game, on an incremental or rolling basis, once the information becomes available. 

"3. You requested 'Copies of all videos recorded and duplicates of all photos snapped. For the last item, I wish to receive those materials in their native format.' Two (2) CDs which include photos and video of the San Francisco Giants opening day, on April 13, 2015, will be provided."

Let's see how much longer it takes for the department to determine total number of officers at the game and the tab to taxpayers. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

ACT UP/NY + WHAM! Reading & ACT UP/SF's Reunion

The still alive and kicking ACT UP/Petrelis chapter is happy to share info on two important networking and sharing opportunities for activists of all ages, backgrounds and all their diverse contemporary concerns.

A girlfriend from Brooklyn, the feisty and fabulous Elizabeth Meixell, sent these deets my way this week:

"Examining three interconnected case studies, "Mobilizing New York: AIDS, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism" by Tamar Carroll, powerfully demonstrates the ability of grassroots community activism to bridge racial and cultural differences and effect social change. There are two readings:

"May 13, at 7 pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street, between Stanton and Rivington, Manhattan (with queer activist Kenyon Farrow, focused on AIDS activism).

"May 14, at 6 pm at Tamiment Library, 10th floor of Bobst Library, NYU, 70 Washington Square South, east of LaGuardia, Manhattan.

"Carroll traces the partnership between the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and Women's Health Action and Mobilization (WHAM!), showing how gay men and feminists collaborated to create a supportive community for those affected by the AIDS epidemic, to improve health care, and to oppose homophobia and misogyny during the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing on a rich array of oral histories, archival records, newspapers, films, and photographs from post-World War II New York City, Carroll shows how poor people transformed the antipoverty organization Mobilization for Youth and shaped the subsequent War on Poverty."

My dear friend Peter Cashman, of the ACT UP/Los Angeles chapter, passed along this info that's happening in my own backyard. Pleased as pansy punch that he may journey up to San Francisco for these events. More info at the FB page:

"This June marks the 25th anniversary of the 6th International Conference on AIDS held at Moscone Center in San Francisco, and a group of San Francisco ACT UP alums is organizing a set of events here. We've been letting people know on Facebook we wanted to make sure you knew, and to ask you to let other folks know about it. Here's what we've planned so far, with a few more things in the works:

"June 20 -- panel discussion -- what we did and why it mattered, moderated by Deb Gould, panel including Mike Shriver, Jorge Cortinas, Eric Ciasullo, and me, plus others.

"June 20 evening -- party at Cafe Flore, ACT UP alums and our friends. June 21 afternoon -- memorial to honor those we've lost, at the Women's Building, followed by a march to the Castro.

"We're asking people to send in photos or other materials, especially if they can't come themselves, and we'll record, if not livestream the events. Please spread the word to people who may want to come to San Francisco for that weekend."

All events promise to be worthwhile, so check them out!
4 White SF Cops Pat Down Black Homeless Man: Video

Here's one suggestion for better community policing for the San Francisco Police Department. Don't always assume the worst in dealing with any civilian. When a fly-swatter is needed, use it, but refrain from sending in a SWAT crew.

On May 4, around 10 pm, after I came out of the Sundance Kabuki theater where I'd seen two movies at the San Francisco International Film Festival, I saw four SFPD officer questioning and patting down a black homeless man up in years. Why, I do not know but I turned on the camera and began filming the situation in front of the Burger King at Fillmore and Post Streets.

I'd seen the homeless man a lot of times with cohorts at the nearby Geary and Fillmore bus stops over the course of the festival and wondered what reason could have caused him to be searched and questioned by the police.

It's so reflective of me to now just start filming whenever I see members of the SFPD force in such scenes around the City, and I'm thankful, as is the homeless man I'm sure, that he wasn't harmed or mistreated or arrested by the cops.

In my view, this was an instance where fewer cops could have done the job and provided community policing without an excess number of officers. Here is my video:


Friday, May 08, 2015

MTT & SF Symphony: Bernstein + Mahler This Weekend

These concerts of Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the world-class San Francisco Symphony performing Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 are going to be special musical treats for classic music lovers.

Starting tonight at 8 pm, through Saturday's evening concert and the final one on Sunday at 2 pm, you'll have the chance to experience our symphony players at the height of their beautiful powers to delight the ears and stir the emotions.

Mike and I have never heard any of Bernstein's classical symphonic works performed live and he created much incredible music for classical orchestras, that simply and unfortunately isn't played as often as his works for Broadway.

We're hoping to catch one of the concerts this weekend and spending time in Davies Symphony Hall with hundreds of other Bernstein and Mahler fans, not to mention fans of MTT!

For more info on the concerts and ticket info, click here.

(Tilson Thomas and his mentor Bernstein in the 1970s.)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Which Films Will Win an SF Festie-Bestie Crown?

Today is the final day of the San Francisco International Film Festival's 58th edition and this year's programming has been exceptionally satisfying to this cineaste. I've walked out on just a single film.

The crew of publicists have been a dream team to work with, the programmers made excellent selections, staff up and down at the Sundance Kabuki and Clay Theater - from the box office to house managers, gracious volunteers guiding movie-mad crowds to auditoriums, engaging filmmakers holding Q & A's and fellow cineastes all receive a warm thank you from me for making the festival a genuine community and pleasure to participate in.

I've only tweeted about a few of the movies seen and my main coverage, on each of the films I saw, will appear in the next few days on my blog and FB page.

This year, I've created the SF Festie-Besties, only five prizes will be awarded to works from any genre or category, to honor a handful of films that stood out. More difficult to winnow down the prize winners, as the days have progressed and more films watched on the big screen.

What is my token? SF Festie-Besties will receive a Crown for cinematic achievement and pleasures of one sort or another.

I'll bestow the Pure Cinema, the Queer Sensibility, the Tarkovsky Visionary, one other yet to be named category, and the top prize, the Film = Life Crowns and give social media awareness to films I believe are worth seeking out. One hope is that these winners will find theatrical showings, because my belief is that cinema equals communal watching.

After just over two-weeks of indulging at the cinematic smorgasbord, the joys of mingling with hundreds of other film lovers and seeing movies on screens, discussing their merits or deficits, strengthening the San Francisco and Bay Area cinematic communities, and so many other pleasures, I'm sorry to see the festival conclude and also glad I can assess everything I saw.

Check out my video showing a quiet time at the Sundance Kabuki when only one film, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Winter Sleep", was about to unspool and I took my place on line to see it.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Marina Times: Fire SFPD's Suhr, Mission Immigrant Killing Cited

I was between screenings at the San Francisco International Film Festival at the Clay Theater in Pacific Heights, which I how I came to find a print copy of the Marina Times with the front-page above-the-fold editorial calling for the firing of police chief Greg Suhr.

That alone was surprising as I believe this is the only news outlet in the City to demand Suhr be replaced as the top-cop and it was a paper far from the Mission, one I wrongly assumed would be pro-SFPD all the way, but it was one key factor in the call for his firing that really captured my attention.

Editor Susan Dyer Reynolds cites the killing by officers of the SFPD of a Mission immigrant from Central America, Amilcar Pérez-López, and Chief Suhr's outrageous mishandling of the death, as one reason why he has to go. Let's thank Dyer Reynolds for her voice of accountability and the diverse reasons behind her call for Suhr to lose his job. Excerpts from her essay in the Marina Times:

In 2003, Suhr was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice in the “Fajitagate” scandal, where three off-duty officers were accused of beating up two men in the Marina District over a bag of Mexican food. Suhr was later cleared in that incident, but in 2005 then-Chief Heather Fong stripped Suhr of his Head of Patrol title after an officer was badly beaten and suffered a fractured skull responding to a protest. [...]

On a Friday night in 2009, then-Deputy Chief Suhr received a call from a female friend who said her boyfriend was beating and strangling her. The woman’s collarbone was broken, yet Suhr didn’t arrest the suspect and he waited until Sunday to file a report. [...] In March 2015, a judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit [stemming from the incident], saying a jury could conclude that Suhr retaliated against her illegally. He also ordered Suhr to testify. On April 24, just before jury selection began, the city settled the case for $725,000. [...]

[An aattorney for the family of 20-year-old Guatemalan immigrant Amilcar Pérez-López, who was killed by police in the Mission last February, announced the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit that claims three eyewitnesses, post-shooting photographs, and an independent autopsy directly contradict Suhr’s account. The autopsy determined that all six bullets entered Pérez-López from behind, including one to the back of the head, while his arms were at his side. [...] Suhr told the community that Pérez-López was charging the officers with a knife held over his head, corroborating the report by his two plainclothes officers who said they shot a lunging, knife-wielding Pérez-López “in fear for their lives.” [...]

On March 13 2015, racist, homophobic and threatening text messages recovered from [a former officer convicted in a separate corruption trial] cell phone were revealed in a court filing by federal prosecutors [...] The texts implicated as many as 14 SFPD officers. [Ex-cop] Furminger repeatedly calls another officer a “fag,” and makes racist comments about African Americans, Mexicans, and Filipinos. [...] 

Despite all the disgraceful conduct under his watch, I have yet to hear a single official or rank-and-file officer call for Suhr’s resignation. This is in stark contrast to what happened to Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White in October 2014, when firefighters voted that they had no confidence in her leadership and the fire commission met to discuss whether she should keep her job.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

600 at LGBT Rainbow May Day in St. Petersburg: Defying Putin! 

Our friend Ruslan Porshnev's fantastic news portal Queer Russia site this weekend is sharing photos and facts about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians defying President Vladimir Putin's laws and rhetoric demonizing gay people, and taking the streets to express pride and demand liberation.

Much praise and love to our brave brothers and sisters in Russia who marched, and who every day show courage and happiness as LGBT people! Here's Ruslan's report:

On May 1, Rainbow May Day march was held in St. Petersburg for the fifth year in a row, drawing hundreds of participants and guarded by the local police. The rainbow column was a part of a bigger Democratic March bringing together a number of trade unions, political and social movements to celebrate the International Workers’ Day.

The march was held in the centre of St. Petersburg, on Nevsky Prospect. Media report the total number of participants over 90,000 with LGBT column itself consisting of around 600 people.

Slogans and plackards of the LGBT column included such statements as “No to discrimination on gender and sexual orientation”, “Dump homophobia”, “I love, not war”, “Milonov, thanks for promotion”, “Milonov go to Uganda for homopropaganda”, “Sexism is so last century”.

There was also supposed to be a big bright foam plastic pink tank with flowers inside its trunk to be carried along the procession, but police did not allow activists to do so due to technical problems in proper inspection.

Vocal opponent of LGBT equality, local Legislative Assembly MP Vitaliy Milonov, United Russia party member, along with his very few supporters tried to disrupt the march shouting out offensive and rude remarks at participants.

For example, Milonov asked police to give him permission to “tear head off” of one of the participants. He shouted: “Arrest them! Go away! Pedophiles! Prostitutes! Faggots! I am Russian! We will liquidate you! They should be squashed with tanks and tractors!” and so on. Milonov unsuccessfully tried to convince policemen that rainbow flags violate the “gay propganda ban law” because he brought his children along with him and they saw the flags that in his opinion promoted homosexuality to them.

Nevertheless, policemen boldly refused to take any action on that claim and prevented Milonov’s disruptions. Rainbow march was organized by Vmeste Coalition for Civil Equality. Photos from Vmeste Coalition Vkontakte page.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

SF Homeless Czar: 110,000 Shelter Bed Requests to 311 System

Over the years, I've learned that Mayor Ed Lee's homeless czar Bevan Dufty's word cannot be taken at face value. Lemme explain. In February, I asked Dufty to back my proposal to open taxpayer-funded bathrooms and showers at San Francisco firehouses during restricted hours to the homeless. The health menace to the homeless folks and general population due to lack of enough public toilets needs to be a priority, in my view as a person with a very compromised immune system.

Here's Dufty's February reply asking him to address this public health hazard, all the poop and pee on the streets: "When I was District 8 Supervisor, I know that facilities were available at Fire Station 26 that is adjacent to Walter Haas playground. I am copying your message to Fire Chief Hayes-White [...] You have asked a good question and I will work to get good answers. City government is closed for Monday's holiday so we will follow up Tuesday."

When I didn't hear back from him, two months later, in early April, I asked for action from Department of Public Health chief Barbara Garcia, to address the poop problem and push for opening City-owned buildings for toilet-access. She replied:

"I’m working with Bevan to pick up the ball, spoke to him yesterday about this and I need to work on this with him for a minute. So you are stuck with me for the meanwhile. Most likely our environmental health dept will take lead once we know what we are going to do."

It's now three months since I first contacted Dufty, ever closer to Election Day, and still no response from him about the stinking (bad pun intended) need for public toilets. Both the SFFD and DPH, as am I, are waiting for Dufty to communicate on the need for more places to poop. But I digress from my central point about shelter bed access.

At the March 2 meeting of the City's Local Homeless Coordinating Board, which is sorta under the supervision of Dufty and very few taxpayers know about and which I requested in September 2012 move their meetings to City Hall and air on SFGovTV to provide us with transparency and Dufty promised to look into these concerns, this is what Dufty reported about shelter bed access and reservations:

"Dufty: I would like to mention that there has been some discussion about 311 and shelter access. Roughly, we received over 110,000 calls to 311. Obviously that is a tremendous volume of calls, and the costs of those calls add up. When I was a supervisor, we realized those calls were costing almost $2 each. We want to make sure that the calls are necessary and important calls.

"Board Member Del Seymour: How long does it take to get a shelter bed?

"Dufty: I thought it was 3 weeks for a woman and 4 weeks for a man.

"Seymour: I admire the system. I think it’s working.

"Dufty: Also the 311 staff loves providing the service. There were questions about the reservation system. There is a lot of property at First Friendship. Perhaps longer term there could be an effort to make a better facility. I think it’s understandable that Hamilton Family Center raises the question about whether or not to keep doing a one night model.

"Member of the Public: I want to ask about ADA beds. What are you doing about that?

"Dufty: I am aware that there are complications about lower bunks for people with disabilities. I just want to say again that H.S.A. has been really spectacular."

The next meeting of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board is this Monday, May 4th at 11AM at the Human Resources Agency's auditorium at 150 Otis Street, near Duboce. I'll be there and hope other taxpayers will also be present.