Sunday, August 28, 2016

BART: Sanitize 24th St Entrance: Pigeon Poop = Disease!

This video captures the incredibly unhealthy situation at the eastern entrance to BART's 24th Street station in the Mission, which is part of the District 9 seat I am running for.

After inspecting the areas at the top of the entrance where BART riders put their hands, risking contagion with diseases in the layers of pigeon poop encrusted on surfaces, I'm calling on BART leaders to immediately deal with this public health menace.

Serious pigeon abatement is needed now at this location. It is not ok pigeons are nesting on both sides of the entrance and the spiked wires along the fence top on the edge of the BART plaza are so worn down the birds roost there.

I believe the BART D9 incumbent director, Tom Radulovich, must take responsibility for the conditions at the 24th Street station, which are quite deplorable.

If elected, I promise to routinely inspect this station and all of them in District 9 to make sure BART is properly maintaining best practices regarding sanitation. This post and video have been emailed to various BART officials. I'll keep you posted on their actions to address my concerns.

Do you agree BART must send a cleaning crew to power-wash the bird poop off the entrance?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Number of Needle Disposal Boxes on San Francisco's Streets?

Two homeless folks were shooting up, sitting on the sidewalk and against the wall of the main library on Hyde Street near Market a few weeks back as I walked to the farmers' market at UN Plaza.

Near them were about fifteen used needles, most not capped, strewn about the Muni bus shelter under the thick and leafy branches of large trees.

Concerned about the potential of someone or a dog getting jabbed and maybe infected with HIV or hepatitis from stepping on a syringe point, I called 311 and requested a Department of Public Works crew come out and properly dispose of the needles.

I also got in touch with my friend Eileen Loughran, who runs the needle exchange program for the Department of Public Works, to ask for the locations of permanent disposal syringe boxes on the streets.

Were any located at the library or near it? Turns out the answer is no and there are only 11, eleven, such boxes in San Francisco.

That is not enough to aid drug users to properly dispose of their works after injecting themselves with white powders.

Of course, I'd like the City to open injection rooms as one method of reducing the number of syringes on the streets and decreasing overdoses and other health complications, while also engaging with drug users and working with them on harm reduction.

Is San Francisco ready to end the denial about injection drug users and their habits? Can we move toward opening safe injection sites and install more disposal boxes around town?

Only if our elected officials feel pressure from constituents. Until then, watch where you step around the main library and all of Civic Center.
Will SF Vice Mayor Kawa Vote for Me in the BART Race?

Steve Kawa has served as the chief of staff to mayors Willie Brown and Gavin Newsom, a position he still holds with Ed Lee. He's the second most powerful person at City Hall - the Vice Mayor.

I saw him at Market and Polk Streets on August 22 and asked if he would vote for me in the race for BART's District 9 director. Check out our exchange:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Vote for My Best Official BART Campaign Photo

No registration required to cast a ballot and helping me to settle on the most fabulous official photo in my BART District 9 race.

Here are two of the best images snapped by my friend and longtime LGBT photo-documentarian Rick Gerharter. We staged the photo shoot at the 24th Street BART plaza in the Mission this afternoon.

I'm partial toward this picture with white iron spikes lining the entrance and pedestrians behind me and good placement for the BART sign.

If the blue tent weren't distracting to this image, it would get my vote. The green tie signals my status as a registered Green Party voter. Goes well with the purple text of my button.

Which photo do you choose as my official campaign photo? This poll closes on Friday, August 26 at midnight. Cast your ballot now!
Advocacy Led BART to Improve Toilet Access & Public Health

My track-record of engagement with BART and its partner public agencies directly benefited all stakeholders who use the 16th Street station and plaza, as demonstrated in numerous posts from 2014.

That is when I lobbied BART, the SF departments of public works and public health, to collaborate on improving sanitary conditions at this busy transit hub in the Mission.

As I ran for supervisor of District 8, where I came in second with 7% of the vote, the three public agencies at my urging power-washed all surfaces of the street level plazas, installed anti-bird spikes and fire hazardous paper waste in the stairwells was swept away.

Last year, I advocated for Pit Stop staffing at the toilet kiosk and placement of a porta-potty, both now operational, and better wayfinding signage to guide the disabled to the elevator.

I've gathered almost a dozen links showing my historic advocacy with BART, DPW and DPH, performed when I wasn't running for a BART board seat. I'm also sharing my video complaint from 2015 about signage needs at 16th Street.

A few reasons to vote for me in the November election:


June 13

June 14

June 19

June 24

June 30

July 2

July 12


April 8

May 14

June 2

June 7

Check out this video:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My DIY democracy campaign doesn't have the bandwidth to respond to all or even a few of the questionnaires coming my way.

But I replied to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and sent a headshot, because they publish all candidate answers on their site leading up to Election Day. Nice exposure.

 Check out the responses from Bevan Dufty and myself, on biking matters.
BART Candidates Do Lunch; Positive Campaign Pledge Next?

Early this afternoon, we three candidates for the BART District 9 seat on the board of directors, met at Kate's Kitchen on Haight Street for some food, campaign chatting and a good number of laughs.

Just getting to know each other was on the menu for Gwyneth Borden, Bevan Dufty and myself.

I nudged us last week to get together and to also consider agreeing to sign a positive campaign pledge, with everyone focused on BART matters. Avoiding personal attacks or negative campaigning, but still differentiating our views from opponents.

Bevan circulated a generic pledge from a good government, Gwyneth is not at all opposed to the idea and is still catching her breath having tossed her chapeau into the race barely a week ago. I'm on board, committed to the pledge for the duration of the campaign.

We smiled for a group photo in front of the cafe, a good time was had by all and thus began the official start of the BART D9 race. Only 77 days until Election Day.
Sen. Schumer: Refund Mylan EpiPen CEO's Donations Now!

Add my voice to the chorus of ordinary citizens, patients-in-need and consumer advocates deploring the greedy 400% price hike of life-saving EpiPens. People with allergies use the device to keep breathing when suffering an allergic attack.

EpiPens are manufactured by Mylan Labs and the chief executive officer, Heather Bresch, has an extensive history of donating money to politicians and PACs.

Bresch's most recent donations were in June, one for $2,300 and another for $2,700, and they went to Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer.

I call upon him to return the Bresch contributions to send her and other Big Pharma executives that he won't take their dollars when they endanger the lives of patients because of avarice.

Do you agree refunding the donations are the first step he should take as part of his agenda to put people before profits?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BART Platform: Disband Police, Reopen Toilets, Night Meetings

Hello. I'm Michael Petrelis and I'm running as a registered Green Party voter for the BART Board District 9 seat. Let me explain why.


First, I am a longtime regular user of this critical Bay Area public transportation system. My deep organizing experience as a social justice activist spans four-decades successfully bringing lasting change for LGBT and HIV positive persons locally and globally, non-profit accountability, government transparency and human rights for all.

My lifetime commitment to public transportation started in grammar school. When not taking BART or Muni, I ride my Breezer Euro-Style bike daily, bringing home produce from the farmers' market for my husband Mike Merrigan and I, or getting to political and cultural happens. I've never learned to drive a car. Part of my life-plan to keep my carbon footprint small.

I pledge to keep to keeping BART system efficiently operated, maximally transparent and accountable and clean.


For Mike and I, our closest BART station is located at 16th and Mission Streets.

I am a practitioner of do-it-yourself democracy. In June of 2014, I felt the need to address unsanitary conditions at this station's plazas. I alerted BART and its partner agencies, the San Francisco Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health. The result of my advocacy led to regular power-washings, removal of fire hazardous debris and the installation of anti-pigeon spiked wires. Yes, less bird poop on public seating made this Mission BART Plaza better.


Last July, I contacted  BART about better support for the disabled. I pointed out the inadequate signage for the elevator at the 16th Street Plaza. Promises were made by BART leaders to improve wayfinding signage. Unfortunately, BART didn't keep its word.

We require improved signage identifying the elevator's location. For the disabled, yes. But also for bicyclists, parents with kids and large strollers - even travelers toting heavy luggage. BART must also provide consistent maintenance of the elevator and escalators to ensure they are fully operational at all times.


BART can do better to accommodate bicyclists. I joined other bicyclists to urge BART to create a policy that allowed us to bring our bikes on trains and at all hours. Plus create more space to lean them while in transit. As your District 9 representative, I would institute a pilot program of an all-bike caboose at the end of rush-hour trains. This would free up standing spaces in other cars, making it easier for more bikers to use BART.

I call for pop-up bike maintenance crews at station corrals once a week, offering free or low-cost repairs. At the corrals, we need more racks, better lighting. Plus a guarantee from BART that surveillance cameras are perpetually functioning properly. 


As your District 9 representative, I propose disbanding the BART police force. Until then, we need saner BART police policies. Is there really any reason for them to have guns and bullets? We have local law enforcement agencies to deal with crime on BART property. There are too many instance of excessive use of force by BART's officers. This can be reduced through better de-escalation training. I call for increased oversight of police personnel and better practices to ensure cops who harm riders are held to account with appropriate penalties.


There is no logic to keeping public toilets closed. My platform fully supports reopening BART bathrooms at every station between 9 am to 8 pm during the workweek. And staffing them. SF DPW's wildly successful Pit Stop toilet kiosks is the model for BART to duplicate. Like SF DPW, let's staff the bathrooms with formerly homeless individuals.

We'd feed two birds with one seed. Give riders a place to pee and poop, and assist people reentering the workforce.


BART meetings are only held on weekday mornings. The result? Too many people are unable to attend. That means less engagement with the riding public. As your District 9 representative, I would propose holdings meetings also in the evenings. Plus offer casual listening sessions at stations. Written monthly reports from directors must be implemented. And be posted online for accessibility and to allow public feedback. I suggest we institute term limits for directors.


Greater transparency over the general manager and other managers is needed. Salary information of top 10 managers must be posted on BART's web site. Same goes for sharing their monthly calendars and activities reports online.


We must create a new procedure for public feedback. That's the best way to improve services. BART must provide users with a single person to handle suggestions and complaints. Create a paid Rider's Representative to direct comments to the appropriate manager, process complaints and compliments. And finally, maintain a blog to guarantee transparency and how problems are resolved.


Let's plan for overnight hourly service on weekends to better meet the needs of our diverse communities. I further want limited round-the-clock trains considered for weeknights. 

A good funding source for BART would be to expand long-term and pop-up retailing opportunities at stations.  

Develop a program that brings a diverse array of musicians and genres to concourses on a regular basis. One-seed, two birds. Performers reach an audience, riders' time using BART is more pleasurable.

Our BART system's current infrastructure is eroding. Its technology is old and outmoded; it needs updating. There is a bond measure on the ballot this fall, known as Prop RR, that would solve these problems. I fully support it.

Finally, we know the mentally ill and homeless people tend to congregate at stations. Let's beef up outreach and assistance for them throughout the system, partnering with government and nonprofit agencies.

I ask for your vote this November. Thank you.
Unisex Toilet Access Begins at SF Opera War Memorial in Sept

The San Francisco War Memorial Performing Arts Center Board of Trustees at their August 11 meeting received an update on implementation of a new law requiring gender-neutral bathrooms in all public buildings. 

The Trustees oversee the homes of the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Symphony, the War Memorial Opera House and the Davies Symphony Hall, along with the Herbst Theater inside the Veteran's Building.

There's a lot of toilets in all of the venues that comprise these jewels of performance venues and I wonder if they're the first of their kind to have unisex bathrooms.

Here's the note I received from Elizabeth Murray, the managing director, of the center's buildings:

"Thank you for your inquiry. The War Memorial will be implementing the Board of Supervisors’ ordinance regarding all-gender toilet facilities at the Performing Arts Center. 

"In accordance with the ordinance we will be re-designating single-user toilet facilities as all-gender facilities by September 23, 2016.

"We will then be re-designating certain multiple-user toilet facilities as all-gender facilities by November 23, 2016. We are currently in the planning stage so I cannot yet advise you on specific restroom re-designations.

"Upon completion of this process I will be happy to let you know our plans."

Here's the video of the discussion at the August 11 trustees' meeting: