Thursday, October 20, 2016

BART Boss Crunican's Tour of 16th St. Plaza Confirmed?

This is the latest information regarding my effort to have BART's general manager, Grace Crunican, take a walk-through with me at their 16th and Mission station and public spaces so I can show her my concerns and explain a few ideas I have for continued betterment of the plazas.

The emails from her aides confirm a tour takes place in November and I look forward to engaging with Crunican and other BART managers.

Allow me to note BART's leaders have used the agency's personnel resources and infrastructure to actively campaign for the $3.5 billion bond measure on the ballot. So, for them to claim my candidacy for the BART board's District 9 seat is reason to avoid a tour in October is quite amusing.

The bottom line is the general manager and others are soon enough coming to 16th and Mission Streets to start their engagement with me. Pretty impressive for one activist to accomplish, on top of the tour last week with 11 folks from six public agencies.

Vote for zealous Petrelis!

-----Original Message-----
From: Anjelica Dill-James <>
To: mpetrelis <>
Cc: Paula Fraser <>; Roy Aguilera <>
Sent: Wed, Oct 19, 2016 5:02 pm
Subject: RE: Tour

Hello Mr. Petrelis,
I hope your day is well.
I understand our Assistant General Manager of External Affairs, Kerry Hamill, addressed your concerns and request for a tour in the email below. I was simultaneously in the process of working with the GM on the possibility of arranging a tour. As promised, I wanted to get back to you today and let you know that we also determined that a tour with our staff would not be possible for the reason Mrs. Hamill indicated. I apologize for any misunderstanding and hope that we can accommodate the tour after the election as she suggested. In arranging this tour please contact Paula Fraser, cc’d on this email, in mid-November.
Best Regards,
Anjelica Dill James
Assistant to the General Manager
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)
300 Lakeside Drive, 23rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 464-6065 office
From: Kerry Hamill
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:39 PM
Cc: Alicia Trost <>; Anjelica Dill-James <>; Kenneth Duron <>
Subject: Tour
Mr. Petrelis,
BART was not able to send a representative to your tour for a few reasons:
The date didn’t work for our staff. We mentioned we would be able to do it mid-November.
You are a candidate on the ballot and it wouldn’t be appropriate to send staff to what could be a campaign event. We don’t do this for any candidates.
Our Customer Services staff have responded to your concerns – just as we would with any member of the public. Customer Services requested cleaning and maintenance staff to go out to the station to correct any issues. This work is on-going. Any other issues may be sent in and we will have staff respond appropriately.
Thank You.
Kerry Hamill
Asst General Manager, OEA
Black Poz Inmate Michael Johnson's New Letter

It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming to read the August letter, recently arrived, from my prisoner pen-pal Michael Johnson. He's the young gay, black and HIV poz Missouri student serving an unjust and outrageous 30-year sentence for criminal transmission of the virus.

I don't know why it took so long for the letter to be mailed but as with any correspondence from Michael, it's always good to hear from him.

What breaks my heart is reading how much he appreciates receiving my letters and cards to him, because it's a link to a person on the outside who hasn't forgotten about and cares for his well-being.

When Michael writes about finding the good in people, having no shame about being gay and living with HIV, cheers me up a bit about his life inside the criminal justice system.

I send him mail often, either letters or news clippings of articles that may be of interest to him or friendship cards, regardless of knowing if it all reaches him. The important thing is to keep paper flowing to him.

Glad to know at the time of the August letter, Michael was in good health and spirits.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bright BART Sign Lights Up the Plaza Again

About three weeks back, I made a service request for electric sign at the western plaza at 16th and Mission Streets.

In recent days, BART has delivered current to the sign and this evening, I was very pleased to see it lit again.

I believe it wasn't functioning for nearly two months. One more improvement at this BART plaza thanks to my advocacy.

Vote for zealous Petrelis for the BART board!

Mission Local: Petrelis' Pigeon Poop Cleanup & BART Campaign

A huge shout-out to reporter Joe Rivano Barros, who snapped the photo, for this fabulous story. He writes for the Mission Local news site and came on the tour of the plazas last week.

I find it quite ironic that BART's spokeswoman Alicia Trost says they couldn't send a rep because the walk-through was a campaign event. Um, BART managers have been staging plenty of their own campaign functions in order to get voters to approve their $3.5 billion bond measure.

Last weekend, at least one track at the MacArthur BART station was out of service so BART officials could show off their "Fleet of the Future" and plenty of reps were on hand to answer questions. So much for not engaging in political activities during election season.

That said, BART needs to step up regular maintenance services at this transit hub and the sooner the better. Excerpts from Barros' story:

"Michael Petrelis, the political gadfly and a candidate running to represent part of San Francisco on BART’s Board of Directors, is tired of pigeon crap. Its cleanup has in fact become a rallying cry for Petrelis’s campaign for the BART Board of Directors, in which he is running to represent District 9, which includes the seven BART stations from Montgomery Street to Balboa Park.

"But, he’s hardly waiting until Election Day. Last Thursday, he convened 11 representatives from five city agencies and walked them through the 16th Street BART Station — the Mission District’s dirtiest transit terminal — pointing to roosting pigeons, trashed corners, and urine-smelling pavement.

"The group — which included members of the Department of Public Works, Department of Public Health, the Municipal Transit Agency, Clear Channel, and the Police Department — listened to Petrelis and his solutions. They gave their own as well. A solar reflector, for instance, could use blinding light to prevent pigeons from roosting, said a police officer. [...]

"In the meantime, a representative from Public Works pledged to redouble efforts by clean-up crews to steam-clean the plaza. [...]

"'The pigeons are really a result of people who are congregating and making food available,' said Dr. Tomás Aragon, a health officer with the Department of Public Health. He called the preponderance of feces and trash a 'public health nuisance.' [...]
"'It’s an issue of poverty, it’s an issue of some of whom are homeless or marginally housed,' said Dr. Aragon. 'We’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to work with them, to reach out to them, to figure out a way so that they’re not feeding the birds.'

"Petrelis, a victim of pigeon poop, is adamant that his clean-up campaign is not intended to remove anyone from the plaza. The 57-year-old activist and blogger has been urging city agencies to take a keener interest in cleaning up the 16th Street BART Plaza since 2014, two years after he had an unfortunate incident there. That happened in June 2012, when Petrelis was using the downward escalator into the transit station when he put his hand on the rail and plopped it into a pile of pigeon droppings. [...]

"For Petrelis, the pigeon poop problem deserves a technical solution, one that won’t displace the regulars on the plaza but will selectively target the birds who feast on their leftovers. As a thrice-weekly user of the station, he wants the pigeon poop, dirty pavement, and trashed corners cleaned up. [...]

"Step one would be working with BART, a particular and longstanding problem, Petrelis said.

"The transit agency — along with Pacific Gas and Electric, which owns some of the wires where the pigeons perch — was not present at Petrelis’s walking tour. [...]

"Alicia Trost, a spokesperson from BART, said that there were no staff available to meet with Petrelis until mid-November. Furthermore, she said, it would be inappropriate to send staff to the walking tour since it “could be a campaign event.” Indeed, Petrelis pinned cloth reading “Vote Petrelis BART Board District 9” to his jacket and handed out business cards with the same slogan. [...]

"By the end of the hour-long tour, Darryl Dilworth from Public Works said he would look into additional funding for regular clean-up crews, funding he said Public Works was receiving from BART until a few months ago. The money, he said, allowed for daily steam-cleaning of the plaza. Petrelis, for his part, was hopeful and generally ecstatic that a citizen with a loud enough voice could assemble a half-dozen city agencies and demand they pay attention."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Election Dept Win: Online BART Pols Disclosures 29 Days Out

Who says you can't lobby City Hall and score a major open govt victory, and within hours too? Not to mention 29 days before Election Day. Pretty amazing turnaround in the midst of the election.

Me to John Arntz, pictured, the head of the San Francisco Department of Elections, emailed this morning:

"I am formally requesting that you immediately include info on your web site telling voters how to access the Form 460 for BART candidates Bevan Dufty and Gwyenth Borden.

"After much hunting, I learned yesterday that your agency received the forms but doesn't post them online, nor do you inform folks at your site that the forms at your office and how to obtain them.

"Govt transparency requires action on your part now to make this info widely known. When can you post a notice telling folks the Form 460's are at your office? Please reply by the close of business today. Thanks."

The excellent news, making it possible for voters and others to follow the money of BART candidates, from Arntz sent this afternoon:

"I appreciate your sending this message regarding these forms. I think you make a good point about providing notice that the forms are available in this office. I agree that we can place a notice on our website tomorrow, although I don’t know the specific time by which this will be done. Thanks."

A reminder. I'm not raising funds for this race so there is no need for me to file a Form 460. Very curious to learn tomorrow how much my opponents have raised and from whom.

Heaps of gratitude to John Arntz, Gregory P. Slocum and Matthew Selby for such rapid expansion of transparency at City Hall!
The Birdman of BART Plaza

Burt Lancaster, he ain't. I've seen this homeless dude for years feeding the pigeons at BART's 16th Street plazas. He is major source of food for the birds. Even if he were to cease offering crumbs to them, which would be a good development for public health, we'd still have the creatures at the plazas.

I'm told his name is Swan. Every time I've tried to chat with him, he ignores me and I bear in mind he also has a few mental challenges.

We're never going to get the birds to migrate away but we can use all available tools to reduce their roosting areas at this transit hub. At the same time, making sure all agencies are regularly cleaning away the pigeon poop.

Don't feed the birds!
SF Chron: Clinton = Stanwyck, Trump = Mussolini: Films for Petrelis 

Did you see my letter the Sunday entertainment section of the San Francisco Chronicle? Probably not so I'm sharing a pic of the print edition. It appeared in film critic Mick LaSalle's column.

My letter, edited for space reasons, mentioned I had recently again seen Preston Sturges' classic acerbic 1940 comedy about the rise of a crooked politician on Turner Classic Movies. The rest of the letter is below as is LaSalle's witty response:

"Hi Movie Meister Mick: I’m trying my best this crazy election season, with that scoundrel Donald Trump scaring the bejesus out of me, to stay sane and retain my sense of humor. What political flicks should I see before Nov. 8, as I await the end of our long national nightmare? Michael Petrelis, San Francisco"

From LaSalle:

"Hi Movie Meister Michael: You put me in an awkward position, because I’d really rather not reveal my political preferences. So let me advise you in this way. You should use the time before the election to get used to the possibility of either one of these people becoming president. Movies can help in this, by serving as something like previews of historical coming attractions.

"For example, in anticipation of one possible scenario, I’d see a few Barbara Stanwyck movies, such as 'Baby Face' and 'Night Nurse,' or maybe some episodes of her old TV show, “The Big Valley.” Stanwyck had an unflappable gaze, and her tougher-than-any-man quality feels right in this case.

"As for the other possible scenario, I’d seek out Bob Hoskins in the 1985 miniseries 'Mussolini and I,' George C. Scott in the miniseries 'Mussolini: The Untold Story' (1985), Rod Steiger in 'The Last Days of Mussolini' (1974), and, just to liven things up, Giovanna Mezzogiorno in 'Vincere' (2009), a searing portrait of one of Mussolini’s early lovers. It’s best to be prepared."

On our way to the Berkeley Rep on Sunday afternoon, Mike and I checked out BART's "Fleet of the Future" at the MacArthur Station. We give thumbs up to the sleek and modern new cars. Remember that after you vote for zealous Petrelis, cast a yes ballot for Measure RR, the BART bond measure.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Which BART Hopeful's Biggest Donor = 'Dark Money' Conway?

How's this for lack of govt transparency? There apparently is no San Francisco or state law requiring candidates for BART's board of directors make their financial disclosures available online.

Local election finance laws mandate BART candidates file disclosures with the San Francisco Board Elections and that agency makes the information available on paper at their City Hall office. 

That's where I obtained my opponent Gwyneth Borden's California Form 460, containing her donors' info up to September 24th. There were no disclosures available from Bevan Dufty's campaign.

What caught my eye in Borden's papers was the $2,500 contribution from tech titan and City Hall influence-wielder Ron Conway. He is her largest individual donor and lists his address, presumably where he also will be voting this election season, in Belvedere-Tiburon.

There needs to be a law enacted forcing the Department of Elections and the Secretary of State to post all financial disclosures of San Francisco BART candidates on their sites.

It says much about what is wrong with City Hall and Sacramento, maybe BART too, that we cannot follow the money online of the District 9 race.

Here the page from Borden's disclosures documenting Conway's gift:

Huge Trash Pickup at BART's 16th Street Plaza

Last week, I made another in a continuing series of service requests for removal of any and all debris from BART's public spaces at 16th and Mission Streets. I want to nudge the agency to fulfill its maintenance responsibilities, since it's clear to me cleanup is more frequent when complaints are lodged with management.

As Mike and I exited the 16th Street station last night, coming home from a wonderful afternoon seeing "It Can't Happen Here" at Berkeley Rep, we chatted with this friendly BART janitor.

She explained the large bin of debris in the plastic bags contained the garbage collected just on Sunday afternoon. It's trash from all of the station's trash cans and whatever boxes and such left at the plazas.

We thanked her for doing her duties and providing sanitation upkeep, and for taking a few moments to have a productive conversation.