Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dore Alley Pix;
Matt Foreman: 'I Want to Strangle You'

The medicated brownie had kicked in, the dance music was too loud, my earplugs were blocking out most sound, and it was crowded when I was snapping pix at the food tables, when I felt a slap against my backpack. Three men were standing behind me and I asked about the slap.

They talked amongst themselves and I couldn't make out what they were saying. Noticing that the man in the middle was Gay Inc leader Matt Foreman in mirror sunglasses, I removed the earplugs to hear what he had to say. In jest, he shouted and explained the accidental jostling of his buddy: "I want to strangle you; not slap you!"

Returning the sarcastic banter, I said, "Oh, yeah? I have witnesses - two of them - who heard that!" We all chuckled, then went back to our respective cruising and taking in all the eye candy.

Enjoy the best of the pix from the Dore Alley Fair today. For me, it was everything I wanted it to be. A friendly crowd, lots of smiles and flesh, pockets of public sex including the scene I started near the Powerhouse, chatting with good pals and enjoying the street party vibes.

The two best-looking mature guys with shaved heads, wearing a tank top and gray in their facial fuzz.

Their instructions to me were to take as many photos as I wanted, as they happily posed.

Ginger cub sporting a healthy package.

The super sexy Paul from the Blow Buddies sex club enjoying a drink.

Some hunky tattooed bodies got intertwined during a spirited game of Twister.

I had barely said wow before this friendly show-off smiled and motioned for me to take his photos.

As the fair came to its climax, these furry fellas took one last walkabout.
Bay Times Comes Out as a Bi-Weekly

Betty Sullivan, a lesbian who maintains profitable listserv reaching thousands of Bay Area gays, has informed her listserv subscribers of her assuming control of the Bay Times and my friend Gary Virginia shared her detailed note with me.

It should be running in her newspaper and the fact that she hasn't published in the Bay Times raises more ethical questions regarding her motives for buying the Bay Times and her intentions as a responsible publisher.

The enormous omission of basic facts about the paper's recent erratic printing schedule, the founding publisher moving on and a new, untested publisher taking the helm and other matters of import to the Bay Times' readership should raise a few eyebrows among media and gay community watchdogs.

These are excerpts from Sullivan's listserv:

The current schedule is for bi-weekly publication. ... I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am about the goodwill and the questions coming from throughout our LGBT community about the new Bay Times for the entire Bay Area.

With cheerful mentoring from founding publisher Kim Corsaro, we are thoughtfully developing plans to preserve and evolve this important editorial voice of our community that Kim has shepherded for more than three decades. ... Our process is not a quick one, so your patience is appreciated. Sometimes a ball gets dropped as we discover the way. There's a lot to do here, but you can rest assured that the Bay Times story continues to unfold. ...

Tell your friends about the new Bay Times. Buy an ad or refer a colleague and let them know that there is great potential in combining the reach of the Bay Times (www.sfbaytimes) and "Betty's List” ( ... There's more to come so watch for announcements both here and through our other means. ...

Hey Betty, you've had ownership of the paper for five-months now. How about using the Bay Times to print your listserv message in full and give your readership the respect they deserve?

Friday, July 29, 2011

EQCA Notes Straight Labor Leader's Death;
Ignores Homeless Gay Youth Study

Honestly, I wouldn't blog about a press alert from Roland Palencia, the executive director of Equality California, mourning the death of an octogenarian straight Latino union leader and friend of the gays, if EQCA were also issuing alerts about crucial gay issues daily affecting thousands of LGBT Californians.

EQCA and Palenica have ignored calls to speak out against the Social Security and Medi-Cal cuts that went into effect on July 1, and help disabled, seniors and low-income gay folks, while the statewide organization additionally says nothing about the latest study detailing growing problems for hundreds of homeless gay youth, including those living on California streets.

Bear in mind how EQCA did not issue alerts in advance of hearings and votes in Sacramento on SB 48 the gay education bill, nor did they actively mobilize the community to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the bill until gay reporters nudged the group to put out calls to write and call his office.

But today EQCA devoted staff resources noting the passing of a straight labor ally and shared phone numbers of folks to call for more info about funeral services.

Why is it such a problem for EQCA to address the needs of low-income gays and homeless queer youth and regularly engage us democratically, but they can quickly release a statement about the labor leader and facilitate mobilizing gays who want to attend his funeral?

A few answers can be found in Timothy Kincaid's excellent piece - "Good-bye, Equality California, It's Been a Good Run" - over at Box Turtle Bulletin. He lays out how EQCA is no longer a gay organization and the proof that Palencia is pushing broad social justice issues, and that it's time for him, and others, to say so long to EQCA.

While EQCA said this, "___________________," about the safety net cuts for gay and needs of homeless queer youth, here is some of what it had to say about the death of a labor leader. By the way, EQCA doesn't bother to inform us of what exactly it is he did on behalf of gays, so if you have this crucial info, please share it with me. EQCA just assumes we all know what this leader did for us. From EQCA:

Richard Chavez, pioneer in the Farmworkers Movement and champion of full equality for all Californians, passed away earlier this week.  ... Chavez was instrumental in developing the infrastructure of the United Farm Workers union and was also an outspoken advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. [Palencia said]

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Richard Chavez, a hero in the fight for justice and equality and a strong ally of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trasgender equality movement.

“Chavez served as a pillar to the United Farm Workers union and his tireless work a foundation to the modern civil rights movement. His story of struggle and courage will continue to serve as an inspiration to all Californians.

For memorial service information, please contact Camila Chavez at 415-377-4184 or Lori de Leon at 661-331-7851.

Color not the least bit inspired by Palencia or EQCA.
Bay Times to Hold Fundraiser for HRC

If it's not too much trouble, let's have whomever is in charge of the Bay Times newspaper finally get around to respecting their readers and tell us what the heck is going on. After months of silence about erratic recycled tree and online publishing, personnel changes, confusion still reigns.

A print edition hit the streets of San Francisco yesterday, with the new chaotic layout, and the editorial, written by Dayna Verstegen, primarily addressed why President Obama needs us but ended with this vague passage touching on the evolving paper:

And while I have you… you may have noticed some changes at the Bay Times. We have updated our logo and the look of our paper. It was time for the design of our paper to reflect the quality of its content. We have many more changes in store for you and we want your input. What do you like?

What should we do more of? Less? This is your paper. We will listen to every idea. Write to me at

If the paper is truly ours and the editor genuinely wants to know what there should be more of, how about telling us what the troubles have been in recent months, what happened to founding publisher Kim Corsaro and what the print publication schedule is, just for starters.

The new publisher, Betty Sullivan, should also immediately explain why they are organizing a fundraiser for themselves and the Human Rights Campaign.

A full-page ad appears on the back of the current issue, promoting the August 24 money-maker. I can understand the need to rake in some dough to keep publishing, but find it objectionable on so many level for an alleged independent gay newspaper to be raising funds for any organization they cover, even more so when the beneficiary is HRC.

Does San Francisco really need to be sending any more money to the wasteful HRC headquarters in DC? Will the Bay Times be able to cover anything to do with HRC from anything near an impartial or unbiased angle given that they are in bed with them? Answers from Sullivan are desperately needed.

In my decades of being a news consumer of many LGBT publications around the country, I've never seen one throw a benefit for an organization they cover. The August 24 Bay Times fundraiser for HRC is a depressing and questionable first that does not bode well for the paper's supposed commitment to a fair and balanced approach to the news.

BTW, here is more info on the sponsoring group of the benefit:

Drink Good – Do Good is one branch of the DO GOOD Coalition. It honors two long-standing institutions that contribute to the spirit and integrity of San Francisco – premium alcohol and social responsibility. We host themed events where guests can taste unique alcohol brands, socialize with friends and directly support local nonprofits with the funds raised.

Since when is drinking such a good thing for the integrity, and health, of San Franciscans? Sounds to me like just a gussied up excuse to get drink, allow alcohol companies to develop their markets, and for socialites to convince themselves they're engaging in helping the less fortunate. 

Finally, just like the opaque Bay Times, the DO GOOD Coalition web site is sorely lacking in basic info including who runs the group, how they operate and choose their local nonprofit beneficiaries, and why they think HRC is a local group.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

BAR: Mark Leno Zapped
by Anti-Circumcision Activists

(Tina Kimmel, holding sign, confronts state Sen. Mark Leno. Credit: Rick Gerharter, BAR.)
There is no evidence that I can find showing that career Democratic gay politician Mark Leno has ever held a town hall meeting. I've taken him to task for this dereliction of democratic duty, and pointed out that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton very often host public forums where questioners are not pre-screened. If they can regularly meet with the public, why can't Leno?

The answer may be he's fearful of having to debate and defend his views, or just doesn't like to be challenged by constituents. Whatever the reason, I'm very pleased to see that he was recently zapped in public by anti-circumcision activists. Leno more than deserves such a zap.

From a Bay Area Reporter story today written by Heather Cassell:

A handful of proponents of the anti-circumcision ballot measure that is set for November's election disrupted a July 21 news conference announcing state legislation that might halt the proposition before San Franciscan residents have a chance to vote on it. ...

The proposition, which qualified for the ballot in May, seeks to criminalize anyone practicing circumcision on boys under the age of 18 within San Francisco. Violations would result in a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or both. ...

Last week, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who was joined by Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), announced a bill that would hand oversight of male circumcision to the state, pre-empting local jurisdictions from enacting local regulations or bans. ...

Protesters, many of whom call themselves "intactivists," converged on Leno, an out gay legislator who joined the bill as a principal co-author on the Senate side, prior to the start of the press conference. Agitated, they closed in on Leno as he calmly listened and began to debate the protesters until Ma began the news conference.

The protesters hovered over the elected officials throughout the news conference as they stood at a podium in front of the clinic. They held large signs with pictures of babies asking, "You're going to cut off what?" among other slogans.

Police officers attempted to move the protesters back on the sidewalk next to the clinic, but they continued to crowd the legislators. Gatto politely asked the demonstrators to move away from the podium reminding them it was the lawmakers' press conference.

Wait just a minute here. Why were the cops trying to restrict the protesters free speech rights on the public sidewalk outside the clinic? Must be because the politicians didn't like being challenged and thought the press conference organizers had more rights than the activists. More from the BAR:

Unsatisfied, the protesters continued to pressure the legislators to answer their questions, attempted to debate the issue, and requested a public debate throughout the event. Several times, police officers requested the demonstrators to refrain from disrupting the event. ...

A public debate with Leno? That's a laugh because the last thing he wants on any issue, gay or otherwise, is a spirited public debate.

He'd much rather appear at Sacramento hearings he controls, or photo-ops where he receives a worthless award and applause, or news conferences where cops intimidate folks who don't like his political views.

And what is with this b.s. by the San Francisco police officers several times attempting to silence anyone? I wonder if they did that on their own or were instructed by the officials holding the presser to intervene.

Memo to Leno: Stop being such a sissy about debates and public forums. Develop a thick skin and some debating skills that don't require the police to bully your opponents to shut up because you don't like their message. Hold regular town halls already!

A big bravo to the intactivists for zapping Leno and standing up to the bullies in blue.
Ammiano to Obama:
'Let's Get Married!'

Oh, that queen and comedian Tom Ammiano. That's him above, in a photo snapped by Bill Wilson. He says the darnedest things to the already-married President of the United States. From yesterday's SF Chronicle:

Nothing unusual about public officials flocking to Giants events - but you don't often see them paying their own way.

But that was just the case for the team's White House visit. ...

State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano did get to meet Obama. "I thanked him for his change of position on the Defense of Marriage Act," he said.

"Well, you know," the president replied, "it's a high priority for me."

"Well, in that case," Ammiano told Obama, "let's get married." ...

I think Tom, who probably is a good catcher, might have better luck marrying SF Giants pitcher Brian Wilson!
EQCA, Leno Use No on 8
Playbook for 2012 Gay Ed Prop

It's gay-ja vu all over again. What a sad sentence to type out on my keyboard, but such is reality in California for the gay community.

Our A-gay Democratic Party leaders at Equality California and Sen. Mark Leno were caught unprepared for anti-gay forces moving so quickly after passage of SB 48, the gay education bill recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, to take the first steps toward a ballot referendum to undo that gay rights bill.

Why do our leaders continually come across as shocked, shocked that a good action for the gays brings out a nasty reaction from our adversaries, often leading to a ballot prop?

Recall the spring of 2008, when the California Supreme Court with the In re Marriage Cases decision allowing for gay marriages, community leaders had in place a decline-to-sign effort encouraging voters to keep their names off any ballot initiative related to gay marriage that might appear on the November 2008 ballot. That effort was a failure.

The evidence is stark that our adversaries, who had no serious hurdles in 2000 and 2008 placing an anti-gay marriage prop before the voters, have a strong funding foundation and political network always ready to launch a new initiative against the gays.

Yet, gay leaders come across again as not having any (winning) plan in place when our adversaries begin a new signature gathering campaign/

Let's go over the ten key similarities between the gay marriage measure in 2008 and the potential one in 2012 to repeal SB 48:

1) Gay leaders concerned opponents will take out papers, submit language and start gathering signatures, check.

2) A campaign starts and gay leaders express optimism voters will decline-to-sign and that labeling the opponents as extremists will prevent them from collecting the necessary signatures to get on the ballot, check.

3) Meetings of Democratic Party gays are held behind closed doors, and a strict invitation-only policy is enforced, while no town hall meetings to educate and mobilize grassroots gays take place, check.

4) Equality California starts fundraising, striking fear into the hearts of donors, and recruits volunteers for phone banking, with no plans for democratic engagement with the at-large community, check.

5) Mark Leno maintains his extended record of not hosting regular public forums, check.

6) High-priced pollsters and election experts are hired for short-term consultancies, while data and polls are not shared beyond the A-gays, check.

7) Influential lesbian reporters Cynthia Laird of the Bay Area Reporter and Karen Ocamb of LA Frontiers accept the lack of democratic engagement and town halls, and accuse the community of complacency, check.

8) As EQCA and Leno maintain business-as-usual policies, the community is tarred with the broad complacency brush, check.

9) Constructive criticism of gay leaders is dismissed as divisive eating-our-own behavior, check.

10) Hard proof is lacking that EQCA and Leno have learned from past debacles, and the squandering of millions of gay dollars, check.

Where is the new gay playbook for dealing with the current campaign to repeal SB 48 through the electoral process?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SF Bay Times: Dead or Alive?
Editor Fired or Retired?

 (Bay Times' new publisher Betty Sullivan. Credit: Rick Gerharter, BAR.)

The depressing erratic print and online publishing schedule of San Francisco's longtime smaller gay weekly, Bay Times, continues as does the publication's shameful disrespect of readers.

Back in early March, I blogged about Bay Times not having a print version on the streets for three weeks expressing my concern that the paper inform the community of its troubles, and when it reappeared in print at the end of March I wrote about this development as good news. For my troubles, the publisher and editor, Kim Corsaro, sent me nasty emails over my coverage and never explained what was happening at the paper.

As the months flew by, the Bay Times essentially ceased printing but its web site regularly updated every Thursday with news and commentary from the usual crew of writers and photographers. However, the site never told readers why the recycled tree version was suspended. A sign of deep rudeness to Bay Times' audience.

In late June, Bay Area Reporter Cynthia Laird wrote about the personnel changes at her competitor:

On June 16, the first week in several that the LGBT paper had a print version, Betty Sullivan was listed as the publisher. Longtime publisher and editor Kim Corsaro was listed as contributing editor, along with Dayna Verstegen.

Sullivan, the owner of the popular Betty's List website that promotes events primarily for the queer women's community, was unavailable for comment. ... Corsaro has not returned multiple calls from the Bay Area Reporter seeking comment.

A recycled tree edition of the Bay Times appeared around Pride time, then nothing until July 14 when a radically redesigned and chaotic-looking version hit the streets with out-of-date reports on Pride and the Frameline film festival, and far fewer ads, some of which were missing their full texts and images.

The July 14 masthead omitted Corsaro's name while Sullivan and Verstegen were named as publisher and editor respectively. Unfortunately, in keeping with their habit of not sharing news about the publication, no good-bye note from Corsaro or explanation of the myriad changes from Sullivan or Verstegen was contained in that issue.

Last week, no print version again and the Bay Times web site was not updated, a new instance of trouble. The online masthead shows Sullivan serves as publisher and Corsaro is listed as editor, while a Joni Verstegen handles calender listings. You know what's next. Nothing about the erratic print and online actions for too many months.

Let me state again that I want this news source to stick around on newsprint and online, and this post is not motivated to shame the publisher but to say, hey, your readers, the key component to your success, are in the dark and need some light to be shed on the situation.

Is the Bay Times dead or alive? Was Corsaro fired or retired from the publication she founded? Perhaps other reasons are behind her leaving the paper?

The readers are more than owed a few answers and respect from the Bay Times leaders.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vid: MUMC Denounced at Supes Meeting;
NY Flag Displayed for Gay Marriages

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors held their weekly meeting this afternoon, and I used my two-minutes of public comment to denounce the problems with the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro that prevented the New York flag from flying this past weekend at Harvey Milk Plaza.

After months of trying to work with MUMC and its obstreperous president Steve Adams, and head of the local Sterling Bank on Market Street, to reclaim the rainbow flag and pole at the municipal plaza for wider community use, it's abundantly clear to me MUMC is more concerns with retaining illegitimate control and dividing the community.

If MUMC were an organization holding open meetings allowing for public comment, and the agenda not held hostage to the whims of the deceitful president, it might be possible to negotiate changes regarding the rainbow flag in the heart of the Castro. But since MUMC is a private group, it can do whatever the heck it pleases without microscopic transparency and fairness.

Just a few of the reasons why my campaign to remove the flag pole at Harvey Milk Plaza from the clutches of MUMC control queens brought me to the Board of Supervisors meeting today. The Supes will hear from me every Tuesday, until such time as the public regains management of the entire plaza.

I'll be attending more such meetings, including the Small Business Commission where Adams serves as vice president, and using public comment time, and the cameras, to criticize MUMC's rule over the plaza. The next commission meeting is on August 9, starting at 5:30 pm at City Hall.

The city's TV service for the Supervisors now allows the public to cut snippets out of the meetings covered, as I've done here. My denunciation of MUMC begins almost 1-minute into the snippet here and at the end of my public comment, after another member of the public in the back of the room demanded to see the New York flag, I display it for all to see.

At the end, when I declare full-force shame for the failure of the Castro, due to MUMC and political malpractice, to stage a solidarity action with New York, I am looking directly at Supervisor Scott Wiener, who allegedly represents the gay interests of the Castro and did not a damn thing to help fly that state's flag.

  Get Microsoft Silverlight

The city cable and online services also now make available the raw text of almost everything said by taking the closed-captioning text and posting it along side the video. Is that cool, or what? Here's most of the text of my public comment:

My name is Michael Petrelis and I am a gay activist. i am here to talk about the public property at Harvey Milk Plaza.

This property is controlled illegitimately by the merchants of upper market. I approached them to honor game marriages. they have refused to work with activists .

There is a lot of disappointment in the gay community from coast to coast because MUMC -- refuses to cooperate with people on making the flagpoles, the rainbow flag, and occasionally flying a new york state flag. They are not cooperating with us.

i do not think it's ok that public property has been handed to an private organization. and it is not just regular public property. 

We are talking about Harvey Milk Plaza. I assure you that plaza's symbolism around the world is a beacon of hope, a beacon of tolerance for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people.

Right now, because of MUMC nothing happened in the castro in solidarity with new york this weekend. Shame.
Daily News: (Out Lesbian) Quinn
& Corruption at NYC Council

Is it my imagination, or do mainstream media outlets only mention the out status of gay and lesbian politicians when they are climbing up the political ladder, but when corruption on their part rears its ugly head the gay or lesbian elected official's sexual orientation is omitted?

This damning editorial appeared in yesterday's Daily News, and deserves some attention in the gay blogosphere. Quinn being a lesbian is not mentioned once:

When city government puts contracts or grants out to bid, New Yorkers have every right to expect that all qualified applicants will have the same chance of winning an award.

That's how things work - except in the City Council.

There, Speaker Christine Quinn and her members only pretend that everyone who applies for so-called member item funding - for Little Leagues, senior centers and other local programs - has an equal shot at success.

In fact, as far as the Council is concerned, some New Yorkers are much more equal than others. ...

Where are all the LGBT equality advocates when we need them to point out the inequality perpetrated by the likes of Quinn? Crickets chirping.

What exactly is the corruption issue at hand here and how much in taxpayer dollars are we talking about?

Those who live in districts represented by Quinn's allies bring home far more money than do members who have broken ranks with the speaker. And the needs of any particular community are irrelevant as the speaker divides a $50 million annual pie. ...

[Councilmember] Recchia is a Quinn lieutenant and chairman of the Finance Committee. He represents Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach and Gravesend. This year, he distributed $1,630,064 to groups ... His total amounted to $10.30 per resident.

[Councilmember] Barron is a self-styled civil rights firebrand who has attacked Quinn's leadership. He represents East New York, Brownsville and Canarsie and was permitted to deliver less than a quarter of Recchia's sum to groups in his neighborhood: $399,464, or $2.40 per person. ...

The editorial writers at the Daily News are not the least bit happy with this current system:

The Council's member item program has been both corrupt and corrupting. ...

Meanwhile, the speaker uses control over the slush fund to keep members in line. They then can trumpet an ability to win funding at election time.

So it goes in a boss-ruled legislature. But after the criminal scandals, Quinn and this Council announced that not-for-profit groups would be welcome to seek grants by using a simple electronic application system. ...

Ouch, calling the Quinn-led City Council "boss-ruled" should sting her for the corruption and favoritism she is responsible for. With such lowly credentials and acceptance of corruption, she might make the ideal successor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his heavy-handed, money-driven style of leading New York City.

The Daily News editorial's facts came from a just-published report by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. You can read the report here. A press release about the report is online here

(Photo: Christine Quinn speaking at a rally. Credit: Bryan Smith, Daily News.)
Castro Benefits Group Willing
to Take Control of Rainbow Flag

After almost two-weeks of the opaque and murky process of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro regarding raising the New York flag to celebrate gay marriages in that state, the beautiful sunshine of the Castro Benefits District meeting yesterday morning was most welcome.

Four members of the CBD's executive committee met at Coldwell Banker's office on Market near Castro Street, in one of the rooms facing Market Street. Talk about great location to cruise, er, truly transparent meeting!

Many neighborhood items were on the agenda, including the latest problems with MUMC's control of Harvey Milk Plaza, a public space and one of crucial meaning to gays around the nation and globe, especially the flag pole in the center of the plaza. Like many folks, CBD members were initially pleased when MUMC announced they would fly the New York flag, only to have their hopes dashed because of MUMC not doing their technical homework.

CBD board secretary Pauline Scholten wondered why MUMC couldn't cooperate with the activists wanting to raise the Empire State flag, and walk to Cliff's Hardware to get their advice on how to hoist two flags at once, and purchase the necessary rope or other equipment. Only Steve Adams, president of the local Sterling Bank and MUMC, can address Pauline's legitimate concerns.

Dominic Campodonico, president of the CBD board, spoke of how he favored the CBD taking over all responsibility for the flag pole, including the costs of insurance and enormous rainbow flags if, and that is a big if, the MUMC crew would relinquish control. He was quite frustrated that all Castro stakeholders were not able to find a way to honor the New York gay marriages and simply fly that state's flag for the weekend.

He also said if the CBD were to take control of the flag pole, the process for operating it, including when to lower the rainbow flag or add another flag to fly from the pole, were be transparent because the CBD falls under the purview of the sunshine Brown Act. So many unnecessary hurdles and hassles regarding the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza would disappear should the CBD become the stewards of it.

What a benefit it would be to the Castro gayborhood, political activists, store owners and civic leaders to have the rainbow flag and pole in the hands of a group that is committed to full transparency, democratic engagement and working with various constituencies! Harvey would be so proud if that were to become reality.

Reporter David Stevenson of KTVU showed up at the end of the meeting with a cameraman, in preparation for a story that was supposed to air last night. He interviewed the CBD leaders and myself, and I keep checking the KTVU site hoping they'll web-post their story for all to see.

I wish the CBD leaders the best of luck, reaching out this week to MUMC leaders in an effort to find a resolution to the vexing matter of giving more folks in the diverse Castro community the chance to use the public plaza and the public's flag pole.
Jewish Film Festival Plays the Castro

(Kirk Douglas outside the Castro theater on Sunday. Credit: Michelle Terris, the San Francisco Chronicle.)

The beautiful thing about so many film festivals in San Francisco, is that cineastes are given the opportunity to catch small specialty flicks that otherwise would not show up at a local theater.

With the closing this week of the Red Vic theater and recent announcement by impresario Gary Meyer that he can no longer operate the two-screen Balboa theater, all but dooming that venue to shutter at the end of the summer, festivals will take on even greater significance for movie lovers.

Last week, the 31st edition of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival began at the Castro theater and their programming will also play over the next two-weeks at the Jewish community center, the Berkeley Rep and the Rafael Film Center.

The absolute highlight of the festival, which I missed I'm so sorry to say, was on Sunday when the legendary actor, producer, writer and humanitarian Kirk Douglas took to the stage of the Castro to receive the Freedom of Expression award. The SF Chronicle was there and filed a glowing piece about Douglas' appearance.

Of the remaining films on the schedule, I am hoping to catch "The Roundup" from France and starring Melanie Laurent, currently appearing in the excellent "Beginners" still in theaters, and "Johanna" from Poland about a gentile who hides a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust.

Click here for much more info on the Jewish film festival, when and where movies are playing, and how to get tickets.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Floridian Makes Campaign Ad
for SF Mayoral Wannabe Dufty

Stuart Milk, who's made a career of cashing in on being the nephew of Harvey Milk and seriously lacks his own credentials and accomplishments, does not ride Muni. Nor does he vote in San Francisco. Pay taxes here? Nope. He frequently shows up in San Francisco to exploit his uncle's legacy, then splits back home to Wilton Manors, Florida.

And mayoral candidate, and my friend, Bevan Dufty, is for the second time using Stuart's endorsement in an attempt to garner votes. In June, Bevan's ad in the pride issue of the Bay Area Reporter was all about his endorsement. Yawn.

Now, Bevan's campaign has created an ad with Stuart using Harvey's trademark slogan "I want to recruit you" to encourage San Francisco residents to use one of their three votes for his candidate Bevan.

I'm in no mood to indulge either Bevan's ego, due to his dropping the ball about follow up with Steve Adams and MUMC over the latest flag flap at Milk Plaza, or Stuart's ego at any time, so I'm not embedding the vid here.

You can watch the Florida voter again try and influence San Francisco citizens at Bevan's site.

Note to Bevan: You might earn one of my votes if you addressed, and kept your promises, solving the Milk Plaza rainbow flag controversy. Oh, and get some locals to tout your campaign. Folks from out of town do not know what is best for San Francisco and are a turnoff.
Castro Meeting on Rainbow Flag 
Controversy on July 25 at 9:30 AM

The Castro Benefits District's executive committee will be holding its regularly scheduled monthly meeting tomorrow, Monday, July 25 at 9:30 AM at the Coldwell Banker real estate office located at 2355 Market Street. Since the CBD received public dollars, and other reasons, it is subject to state sunshine laws and public comment is required at all meetings.

On the agenda is the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, however, the advance agenda provides no details about this matter up for discussion. I'll be there to listen in on what CBD members have to say about the present situation with the city-owned plaza being under the dictatorial thumb of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro's leader, Steve Adams, president of the local Sterling Bank branch.

No matter how you slice last week's absurd inability of gays in the Castro to raise the New York flag in honor of gay marriages back east, at the center of the failed effort are Adams and MUMC.

Last Monday, they told the Bay Area Reporter their board had overwhelmingly approved a request from activists to fly the Empire State flag this past weekend, and the BAR quickly wrote up a blog post. That post generated much excitement from coast-to-coast for gay solidarity.

Unfortunately, MUMC, in a deplorable act of civic and political malpractice, rejected our offers to stage a test run with the NY flag, and the day after they told everyone they would hoist that flag, MUMC belatedly discovered technical problems preventing the raising of two flags. Disappointment among many ran deep.

In keeping with Adams' staunch refusal to collaborate with activists to find a solution and hoist the NY flag for just one-hour, MUMC made no effort to use an extra rope or hooks. As I know all too well, Adams sees the public plaza and the flag pole as his personal sandbox and toy, and he's more interested in being a bully than flexible partner with other Castro stakeholders.

Adding insult to injury, Adams and MUMC have made no public apology to the larger gay and Castro communities for raising, you'll pardon the expression, then through sheer negligence dashing the hopes of many to make Harvey Milk Plaza a place of pride and solidarity.

It's my deep hope that the CBD members help change this silly situation, in which Gay Mecca's Castro district can't lower the rainbow flag or fly a second flag without protracted negotiations equal to the debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling.

Just like John Boehner and the GOP, Steve Adams and MUMC are the people and party of no.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dufty: NY Flag to Fly
at SF Milk Plaza for 5-Days?

Late this afternoon, only by chance, I happened up a news conference about to start at the SF LGBT Community Center about President Obama certifying the end to the ban on open gays in the military. Among the folks getting ready to speak was my friend and mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty.

I told him it was so wrong and divisive that the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro screwed the community, from coast to coast, in raising hopes that a New York flag donated by Sen. Tom Duane would flutter in the wind at Harvey Milk Plaza over the weekend to celebrate gay marriages in the Empire State.

Bevan heard my complaint about the lame excuses offered by MUMC's obstreperous president Steve Adams, preventing the Duane-donated flag from proudly flying in the heart of the SF gay Castro district.

When Bevan said a new MUMC board member told him last night that not only would a New York flag be hoisted at Milk Plaza, and for five days, but that MUMC also has a new policy about the rainbow flag and pole at the public plaza.

My response was that these are all good developments and the onus is on Adams and MUMC to stop screwing the community around with their control queen issues, especially because we're talking about an important piece of municipal property that should be the source of bringing the community together and not divided by Adams' petty games.

Once I got home, I called Bevan to inform him this post was in the works and that I would tell readers to contact him for more details. He was fine about that and said to give out this addy as the best method of contacting him:

Let us hope what Bevan heard from the new MUMC board member is the truth, that a New York flag will flutter proudly in the wind at Harvey Milk Plaza this weekend, and a better policy regarding the flag and pole is in the works.
Victory Fund/Bilerico 
Hide Names of Anti-Baldwin Democrats

A recent essay at the Bilerico site written by Chuck Wolfe, the executive director of the Victory Fund, an organization dedicated to helping primarily gay Democrats become elected officeholders, shows how this Gay Inc organization protects bigots in the Democratic Party. Wolfe wrote:

Old boy network politics hasn't changed much in Washington, a town famous for trading in secrets and rumors. So when I hear that some straight white males in the Democratic Party are calling around to recruit a Wisconsin candidate that looks a little more like them, it's clear they're still willing to cast aside even compelling leaders like [U.S. Rep. Tammy] Baldwin - all because they don't match up with some calcified version of the perfect candidate. If the old boy network gets its way, they'll steer resources toward a candidate who won't offend, but who'll be far less likely to fight. ...

So much for standing up to bigots. Notice that Wolfe omits the names of the straight while men trying to find one of their own to compete with Baldwin. If it's so terrible what these men are doing, it's not enough to write a column for Bilerico about it and fail to identify the bigots. In not naming and shaming them, Wolfe protects the bigots he deplores.

Also protecting the Democratic old straight white boy network is Bilerico's editor and co-founder Bil Browning. Why did he allow Wolfe's essay to appear on his site without it containing the names of the bad Democrats not lining up behind Baldwin?

The answer may be that he's never been one to strike hard at Democrats, or perhaps it has to with his longtime partner and Bilerico co-founder Jerame Davis is on staff at, surprise!, the Stonewall Democrats.

No doubt, there is a straight old boy network within the Democratic Party that does not fully embrace gay candidates. However, there's also a gay young boy network in DC that includes the likes of Wolfe, Browning and Davis.

The last thing on their agenda is holding the Democrats accountable and publicly shaming the national party when it works against the nascent candidacy of a viable lesbian candidate for U.S. Senate.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BAR, NBC 11, SF Ex:
MUMC Bungles NY Flag Raising

(Steve Adams. Credit: SF Bay Guardian.)
Multiple instances of bad karma are coming back to strike at the irresponsible president of  MUMC, Steve Adams of Sterling Bank, and his group over his latest round of putting control queenism above cooperating with activists regarding the public flag pole at the city-owned Harvey Milk Plaza.

There are three stories today about MUMC bungling the opportunity to work with activists, mark the start of gay marriage in New York, oh, and potentially bring more folks to the Castro area merchants and spend money at local businesses.

Here's what NBC 11 had to say about Adams not doing his homework:

In fact Merchants of Upper Market/Castro unanimously approved a request to fly a flag sent by openly gay state Senator Tom Duane.

The problem is no one checked to see if the flag would fit properly on the flagpole in the Castro, which it doesn't. The group checked the flagpole on Tuesday and reportedly discovered that it doesn't have enough grommets to fly the flag. ...

And to think Adams originally wanted to wait until an hour before the scheduled flag raising on Saturday to see if the rope would hold a second flag! We would have had activists, bloggers, photographers and reporters show up for the ceremony, only to discover it wasn't possible. 

Over at the SF Examiner, Katie Worth had this report to share:

The Merchants of Upper Market & Castro apparently determined it would be impossible to fly both flags, as originally planned, because of a lack of the appropriate grommets on the flag. But the original proposer of the plan doesn’t buy it. Blogger and activist Michael Petrelis has posted a scathing admonition of the Merchant’s president -- aka the “unelected Mayor of Castro Street,” Steve Adams -- saying he bungled the planning process. ...

And Matthew Bajko at the Bay Area Reporter also noted the problems before us:

The Castro merchant group that oversees the flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza agreed to fly the New York State flag below the over-sized Rainbow Flag. But it then reversed course, saying it was technically not possible.

As of press time Wednesday it seemed unlikely that the East Coast flag would be unfurled at all. Petrelis said plans to raise the flag from Milk's home state had been scrapped due to the inability for community organizers and the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro to resolve the issue.

Reasonable people who aren't control queens would likely say the seven-month controversy, with no end in sight, over the public flag pole at Harvey Milk Plaza should be resolved among all Castro district stakeholders to allow for more community engagement over the flag and pole.

Unfortunately, Adams is very content with the current situation and shows no sign of willingness to hold even a single public community forum about the plaza control problems. If Adams and MUMC think their alienating and petty ways are good business practices, I'd hate to learn what they believe constitutes irresponsible promotion of the Castro.

Someone needs to inform the other leaders of MUMC that their president and his obstreperous methods are doing much harm toward bringing more people to the Castro, people who would spend money at MUMC businesses. Change, and good karma, needs to come to the Castro.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Transparency Reigns at 
SF LGBT Center Board Meeting

(The board members look over their packets of info. Credit: Petrelis Files.)

Every gay community organization could learn some valuable lessons from the San Francisco LGBT Community Center board, in how to deliver transparency and democratically engage gay people.

This past Monday, the board met at the center and it was open to the public, a fact the center is doing more to promote. I went to the meeting expecting to stay only ten or fifteen minutes, and speak during the first public comment time on the agenda. From the moment I walked in, there was a genuine friendly and welcoming vibe from lots of folks.

Part of the reason for that welcome was because some members thought I was a potential board member, come to check them out. I assured them I was present for sunshine purposes!

The cochairs had a thick packet of papers to give everyone, that included the evening's agenda, last board meeting's minutes, resolutions to consider regarding government grants, details about the center's economic, programmatic and facilities plans and budgets containing figures, and statements of financial activities and the over all budget.

After members introduced themselves, the floor was turned over to me, the lone member of the public, for three-minutes of comment. I thanked the board for being a shining example of healthy and beautiful gay sunshine, said their transparency was in stark contrast to the closed-door board approach at the NYC and Los Angeles centers, GLAAD, HRC and Equality California.

Spent a few moments on GLAAD's meltdown over the AT&T merger and how it was a group that desperately needed to disclose of its contracts with sponsors, and the man who is on the center and the GLAAD boards avoided eye contact with me. Rebecca Rolfe, the executive director, was singled out for always answering my questions and in a timely manner.

I wrapped up asking them to take extra steps with transparency and post their agendas and minutes on their site.

They spent the next forty-minutes hearing presentations from staffers, asking good questions about their goals and which segments of the community would be served, and I listened to the discussion. It was a good way to learn more about the center, the people who run it and their work.

Yesterday, Rebecca sent me a follow up note, part of which said:

Thanks for your comments last night – FYI, the board is going to take up the issue of posting agendas and minutes on our website, so I will let you know the outcome. 

Let's laud the center's board for already having an open board meeting policy in place and looking at how to expand it.

I hope gay sunshine advocates everywhere ask their local groups and all national non-profits about public participation at the board level, and use the SF center's board's fabulous example as something to emulate.
SF Won't Fly NY Flag
This Weekend Honoring Gay Marriages

(The flag that will not fly on Saturday and Sunday in Harvey Milk Plaza.)

On Monday, Matthew Bajko of the Bay Area Reporter wrote a blog post about the unanimous approval by the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro to fly a New York flag donated by Sen. Tom Duane, the day before that state begins gay marriages.

The New York flag was to blow in the wind on the rainbow flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza, which is public property but ruled over by MUMC, but the merchants didn't do a test run or check all the equipment needs before giving their approval.

After pushing MUMC to cooperate with activists on a test hoist, MUMC on Tuesday finally got around to looking at the pole's rope, without activists present, and discovered there supposedly were not enough grommets to fly the New York flag. Why they waited so long to do basic preparation is just one more instance of irresponsibility on MUMC's part.

I can no longer organize the action for Saturday because the unelected Mayor of Castro Street, Steve Adams, the president of MUMC, has used a political litmus test, communication restrictions, intransigence against cooperating on a test run, hindering and hampering activists at every step of the process.

If New York's extremely dysfunctional state government can legalize gay marriage, it should be a piece of cake for gays in the Castro to simply fly an Empire State flag at the public plaza named for the man from Woodmere, New York - Harvey Milk.

In heaven, Harvey weeps that his adopted hometown, thanks to the petty, vindictive, uncooperative control queens of the private MUMC group, won't be flying the New York flag this weekend in the heart of Gay Mecca.

Regrettably, I am abandoning plans for a noon action at Milk Plaza on Saturday because of myriad unnecessary barriers erected by Adams and MUMC. If they change their minds and attitude, and want to work together to honor New York starting gay marriages this weekend, I remain open to that slim possibility.

Let's hope the city of San Francisco one day soon retakes full possession of the flag pole and puts the control of it with people more responsible and flexible than the MUMC leaders.

Monday, July 18, 2011

NY's Sen. Duane Donates State Flag
to Fly at SF's Harvey Milk Plaza

(Gay marriage advocates display the "official" Empire State flag at Harvey Milk Plaza yesterday afternoon. Credit: Petrelis Files.)

After New York state legalized gay marriages, I reached out to my friend openly gay state Senator Tom Duane and his terrific chief of staff Laura Morrison. I asked if they could request the state flag that flew over their capitol when the legislation was enacted. That process would have taken too long and Tom offered to purchase an "official" state flag and ship it to me, and the flag arrived on Friday.

My intention was to request that the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro fly the donated flag from New York at Harvey Milk Plaza starting at noon on Saturday, July 23, after a short speak out and flag raising ceremony. Hoping to generate some good footage to accompany the gay marriages in New York when they start the following day.

As part of my campaign to make the flag pole at Milk Plaza, which is public property, a tool for more of the community, I enlisted longtime gay marriage advocate to speak with MUMC about all of this. What was the outcome and where do things stand today?

Matthew Bajko at the Bay Area Reporter provides the answers in a blog post:

A Castro merchants group has approved a request to fly the New York State flag this weekend in honor of the Empire State’s move to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro’s board last week unanimously voted to support adding an official New York State flag below the over-sized Rainbow Flag that currently flies over the heart of San Francisco’s gayborhood.

“With all that has gone on in California the board feels this is something we should do. We want to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in New York,” said banker Steve Adams, MUMC’s president.

Under the proposal, the East Coast state’s flag would be raised at noon Saturday, July 23 and be taken down the evening of Monday, July 25. Same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York State this Sunday, July 24. ...

Local San Francisco blogger and activist Michael Petrelis is friends with openly gay New York State Senator Tom Duane. He requested a flag from the Democratic Manhattan lawmaker’s office in hopes it could be flown in his hometown.

Due to his fighting with MUMC over its policies on when to lower the Rainbow Flag to honor LGBT people who have died, Petrelis reached out to longtime marriage equality activist Molly McKay to be a go between with MUMC.

It is still unclear if the New York flag can be safely flown underneath the Rainbow Flag. Adams told the Bay Area Reporter Monday (July 18) afternoon that the man who handles the flag pole is still trying to figure that out and wouldn’t have a final answer until Tuesday. ...

I have not heard from MUMC and don't know if they will collaborate with me and use the "official" New York flag that Tom Duane has donated to San Francisco, or if they will allow for a speak out and ceremony before the flag is hoisted up next Saturday.

If MUMC officials are keen to work with activists and make really good use the New York flag from Tom Duane, I'd be happy to work with them.
SF Gay Center Board Meets Tonite;
Chair Lives Part-time in Palm Springs

A reader tipped me off to the fact that one of the cochairs of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center lives part-time down in Palm Springs. James Williamson, the partner to Geoff Kors who recently stepped down as head of Equality California, is cochair for the center and splits his time between SF and their Palm Springs estate. Click here to read about their estate.

Concerned about a part-time SF resident setting the agenda for SF center, just as I was worried about a Floridian sitting on the board of EQCA, I asked the center's executive director Rebecca Rolfe for clarification regarding a residency requirement for her board members. She said:

The Center’s mission is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies. The Center’s strategies inspire and strengthen our community [in a number of ways]. ...

Approximately 65% of visitors to the Center live in San Francisco and 35% are from the broader Bay Area (with a sizable number of out of town visitors, particularly during the summer tourist season).

Given that our programs and services are not limited to San Francisco residents, we do not have San Francisco residency requirements for board members. Board members are selected based on their ability to work collectively to meet a broad range of organizational priorities and needs ...

Call me a San Francisco chauvinist because I think all local gay and AIDS nonprofits should require their top executives and all board members to reside full-time in the city. This should especially apply to the community center, since the prime person who pushed the center idea in the 1990s, Dana Van Gorder, lives and votes in Emeryville.

I believe a big reason why the locale center has had major trouble attracting a lot more San Franciscans to use the facilities is because non-residents were telling the rest of us what we needed in a community center.

All that being said, I wish to laud the SF center for its transparency with its board meetings. We need all Gay Inc groups to open their board sessions to public scrutiny and community participation. The serious lack of democratic engagement from our organizations is very unhealthy for the groups themselves and community members.

The center's board meeting is tonight, at the center of course, and Rebecca shared with me the agenda, which I've excerpted. I will there to speak during public comment and also observe the board in action:

7:00 – 7:15     Open Formal Board Meeting              Chaw / Williamson
(i)                  Call to order
(ii)               Approve Agenda
(iii)             Introductions, including welcome & intro of board prospects
(iv)             Public Comment

7:15 – 7:20      Consent Agenda
(i)                 Approve minutes from May 16, 2011 board meeting
(ii)               Election of board nominees:  Rafael Mandelman
(iii)             Approval of Resolution to Approve Acceptance of 2011-12 CDBG Funding and to Acknowledge Awareness of Responsibilities and Limitations for OEWD Workforce Development Grant
(iv)             Approval of Resolution to Approve Acceptance of 2011-12 CDBG Funding and to Acknowledge Awareness of Responsibilities and Limitations for OEWD Economic Development Grant
(v)               Approval of Resolution to Approve Acceptance of 2011-12 CDBG Funding and to Acknowledge Awareness of Responsibilities and Limitations for Mayor’s Office of Housing Grant

CA Lesbians Marry the Moon,
the Ocean & Appalachian Mountains

If you're of a certain age, you remember how humorous it seemed when gays and lesbians in the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s went to marriage bureaus on Valentine's Day to demand marriage licenses and were turned away. Very few took the activists seriously, and look at where we are today with gay marriage.

Those times came up for discussion across the breakfast table on Saturday morning as the boyfriend and I read and talked about this article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle are a legally married same-sex couple, having tied the knot in Canada in 2007. But they don't consider lesbianism their primary sexual identity.

First and foremost, they're ecosexuals.

Taking tree-hugging to a whole new level, Stephens and Sprinkle have married the moon, the sky, the ocean, the Appalachian Mountains and the snow in a series of color-coordinated, nudist-friendly weddings that have attracted hundreds of people. And they've done it all in the name of ecosexuality. ...

Interesting that the Chronicle didn't clearly spell out that these lesbian have not legally married those entities, and I can easily see conservatives reading the article and thinking California lesbians can wed elements of nature.

And where might all this lead within the gay community? The article explains:

"We kind of felt like we had to be on our good behavior [when attending ecology rallies]," says Sprinkle, who hopes to see an "E" added to the LGBTQ alphabet jumble. "We're trying to find a place where queers, drag queens, differently gendered people and weird artists can be welcome." ...

Oh, dear Goddess, do we really need more letters and confusion mixed in with that alphabet jumble? No, in my humble opinion, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if we eventually saw the unwieldy acronym for the gay community expand to LGBTIQQAE - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, allies, ecosexuals.

(Photo: Elizabeth Stephens, left, with her wife Annie Sprinkle enjoying each other's company in the great outdoors. Credit: Maddie McGarvey, SF Chronicle.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SF Bike Coalition:
No Push for Rider Rules, Public Meetings?

My biggest problems and fears when riding my bike on the streets of San Francisco, are the other bikers, especially the ones who obey as few safety rules as possible. I've experienced too many near-mishaps when a biker violates the unwritten pass on the left rule of the road for all vehicles and passes me on the right, of course, without any "on your right" warning.

Then there are the occasions when I'm passing a major intersection, with the right of way, and a biker comes whizzing down the cross street and totally ignores the red light, almost running into me. Fear of getting knocked over by a car on the road or a driver exiting his or her parked car, rank low on my list of biking safety concerns.

This introduction is necessary before mentioning this story from the Bay City News yesterday, penned by Sara Gaiser:

A bicyclist struck a pedestrian at Embarcadero and Mission Street in San Francisco this morning, causing life-threatening injuries, police said. Police were called to the scene of an accident at 8:33 a.m., police Officer Albie Esparza said.

Officers found a bicyclist had struck a woman in her 40s (3:40 PM: Police are now saying the woman is in her late 60s) who was crossing in the crosswalk, causing a life-threatening head injury. Preliminary information suggests the woman was crossing legally with the light, Esparza said.

The bicyclist remained at the scene and was being interviewed by investigators. ...

I checked the influential San Francisco Bike Coalition's web page, to see if they said anything about the situation, safe biking guidelines for their members and all cyclists, or open meetings with the group's leaders. Found nothing relevant to those issues, so I called Neal Patel, SFBC's community planner, for some answers.

The gist was that they hold workshops for new bikers addressing many tips including ones on safety, do not have safety rules they promote nor do they hold public meetings, and Patel said the main body responsible for everyone's safety on the streets was the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, and that Mike Sallaberry was the person there to contact with my concerns. Left him a voice mail message.

Patel said the closest they come to safety rules info on their site is the Riding Predictably page and video. While the video does promote safe riding and address some of the responsibilities of bikers, in the broader context of road security for everyone - bikers, walkers, cars, etc - it's not nearly enough promotion of rules bikers should be following. Good luck finding info regarding the wisdom of always wearing a helmet on the SFBC site.

I told Patel there was a lot of room for improvement at his web site and through other methods for the SFBC to frankly address safety rules for bikers, starting renaming the vid's title, posting written road rules on the Safety and Security page, and not push sole responsibility for proper biking that doesn't endanger other bikers or pedestrians on to the SF MTA.

After bringing up yesterday's serious accident, I talked to Patel about a 90-year-old woman friend from my church who earlier this year suffered a broken hip that forced her to be hospitalized for months with serious and myriad complications, after a biker ran a red light and knocked her so hard she fell to the pavement. Despite bystanders yelling and chasing after the man on the bike, he didn't bother to stop and escaped responsibilities.

My friend has recovered and now walks with a cane, which she didn't need before the accident, and she is just one of too many elderly pedestrians harmed by unsafe bikers.

Responding to my question about public meetings with SFBC leaders, as just one way for them and the larger coalition to hear my idea that they begin campaigns to address the jeopardy I and others feel when bikers don't adhere to acceptable standards of safe urban riding, Patel said they don't hold such meetings.

Oh. That, and other things, need to change at the SFBC, that is, if they are truly interested in being a responsible partner and stakeholder in making San Francisco streets safe for all.

I'm happy to end this post mentioning a blog post at the SF Weekly site written by Erin Sherbert about Friday's biker-caused accident at the waterfront. She also contacted the SFBC yesterday, seeking their comments on many of these same issues and is waiting for them to call her.

Nice to know Sherbert also reached out to the SFBC. They really owe us more communication, safety campaigning and democratic engagement.
Moscone's Gay Son's Hit Dramedy
Delves into Grief After City Hall Murders

(Playwright Tony Taccone, director Jonathan Moscone and actor Christopher Liam Moore. Credit: Catherine Bigelow, SF Chronicle.)

For quite some time, the name Jonathan Moscone meant only one thing to me: theater director. Whenever I saw his name in ads for plays, I wondered if he was related to slain San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Reading his bio in a show bill, we learned he is the son of the late mayor.

Jonathan in recent years has opened up publicly about the tragic loss of his father and Harvey Milk, and being gay, but his personal history and role as a leading theatrical luminary never seemed to join together - until now.

He's collaborated with other dramatic artists to create play that delves into the grieving he went through after his father's senseless murder, and the SF Chronicle's society editor Catherine Bigelow was at the play's premiere and filed this report:

As a sold-out Oregon Shakespeare Festival crowd broke into a standing ovation after the "Ghost Light" premiere July 2, cheers rose again when the authors were spotted in their midst.

Realizing that his cover was blown, a haunted look descended upon CalShakes Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, who bolted for the lobby as if chased by a ghost. ...

Written by Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone and directed by Moscone, "Ghost Light" is a co-production between Berkeley Rep and Oregon Shakespeare Festival ...

Taccone's first play is a heart-rending yet comedic meditation on Moscone's years of stifled grief after the 1978 City Hall assassination of his father, former Mayor George Moscone.

The play's kernel finally popped in 2008 when Moscone served as a consultant on "Milk," the Gus Van Sant film that Moscone felt reduced his father's life and civic contributions to mere asterisks.

"If Sean Penn and [Gus] Van Sant could make a story about somebody they didn't even know, I could make a story about somebody I knew really well," he said. "It wouldn't be the equivalent, it wouldn't be in the same medium, and it wouldn't be the same kind of story. But I had the capacity to do it just as much, if not more so, than somebody else.

"And I no longer need to remain private about my father's death," he continued. "Which is what I've done for the last 33 years." ...

The full Chronicle piece is worth a read. "Ghost Light" comes to the Berkeley Repertory in January, and we'll be sure to catch it. With this creative team behind it, "Ghost Light" is sure to be an excellent drama mounted with a beautiful production and terrific acting. I can't wait to enjoy its pleasures.

Friday, July 15, 2011

GLAAD's Opaque ED Search;
No Questions or Demands from Bloggers?

Yes, I was disappointed on Wednesday to see many gay bloggers and reporters allowed the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to use their sites to get their propaganda out to the community. The easiest way to sum up how the bloggers and reporters handled the release from GLAAD about retracting their support for AT&T's merger with T-Mobile is thus: "GLAAD said. Period. End of story."

Many posts mentioned previous controversies with GLAAD, and for that I laud the inclusion of the prior messes that led to resignations and a meltdown at the group.

The gist of the release was that the organization withdrew its support of the merger and affirmed support for net neutrality.

Among the bloggers and reporters who ran most or all of GLAAD's alert and letter to the FCC, without demanding GLAAD develop democratic engagement and start holding public meetings with the community or disclose the agreements with corporate sponsors, were the following folks and sites:

The Advocate, Bil Browning, Edge Network (which disclosed their post was written by a former GLAAD staffer), Marc Felion, Good As You, Jerry Curl, Just Out, Politico, Queer Me Up, Queerty, Steve Rothaus, Pam Spaulding, Andy Towle, Village Voice, Wall Street Journal, Washington Blade, and The Wrap.

All that aside, what caught my eye was the one-sentence about the group starting the process to find a new leader to replace the disgraced Jarrett Barrios:

[Interim executive director Mike] Thompson and GLAAD's Board of Directors pledged commitment to GLAAD's mission as they form an Executive Search Committee to identify a new President.

I've seen this sort of opaque executive search process before from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2005, after Cheryl Jacques was pushed out as HRC executive director, they announced a search committee and keep the committee members' names secret. Click here to read Bob Roehr's piece about that mess that ran in the Bay Area Reporter.

To their credit, HRC, after I pressured them, revealed who was on the search committee. Ok, let's also note that the committee eventually picked Joe Solmonese and there were no public meetings with the community about what it wanted in a new national leader, but at least the members of the committee were made public.

I believe at this point, after so much corruption at GLAAD getting the exposure it needed in recent months, it is incumbent upon the organization to not only disclose who is on their executive search committee, but to also hold a few town halls around the country to get community feedback on the direction of the group and what activists want in a new ED.

Might also be healthy for gay body politic if other bloggers questioned GLAAD's search process and demanded both transparency and open meetings. Keep in mind, the last time GLAAD had such a search it produced Barrios as the leader of the group, and it went downhill from there.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NY Times:
Betty Ford and the Homosexuals

Soon after Richard Nixon resigned and Gerald Ford became president, and moving his family into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Time magazine profiled Ford's kids and included a picture of Steven playing basketball. It caught my young teenage eye, and recently flashed in my mind, along with the lust I had for Steven Ford, hearing the news that his mother Betty had passed away.

I couldn't recall her speaking out about gays, either as First Lady or after she left the White House, but given her frank and early support for discussing sex publicly, legalized abortion and full equality for women, it's safe to say she supported gays and would love her gay relatives and friends. Many gays, myself included, felt an emotional bond with her.

So it pleased me to read Rick Perlstein's warm and fond remembrance of Betty Ford in Monday's New York Times opinion pages, and learn about her public discussion of gays:

Experts considered her a political liability. A syndicated humor columnist imagined aides seeking her resignation — before it was too late: “The networks and women’s magazines ... are making incredible offers to get the First Lady to sit down and openly discuss adultery, drinking, homosexuality and a proposed postal rate hike.” ...

When Americans sent gifts to the Fords, they usually sent them to Betty.

The authors, most of them obscure, had written recovery memoirs and cancer memoirs and feminist manifestos, autobiographies bearing witness to struggles of every description. They had never met Betty Ford. But they wrote to her with an intimacy that was almost embarrassing for an outsider to read, as if they were writing to a loved one. Which, in a certain sense, they were. She had taught them how not to feel ashamed.

I’ll never forget something else. A surprising number were gay men. Take that, Mr. Satirical Columnist Whose Name No One Remembers: Betty Ford openly discussed homosexuality. I didn’t know she had made the insanity of shaming same-sex desire any sort of special cause. Only one obituary I found noted, in passing, any interest in gay rights. I didn’t find any references in an online search of historical newspapers. ...

Betty Ford's honesty and casting off of her own shame and guilt, sure resonated with me in the 1970s, as I came to terms and acceptance of my same-sex attractions. Thank you, Betty, for helping a lot of folks who never had the chance to meet you to live full, sexually happy and healthy lives, and to speak up for the right thing.
Bay Citizen, NYT Partner in SF,
Evasive on $17M Fiscal Transparency

As a news junkie, I have followed the creation of the Bay Citizen, a regional online news service that twice-weekly provides content to the New York Times' print and online Bay Area section. There is serious money underwriting this effort, but scant financial transparency from its leaders.

The Bay Citizen's site explains their start:

Concerned about the negative impact of this decline on the community, in early 2009 local philanthropist Warren Hellman convened an advisory committee to examine the issue and offer possible solutions. In January 2010, after many months of research and planning, and with a generous $5 million contribution from the Hellman Family Foundation, The Bay Citizen (first known as the Bay Area News Project) was founded.

That figure is lower than what the FAQ page states:

We launched with $9 million in start-up funding from foundations, philanthropists, corporations, and individual members.

Did they launch with $5 or $9 million in the bank? Would be good of the Bay Citizen to clarify how much they started with, to help watchdogs track their funding.

In January 2011 the project touted raising even more money, shared some detailed about where it came from and what a few big donors had given:

The $10 million was contributed by a broad array of philanthropists, foundations, members and corporations, including $1 million gifts from the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund; the Fisher Family Fund; the Elizabeth and William Patterson Foundation; Jeff and Laurie Ubben; and Diane B. Wilsey. Other contributors include the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund; Arthur Rock; and Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. The Bay Citizen also welcomed First Republic Bank and Wells Fargo as major corporate sponsors. (A full list of contributors is available at

It's safe to say this news outlet has taken in at least $17 million since Warren Hellman began the project in 2009, more than two-years ago. That's a lot of money, and certainly raised my curiosity about the Bay Citizen's fiscal transparency, along with their oft-stated mission to not only deliver the news but also "foster civic engagement".

This is the background that led me this week to follow-up on a phone chat I had in June with the project's director of marketing, Rose Roll, who is listed at GuideStar as the person to contact for info regarding their IRS 990.

Here are many of the questions sent to Roll and several colleagues.

When do you expect the first IRS 990 filing from your accounting firm to be delivered to your CEO, Linda Frazier? Any idea when she will accept and sign off on the filing, thus becoming on that date, the filing available for public inspection?

There is no annual report on your web site. My recollection from our phone conversation is that you hope to have the report ready sometime in July. Do you have a date for when this fiscal document will be posted?

I am a longtime sunshine and non-profit accountability advocate, and find it deplorable that the Bay Citizen with $9 million in startup funds currently shares not even a single page of data about that kitty. How about immediately posting a breakdown of how much came from which source and expenses?

Other pushy questions asked about town hall meetings as part of their non-profit agenda, if their board meetings were open or closed to the public, and would they share board minutes on their site.

Additionally, I wanted to know how much their media partners - the New York Times, UC Berkeley School of Journalism, KGO Radio - contribute to the project's budget.

Rolls sent a terse, and very disappointing, reply:

We are currently working on these documents for 2010, which was our first year of operation. The documents will be available on our website in due course. Thank you for your interest.

My response asked the Bay Citizen's top leaders to reconsider giving me decent answers. This reply hit my in-box today, from Jonathan Weber who is editor in chief:

[A]s Rose said, we will have 2010 financial info posted in due course. We were founded in 2010 and our reporting of financial data is in line with normal practices as to timing. We have around 30 employees and that pretty much explains how we are spending money. The tone of your questions indicates that you think we have something to hide, which most certainly is not the case. We're just not in a position to answer detailed questionnaires of this sort in advance of posting the information on our site.

A very evasive reply that would please Rupert Murdoch, in boldly attempting to swat away basic fiscal and accountability concerns. Wish I knew why Rolls and Weber only tersely address the IRS 990 and annual report questions, totally ignoring my other questions. Wonder what they would tell their reporters to do if they had made similar queries of a $17 million non-profit, and were stonewalled.

Rather humorously, Weber thinks I should simply accept his word that his employee costs "pretty much" should satisfy my curiosity about his budget and revenue sources.

Reminds me of the days before we had GuideStar and everyone had to ask AIDS Inc nonprofits for their IRS 990s, and the charities wanted to know why the tax filings were being requested, how they would be used by the requester, etc. AIDS groups also once dismissed their critics, saying the tone of their requests and statements that high salaries were at the expense of direct services to people with AIDS were offensive. Life is unfair.

With $17 million, a deep back bench of private foundations, wealthy individuals and myriad corporate donors, extended partnerships with the New York Times, UC Berkeley and ABC/Disney's local AM radio outlet and a host of local online news sites, there should be more much more fiscal transparency from the Bay Citizen.