Friday, March 07, 2014

Castro's Most-Hated Man, Les Natali, Charitable Donation in 2013

Longtime gay businessman Les Natali owns a mini-empire of prime real estate in the Castro, and he is the most hated man in the district for a number of reasons including alleged racial profiling of costumers at his Badlands bar, keeping the Patio location empty for a solid decade and not being an active member of and cheerleader for the Merchants of Upper Market Castro. If he's not the most-hated, he's certainly at the top of the list.

In the mid-2000's a group called And Castro For All accused Natali of discriminating against costumers of color and launched picketing at Badlands and a boycott of the popular nightspot, and a lawsuit was filed. That group was supposedly committed to a long-term plan to structurally change and diversify the Castro, but after an out-of-court settlement was negotiated and robust monetary sums were paid out, And Castro For All disbanded.

(Might be more accurate to call the group And Financial Settlements For Some!)

Natali is back in the news in the Bay Area Reporter this week. A disabled man of unknown sexual orientation named Paul Ponsiglione with his Great Dane service dog tried to enter the crowded and noisy Badlands on a recent Sunday around 11:30 pm, was ejected for several reasons and is now trying to shake down, er, alleges discrimination. Reporter Seth Hemmelgarn has the details here:

In his complaint, Ponsiglione, who asked that his sexual orientation not be published, said he had six witnesses to the incident, but he didn't provide the B.A.R. with contact information for any of them.

In a revised statement that he sent to the B.A.R. , Natali wrote that Ponsiglione had "offered to refrain from making the claim if the bar paid him $10,000 in damages, which the bar declined to do."

Ponsiglione denied he made that offer, but, among other things, he said he had told Natali he'd had to take time off work and was racking up expenses. He told the B.A.R. $5,000 to $10,000 would be "reasonable."

He had also wanted an apology and is seeking "as much negative press for [Natali] as possible," Ponsiglione said. " ... I just don't want him to continue to get away with this."

What fool brings his Great Dane to a loud cruise bar on a Sunday night when he's tipsy? The poor service animal is likely to be stepped on and made to endure drinks being spilled on him. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for the complainant.

While I'm no fan of Natali's, I do wish to point out that the latest IRS 990 for the Academy of Friends, a nonprofit that puts on an annual Oscars party to raise money for AIDS Inc groups and which has face fiscal and stewardship crises in recent years and I question why we need the group to begin with, revealed an interesting contribution.

None other than Natali, whom I didn't know made charitable donations like this, gave the Academy of Friends $7,500 last year. I wonder if this donation will endear him to any of his critics.

And the Castro beat goes on . . .

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