Monday, February 27, 2012

SF Ex: Murdered Mission Gay Man
Mourned by Partner and Sister

 (RIP: Richard Sprague. Family courtesy photo, via the SF Ex.)

When my partner and I first heard about the death of an adult on the notoriously troubled stretch of Julian Street close to 15th in the Mission, we were sorry and wondered why the hell neighbors ignored his screams for help.

It's sickening that after years of assorted crimes the block is dark from low-level street lighting, with rows of thick, leafy green trees blocking illumination from lights of apartment buildings and St. John's Church and garden.

An idea for city leaders to consider to bring safety to Julian and 15th. Install better street lighting and seriously trim the trees. Get some visibility there that might prevent future crimes and maybe even another murder.

Those issues aside, I wish to point out that the San Francisco Examiner's Ari Burack today reported the dead man, Richard Sprague, was gay. So far, the known facts suggest he was not killed because of bias against gays.

No matter the prism through which I look at this case, it's a tragic loss of life. From the Ex:

Richard Sprague was a peaceful, loving and selfless man who was simply trying to buy a pack of cigarettes before he was left to die on a Mission district side street early on a recent weekend morning.

Sprague’s partner and also his sister, who are both still trying to come to grips with the callous killing Feb. 19, spoke Sunday with The San Francisco Examiner.

“He truly was the most caring person I have ever known,” said David Nielsen, 59, Sprague’s partner of 20 years. “He’s not the kind of person that would want a fight.”

The couple lived together on Oakwood Street near Dolores Park, just blocks from where Sprague, 47, was found dead on Julian Avenue.

Residents of Julian Avenue near 15th Street reported hearing a man cry for help — but it was not until some five hours later, after one neighbor discovered Sprague’s body on the sidewalk, that police were called. Neighbors later said they regretted not calling 911 immediately. The block is a known haven for drinking and drug use . . .

Sprague’s sister, Gayle Takashima of Seattle, remembered her brother Sunday as a loving person [and] said her brother had dealt with hardships before, such as when he was hit by a truck while walking in a crosswalk and was severely injured several years ago in San Francisco . . .

“Rick was one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlest people you could ever meet,” she said. “He was proud of who he was, and loved life fiercely.”

Ex-BF Blackmailed Media Matters
Boss Brock to the Tune of $850,000

(Brock, left, with his current partner James Alefantis. Credit: Washington Life.)

Fox News is reporting that gay political opportunist David Brock and his ex-boyfriend went through a very nasty and costly break up:

Media Matters chief David Brock paid a former domestic partner $850,000 after being threatened with damaging information involving the organization’s donors and the IRS – a deal that Brock later characterized as a blackmail payment, according to legal documents obtained by

In an acrimonious lawsuit settled at the end of last year, Brock accused William Grey of making repeated threats to expose him to the "scorn or ridicule of his employees, donors and the press in demanding money and property." Brock claimed in legal papers that he sold a Rehoboth Beach, Del., home he once shared with Grey in order to meet Grey’s demands, which he called "blackmail" in the lawsuit.

That's just the first two paragraphs. The full story is worth a read. Click here to read the ex's civil lawsuit filing and go here to see Brock's complaint with the Washington, DC, police department against the ex.

Part of Brock's political and media empire includes Equality Matters, which was a self-declared "war room" for the LGBT movement, or at least the Democratic Party leaning segment of the movement. Equality Matters was initially run by Democratic hack and former adviser to President Bill Clinton Richard Socarides, and Kerry Eleveld, who once served as the Advocate's editor in DC.

Both Socarides and Eleveld exited the organization less than a year after it was founded, and as I far I can tell the movement has not suffered one iota with their departures and the significant downsizing of Equality Matters to a mediocre blog is nothing but big yawn.

I'm very curious to see if the liberal media and gay blogosphere gets interested in the Brock blackmail story.
Stone Age: Required SF Nonprofit
Meetings' Info Available Only on Paper

Over the years 1999 and 2000, the city of San Francisco strengthened and expanded existing government transparency requirements, and the Nonprofit Public Access Ordinance was added to our sunshine statutes. All charities that receive $250,000 or more in city dollars fall under the purview of the ordinance.

These charities are required to hold at least two board meetings open to any member of the public. Exempt are groups providing abortion, domestic violence or suicide prevention services.

Here's the language about the meeting requirements:

(1) Each nonprofit organization shall provide the public with notice of each designated public meeting at least 30 days in advance of the meeting.

(2) The Board of Directors shall cause a written notice of the date, time and location of each designated public meeting to be submitted to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors who shall post the written notice where notices of meetings of the Board of Supervisors are posted, and to the San Francisco Main Library Government Information Center which shall post the written notice where notices of meetings of City boards and commissions are posted. In addition, upon inquiry by a member of the public, the nonprofit organization shall disclose the date, time and location of the designated public meeting.

Unfortunately, the ordinance does not mandate the meeting info be posted on either the library, clerk of the board or nonprofits' web sites.

I went down to the main library over the weekend to examine the binder of paper notices from the nonprofits, pictured, for 2011. The binder was a solid genuine 7 inches, not M4M internet inches, offering ample evidence that a large number of nonprofits comply with this aspect of the ordinance, and that is a good thing.

However, we're not living in the stone age of info being available only on paper and at two physical locations. The details on the mandated board meetings must be posted on the web site for the Clerk and the library, so the taxpayers can more easily find it and attend the meetings. I'd also like to see the nonprofits subject to a requirement that they publicize their open board meetings on their sites too. All this will require changes to the ordinance by the Board of Supervisors.

Before those changes happen, I propose that web pages for the Clerk of the Board, the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and the government information center of the main library be amended to include details about how members of the public can call the Clerk's office or the government center at the library, and get the info about when a nonprofit is holding their public meetings.

The Clerk can be reached at 415-554-5184 and the number for the government desk at the library is 415-557-4494. I don't know if either entity takes requests for meeting info via email, but that would be one more way to facilitate public knowledge and engagement by the taxpayers with the nonprofits.

When the Supervisors next take up ways to improve the sunshine act and the nonprofit ordinance, let's make sure bringing the meeting info for city-funded nonprofits is on the agenda.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lockyer Suspect's Name:
In the Oakland Trib, Omitted from SF Chron

What's with the SF Chronicle's conservative political writers Phil Matier, pictured right, and Andy Ross, pictured left, withholding a known fact, the name of the suspect, in their coverage of the case of Alameda Supervisor Nadia Lockyer allegedly suffering an assault by a former boyfriend earlier this month?

Matier and Ross have followed the travails of Lockyer's many personal and political problems, including substance abuse leading her to check-in at a rehab facility, but kept the ex-boyfriend's out of their columns. Why omit a basic fact? They say: "[W]e're not naming [him] because he has not been arrested in the case."

OK, whatever. If you want the truth about the alleged assailant's identity, head on over to the Oakland Tribune:

Stephen Chikhani, the man Nadia Lockyer is accusing of attacking her, denied her account. He told the Oakland Tribune that the only truths were "that I have a record and that they were separated. ... Pretty much everything else was made up by her husband." The 35-year-old San Jose man has not been charged.

Wow, imagine that. A newspaper giving readers as much of the known facts as possible including the man's name. The Chronicle might want to get around to reporting Chikhani's identity, and say it was first written up in the Tribune across the bay.
Feinstein, Frank, Newsom & Pelosi
Must Refund Wells Fargo CEO's Donations

(Screen grab from SF Ethics. Click to enlarge.)

Until this weekend, I had no inkling that the head of Wells Fargo lives here. A very focused action took place yesterday addressing housing and economic disparities and inequities, at his home on Russian Hill:

Occupy Bernal, Occupy SF Housing, ACCE, and other organizations held a feisty protest today at the home of Wells Fargo CEO, Chairman, and President John Stumpf, at 1090 Chestnut St, in San Francisco. In a bit of street theater, foreclosure fighters from Bernal and other neighborhoods read a foreclosure notice for the CEO, then the protestors auctioned off his home.

Sounds like it was a fun and effective action. Let's hope the protesters repeat this sort of fabulous street theater over and over, until Wells Fargo implements rules that benefit ordinary folks.

My curiosity was piqued about any political donations made by Stumpf at the local level, and campaign finance records show he gave $1,000 to Gavin Newsom's mayoral campaigns, and $500 to Hydra Mendoza for her successful school board run.

Newsom currently serves as California's lieutenant governor and Mendoza is vice president of the school board.

On the federal level, Stumpf donated $2,000 to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, $1,000 to Rep. Barney Frank and $1,000 to Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

In my view, all of these Democratic Party politicians should send Stumpf and Wells Fargo a strong message against their predatory banking practices, and refund his donations. Better yet, how about they make a contribution in the amount from Stumpf to a worthy group fighting Wells Fargo's many foreclosures and anti-consumer policies?

Photos from Saturday's protest show a damn good turnout of people and some cool signs. Credit for the images goes to Occupy Bernal.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oscars' IRS 990:
2010 Revenue = $86 Million

Many movie-lovers are not aware that the organization behind the Academy Awards and the annual television show are a charity, and on the eve of the latest edition of the ceremony I'd like to shed light on their current IRS 990 return.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit that stages the Oscars and the filing shows revenue jumped 6% from 2009 to 2010.

Revenue in 2009 was $81.2 million and rose the next year to $86.8 million, when Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin were hosts of the gala.

The Academy answered yes to the question did it have a bank account in a foreign country, and lists Bermuda and Luxembourg as the countries where they maintain accounts abroad.

And total compensation for Academy president Bruce Davis was $1.3 million.

The tax return aside, tomorrow night I'm rooting for "Tree of Life" as best picture, Jean Dujardin and Meryl Streep in the lead acting categories, Christopher Plummer for supporting actor, no one yet for supporting actress, Agnieszka Holland's "In Darkness" for foreign language film, Terrence Malick for director, his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, "Pina" in the feature documentary field, "La Luna" for animated short,  and "The Shore" for live action short.

"And the Oscar goes to . . ."

Friday, February 24, 2012

SF Chron Omits Milk Club Backing
on Equal Access to Public's Rainbow Flag

One of the San Francisco Chronicle's conservative columnist, Chuck Nevius, pictured, ran a hatchet job on me and the campaign to make the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, which is a public space belonging to and maintained by the city, and a key fact was omitted.

In our phone chat, I told Nevius about the overwhelming support to create genuine community control over the flagpole from the influential Harvey Milk Democratic Club. He was told that at the club's Tuesday night meeting, the flag issue again was broached and the membership reaffirmed its commitment to equal access to this important piece of public space.

As promised, I sent hatchet-man Nevius the full email I had received this week from Suzanne Ruecker who took notes at the packed August 23 endorsement meeting of the club, clearly spelling out where the club stood on this matter:

Gabriel Haaland made a motion that at a time when private entities are encroaching upon and attacking public spaces and public workers,the Milk Club stands against private entities controlling public spaces. Furthermore, we stand against the privatization of Harvey Milk's rainbow flag by the Upper Market Merchants Association.[Slight mistake. It's the Merchants of Upper Market Castro. -michael.]
Motion seconded by Tim Durning. Passed unanimously by vocal acclimation.

Because it was inconvenient to Nevius' hatchet job to portray the latest skirmishes over the rainbow flag as a campaign supported only by myself, the Milk Club's solid position calling for an end to the monopoly of the merchants group was omitted by Nevius.

Another key aspect to the flagpole story missed by the SF Chronicle pertains to the paper's own campaign this week to give the public more access to public spaces. Check out these excerpts from Wednesday's editorial, that I believe also apply to the privately controlled rainbow flag:

Some of San Francisco's best public spaces are half hidden in high-rise lobbies, on downtown rooftops and tucked behind busy streets. The rules requiring access to these prime spots should be rewritten to let the public know what they're missing . . .

But finding these spots can be a challenge . . . a visitor needs to find the right elevator among a bank of look-alike choices or sign in with a security guard . . . The result is a public benefit that's going largely unused. The city needs to make sure the regulations are carried out fairly.

How about rewriting the rules requiring equal access to the flagpole, so the public knows what they're missing in terms of using it for purposes other than filling the coffers of Castro merchants? After more than a decades of having no written rules, the private merchants group finally crafted some but the vetting process is far from transparent or fair.

A requester needs to kiss the butts of the bullies of the merchants group or show how use of the Milk Plaza flagpole will bring profits to the store owners. The result is a vital public space is largely in the grip of control queens who are loathe to share the public space with the public.

The Chronicle and city leaders need to make sure the regulations governing equal public access to the flagpole are equitable to all members of the public, and not just friends of the merchants.

Here's a radical notion for Nevius and the bullies of the merchants group to consider. Let's end the demonization of me and focus on reclaiming public space in the Castro for the public.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

City & State Blog:
Socarides = Quisling; Close HRC

There is a fascinating article entitled "The End of the Rainbow" at the City & State blog back in New York, looking at some of the divisions in the gay community in the Big Apple and Empire State. One favorite section is where longtime grassroots activist Andy Humm speaks volumes of truth about political opportunist and Democratic Party operative Richard Socarides, pictured.

Here's what City & State reported on Tuesday, bolding added:

Richard Socarides, former President Bill Clinton’s LGBT liaison, presided over his boss’ signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages. He says recent victories are validation of the new strategy of mixing outside activism and inside politics. CORRECTION: Socarides strenuously objected at the time to Clinton signing the Defense of Marriage Act . . .

“It’s always a good thing to have that, to have people who are more moderate and then people who are more aggressively pushing for full equality right away,” [Socarides] said. “That tension is not only helpful within the movement, it can often be helpful in terms of getting the government to move, because I think it often takes a good cop/bad cop approach.”

[Andy] Humm disagrees.

Richard Socarides is a quisling, and I’ve said it to his face,” said Humm. “He’s part of that money crowd that thinks they control everything, and they treat activists like they’re dirt under their fingernails.”

Regarding Socarides' alleged strenuous objections, let's remember what Duncan Osborn wrote in Gay City News in 2010:

When he worked in the Clinton White House, Richard Socarides authored debate preparation materials and talking points that defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy . . . Gay City News searched multiple news databases and could find no record of Socarides publicly opposing DOMA or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell during that period.

Another favorite section from City & State is where it delved into problems with the Human Rights Campaign and community activist Allen Roskoff expresses the dreams of many progressive LGBT people; bolding added:

The principled debate over untraditional alliances came to a head this fall as the Occupy Wall Street movement raged downtown. The Human Rights Campaign, which had long published a “corporate equality index,” rating companies for their respective stances on LGBT-friendly policies, gave its Corporate Equality Award to Goldman Sachs.

Progressive gays would like to see nothing more than HRC go out of business,” said veteran Democratic gay activist Allen Roskoff. “They’re not part of the progressive coalition out of which the gay rights movement was formed. In the year of Occupy, they have the nerve and the gall to honor the president of Goldman Sachs?”

Many thanks to Humm and Roskoff for their truthful comments and analysis in the City & State article. Kudos also to the blog for publishing the piece.

If only the New York Times and other mainstream publications would follow this example of finding gay leaders to constructively point out a few things wrong with Socarides and HRC, I'd be the first to applaud such coverage. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1987: Larry Kramer 
Amends ACT UP's First Flyer

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power on March 10 turns twenty-five. It was on that date in 1987 that my old friend Larry Kramer gave a speech at the gay community center in New York City, and that meeting is recognized as the first meeting of what was to become ACT UP.

I was at the meeting and involved with the group in the early days, and had a memory of our first flyer promoting a demonstration on Wall Street. The ACT UP name appears at the end of the text on the flip side.

My memory recalled a version of the flyer amended by Kramer, and thanks to my good pal Bill Dobbs, I now have a copy of it. Dobbs recently looked at the collected papers of veteran activist Bill Bahlman that are housed at the Central Connecticut State University, and found the flyer marked up by Kramer. (Thanks Larry, Bill and Bill!)

Kramer typed the following pleas and names on it:

This demonstration is very important! Please! We need you to come! We must show numbers! We must show we are united & strong! 


Sponsors include: Vito Russo, Larry Kramer, Tim Sweeney, Rodger McFarlane, Michael Hirsh, Blue Fletterich, Vivan Shapiro, Herb Cohen, Chuck Ortleb, Richard Goldstein, Lori Behrman, Chuck Partridge, Ron Najman, Andy Humm, Suki Ports, Marie Mannion, Charles Angell, Joseph Papp, Michael Petrelis, Martin Sheen.

We know it's too early -- but try!

The flyer otherwise lists what were at the time considered very radical demands - quicker drug approval, revamping clinical trials, affordable treatments, massive public eduction, political leadership, an end to discrimination against people with AIDS - and many of the things we wanted came about, through targeted anger and activism.

Quite interesting that the word "gay" is omitted from the flyer, I imagine, because AIDS was seen by many average folks and the mainstream media as a "gay disease" and part of our agenda was to define AIDS as an infection that struck gay and straight people. A virus knows no morals or sexual orientations.

As ACT UP hits 25, let's remember AIDS is not over. ACT UP! Fight back! Fight AIDS! Here's the original flyer, with Kramer's add-ons. Click to enlarge:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A-Gay Tom Taylor
Owns Castro's Rainbow Flag?

As if the situation with the public flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza weren't wacky enough, let's add another questionable element to the story.

To recap: Steve Adams, the manager of the local Sterling Bank and head of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro, decides if and when the rainbow flag will be lowered or another flag allowed to blow in the wind at the plaza. MUMC recently published an incredibly restrictive policy on using the flagpole, which basically says they will work with political activists on sharing equal access this public property on the 12th of Never.

I mentioned to a friend and longtime Castro resident over the weekend that a wealthy gay man by the name of Tom Taylor actually owns the flag at the plaza, and possesses the key to to the flagpole's control box, and my pal knew nothing about Taylor and his ownership of the flag.

When MUMC in February 2011, after much advocacy, decided to lower the flag for a few hours to honor murdered gay Ugandan David Kato, and made sure activists knew MUMC was doing us a supposed huge favor, our request to stage the flag lowering as part of a program about Kato's death and the plight of gays around the world, Adams and Taylor refused to coordinate the lowering with us. Talk about the petty control queens of MUMC!

Last September, when community photographer Bill Wilson and I organized a ceremony under the flag to honor gay hero Mark Bingham and all who died on 9/11, the MUMC leaders, after much unnecessary dawdling and dicking around, agreed to lower the rainbow flag. Guess what? Again Adams and Taylor adamantly refused to inform the community and press as to when the flag would be lowered so we could make it part of the day's commemorative activities.

I mention this history to provide a small picture into how the 1% of wealthy gays in the Castro control the public flagpole at Milk Plaza.

So who is Tom Taylor and how did he come to be in this powerful position? A few answers come from a blog post at the SF Weekly site last April written by Joe Eskenazi:

Yesterday, we wrote about who owns the Castro's iconic rainbow flag. Technically, it's the Castro Merchants -- who pay for and insure the flag, which sits on land owned by BART and managed by the Department of Public Works.

Fair enough. But who fixes the flags when they wear out? Who stores the building-sized banners? That'd be Tom Taylor. His qualification? He has the space for it -- and he took over after the inventor of the rainbow flag, Gilbert Baker, moved out of town.

Taylor, who owns multiple city properties, stores and rehabilitates flags in a SOMA workshop. "I am the only person with a large enough shop to handle it," he says. "When something goes wrong, who else has a space to lay out something that's 20 by 30 feet? And I also have the big industrial sewing machines."

Taylor and his wealthy doctor boyfriend Jerome Goldstein, have developed a cult following for their fancy annual Christmas decorations that envelop their spectacular house in the upscale Dolores Heights enclave. As the video attests, their private home attracts major media and lots of eyeballs every December.

A December 2010 article from Mission Local's J.J. Barrow touches upon the rich neighborhood of Tom's house and the unnamed expenses of the annual decorating extravaganza:

Tom and Jerry think of their tree as a public service, and hint in a flier about the decorations that they’d like donations from their wealthy neighbors to help support what they do. They do not, however, want money from the majority of the people who visit the tree . . . They won’t reveal the cost of the extravaganza (Tom simply says, “It’s terrible”), even though the neighborhood wonders if it’s in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Speaking of public service and the related matter of the public's Harvey Milk Plaza's flagpole, it would be so democratic and beneficial if the likes of A-gays Steve Adams and Tom Taylor were persuaded to return control of the flag to the entire community.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gay Director James Broughton 
Fathered Pauline Kael's Daughter

What did I learn from the Film Comment review by Phillip Lopate of the new biography of critic Pauline Kael? That there was a gay aspect to her private affairs, one that produced a daughter.

Long before she landed at the New Yorker and made expert use of her vaunted perch to instill fear among filmmakers and raise the level of criticism, Kael enjoyed sexual liaisons with James Broughton, a gay artist of many talents and intellectual pursuits.

Broughton's name in my mind was always associated with his underground movies, none of which I've seen, his writings and role in birthing the Radical Faeries. News to me that he also fathered Kael's kid.

From the review of "Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark":

For starters, Kael was extremely guarded about her private life and changed her versions of the past frequently. The freshest material here, for those who know her public persona well, are the first chapters that take us through her childhood in Petaluma, California [up to] her first unhappy sojourn in New York City (which crystallized a lifelong dislike of the place); her failure at playwriting; and her love affairs with several gay or bisexual men.

“Again, Pauline was making a mistake that heterosexual women in the arts often made: They were surrounded by attractive, bright men, unafraid to engage in emotional discourse, and they mistakenly thought that a passionate friendship could turn into an enduring romance,” writes [biographer Brian] Kellow. An affair with the experimental filmmaker James Broughton produced a child, Gina, whom Kael raised by herself, Mildred Pierce–like, heroically supporting them with a number of odd jobs, including running a laundry.
Outed Gay GOP AZ Sheriff
Gave to Homo-Hating Pols: FEC File

(From the left: Unidentified law enforcement muscle hunk, Babeu and Gov. Jan Brewer, posted at her Flickr account.)

That Paul Babeu is some piece of work. He's the GOP Arizona sheriff who's made a name for himself in recent years taking a hardline against undocumented immigrants, pushing a fence on the Mexican border, embracing Sen. John McCain's 2008 bid for the White House and serving as a local chair for the Mitt Romney campaign.

Oh, he's also gay and according to an expose in the Phoenix New Times, had a sexual and political relationship with an undocumented gay male who has been identified only by his first name, Jose. The paper alleges, with copies of text messages, that the gay sheriff threatened to have Jose deported if he exposed their relationship. Get more facts and photos related to the outing of Babeu here.

I was surprised that Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County who lived in a town called Queen Creek (hehe) when he made the contributions as a member of the Chandler police force, earns enough to make donations to politicians according to his Federal Election Commission files.

Babeu gave $1,250 in 2008 to Arizona GOP candidate David Schweikert's failed bid for a U.S. House seat. During the campaign, the candidate made his anti gay marriage views clear: "Traditional marriage is the basis for a functional society." Schweikert ran again in 2010 and this time won the race. If there's anything out there showing a pro-gay bone in Schweikert's body, I couldn't locate it.

The gay sheriff also donated $250 in 2007 to Arizona state senator Tim Bee, who ran against Gabrielle Giffords and lost that Congressional race.What sort of anti gay politician is Bee? An answer from his Wikipedia entry:

In 2008, Bee sponsored a measure to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in Arizona. Arizona voters voted against a similar measure in 2006 and the proposed initiative was the source of considerable controversy, resulting in a dramatic last minute clash between legislators at the close of the 2008 session. Ultimately, as the President of the Senate, Bee cast the decisive vote in favor of putting the amendment on the Arizona ballot in 2008. The amendment passed by a 56-44% margin.

The accountability tactic of outing was invented because of men like Babeu.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney Houston's 
One Political Donation

Born and raised in the Garden State, pop diva Whitney Houston made a single political donation while alive.

In 1990 she gave $789 to Sen. Bill Bradley for his reelection campaign and at the time she lived in Englewood, New Jersey. Odd number for a donation.

Her occupation/employer was listed as Nippy Inc, her music company and Nippy was her nickname growing up. No other contributions showed up in the New Jersey and California campaign disclosure search engines.

May she rest in peace.
Castro Group Breaks Own Rules;
Flies 'Brown Rainbow' Flag at Milk Plaza

Absurdity reached a new height today in San Francisco's Castro district on the part of the dizzy control queens at the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro, and the sole dominance over the public flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza. On Monday, after not a single public meeting was held, MUMC quietly unveiled their rules governing their control and requests from community members wishing equal access to public property. Here's the key component:

The Flag’s full-staff display has otherwise been temporarily modified on very rare occasions, for example, to mark the usually-tragic death of a notable member of the local LGBT community.

These MUMC queens forget that in 2011 the flag was lowered for murdered gay Ugandan David Kato and the passing of gay pioneer Frank Kameny who lived in Washington, DC. Neither was a member, notable or not, of the local community. 

MUMC's guidelines, after cutting through the thicket of verbiage bowing and scraping before flag creator Gilbert Baker and what he wants for the flagpole even though he lives in New York City, also insists on the following criteria:

Individuals and community groups which propose that MUMC modify the Rainbow Flag’s full-staff display for a commemorative purpose are respectfully reminded of that fundamental principle [of Baker's that the flag always flies full staff]. However, if they feel that there is a compelling reason to modify the Harvey Milk Plaza Rainbow Flag display, and the proposal is demonstrated to have broad, diverse community support, they are invited to submit a proposal to MUMC’s Board of Directors.

If the sole purpose for which they will grandly consider the remote possibility is to commemorate an event or person of local significance, then why the heck is the bear community flag flying today and not the rainbow flag?

In keeping with their opaqueness and sad incompetence with standard, regular communication to the wider Castro network of stakeholders, an answer to that question is missing at MUMC's site.

This afternoon, I walked into as many Castro businesses and nonprofits as possible and gave a flyer about the flagpole controversy, and from two young merchants, one woman and one man, I was asked this question: "Why is there a brown rainbow flag flying today?" I told them to ask MUMC's president Steve Adams for the answer.

I sure would like to know what broad, diverse community support was demonstrated for the bears who raised their flag today, because lots of folks, merchants and shoppers alike asked me if there was some big bear event this weekend. Whomever is behind the bear flag flapping in the wind at Castro and Market Street might want to explain what they are commemorating. MUMC should say why they've broken their own rules this week.

Imagine if there were genuine community control of this piece of public real estate, equal access to if for each member of the local community and not just friends of Steve Adams, and a post at the base of the flagpole informing locals why the flag's display has been modified. Ok, I'm medicated and was just fantasizing about democracy breaking out in the Banana Republic of the Castro.

But with MUMC in charge of things, fairness and transparency and consistency are not integral to their stewardship of the flag at Harvey Milk Plaza.

DOJ Withholds 25 Documents
on Closeted Ex-Sen. Hatfield

I'm still waiting for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to complete its review of the 6,400-plus pages found in the vaults responsive to my Freedom of Information Act request for all files on the late closeted ex-Sen. Mark Hatfield, a Republican who served for decades as one of Oregon's senators.

However, as part of the agency's search the criminal division of the Department of Justice located 25 documents, number of pages unknown, and all of them are being withheld according to a letter sent to me. DOJ cited four exemptions in FOIA allowing for not releasing the records, in addition to stating portions of the records are sealed by order of a federal court.

I believe the 25 documents are separate from the 6,400-plus pages over all, and have asked the FBI to expedite release of those pages. Let's hope they agree to that request shortly.

Here's the DOJ letter that arrived yesterday. Click to enlarge:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hundreds Protest
Anti-Gay Russian Laws at Embassy in Berlin

Now this is what I call fabulous organizing! Before the protest, a news release was circulated on listervs and after it took place, the organizers wrote a short news account of who, what, where, why, when, etc., and they included several photos.

Thank you, all who paraded in Berlin in the cold for the gay, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia. I honor you all by running your report back to the community, in full, and include a few photos.

On behalf of Gays Without Borders/San Francisco, we salute you and stand in solidarity with our Russian brothers and sisters.

Here's the entire report from Berlin:

A rally was held on Wednesday, February 15, outside the Russian embassy in Berlin to demonstrate against the homophobic laws which are continuing to be introduced throughout various cities in Russia. The demonstration was attended by over 200 people including LGBT activists as well as members of the German Bundestag, the Berlin parliament and representatives from trade unions.

"We express solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia," said Marieluise Beck (Green Party) Head of the Commission on Eastern European Politics in the German Bundestag, "No one forced Russia to join the Council of Europe. Joining, however, Russia signed under the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

Tom Schreiber (Social Democrat), a parliamentary member in Berlin: "I will insist that issues of discrimination against the LGBT community in Russia is regularly raised in Berlin and will make every effort to ensure that these discussions result in specific resolutions backed up by specific support."

During the demonstration, participants signed a petition to the deputies of the St.Petersburg Legislative Assembly and the Governor of St. Petersburg, which will be handed over to them in the near future.

After the meeting protestors marched through the main streets of Berlin. The demonstrators chanted slogans against homophobia in Russia and passersby showed their support. The demonstration ended at Potsdamer Platz - the very heart of the Berlin and the focus of the Berlinale Film Festival. The head of the Berlinale Section "Panorama" and founder of the Teddy Award Wieland Speck spoke to demonstrators:

"The representation of gays and lesbians in the arts and culture can not be denied. Every year there are more and more LGBT films in those countries where this topic has been previously a taboo. We will continue to support the St. Petersburg Side by Side Film Festival which is fighting for a space within the public domain for LGBT people in Russia.

Qvarteera (Germany)
Side by Side LGBT Film Festival (Saint Petersburg)
Rainbow Association (Moscow)
Lesbian and Gay Association of Germany (LSVD),
Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung (Germany)

Photographs by Dasha Zorkina
Wolfson & Pelosi Manufacture
Gay Marriage Plank Momentum?

(Wolfson, in a photo taken by Rex Wockner.)

It is said that a lawyer should never ask a question that they don't already know the answer to. The same could be said of Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and a lawyer, when he unveiled his push on Monday, the eve of Valentine's Day, for a gay marriage plank at the Democratic convention later this year.

The group's blog heralded the plank campaign on Monday:

From now through the September convention, Freedom to Marry will organize to secure inclusion of a freedom to marry plank in the party platform.  Freedom to Marry’s Democrats: Say I Do campaign will enlist Democratic party leaders, elected officials, activists, and voters to make the case to the Platform Drafting Committee in support of the freedom to marry plank.

I do believe that Wolfson, before luanching this campaign, had already lined up support from key Democrats to give the appearance of quick endorsement to the idea and create a sense of momentum. There is every reason to think Wolfson would know the answer to the question, "will Democrats back the plank proposal?", prior to his announcement.

Lo and behold, a day after Valentine's Day, Wolfson secured the backing of a Democrat in the House. Actually, not just any lowly member but none other than Democratic House Leader, who also wants to be Speaker again, Rep. Nancy Pelosi came out to back Wolfson's campaign.

Try to act surprised when reading FTM's blog post about this development:

It's only been two days since we launched our Democrats: Say I Do campaign calling on the national Democratic Party to include a plank in support of the freedom to marry in its 2012 platform, and already we have the endorsement of one of the party's highest ranking elected officials, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Can we talk about manufactured momentum? A spokesman for Pelosi issued five little word signaling her backing:

Leader Pelosi supports this language.

Doesn't that statement give you a case of the warm fuzzies for her and make you want to whip out the checkbook and make a donation to her or other Democrats? Of course, Wolfson is quite pleased with the statement:

Freedom to Marry is proud to have Leader Pelosi joining our call to put the Democratic Party squarely on record in support of the freedom to marry as part of the national platform. 

I soon expect to see Wolfson releasing names of other Democrats getting on his bandwagon, Democrats he's probably already signed up to add their names to Pelosi's, adding to the impression that this campaign has genuine political momentum.

Color me skeptical about this entire FTM plank campaign, because I do believe it's nothing more than an effort to defuse gay anger at the Democrats and President Obama, and to keep the GayTM open for the party.

There's also the matter of how the plank campaign and Pelosi's endorsement of it will likely be used to undermine angry gays who want more than empty words in the Democratic Party platform, and who demand substantive action from Democrats on issues like employment protection and affordable housing and healthcare coverage for gay Americans.

It's going to be an interesting election season, watching Gay Inc groups collude with Democrats to keep the gay vote and gay dollars flowing to the party.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beautiful 'Anatolia' Plays
SF Film Society Cinema This Week

Nuri Bilge Ceylan is Turkey's top film director on the international festival circuit and his most recent work "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" won the Grand Prix at Cannes last year, and was Turkey's submission for best foreign language Oscar, but was shut out for a nomination. 

"Anatolia" concerns a search by the police, a prosecutor and soldiers for the body of murder victim in the desolate countryside. Leading them is the confessed murderer who can't remember where he buried the corpse.

Most of the film takes place at night and Ceylan uses long takes, beautifully composed framing and a steady, gazing camera to reveal his characters and their backgrounds. There is just enough gallows humor to relieve the intense search and conflicts among the officials and the killer.

World cinema doesn't get much better than this.

If you like the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, whom Ceylan credits as a key influence, you'll appreciate "Anatolia's" stunning cinematography and patient story-telling. One difference between the directors is that Tarkovsky's themes of Christian redemption and hope are absent from Ceylan's somber and austere work.

I caught a screening on Monday night, with about twenty-five other movie-lovers who came out in the rain to see it. Not one person left during the show and I spoke with two people who were mesmerized by the film.

Make time to see "Anatolia" at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema on Post Street during its final screenings, where plays today and tomorrow. Click here for more info on showtimes and ticket information.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

UN Lauds S. African 
Lesbian Killers' Sentencing as 'Ending Impunity'

After reading about Libya stating at the UN Human Rights Council recently that gay people were a threat to human life continuing on our planet, I checked out the site for the UN's High Commission on Human Rights to what gay content was post in the past month.

I was pleased to see the High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, last week issued a laudatory statement about justice being served in South Africa in early February as the murderers of a teenage lesbian, Zoliswa Nkonyana, pictured, were sentenced to prison.

This development was news to me. I had read previously about the torturous efforts to bring her killers to trial, but don't recall the sentencing receiving any U.S. attention on gay blogs or newspaper sites. Googling turned up one such blog to cover the judge's final orders and it belongs to South African-born Melanie Nathan, a friend I've worked with on domestic and global issues. Thank you, Melanie, for keeping tabs on the court case and sentencing.

Apologies if others reported on the sentencing and weren't found by Google.

I'm pleased to join her in bringing additional attention to the case, and hope the UN High Commissioner's comments will be reason to generate coverage on more American and global LGBT blogs, social networks and press.

Excerpted from Navi Pillay's February 8th release:

Zoliswa Nkonyana was pelted with bricks, stabbed and beaten to death just a few metres from her home in the township of Khayelitsha, in Cape Town, South Africa in February 2006. According to the local “Mail & Guardian Online”, her brutal murder did not become ‘news’, until two weeks later and even then it was by chance . . .

Glen de Swardt of the Triangle Project, a group that campaigns for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, was quoted as saying: “We [the gay community] have come to accept such abuse as a way of life, and most gay people think the only way to deal with it is to keep quiet.”

Six years later the four men who were found guilty of the murder have each been sentenced to 18 years in jail. The presiding magistrate in the case took into account the nature of the crime itself – hate and intolerance based on sexual orientation as an aggravating factor in arriving at the sentence. The magistrate was also explicit about the motive for the murder, concluding that Nkonyana was killed because she was living openly as a lesbian.

Welcoming the outcome of the trial, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said, “Not only were the perpetrators of this murder found guilty and given an appropriate sentence, the court made clear the motive was hatred and homophobia. Nineteen-year old Zoliswa Nkonyana was murdered in 2006 because she was living openly as a lesbian.”

“This is a very significant case because it signals an end to impunity for those who would inflict violence and hatred on others based on perceptions of sexual orientation and gender,” Pillay said.

The sentences have been widely applauded in South Africa and abroad by activists who for many years have campaigned for an end to impunity for people convicted of attacking or killing people on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation.
Libya to UN:
'Gays Threaten Continuation of Human Race'

A disturbing anti-gay development took place on February 13 in Switzerland at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to a news release from a non-governmental organization, UN Watch.

In addition to learning about Libya's promotion of hatred against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons via the release, I am pleased to know that the council will sponsor a panel on March 7 pertaining to the brutal mistreatment of gays around the world. Let's hope that discussion is streamed on the web for all of us to watch next month.

For now, get familiar with the comments by the Libyan representative and the push against his thinking by more enlightened human rights advocates. From the release:

Gays threaten the continuation of the human race, Libya's delegate told a planning meeting of the UN Human Rights Council today, reported the Geneva-based UN Watch monitoring group. It was the first appearance in the 47-nation body by the post-Gaddafi government, whose membership was restored in November following Libya's suspension in March.

Protesting the council's first panel discussion on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, scheduled for March 7th, Libya's representative told the gathering of ambassadors today that LGBT topics "affect religion and the continuation and reproduction of the human race." He added that, were it not for their suspension, Libya would have opposed the council's June 2011 resolution on the topic . . .

"We were happy to see the Gaddafi regime finally suspended last year," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which in 2010 led a campaign of 70 human rights groups to expel the Libyan dictator from the council membership, "but this is not the Arab Spring we hoped for."

"Today's homophobic outburst by the new Libyan government, together with its routine abuse of prisoners and other ongoing violations, underscores the serious questions many have about the new regime's commitment to improving on the dark record of its predecessor," said Neuer . . .

According to Neuer, however, "Libya's reinstatement, supported by 123 states including all of the Western democracies, was carried out precipitously and without any evidence of a commitment to human rights domestically or abroad.

"Gays are now paying the price, with their right to be free from execution and violent attacks in places like Iran under attack at the UN by a country that democratic countries fought to liberate, and by a government that our leaders helped install. Instead, the new Libya is pandering to the Islamists in its ranks. It's alarming."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Castro Rainbow Flag:
Rules Finally Published

Just over a year ago, I made a simple request to the control queens of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro to lower the rainbow flag at the public Harvey Milk Plaza for one night to honor murdered gay Ugandan David Kato. After much unnecessary hassles and hurdles with MUMC's president Steve Adams, they agreed to honor Kato but made no effort to coordinate with activist for a proper flag-lowering ceremony.

Since last February, a year-long controversy has split the Castro community. Every attempt at just a public meeting or chat at City Hall to find a solution to the problems of a private group controlling an important piece of public property was killed by either Adams or Supervisor Scott Wiener.

After months of pressure from many segments of the local community, including a Bay Area Reporter editorial calling for written rules governing the public flagpole, the privately-run MUMC has finally posted their policy for wanting to make use of the flag. Would have been nice if they held an open community meeting to develop the rules.

Over at the MUMC site, the group defensively tells its side of the controversy and how the flag came to be installed on public property. They explain that one man, the flag's original creator, developed the policies for lowering the flag determined the rules and we all have to live with the creator's wishes.

Using lots of dissuasion, MUMC lays out their restrictive flag policy if you really, really, really want to request that they bend their privately-developed rules. While this is a step forward, a few unspecified hurdles are placed in front of requesters. MUMC does not bother to define what is "broad, diverse community support" behind any request, there are to be no public discussions about requests and no turn-around time is given.

If the Castro's supervisor had a commitment to holding his own open forums in the district, I'd ask him to put this policy on the agenda for public debate. Why are the supervisor and MUMC leaders so fearful of any public forums about the flag?

Here's part of MUMC's policy:
Individuals and community groups which propose that MUMC modify the Rainbow Flag’s full-staff display for a commemorative purpose are respectfully reminded of that fundamental principle.

However, if they feel that there is a compelling reason to modify the Harvey Milk Plaza Rainbow Flag display, and the proposal is demonstrated to have broad, diverse community support, they are invited to submit a proposal to MUMC’s Board of Directors (which consists of over a dozen leaders from the community, elected annually by MUMC’s Membership, which includes over 250 Members from throughout the neighborhood and community).

Given the volunteer nature of MUMC’s Board and the importance of any such proposal, as much advance notice as possible is requested. Proposals are considered by the MUMC Board as promptly as possible and while respecting the underlying principles for this Rainbow Flag’s display, as well as safety, operational logistics, cost, and other practical issues.

MUMC’s Board of Directors can be contacted by email at

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Obama/DNC's GayTM:
Degeneres, Hormel, Geffen, Orman

This is a snapshot portrait of what Federal Election Commission records show for a few famous or financially well-endowed gay and lesbian people, at this stage of the 2012 election with nine-months to go before America heads to the polls. Let's look who's donated in recent years, how much and to whom.

Financial adviser Suze Orman has a lot of money to throw around, and donated $83,900 to the Democratic National Committee since 2008. Orman gave Hillary Clinton $11,000 for her senatorial run in 2000. Anyone know if she discloses her DNC giving when dispensing economic advice and analyzing Wall Street through mainstream media outlets?

She's followed by TV personality and product-promoter Ellen Degeneres who contributed $35,800 in last June to the Obama Victory Fund 2012. She also threw $2,000 down the toilet in 2000 and 2001 when she gave to the Human Rights Campaign.

Music and entertainment mogul David Geffen since 2010 has doled out numerous $2,400 checks to Democrats, and in 2011 he gave Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin $2,500. Geffen's also given DNC-affiliated PACs $60,800 over the past two years.

Another philanthropist, Jon Stryker who started and funds the Arcus Foundation with an inherited fortune from medical devices, in 2010 coughed up $27,500 to the DNC and likes writing plenty of checks in the low four-figures to Democrats including gay Rep. David Cicilline.

David Bohnett, a wealthy Los Angeles based philanthropist, as with his counterparts Geffen and Stryker, gives a robust number of Democratic candidates four-figure donations. In 2011, Bohnett tossed $35,800 into the Obama Victory Fund 2012 bank account and that was on top of a $30,400 in 2009 to the DNC.

Then there's meatpacking heir James Hormel of San Francisco. Same as the above gentlemen, he contributes in the low-thousands to assorted Democratic state committees and Congressional candidates. Hormel also gave $90,000 to various DNC-affiliated committees since 2009.

Actress and relatively newly-out lesbian/bisexual/very questioning Cynthia Nixon last July donated $2,500 to Obama's reelection campaign. No other significant entertainer's name in this unscientific survey turned up in my search. Count on more A-gays to send money to help the president retain the Oval Office before November.

But let's end with a detour out of Democratic gay territory.

On the other side of the political aisle, Republican strategist and rainmaker Ken Mehlman contributed $20,000 to GOP Sen. Marco Rubio since 2010. Mehlman in recent years has made dozens of additional donations ranging from $500 to $5,000 to GOP candidates and PACs, similar to the Democratic gay philanthropists, except he's given only $1,000 to the Republican National Committee where he once served as the head of the organization.

Deep Throat gave excellent advice. Follow the money.


Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly emailed tonight to alert me to his piece on the February 9 gay fundraiser in DC for the president's reelection. I now know it cost $35,800 per person to hear what Obama had to say. Good to see Geidner also following the gay money.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bare Muscle Erotic Star Shows
Castro's Nudity Crackdown Failed

What was the point of Super-Nanny Scott Wiener's crackdown last year against nude folks parading around the Castro?

Recall, without holding a public meeting in the district before launching a legislative effort to have nudists do what they were doing anyway and cover their butts before sitting down in a cafe or bar, Wiener polarized the community to show he was doing something, anything, to appease the anti-nudist forces. It was all a waste of oxygen and energy from the supervisor.

I'm not one to say only folks with porn star bodies should be disrobing and walking around. The point of many nudists is that all of our bodies are wonderful creations and everyone should be comfortable getting bare in the streets.

However, over at Queer Porn Nation, a very NSFW site, photos and a report on erotic muscle boy Marc Dylan strolling about the 'hood in his birthday suit last weekend, is generating loads of support for nudity on the streets of San Francisco.

Thank you, Dylan, and all the regular Castro nudists, for doing your part to show proud nudists are not only doing their part to promote bare bodies in public.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

NYT, SF Chron:
Same Gay Marriage Letter in Today's Papers

Once upon a time in journalism, it was standard practice at major American dailies to ask anyone whose letter was to appear in print if they had submitted their letter to other publications. That is no longer the case with the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Both published basically the same letter from gay multimillionaire David Bohnett, pictured, and on the same day. Okay, to be fair, maybe the papers asked Bohnett if he was trying to get his letter published elsewhere and he might have said no.

No matter how you slice it, two things are evident. The Times and the Chronicle need to beef up their screening process determining which letters make the cut and get precious mainstream news space. My guess is that the papers both were more inclined to run any letter from Bohnett, given his moneyed credentials and A-gay status.

Secondly, congratulations to Bohnett for getting the same letter in print in two major dailies on the same day! I'm curious to know if any version of his comments appeared in other dailies. If he sent it to two, he probably sent it to many more. 

From SF Chronicle today:

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples, and I applaud their decision.

Make no mistake: Prop. 8's defenders will continue to fight to make sure that fear and oppression win the war. They've already begun urging donors to double-down on the campaign to ensure the U.S. Supreme Court upholds Prop. 8. So, as our esteemed lieutenant governor has pointed out, our campaign now must progress with renewed pace and renewed vigor.

This is a turning point for California. Prop. 8 is upended, but it's not over yet. This ruling strengthens our resolve and unites us even more. Everyone who opposes Prop. 8 must demand their due process. Judge Vaughn Walker took a just and courageous stand for humanity and wrote a brilliant opinion. It's up to us to see this battle through and stand together for equality.

David Bohnett, Los Angeles

Here's the abbreviated version that appeared in the NY Times this morning:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said Tuesday that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples, and I applaud its decision.

Make no mistake: Proposition 8’s defenders will continue to fight to make sure that fear and oppression win the war. They’ve already begun urging donors to step up the campaign to ensure that the Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8.

This is a turning point for California. Proposition 8 is upended, but it’s not over yet. It’s up to those of us who oppose Proposition 8 to see this battle through and stand together for equality.

Los Angeles,
The writer is a philanthropist and social activist.
Wiener's Sunshine Survey of SF Agencies
Worries Transparency Advocates

(Wiener's request to the budget analyst. Click to enlarge.)

The Castro's Supervisor Scott Wiener sure is keeping busy tinkering with various city agencies and functions - attempts to dilute historic preservation at the Planning Commission, undo the will of voters on ballot measures, get the Small Business Commission to back his dog-walkers legislation, having the health department make sure nudists cover their butts in restaurants - are just a few of his many busybody, nanny-ish actions polarizing lots of constituencies.

Add to this list Wiener's look at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force (SOTF). I was alerted yesterday by nervous open government advocates about a five-page survey from the Board of Supervisors' Budget and Legislative Analyst recently sent to all city agencies.

The survey asks questions about amount of time and expenses regarding how agencies comply with Sunshine Ordinance duties. No questions are raised about the benefits to the taxpayers because of the ordinance and the task force that hears complaints regarding municipal open government laws.

A complaint filed by a Pastor Gavin related to public notices regarding amendments to the Park Merced housing contract, led to the matter going before the SOTF on September 27. Minutes from the meeting provide some background:

[SOTF] Member Washburn, seconded by [SOTF] Member Manneh, motioned to find that Board President David Chiu, Supervisor Scott Wiener and Supervisor Malia Cohen violated Sunshine Ordinance Section 67.7(b) for not providing the public with copies of the amendments; and Section 67.15(a) and (b) for failing to adequately notice the substance of the relevant agenda item. The Orders of Determination are to be referred to the Ethics Commission and the District Attorney for willful failure and official misconduct . . .

The motion carried by the following vote:
Ayes: 8 - Snyder, Knee, Cauthen, Manneh, Washburn, Wolfe, Chan Johnson
Excused: 3 - Knoebber, Costa, West

A letter of determination dated November 1 from the SOTF more fully explains this matter and which parts of the law were violated by the supervisors.

It's my understanding that Wiener in December made the request directly to the Budget and Legislation Analyst to survey city agencies about Sunshine Ordinance time and costs, without a formal motion and no public hearing at any Supervisors' meeting. This lack of transparency on Wiener's part can happen as long as the survey project takes up less than 150 hours of the analyst's time.

My old pal Patrick Monette-Shaw, a longtime accountability and sunshine advocate, had this to say in reaction to Wiener's look at the SOTF:

Given Wiener's role in sponsoring the November 2011 ballot measures 'E' and 'F'. that would have given the Supervisors power to amend certain ballot measures passed by voters, which failed miserably at the ballot box, and now his request to analyze whether we are getting the ‘best value for our investment’ in the Sunshine Ordinance, it is clear Wiener wants to scuttle citizen access to campaign finance documents and public records. As a former deputy city attorney, his efforts to curtail San Francisco's Open Government law contributes to reasons why he should be recalled from office.

Seems clear to me we need to scrutinize how Wiener was able to launch the analyst's survey without any public notice or discussion beforehand, in addition to remaining vigilant over any proposal he may put forward regarding the SOTF and our open government laws.

Click here to read the five-page survey now circulating at city departments, and which must quickly be filled out and sent back to analyst.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wells Fargo Presents 'Her HRC'
in Oakland, Feb 12: Protest Anyone?

The gay Democrats at the Human Rights Campaign continue to solidify their cozy partnerships with corrupt financial institutions that have brought about tremendous economic misery, all in the name of equality, while completely overlooking how big banks have harmed LGBT and straight people equally.

HRC for decades has sucked up to Corporate America and their avarice for new funding streams makes for a perfectly despicable relationship between HRC's gay backers and the likes of Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.

Some crumbs are tossed into the HRC coffers, while the banking giants reap millions of bucks in good p.r. and warm fuzzies for embracing an idea of equality that ignores the plight of economically distressed LGBT Americans. It's win-win situation for the banks and HRC, but a lose-lose proposition forced upon ordinary gays who don't want to be in bed with bankers ruining the lives of many.

Throughout this month Well Fargo is presenting several Her HRC events around the country and on February 12, the San Francisco Bay Area event takes place at the White Horse Inn over in Oakland. If anyone organizes a protest at this or any other Her HRC fundraiser, let me know the details.
PFA Screens Works by
Pioneer Gay Director Markopoulos

(From "Twice a Man", with Olympia Dukakis in a supporting role.)

My appreciation of gay underground cinema that is also widely renowned as classic avant-garde American movie-making will be rekindled when the Pacific Film Archive offers a three-evening retrospective of works created by pioneering artist Gregory Markopoulos. There are two evenings of his films this week and one next Thursday.

His name is among the directors whose work I promise to catch, if they're ever shown on a big screen in a theater and I now have that chance. It didn't help the cineaste's dilemma of wanting to view his films only to be denied that pleasure, when he kept the works from exhibition.

Here's an excerpt from the PFA's calendar notes for the series:

The films of Gregory J. Markopoulos, a leading figure of the American avant-garde and the world of art cinema, have been almost impossible to see during the past forty years. Markopoulos (1928–92) had very specific views on how his films should be exhibited and, in 1967 when he moved from the United States to Europe, made the decision to withdraw his films from distribution . . . For the next twenty-some years, he and his lifelong companion Robert Beavers devoted their energies to the Temenos, an archive, library, and outdoor theater in Lyssaraia, Greece.

Beavers will introduce both screenings this week. Brush up on your gay American cinematic creators who worked (way) outside the confines of the Hollywood system and put stunning original images up on the silver screen. Head over to Berkeley for these treats. Here are some details on the dates, times and titles:

Thursday, February 9
7:00 p.m. Markopoulos: The Early Films
Includes Psyche, A Christmas Carol, Lysis, Charmides, Christmas USA, and The Dead Ones. Plus the Bay Area Premiere of Beavers's short The Suppliant. (116 mins)

Saturday, February 11
6:30 p.m. Eros and Myth
Markopoulos’s ability to improvise with his surroundings and to develop techniques of rapid cutting and subjective treatments of narrative time remain among the greatest contributions he made to cinema. This program includes Swain, Flowers of Asphalt, Eldora, and Twice a Man, inspired by the myth of Hippolytus and Phaedra. (87 mins)

Thursday, February 16
7:00 p.m. The Illiac Passion
Studded with New York art stars (Andy Warhol, Taylor Mead, Jack Smith), The Illiac Passion is the most elaborate of Markopoulos’s completed films and has been compared to Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Ming Green is one of the filmmaker’s most sensuous films about place. (99 mins)
NYT = HRC Mouthpiece?

(Screen grab of HRC's site promoting their work with banking titan Lloyd Blankfein.)

This letter was sent to Arthur Brisbane, the public editor for the New York Times. Maybe he'll take an interest in why the paper omitted mention of any concerns or condemnations from gays over HRC getting into bed with a reviled financial mogul. My letter:

The high standards of the New York Times for hard news stories were lacking in the February 6 business section piece by Susanne Craig, Blankfein to Support Same-Sex Marriage, about Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs agreeing to make a public service video for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay political organization.

While Craig dutifully reported on the reactions and potential controversies on Wall Street over Blankfein's collaboration with HRC on gay marriage, she didn't inform readers of the various and strong responses from within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Let's go over specific areas where Craig should have mentioned the reality of the displeasure many gay people have with HRC partnering with Blankfein and Goldman Sachs.

She wrote:

At a dinner on Saturday in New York the Human Rights Campaign awarded Goldman its corporate equality award.

There was a spirited demonstration of angry gays outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, site of the dinner, over that award and a similar demonstration took place that night in San Francisco at the HRC store on Castro Street. Numerous blogs and gay news sites lit up with criticism regarding HRC overlooking Goldman Sachs' role in creating economic misery for millions of people. 

Click here and here for a roundup of gay media coverage of the Saturday protest in New York, along with commentary against HRC, and go here for photos and a report on the San Francisco protest.

Craig goes on to say:

The Human Rights Campaign approached Mr. Blankfein in November through a gay executive at Goldman, and he was immediately receptive to the idea, according to people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.

I would like to know how the idea was received in the wider gay community, which like too many straight individuals, has been harmed by Goldman Sachs' economic agenda of profits before people. I know many who can speak freely and critically of HRC approaching Blankfein.

More from Craig:

For years, the organization has attracted a notable list of representatives, including Barbara Bush, the daughter of the former President George W. Bush, and the hockey player Sean Avery. Steve Tisch, a businessman and co-owner of the New York Giants, took part in a campaign to legalize gay marriage in New York last year.

This reader would have preferred reporting on the longstanding complaints gays have with this organization, instead of simply listing a few bold-faced names associated with HRC.

But Mr. Blankfein’s participation is part of a new national effort by the Human Rights Campaign to enlist atypical advocates. One set of videos highlighted prominent black Americans, a demographic with especially low support for same-sex marriage. Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark and the comedian and actress Mo’Nique were among the African-Americans who participated. Mr. Blankfein is the first corporate chieftain to represent the organization.

Additional precious space in the New York Times wasted cheerleading for HRC partnering with more high-wattage names.

If Craig had taken the time and energy to speak with someone, anyone, in the gay community who has problems with Blankfein and HRC getting in bed together, just as Craig spoke with and quoted financial experts, then the Times would be upholding its duty to not print recycled p.r. from an advocacy organization.

In recent years, HRC has faced pickets at its dinners in several cities for their abandonment of transgender people, a number of boycotts organized to withhold donations because of longstanding ineffectiveness at passing pro-gay laws in Washington and being too close to the Democratic Party, and a petition started in December 2009 for the executive director Joe Solmonese to resign.  

Anyone who depended only on the Times' reporting on Blankfein and HRC, would might mistakenly believe that the entire LGBT community is fine with the collaboration and we have nothing to say, or nothing that the Times thinks in worth noting.

It's disappointing that the Times in this instance served as a mouthpiece for HRC. I hope the paper in future stories on HRC reports on the deep and wide criticism against this group from LGBT people.