Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pelosi Fdtn Giving Down 35%;
AIDS Orphans Received $250

The 2011 IRS 990 tax filing from the Paul and Nancy Pelosi Charitable Foundation was recently posted online and the amount of grants it gave out last year $84,950, is down 35% from 2009 when the amount was $131,500.

Here's what a July 2011 article in The Hill reported about her net worth when Congress released members' financial disclosure reports:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saw her net worth rise 62 percent last year, cementing her status as one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

Pelosi was worth at least $35.2 million in the 2010 calendar year, according to a financial disclosure report released Wednesday. She reported a minimum of $43.4 million in assets and about $8.2 milion in liabilities. For 2009, Pelosi reported a minimum net worth of $21.7 million.

Just a reminder that she and her husband are part of the 1% in America, who, in my opinion, should be taxed more.

According to the 2010 rankings compiled by OpenSecrets.org, Pelosi is number nine on the list of House and Senate members for net worth, just ahead of Jay Rockefeller.

Let's take a peek at the recipients last year of the Pelosi Foundation's largess, according to the actual pertinent pages of its IRS 990:

Here's the list of nonprofits transcribed from the IRS 990 that received grants last year from the Pelosi Foundation:

1. Georgetown University: $25,000
2. SF Museum of Modern Art: $20,000
3. Trinity College: $10,000
4. St. Martin de Porres School: $10,000
5. SF Convent and Stuart Hall: $3,000
6. UCSF Cardiology Foundation: $2,500
7. SF Free Clinic: $2,500
8. SF Ballet: $2,000
9. SF 42nd Street Moon Musicals: $2,000
10. SF Enterprise High School: $1,500
11. Larkin Street Youth Services: $1,000
12. SF AIDS Foundation AIDS Lifecycle: $1,000
13. SF American Conservatory Theatre: $1,000
14. SF Exploratorium: $1,000
15. SF University: $1,000
16. SF Commonwealth Club: $500
17. SF Fine Arts Museum: $450
18. Global Family Community, AIDS Orphans: $250
19. Network for Food: $250

Thank goodness we have so many transparency laws (we could use a few more), that help us follow the money of the 1%.
FBI Unsure If There's 
a File on Andy Griffith

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's turnaround time for letting me know they've searched their archive for records responsive to a given Freedom of Information Act request has vastly improved.

In less than a few weeks since actor Andy Griffith passed away on July 3 and the FBI received my FOIA request, I learned that they searched the indices of their Central Records System and may have located responsive records.

However, the July 23 letter states "Since these records were not reviewed, it is not known if they are actually responsive to your request. If you wish to review these potentially responsive records send your request to [the National Archives and Records Administration]."

I find it quite odd that the FBI does not look at records before they are transferred to the National Archives, and I would expect this agency to keep meticulous records about the content of the records. At least we know the records weren't destroyed.

My request to the National Archives to review records that may pertain Griffith was snail mailed last week. Let's see how long it takes for that agency to reply, and how they will allow me to review the records without traveling to Washington.

Monday, July 30, 2012

SF Appeal Blog Scoops Chron;
D11 Non-Resident Exits Supe Race

(East Bay voter and resident Leon Chow. Image created by Tim Enhalt, SF Appeal.)

Earlier this month, the SF Appeal group news blog ran a piece by reporter Chris Roberts that took an exhaustive look at whether union organizer Leon Chow was registered to vote in San Francisco District 11.

Chow works for Service Employees International United-United Healthcare Workers West and had filed papers with the San Francisco Department of Elections intending to challenge incumbent Supervisor John Avalos.

Roberts drilled down through lots of public records and discovered that Chow actually lives in Walnut Creek in Contra Costa county, so he's not qualified to run for office or vote in San Francisco. Oops.

Last Wednesday, Chow informed the Department of Elections that he was withdrawing from the D11 race, in a new development reported exclusively by Roberts. Guess all the questions raised by Roberts and the SF Appeal hit home for Chow - in Walnut Creek.

The next day over at the SF Chronicle, a publication with vastly more resources and reporters than the SF Appeal, picked up on the news blog's scoop and gave it proper credit. Chronicle political reporter John Wildermuth wrote:

The decision [of Chow to withdraw] wasn't a surprise. After a San Francisco Appeal story this month revealed that Chow had been registered to vote at the office of his former Chinatown nonprofit agency from 2004 to 2008 and had listed a Walnut Creek condominium as his official residence in 2009 court papers, his campaign ground to a halt.

I asked SF Appeal founder and publisher Eve Batey to comment on our local daily getting in on the story:

It was very kind of the Chronicle to acknowledge our hard work on that story. There have been many times that Chron reporting has provided us with the impetus to cover a story or issue, and it's always nice when we at the Appeal can return the favor.

Good thing San Francisco voters have the SF Appeal looking at whether 2012 candidates for the Board of Supervisors meet residency requirements. Let's see if this Chow story leads the Hearst-owned daily to dig deep and see if all candidates actually live in the city.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fur, Fetish, Frenzy, Fotos: 
Best Dore Alley Party Ever 

The small things made the 2012 edition of the Dore Alley Fair the best ever for me. Great people of all shapes, colors and ages, displaying all fine sorts of fetishes, enjoying their exhibitionism or voyeurism, just the right group mood altering buzz enveloping the crowd and a welcome abundance of simple friendliness. All those little ingredients combined to create a fabulous street fair of frenzy and fun.

Each time someone accidentally bumped me, they apologized with sincerity and wished me "Happy Dor-Ay!" No bawling kids and very few canine dogs. Ample space and no crush of lookey-lous cluttering up the pavement.

Officially known as Up Your Alley, this fetish event had several pockets of public sex scenes - golden showers and sucking scenes galore - and music at a moderate volume. What's not to like?

A big round of thanks and cheers to the crew at Folsom Street Events for a wonderful time today!

Most perverse drag - a business suit and tie.

Best tattooed mature furry muscle dude.

Furriest beard on a smiling man.

Biggest black cockman happily posed for pix. Due to Blogger's TOS I can't show you his third-leg.

Sexiest and happiest baby dykes in bow ties.

 Young furry guys.

Should we declare him the toughest-looking ginger bear of the day?

Pixie boy showing off his colorful arm jewelry and lion cub backpack.

Dudes who caught my eye. And how was your Dore Alley this year?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sally Ride Gave $$ to
Only One Presidential Candidate

(Screengrab from Political MoneyLine.)

The only lesbian to travel in space, twice, Sally Ride, died earlier this week and I had a gut feeling that she had politics in her bones and was a donor to the historic campaign for president waged by Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. My gut instinct was wrong.

Ride's Federal Election Commission file reveals she donated a total of $4,100 during the primaries and general election in 2008 to Barack Obama. Frankly, I had expected Ride to identify and show solidarity with fellow woman pioneer Clinton and toss a few bucks her way in the primary season.

A few weeks before Obama beat John McCain for the Oval Office, Ride penned a column for the Orlando Sentinel in which she laid out her reasons for backing Obama:

Obama also has impressed me with his grasp of the challenges our space program faces and his agenda for where we go from here. Obama clearly understands the importance of human spaceflight and exploration. That is why he supports increasing NASA’s budget to close the gap in American spaceflight capability. However, he also sees the potential for NASA to expand its research capabilities to study things like global warming and aeronautics. And most important to me, he has included plans to integrate our space program into educational curricula around the country so students can experience the thrill of science through remotely controlling cameras on the international space station or, perhaps one day, rovers on the moon. 

Rest in peace, Sally Ride.
SF Mayor Lee Booed
at Poetry Event Over Stop-and-Frisk

Late in June, my friend gay and AIDS activist Gary Virginia started a Facebook page opposing San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's controversial proposal to launch a stop-and-frisk effort to prevent crime.

Last night in North Beach another good friend, Tate Swindell, who used to work at the Market Street marijuana co-op until federal prosecutor Melinda Haag forced it to close, made his displeasure with the mayor's proposal known. Tate shared this note yesterday evening with me:

Went to a poetry event at Jack Kerouac Alley this evening. It was great until the Mayor showed up. I was the only one to boo him and got shushed by 'some old biddy' as my brother Todd would say. 

I waited until the middle of his speech to let him know that 'stop & frisk' is a terrible idea. Apparently they were using this event, the kickoff to SF's international poetry festival, to announce the new poet laureate for the city, Alejandro Aurguia.

Well, despite all that I had a good time. 

Let's hope the mayor soon drops his unpopular push to use this tactic in San Francisco. Kudos to Gary, Tate and others who are creatively sending a message to Mayor Lee against stop-and-frisk.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Feds Paid for 11 SF DPH
Staffers to Attend AIDS Confab

With continuing deep budgetary cutbacks at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and reduction of many services, including HIV/AIDS programs, I was curious if any city dollars would be spent to send DPH staffers to the International AIDS Conference in Washington.

DPH spokesperson Eileen Shields said in an email that eleven staffers would attend and that no city funds were being used for this purpose. This was good news, but who I asked Shields who was paying for the trips. Various federal health agencies are picking up the tab via grants to the department, she said and she provided me with the names of the eleven staffers, along with the titles of their projects:

1) Moupali Das -- NIDA, "Project HOPE: Hospital Visit as an Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement"

2) Nicholas Moss -- NIDA, "Project HOPE: Hospital Visit as an Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement"

3) Phillip Coffin -- CDC, "Project ECHO: Reducing HIV Risk among Episodic Substance-using MSM"

4) Erin DeMicco -- NIDA, "Project HOPE: Hospital Visit as an Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement"

5) Tim Matheson -- NIDA, "Project HOPE: Hospital Visit as an Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement"

6) Milo Santos -- CDC, "Project ECHO: Reducing HIV Risk among Episodic Substance-using MSM"

7) Tracey Packer -- CDC, Evaluation and Data Management grant

8) Taylor Maturo -- NIDA, "Project HOPE: Hospital Visit as an Opportunity for Prevention and Engagement"

9) Susan Buchbinder--NIH, Leadership Group for a Global HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Network

10) Jonathan Fuchs--NIH, Leadership Group for a Global HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Network

11) Albert Liu--NIH, Chemoprophylaxis for HIV Prevention in Men 

A longtime research watchdog attending the conference shared these comments with me, in response to questions I raised regarding any problems with the federal government subsidizing the travel and related costs of SF DPH staffers. He said:

I'd almost rather have it come out of pharma's pocket, but they really don't fund much prevention work. 

I think the bigger story is how many people are [the federal agencies] doing that for, both domestically and internationally. They usually link it with investigator meetings around the conference, so at least the flight does double duty. I'm sure they'll argue that it is important to both disseminate the knowledge and for the researchers to be exposed to other ideas. There is some validity to that, but for how many? 

One untalked about issue is that CDC is one of the sponsors of the conference and sits on panels that decide what abstracts are accepted for delivery or posters. So they are essentially evaluating their own research activity and decide who will get attention and to attend the conference. Peer review is very incestual. 

Good points, and I agree that independent review of HIV/AIDS research and abstracts can all too easily be compromised.

There will be a report-back from the conference by Bay Area researchers on August 22 at the UCSF Mission Bay campus, but none of the DPH folks who went to the conference are listed as presenters. The report-back will take place in the Genentech auditorium. Seeing that pharma name associated with UCSF reminds of how incestuous things can get between a drug company and a research university. The flier above contains more details on the meeting next month.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I Saw at SF Dems
First Post-Primary Meeting

(Public comment speakers tonight at the Milton Marks office building. Credit: Luke A. Thomas, Fog City Journal.)

Here are random notes from tonight's Democratic County Central Committee that took place at the State Bldg on Golden Gate Avenue.

1. I wore a 5x3 rainbow flag taped around my neck, leaving it to trail in the wind as I swished around the lower lobby auditorium, where the meeting transpired. Walked in just as John Burton was starting to swear in all the 30-plus members of the new DCCC folks, for the first meeting since the June primary election.

On the stage were five members of the Board of Supes out of the six who are DCCC members, along with all the other appointed and elected members and it was a crowd to be sure.

Leslie Katz was the temporary chair who ran the first part of the meeting, which included public comment and also heard DCCC members comment on the agenda or suggest a change or two to it. The list of members from before the June election is here: http://dev.sfdemocrats.org/node/7 . Many of those folks are still on the DCCC and the official list of new members should be up on the SF Dems site soon enough, now that they and returning members were deputized by Burton to begin party business.

2. A number of bloggers, leaders of assorted local Dem clubs, Dem dignitaries, the DA George Gascon and good government folks were in the audience, numbering at least 50. Tom Ammiano's aide Kimberly Alvarenga and her wife Linette were present with their new-born baby, bawling away like a Democrat in training. Luke Thomas of Fog City Journal was darting in front of the stage and on the sides of the auditorium, snapping pix.

3. The first items of business were housekeeping things, including questions about the Brown Act provisions that now apply to the DCCC because of the number of BOS members, and also does the Brown Act apply when a Supervisor sends a proxy to the DCCC meeting.

On that point, Supe David Campos said he had consulted with Sup. Scott "Not Harvey Milk" Wiener and they were in agreement to err on the side of adhering to more times and for more reasons on when Brown Act is in effect.

4. Public comment allowed for two-minutes per speaker and others spoke about party business, reelecting Obama in the fall, what their local club was doing for get out the vote, or offering best wishes to the DCCC now that June election is over.

My comments were terse, as I stood with the panel to my left and the public to my right, studded with silences after dramatically stating the facts mentioned in my flier. Stressed that I will return to the DCCC with a resolution calling for lowering the Castro rainbow flag. My final 15 seconds were used for a moment of silence and everyone was silent int that room.

Many panel members had pained looks, I believe because of emotions over the Aurora carnage, and held their heads up. Wiener cast his eyes downward and was expressionless. I didn't name him once verbally as a culprit behind the disrespect of the Castro flag not coming down. That was done in the handbill I gave the members.

The woman who spoke after me, whose name I didn't hear, started off thanking me for my presentation and temp chair Katz gently interrupted her to assure me that the meeting tonight would adjourn in memory of the Colorado victims. There was no question from any member of the DCCC about how they would adjourn.

5. Each DCCC member got a handbill on pink paper from with this text: In response to President Obama’s proclamation on Friday to fly all American flags on U.S. government property at half-staff until sundown on July 25, to honor the dead killed in the Aurora movie theater massacre, our state and city governments complied with his wishes. The War Memorial Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall also lowered their flags.

Down in San Diego, where a newly-installed 65-foot flagpole flies the rainbow flag in the heart of that city’s LGBT community, the flag was lowered. Out of respect for the grieving Aurora community and because of the president’s proclamation, San Diego’s LGBT community proudly displayed visual solidarity and patriotism.

Sadly, the public’s rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco was not lowered, showing tremendous disrespect for the dead in Aurora and our president. We all know that if Harvey were alive today, he would have lowered the rainbow flag. 

Shame on the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro and Scott Wiener, for again refusing to lower the Castro’s rainbow flag.

When does the public regain control of the rainbow flag on public property at Harvey Milk Plaza?

6. My advice to all sunshine and rainbow flag advocates is get yourself to the next DCCC and let the powerbrokers on it, and the proxies for the likes of Feinstein, Pelosi, Speier and Leno, and everyone in the audience hear what you have to say. It's time to use public comment at the Democratic Party meetings to our advantage.
NYT's Sulzberger Jr
Gave to Gun Control Group: Bravo!

(Arthur Sulzberger Jr at a digital life conference in Europe last year. Credit: Miguel Villagran, Getty Image.) 

Back in 2004, I conducted a survey of New York Times employees and Sulzberger family members and their donations to federal candidates and political action committees. Among the donations was a $500 gift in 1999 from Arthur Sulzberger Jr to Handgun Control Inc, now known as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

I thought about that donation this week, as America grapples with the senseless deaths and carnage in a movie theater in Colorado last week, and the ease with which the accused gunman acquired weapons and ammo. I am proud of my $50 contribution in the 1990s to the same gun control group that Sulzberger gave to.

(Screengrab from OpenSecrets.org)

Today, I asked NYT spokesperson Eileen Murphy about that 1999 donation from Sulzberger Jr and if he would consider making an additional contribution. Her reply:

I checked in with Arthur on this. Yes, in [1999], in response to a request for a memorial gift in honor of someone who had died, he made this donation to the Handgun Control Voter Education Guide. However, as a general rule, he does not make donations to political organizations. 

Curious to learn if the donation was because the person he was honoring died from gun violence, my follow up question brought this reply from Murphy:

It was a memorial gift, that’s all I can say.

Speaking as a Times reader and gun control advocate, I have this to say. Bravo, Arthur, for the donation!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Video of San Diego's Half-Staff
Rainbow Flag for CO Shooting Victims

(The half-staff rainbow flag is at the :27 mark.)
The newly installed rainbow flag in Hillcrest gay neighborhood of San Diego, unlike the rainbow flag in San Francisco's Harvey Milk Plaza, is thankfully not subject to the same dumb rules preventing it from being lowered on select days to honor the dead.

It is disappointing and sad that the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro and the district's Supervisor Scott Wiener, ignored President Obama's proclamation lowering flags to show respect to the victims of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater massacre. Maybe MUMC leaders and Wiener will look to the LGBT community of San Diego for leadership on how to use a rainbow flag in the heart of a gay neighborhood to weave LGBT Americans into the fabric of our nation.

As I watched the YouTube video showing San Diego GOP City Councilman and mayoral hopeful Carl DeMaio march in the city's Pride Parade on Sunday, and receive boos and thumbs-down from many people because he's accepted funds from anti-gay forces, I noticed the rainbow flag in the background.

At the :27 mark, the flagpole is clearly visible while the gay community's flag flies in the wind at a respectful half-staff position.

If the LGBT community of San Diego can lower its rainbow flag for the Colorado victims and at the request of our president and not have the world stop spinning, why in heaven's name can't the LGBT residents of the Castro do the same?

Monday, July 23, 2012

San Diego's Rainbow Flag
Lowered to Honor CO Massacre Victims

(An American flag at half-staff in front of the SD Gay and Lesbian News office, foreground, and in the distance, the rainbow flag at half in the city's gay neighborhood. Credit: Ben Cartwright.)

Over the weekend, San Diego's LGBT community celebrated their annual Pride events and also inaugurated an enormous rainbow flag on a 65-foot pole in the Hillcrest District, according to a report today from Ken Williams who is the editor of the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

Williams reported that the location of the flagpole is at the intersection of University Avenue and Normal Street, which is the traditional stepping off point for the Pride parade. I extend hearty congratulations to the San Diego community for erecting this pole and flying the LGBT flag.

In a phone interview, Williams told me many people were emotionally touched and full of pride when shortly after the rainbow flag went up for the first time. I told him that San Francisco's rainbow flag unfortunately was not lowered this weekend at Harvey Milk Plaza.

This note explained some of what took place down there:

San Diego Pride said during the flag-raising ceremony that it would lower the flag to half-staff after the event out of respect to the shooting tragedy in Colorado, as requested by President Barack Obama. Pride also held a moment of silence for the victims in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

It's a shame the LGBT community of San Francisco cannot say we also honored the president's request, lowered our flag and also observed a moment of reflection after the tragic shooting at the Colorado movie theater.

Here is a photo of the rainbow flag as it was being raised for it's debut run up the flagpole in Hillcrest. The photo was taken by Williams.

In other news today, the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro didn't lower the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza this morning and it was flapping in the wind as it normally does. Down at Civic Center in San Francisco, the American and California flags in front of the State Building were at half-staff.
Human Rights Campaign
Lowers Flag for Victims of CO Massacre

[UPDATE: HRC's press office just shared this photo of the U.S. and HRC flags at half-staff at their HQ today.]

After I blogged yesterday about the San Francisco city government and at least two cultural institutions lowering flags out of respect to the victims of the massacre at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater while the rainbow flag in the Castro flew at full-staff, I contacted Chad Griffin, the new leader of the Human Rights Campaign.

I asked Chad if HRC would honor President Obama's proclamation ordering all American flags on government property lowered for a few days, to honor the dead and survivors of the Colorado tragedy. This morning, deputy HRC director Fred Sainz sent this reply:

Thanks for your thoughtful email. Our flag has been lowered and will remain as such until the sunset of July 25th, consistent with the presidential proclamation.

Even though I am a staunch critic of HRC, I must give them a tip of the hat for this important symbolic gesture at their headquarters in Washington, DC. We can only hope that the leaders of the Merchants of Upper Castro/Market who control the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, which is public property, follow the example set by HRC today.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

CO Gun Tragedy: All SF Flags 
Half-Staff, Except Castro Rainbow Flag

While all American, California, San Francisco and United Nations flags on city property have been flying at half-staff since Saturday to remember the dead and wounded from the gun violence in Aurora, Colorado, one flag flaps in the wind at full-staff: the rainbow flag on municipal land at Harvey Milk Plaza.

President Obama issued this proclamation on Friday:

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, July 25, 2012.

I guess the leaders at the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro who illegitimately control the iconic rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza didn't see the president's memo, or they did and decided to ignore it. Recall MUMC has an ironclad set of rules against modifying this important piece of public property. Castro businesses change what flies on the flagpole only when it means more profits during Leather Week and Bear Weekend, and our kink and bear families get to remove the rainbow flag and fly their colors.

At this time of national mourning and soul-searching after the carnage wrought in Colorado, the beautiful fabric that is the American family - young and old, people of all colors, straight folks, voters of all persuasions, the wealthy and the poor, rural and urban dwellers - are coming together by lowering flags to show respect and reflect upon the tragedy.

Except the LGBT community in the Castro, the country's most fabulous queer district that usually is a beacon of hope and love, and in the plaza named for gay martyr who you can be damn sure would lower the rainbow flag in his district at this time.

Shame on MUMC and the following individuals and an organization who tolerate their tyrannical stewardship of the rainbow flag on city property that excludes LGBT Americans from joining with our fellow citizens in Aurora, Colorado, through a simple flag lowering ordered by President Obama:

Scott Wiener, Ed Lee, Steve Kawa, Steve Adams, Terry Asten Bennett, Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Bevan Dufty, Mohammed Nuru, Patrick Batt, Richard Magery, Gilbert Baker, Cleve Jones, B.S. Nevius, Tom Taylor and the Harvey Milk Democratic Club.

The majority of these photos were snapped today to illustrate how San Franciscan public flag poles controlled by good and compassionate persons at public and cultural sites heeded the president's proclamation, regardless of being named in it, and turned their control box key and in less than five minutes lowered flags.

The final photo shows the shame of MUMC's abnormal decision to isolate LGBT Americans and our rainbow flag and public pole by keeping the Harvey Milk Plaza flag flying in it's normal fashion, paying no mind to our president's proclamation.

If you can look at these photos and say to me that MUMC is a responsible steward of Harvey Milk Plaza's flagpole, you need to stop smoking such strong weed.

UN Plaza

City Hall Dome, Polk Street side

Mayor's Balcony, City Hall

Department of Public Health, right, Civic Center Plaza U.S. flag, left

City Hall entrance, Van Ness Avenue side

War Memorial Opera House

Davies Symphony Hall

The heart of LGBT America, Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets, with my young friend holding today's SF Examiner to fully document the failure of MUMC to lower the rainbow flag and extend our empathy to the community in Aurora, Colorado.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

$252M and $5M:
NRA v Brady Center Budget

Let me begin with a disclosure. In the early 1990s I donated money to the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, which is now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and an affiliate, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. My contributions were under $50 and I was proud to be a card-carrying member of the organization because I strongly favor gun and ammo control.

In the aftermath of the massacre at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, I want to shine a light on the most recent IRS 990 filings for both Brady nonprofits and the three National Rifle Association nonprofits. This info helps explain why America's bloody violence and death toll from guns is outrageously high.

First, the 2010 tax filings for the Brady nonprofits report these amounts for revenue:

Brady Center: $3.0

Brady Campaign: $2.8 million

Total: $5.8 million

Next, here are the revenue figures for the NRA and its two affiliates in 2010:

National Rifle Association: $227.8 million

NRA Foundation: $23.3 million

NRA Freedom Action: $1.8 million

Total: $252.9 million

Pardon the expression, but the Brady groups with their puny $5.8 budget are woefully outgunned by the massive $225.9 revenue of the NRA groups. Seeing these numbers explains why so many politicians are slaves to the gun lobby and fear proposing or enacting sensible gun control laws.

Over at OpenSecrets.org, the chart for the Brady Center's PAC over all spending from 1990 through 2012 shows only one year where they spent more than $1 million:

The chart for their spending reveals they've never given more than $350,000 in any election cycle, and the bulk of the money went to Democrats:

For the NRA's PAC, the chart shows their best fundraising ($18 million) and money doled out ($16 million approximately) year was in 2000. For the 2012 election cycle, they've taken in an estimated $8 million so far and have spent more than $3.6 million:

The NRA PAC made most of its donations to Republicans, and in many years the total donated was at or above $900,000:

Blood and carnage have not been strong enough factors to motivate politicians to stand up to the NRA bullies, and until serious money is raised and spent to match the NRA I don't expect anything to change to curb gun violence. It pains me to say that the deaths and harms in Aurora, Colorado, won't do much to loosen the grip of the gun lobby on our political system.

Friday, July 20, 2012

AG Report: AIDS Project LA's
Low 26% Return from Fundraiser

California's Attorney General Kamala Harris issued her office's annual report on commercial fundraisers for 2010 in November 2011, which I got around to reading this week. One charity's abysmal returns from their commercial fundraisers was the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

The report noted that APLA in 2010 received only 26% out of $1.6 million raised by Walk the Talk Productions, just 48% from MZA Events and that year's AIDS Walk which brought in $2.9 million, and lost money on an event produced by SD&A Teleservices that cost $21,700. See page 3 of the report for APLA's listings.

After the 2010 AIDS Walk, the executive director of APLA, Craig Thompson, pictured, made this comment about money raised in a press release: "We are deeply grateful to our 30,000 participants for raising $2,878,711 for L.A. County’s fight against AIDS."

I don't believe Thompson was totally truthful about where that money went, based on what the AG report said about only 48% of revenue went to the agency. I sent off a few questions to him and his staff requesting clarification.

APLA sent this reply: "We have received your inquiry. As a matter of policy, we only respond to legitimate news outlets. Our financial information is available on our Web site at apla.org."  

Very odd of them to avoid the fiscal questions and not release answers to me, prodding me to think of Mitt Romney and his refusal to release more of his tax returns. It was easier for me to get a confirmation and reply from Romney's trustee R. Bradford Malt this week than APLA.

The agency's 2011 IRS 990 filing is posted on their site and shows that last year revenue was at $14.5 million and Thompson's total compensation was $253,000. Compare Thompson's salary with that of San Francisco AIDS Foundation executive director Neil Guiliano, $249,000 according to the Bay Area Reporter, and his agency's $24 million dollar budget.

APLA's budget is tremendously lower than SFAF's, yet the Los Angeles group's leader makes more than the San Francisco agency's head. Something to keep in mind when looking at the overall fiscal stewardship at APLA.

The AIDS Project Los Angeles owes everyone answers about what the California Attorney General said about their low return rates from their commercial fundraisers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bay Guardian:
Shutting Down S.F.'s Sunshine Task Force

Good government in The City That Knows How is seriously jeopardized not by the likes of conservative forces at the Republican Party or Fox News or the Tea Party, but by the 11-members of the Board of Supervisors and the City Attorney's Office.  Our commitment to open government and open books is under attack, and the person leading efforts to dismantle or at least considerably neuter the sunshine panel is gay Supervisor Scott Wiener. 

Despite their misguided endorsement of anti-sunshine advocate and deputy city attorney Matt Dorsey for the Democratic County Central Committee, the Bay Guardian has provided effective watchdogging of Wiener's dangerous tinkering with the sunshine panel.

This week, Bay Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann has penned an editorial calling much-needed attention to the latest good government troubles that can be laid at the feet of Wiener and his Board colleagues. [Correction: The editorial was written by Tim Redmond, editor of the paper.]

I'm sharing a good chunk of Brugmann's thoughts because I agree with them and also to bring another ray of sunshine to bear on the diminishing of good government here:

The unwillingness of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to follow the City Charter's rules on open government has reached a new level of absurdity: The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force voted July 11 to stop meeting, because the supervisors wouldn't appoint the legally mandated members. 

Technically, the fuss is over a provision in the law creating the Task Force that mandates one member must be a physically disabled person with a demonstrated interest in open-government issues [...]

But the supervisors refused to reappoint Bruce Wolfe, a longtime task force member who met that criterion — and who had the respect of independent and progressive leaders all over town [...]

So the City Attorney's Office advised the task force that it would be violating the charter if it met and took any action — and although the chance that the courts would invalidate task force decisions might be slim, the members could face fines. So the panel did the prudent thing and quit meeting. 

Now, for all practical purposes, there is no Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, and it will be in legal and political limbo until the supervisors appoint a disabled member. 

That follows on the heels of the board refusing — for the first time since the creation of the task force in 1999 — to seat the nominees of the Society of Professional Journalists, New American Media, and the League of Women Voters [...]

So the agency that it supposed to protect the public's right to access records and meetings has been stacked with City Hall-friendly appointees and now is unable even to hear complaints [...]

The supervisors are demanding that SPJ, NAM and the League submit new lists of nominees, with multiple names, which is unprecedented and difficult: These grassroots groups are supposed to line up a group of volunteers for a difficult, time-consuming, unpaid job — then tell them that all but one of them will be rejected by the supervisors? Who's going to want to be in that position? 

The three organizations should hold their ground, resubmit their nominees and ask the supervisors to follow the City Charter. And the City Attorney's Office needs to offer some clarity here: Can the supervisors, in a fit of pique, shut down a Charter mandated watchdog agency? Really?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Romney Trustee Brad Malt
Gave How Much $$ to Obama?

What's up with this? The Boston-based lawyer R. Bradford Malt, chairman of the powerhouse law firm Ropes & Gray who serves as the trustee of Mitt Romney enormous fortune, donated $2,300 to Barack Obama's campaign during the last presidential election.

According to Federal Election Commission records Malt contributed that amount in 2007 to Obama. It's worth noting that Malt donated the same amount that year to Romney.

I can easily understand Malt writing a check out to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2003, because they're from the same state and may know each other, but why would give even a dime to Obama four years later? My attempts via email and telephone to get an answer from Malt didn't produce a response.

Very curious that someone this close to Romney would have made a donation to any Democrat in the 2008 election, wouldn't you agree?

[UPDATE: Moments after I published this post, Malt sent this note:

From: Malt, R. Bradford
Sent: Wed, Jul 18, 2012 2:06 pm

At the request of a close friend, I did donate to the Obama campaign in the early days of the primaries in 2007.  I want my money back!]

(The top screengrab is from OpenSecrets.org and the bottom image is from the Political MoneyLine. Click 'em to enlarge.)