Friday, November 30, 2012

Wiener Has Sheriff
Arrest Me Over Photo

This is excerpted from an article by Clinton Fein published at the New Civil Rights Movement site this morning. Click here and here for background on this matter.

In what appears to be an act of heavy-handed political retribution, longtime activist, muckraker and citizen journalist Michael Petrelis yesterday surrendered to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in response to the District Attorney issuing a warrant for his arrest, after being charged with allegedly violating the privacy of Supervisor Scott Wiener. 

The DA alleged Petrelis broke Section 647(j) sub-section (1) of the penal code. 

A simmering feud between the Supervisor and Petrelis over a range of issues from a public nudity bill to control over the rainbow flag in Harvey Milk Plaza has raged for over two years. 

The charge stems from a photograph Petrelis snapped, and subsequently published on his blog, of the supervisor at a wash basin in a public restroom at City Hall on Friday, October 26. Petrelis voluntarily turned himself in for booking on Thursday afternoon after posting bond, was cited and released. 

“I am dealing with this legal matter head on,” said Petrelis following his ordeal. “I voluntarily surrendered to the San Francisco sheriff. I have a court date set for December 5th at 9 am, and I look forward to it.” 

The incident occurred at City Hall, where Petrelis was staging a photo-op for visiting gay Honduran dignitary Erick Martinez, an activist whose life has been threatened by the rightwing junta ruling his country. Through Petrelis’ political organizing, Martinez was introduced to gay Supervisor David Campos and bisexual Supervisor Christina Olague, in front of the Harvey Milk Bust in the Grand Rotunda on the second floor. 

Petrelis had been taking photographs of the activities in the Grand Rotunda before he walked into the public men’s room noticed Wiener and proceeded to photograph him. An image of Wiener standing in front of the sink, holding a toothbrush later appeared on Petrelis’ blog. 

Two weeks after the photo appeared on his blog, in what looks like an act of political retribution, Wiener appears to have abused his power as a San Francisco Supervisor by involving the sheriff’s department, who in turn assigned two senior detectives to investigate the Petrelis. 

“I am surprised the DA charged this case,” said Petrelis’ attorney, Derek St. Pierre . . .

More recently, Wiener has been under considerable fire for the anti-nudity legislation he authored; an aggressive attempt to impose curfews on public plazas in the Castro that critics decry as openly hostile to the district’s homeless population; the erosion of San Francisco’s once-powerful Sunshine laws; and his strenuous opposition to free Muni rides for minors. A growing chorus of irate constituents has begun protesting the Supervisor’s activities and speaking engagements . . .

California Penal Code Section 647 (j) (1) 

Any person who looks through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, camcorder, or mobile phone, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

SF Sunshine Panel
Meetings to Air on TV?

At the November 7 meeting of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, I used my public comment time to request the panel provide a timer at the lectern where the public speak and that the hearings begin airing on the city's cable channel. In essence, I'm trying to sunshine the sunshine panel and it's about time it took advantage of all technological tools to engage with taxpayers and citizen watchdogs.

SOTF member Todd David, who has been the subject of much criticism from me and other open government advocates because of his lack of sunshine advocacy and full understanding of the SOTF, is now pushing for my ideas to be implemented.

He sent this note to Supervisors John Avalos, Mark Farrell, and Jane Kim, and Andrea Ausberry the secretary for the panel, which David shared with me:

I would like to request the public broadcasting of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Meetings via SFGTV. I believe it is in the public's interest to begin broadcasting the Task Force's meetings.
And David sent this email to the same folks:
I would like to request a timer for the dais used for public comment at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Meetings.  A timer would allow members of the public to know exactly how much time they have to provide testimony and share their opinions.
These small requests are laudable, but longtime sunshine advocate Ray Hartz Jr offers a larger context to David's requests and the SOTF:
The current lack of a timer is problematic for people speaking before the Task Force.
Having the timer available is a function of the room used: the larger rooms at City Hall have the time built into the podium and the smaller ones do not.

Having the SOTF televised is a great idea, but, again a function of the room. The Ethics Commission had to be moved into one of the larger rooms to be able to have the room properly equipped with both cameras and video monitors. Room 408, where the SOTF usually meets, is not equipped with either cameras for SFGTV style video presentations or video monitors to allow those in the room to see what is being televised. 

While I feel Mr. David is an area of concern, I believe the "holdover" members of the Task Force, the only ones with ANY knowledge of the Sunshine Ordinance, are the real area for concern.

Mr. David is only the most apparent member of the SOTF with problems from Sunshine advocates perspective. The body as a whole has only the three "holdover" members to keep it from being totally uninformed as to any knowledge relating to Sunshine. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SF Democrats Cancel
Tonight's Meeting Fearing Nudists?

When the going could get tough, the sissies at the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee get up on a chair as if they'd seen a mouse and shriek in fear.

Yesterday I blogged about the intentions of local beautiful nudists and myself to attend tonight's monthly DCCC meeting. There was also a story in the SF Examiner about the body freedom activists making plans to address the Democrats.

Instead of going ahead with tonight's forum, it simply won't happen and for quite a lame last-minute excuse:

Due to unforeseen permitting and scheduling issues with the State Office Building's Milton Marks Auditorium, the S.F. Democratic County Central Committee has had to cancel its regular meeting for Wednesday, November 28, 2012. As soon as a date, time and location are chosen for a new meeting, it will be properly re-noticed, and an updated agenda packet will be posted here. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

If you believe permitting problems are the reason why the scaredy cats of our local Democratic Party won't be hearing from the general public tonight, can I interest you purchasing the deed I have to the Golden Gate Bridge?

Cancelling the meeting is so in keeping with how San Francisco electeds of all kinds fear voters and directly hearing our concerns.

Since no members of the Board of Supervisors, including progressives John Avalos and David Campos who are also members of the DCCC, hold regular interactive question time events in their districts with the public, even though they want robust question time with Mayor Ed Lee, there won't be an opportunity to publicly ask them about tonight's cancellation.

Lemme know when regular, small "d" democratic engagement events open to all between electeds and the general public become an integral part of the local political scene.  Perhaps 2013 will be the year voters force our electeds to get with the democratic engagement program.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nudists Prep for 11/28
SF Dem Party Meeting

(Buck nekkid queer folks were arrested today in Speaker Boehner's DC office today over AIDS funding matters. Makes me happy to see activists using their bodies for political purposes, an activity soon to be banned in San Francisco.)

Try as I do to get the male nudists to get off the streets, and come visit me in my apartment and serve as living art with their bodies, I just can't succeed with them.

The other day, I begged my nudists pals to stay away from the monthly Democratic Country Central Committee meeting on Wednesday, November 28 starting at 7 PM, with two-minutes of public comment allowed per speaker at the beginning of the meeting. As usual the DCCC will convene at the Milton Marks State Building at 455 Golden Gate Avenue near Polk Street, in the basement.

I told them the proxies for Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier, Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Kamala Harris, and the actual six members of the Board of Supervisors, along with all the other political animals and climbers who are DCCC members and at every meeting, simply do not need to hear from the nudists about their complaints.

And the nudists have ignored my suggestions to show up at the DCCC meeting and put their bodies and voices to good use before the powerbrokers ruining San Francisco.

According to a story by Dan Schreiber in today's SF Examiner, the body freedom enthusiasts have a full plate over the next few days:

Nudists made their displeasure known last week by stripping naked during a close Board of Supervisors vote to ban public nudity citywide. And with a few months to go before the new ordinance officially becomes law, the political corridors of San Francisco could be filled with naked rage through the holidays.

Christina DiEdoarado, an attorney representing nudists who intend to challenge the law in federal court, said nudists will be out in force Wednesday at a meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee, at a rally on the City Hall steps on Friday, and for the board’s required and usually perfunctory second vote on the ordinance Dec. 4.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Castro Xmas Tree Lighting
Zapped by Wiener Foes

(Nudist leader Mitch Hightower designed these fabulous posters. They were glued to wooden sticks and displayed tonight, angering a good number of Wiener supporters.)

Many thanks to the 20 or so nudists and affordable housing advocates and folks who want to reclaim public space for the general public, who came out tonight to zap MUMC and Scott Wiener. It's clear to me that everyone at the event tonight in the Bank of America plaza got the simple message: No more Castro Inc business as usual.

We activists are more than fed up with how Wiener and MUMC make decisions behind closed doors about public plazas and public policies, and have no interest in providing transparency to the general public.
What a pathetic official event tonight. Just what the heck was the DA doing there and how many times must we listen to City Treasurer Jose Cisneros and Mark Leno aide Anna Damiani say basically nothing at these things?

The following report by Roy McKenzie provides a few details on what happened, but I wish to expand upon his claim that it was only murmurs of discontent directed at me and other activists. Those unhappy with us shouted their displeasure and a few said, "You're ruining it for the children."

I told one counter-heckler that our public space is controlled by private merchants and democratic engagement is not a hallmark of Wiener's two-years as supervisors, and the last thing I was concerned with were kids seeing a tree in front of a bank get illuminated and crowd urged to shop at businesses that demonize nudists.

From the Castro Biscuit report (thanks Roy!):

Over a hundred people, both family and friends, gathered around the unlit holiday tree at 18th and Castro Street for the Castro’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. There were so many people that we spilled into the street as SFPD routed the 24 line around the crowd. Castro ambassador and drag queen Donna Sachet “Mistress Claus” MC’d the event . . .

Many local politicians including District Attorney George Gascon, Treasurer José Cisneros, and Disctrict 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener were there to say a few words and encourage the crowd to keep it local and hit the stores after the ceremony . . .

Throughout the ceremony, local activist Michael Petrelis, minced no words with his bull horn calling out Supervisor Wiener’s aggressive political moves over the past few months including the ban on nudity and his support for the removal of the benches at Harvey Milk Plaza

Other activists from Occuprides’s Community Not Commodity contingent held up large, but festive signs that read, “Santa is a nudist” and “Scott Wiener the grinch who stole benches”. 

Most of the crowd was not pleased with Petrelis’s actions booing him in unison as many times as he took to his bullhorn. Many people in the crowd murmured that it was neither the time nor the place to make a political statement . . .

POZ: AIDS Charities,
$300K Salaries & Giving Wisely

Remember my September blog post about 12 executive directors at assorted HIV and gay nonprofits making $300,000 or more? A lot of grief came my way for conducting that informal survey via examining a few years' worth of IRS 990 tax returns. Friends and supporters of the executives defended the salaries and said it was wrong to sunshine the info.

Now, an unsigned post at the POZ magazine web site has picked up on what I wrote and put the details in the larger context of helping donors get the full financial picture from AIDS charities before making a donation. I couldn't be happier with everything mentioned in the POZ column:

But before you get into the seasonal spirit of gift-giving and fundraising, heed some advice from Charity Navigator, a nonprofit group that offers guidance on smart, responsible giving.

First off: Don’t make a donation to a telemarketer, even if the caller represents a group or cause you want to support . . .

Likewise, you want to know how much of your donations are going to overhead versus going to programs and services. Blogger Michael Petrelis raised this issue in September with a post titled “$300K-Plus Club: 12 Gay & AIDS Executives’ Pay.” After looking at tax returns for related nonprofit service organizations, Petrelis found 12 executives who broke the $300,000 annual salary mark. (HIV executives making the list in 2011 include: amfAR’s Kevin Frost at $388,000, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Michael Weinstein at $380,000, Food & Friends’ Craig Schniderman at $374,000, God’s Love We Deliver’s Karen Pearl at $318,000 and amfAR’s Jerome Radwin at $300,000.) . . .

Yes, it's good to get this compensation info out to more of the public and POZ goes further with helping donors (and clients) understand the important of transparency:

Another way to find fiscal info on your AIDS service organization or any nonprofit is to look for its IRS 990 tax forms on its website. Charities that are most transparent regarding their finances make this information accessible to the public. If you can’t find it, then don’t hesitate to call or email to request a copy. While you’re at it, ask for tax forms from the past several years so you can look for trends. 

Speaking of transparency, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation does not like it and makes no IRS 990 available on their web site. Good of POZ to recommend looking at a few years' of returns and to simply ask any charity for their tax filing. You can also find the returns at and help in understanding the forms at

Finally, once excellent point POZ makes that I want to reiterate is this:

It also doesn’t hurt to take a look at an organization’s board of directors. Are any of the members openly living with HIV? Do they represent the community the group is supposed to be helping?

After checking out the IRS 990s, ask the organization not only if people with AIDS are on the board or in top leadership positions, but also see what mechanism they have for client input over how the money is spent and services delivered.

Let transparency reign at all AIDS nonprofits!
Bay View + Guardian:
Wiener Irks Parents, Environmentalists

It's not enough that polarizing Supervisor Scott Wiener, a politician truly lacking in people-skills and the ability to compromise with opponents, has pissed off nudists, sunshine and good government advocates, folks who want to reclaim flagpoles on public grounds, and voters who rejected his ballot prop to allow the Board of Supervisors to amend select measures passed by the electorate.

Wiener has now irked low-income parents with kids and their allies, because he does not want to use public dollars making Muni rides free for youths. Excerpted from an article last week in San Francisco's leading black newspaper the Bay View, written by Jaron Browne:

Dozens of parents and youth advocates testified before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Government Audits and Oversight Committee supporting Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin’s proposal to apply recently awarded regional funds to implement the free Muni for youth pilot program. 

The families were responding to a resolution introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener urging the MTA to use the funds only on maintenance and not on the youth pass. 

“Supervisor Weiner is creating a false choice between the youth pass program and the health of the system as a whole,” said Angelina Yu with the Chinatown Community Development Center . . . 

“Supervisor Wiener is out of touch right now with the needs and experiences of the majority of people who ride the bus in San Francisco,” said Gloria Esteva, parent leader with POWER. “He says he is a transit advocate but he is fighting against the core issue being raised by the thousands of families and youth who ride Muni every day, which is the urgent transit need of our children and youth.”

The SF Metropolitan Transportation Agency is set to vote on a resolution backing free transit for youths on Muni on December 4, and a large crowd of advocates favoring the resolution are expected to show up and speak up. I'm supportive of the resolution and believe the newly available dollars would best be used getting youths used to riding public transit, and give low-income families a break in these hard times.

Also last week, the Bay Guardian's editor Tim Redmond reported on Wiener's attempt to dilute environmental protections and reviews, a scary proposal that would seriously jeopardize the public's right to appeal decisions favorable to developers:

Sup. Scott Wiener is proposing a dramatic overhaul of the city's environmental review process that would limit the ability of citizen activists to appeal projects and could ease the path for major developments.

The new rules — some of which are fairly simple and routine, others more far-reaching — cover the city's interpretation and implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state's venerable land-use and environmental oversight law. The legislation is before the Planning Commission and could reach the supervisors in December . . .

Wiener would do away with the mandate that the supervisors hold a hearing, accept appeal briefs, and address CEQA questions as a distinct and separate part of a project approval. 

"The public would be denied the right to a hearing before the full elected body on the adequacy of an EIR or other CEQA determination," a Planning Department staff analysis states . . .

As Wiener's first two years serving as the District 8 supervisor come to a close with more of his conservative and questionable tinkering with city policies, it's abundantly clear he has no intention of learning from his predecessor Harvey Milk in respectfully engaging all constituencies and practicing the political art of compromise.

The list of constituencies and numbers of citizens displeased with Wiener and his rigid conservative agenda continues to expand with these proposals, and that is not healthy for the Castro or the city at-large.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend Woof #18:
Pleasing to My Queer Eye

Another week of snapping photos of good-looking dudes around San Francisco. Gay or straight, they all appeal to my queer eye and happily pose for me. Thanks much, fellas!

My gay neighbor Manesh models professionally and was so relaxed about smiling for this ongoing photographic series. Been meaning to grab pictures of him for some time now and glad I ran into him at our local taqueria.

At that same taqueria in the Mission is where I caught up with the adorable Tyler, a funny ham who once appeared on a reality show and struck a happy and serious pose for me. He's the general manager at the West of Pecos restaurant owned by his equally straight brother Dylan, who appeared in Weekend Woof #17.

One of the many pleasures of hanging out in Jane Warner Plaza is meeting all the handsome straight guys visiting the Castro with their girlfriends. These two men were visiting last weekend from Spain, and the one with the camera asked me to use my rudimentary Spanish to say hello for his camera. Just like I'm posting his image my blog, he's sharing some footage of me on his blog back at home.

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Which Two 'Progressive' 
SF Supes Attended Junket in DC?

The president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, is no progressive, not when he frequently votes with the conservative faction of the board as he did on Tuesday to ban nudity.

Chiu's swing vote in favor of Scott Wiener's latest failure to hash out a neighborhood compromise to a social controversy, and to seek a second legislative nudity solution, illustrates Chiu's lack of progressive bona fides.

Imagine my surprise reading Chiu's gifts of travel disclosure posted on Tuesday at the Ethics Commission web site. He was in Washington, DC, from November 16 thru the 18th. The purpose of attending a junket in the capitol? Chiu claims he was:

Representing San Francisco at Founding Meeting of the National Progressive Municipal Network.

If Chiu's a progressive, then I'm Greta Garbo. His pro-Wiener, anti-nudity vote lays to rest any question that he's a genuine San Francisco progressive.

Amount listed for cost of attending the junket? Not much, just $707.

Section 4 of Chiu's disclosure requests the name of any other city employee required to file a statement of economic interests and Supervisor John Avalos' name is listed. Avalos is certifiably and genuinely progressive, but either he hasn't file a gifts of travel disclosure form for the trip or he has and the Ethics Commission has not posted it.

But Avalos' progressive reputation is sullied by the written promise he made in September 2011 during his mayoral campaign, that he would address the rainbow flag control issues at Harvey Milk Plaza. After his loss, he abandoned that promise.

There's also the matter of Avalos demanding more robust, direct and regular question time with Mayor Ed Lee, and not holding his own forums where question time directed at him is on the agenda.

Avalos could show the mayor how easy it is to engage with taxpayers via question time events, and put on his own. That is, if he's not too busy spending time on a junket in DC.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wiener Uses SF Sheriff
to Intimidate Citizen Journalist

As I go about my day out and about in San Francisco, as a citizen journalist, I frequently snap lots of photos including ones of public figures in public places.

Remember my May 17, 2010, photo of Judge Vaughn Walker, pictured at right, having dinner with his friend AIDS executive Brett Andrews of the Positive Resource Center in a gay restaurant in the Castro, during the Prop 8 gay marriage lawsuit, before Walker exited the closet? Perfect example of my unique brand of documenting what I see in my daily routine.

I mention this because of a few of the questions posed to me this morning, with my attorney Derek St. Pierre present, during an intimidating 25-minute interview conducted by two deputies of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department at their 25 Van Ness office.

On the table was an inch-thick paper folder with my name and the case number of the complaint filed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, over the photo I snapped of him at a sink in a public restroom at City Hall in October.

The deputies explained that Wiener has filed a complaint against because he thinks the photo is inappropriate, as investigators in the security detail for City Hall they are obligated to conduct an interview. I was told twice that I was not under arrest and could leave at any time, and the interrogation lasted just under half an hour.

My attorney's request for a copy of the complaint and case file was rejected. Derek asked that the sheriff contact him should they have any further questions, or wish to bring a charge and arrest me, so he be present when I turn myself in, if we get to that point.

Stop and think about this situation for a moment. An ambitious supervisor is upset over a citizen journalist taking his photo in a public room at City Hall, and he got two sheriff's deputies investigating me and using taxpayer dollars to intimidate a blogger. Does the photograph really rise to the level of a taxpayer witch-hunt? For Wiener, the clear answer is yes.

For me, Wiener and the sheriff's department are blowing up an image all out of proportion that I took as part of my mundane day on October 26, when I was at City Hall for a photo-op I and fellow gay activist Charlie Hinton, pictured far right, organized.

Erick Martinez, pictured center in dark red shirt, is a brave gay Honduran democracy advocate and political journalist who has been targeted for death by the rightwing militia controlling his country. Charlie and I arranged for Erick to meet LGBT Supervisors David Campos, pictured second from left, and Christina Olague, standing next to our visiting Latin American dignitary.

The photo-op took place in the Grand Rotunda of City Hall with all of us standing in front the Harvey Milk Bust.

Our purpose in creating the photos and video was to build Erick's profile in the United States among the gay blogosphere and in the Honduran press and politically-charged social media, because a higher profile could make the junta leaders who want him dead think twice about assassinating him as they have assassinated Erick's friends and journalist colleagues Erick Avila and Walter Trochez.

Now that the interrogation is over, Big Mike and I are keeping on with our plans for the Thanksgiving holiday. As the Wiener-driven investigation continues, I'll share updates when necessary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FBI File: 
Alexander Cockburn = 'Revolutionary Marxist'

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, via the National Archives, has released the rather boring 17-page file on the late radical journalist Alexander Cockburn in response to my Freedom of Information Act request. The full file is posted here.

Honestly, I expected the feds to have gathered more intelligence on Cockburn over the decades and found what's been released quite skimpy.

I think Cockburn, pictured, would be proud to be described as a revolutionary Marxist by the FBI and its counterpart in the United Kingdom, the MI-5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) agency, which shared information with the FBI. From the file:

Cockburn has been a leading figure of the "New Left", a group of revolutionary Marxist academics centered round the "New Left Review", since 1966.

Although closely associated with members of Trotskyist and Communist groups, he is not known to have been either a Trotiskyist or a Communist himself, and is probably best described as a Revolutionary Marxist.

The existence of the Cockburn file means media critic Jack Shafer won't need to borrow Splenda from me to help him swallow his keyboard!

The surveillance state back in the 1970s, when the Cockburn file was created, has only expanded since then and continues to grow under Barack Obama.
Sheriff Investigating Wiener Restroom Pic; 
Meeting at 9:30 AM Tomorrow 

The San Francisco Sheriff's Department has apparently launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the photo I took of Scott Wiener on October 26 in the second floor public men's room at City Hall.

My attorney Derek St. Pierre spoke with a senior deputy from the sheriff's office, who said I am not under arrest nor facing any charges at this time and he simply wants to speak with me about the photo and what transpired in the men's room.

Derek and I have agreed to speak with the senior deputy at his office at 25 Van Ness Avenue at 9:30 am tomorrow. If all goes as expected, I will be shopping at the UN Plaza farmers' market before the morning is over, but if a worse case scenario plays out and I'm arrested, my attorney will be working on my behalf to have me released.

Wish me and Derek the best of luck.

Monday, November 19, 2012

SF Mayor Won't Fly Trans Flag at City Hall

For a lot of weird and nonsensical reasons, the transgender pride flag can't fly on the taxpayer-funded flagpole off the mayoral taxpayer-funded balcony at San Francisco's City Hall, but . . .

. . . the Irish flag can . . .

. . . same goes for the German flag for Oktober beer fests across the city . . .

. . . also for the Philippines' flag . . .

. . . and the Forty-Niners team flag . . .

. . . and the black background version of the SF Giants flag can . . .

. . . as can the other version of the SF Giants' flag. They can all be flown from the mayor's balcony, but when it comes to raising the trans pride flag on Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday, November 20, Mayor Ed Lee is unwilling to commemorate the day with a simple flag raising.

A short while ago, I received a call from transgender leader Cecilia Chung who informed me that because of procedural qualms with Matthew Goudeau, the gay director of the Office of Protocol, the request to fly her community's flag tomorrow was rejected.

Cecilia wouldn't qualify what Matthew said on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee, that the flag would not fly, as a rejection and I again believe her responsibilities as a mayoral appointee to the powerful Health Commission is why she is bending over backwards to avoid the word rejection. She's also not upset with the decision.

What is upsetting her is my sunshining of this matter and I assured Cecilia a post would go up today about the rejection. It's not too late for Mayor Ed Lee to fly a piece of cloth off the taxpayer-funded metal rod extending out over out City Hall.

Let the mayor's gay chief of staff Steve Kawa know you want to see the trans pride flag displayed from the mayor's balcony on TDOR, just like all the other flags that rotate on the pole.

Send email to: and leave messages at the mayor's office: 415-554-6141.
Video: 265 Transgender People
Died from Violence in the Past Year

Jess Colyer, a transwoman and activist from San Diego where they have a flagpole on public land but none of the b.s. like we have with the Merchants of Upper Market Castro and Scott Wiener, shared this powerful and moving video with me. She asked that I share it on my blog, which I'm happy to do.

Here is Jess' text explaining the video:

265 Transgender people lost their lives in 2012. This video is there to honor those that died so violently and prematurely. Some victims were tortured, burned or shot more than a dozen times only because they were expressing who they truly felt they were inside. This video is free and can be downloaded. Please take it and use it any way you see fit to help in bring an end to violence against Transgender people worldwide.

One trans murder is one too many, and 265 trans killings are an outrage. Big thanks to Jess, for making this important video and I hope folks share it far and wide.

Please come to Harvey Milk Plaza today at 5:30 PM for the historic raising of the trans pride flag, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Will SF Mayor Lee
Fly Trans Flag From City Hall?

The San Francisco Office of Protocol, which handles when the flagpole off the mayor's office balcony facing Civic Center will fly flags other than the American flag, lacks a transparent request process. Since the spring, I and other activists who've been advocating for public control of the flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza, have pressed Mayor Ed Lee for transparent rules governing his balcony flagpole. Our requests for that info have produced naught.

Yesterday, I read the above rant from transwoman Robin Summers Mitchell at the San Francisco TDOR Facebook page (since removed), in which she mentions the mayor and displaying the trans flag from City Hall on November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance. Robin's note prodded me to email the mayor and his five press officers, asking why he was undecided about flying the trans flag on Tuesday and a copy of the request process rules.

I soon received a reply from Cecilia Chung, transwoman whom the mayor appointed to the powerful Health Commission in April, in which she showed greater concern for the mayor and his staff than in advancing a transparent process:

I believe it has already been a great victory that you have fought and won on behalf on the Trans community to fly the flag in Harvey Milk Plaza. Sadly, because of the media coverage around the incident, most of the community has thought the flag raising in Castro is this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance.

As you are fully aware, the Trans community has worked hard to advocate and to create our own community and space through consensus building. The idea of possibly raising the Trans flag in City Hall to bring the focus back to November 20 came actually from me but I see no reason to announce it to the whole world and the since the TDOR will gather in front of City Hall on Tuesday, I will have Monday to discuss with the Mayor.

I appreciate your impulse to advocate on our behalf when things does not seem to be moving, but Mayor Lee has a long history of working and advocating of Trans rights since he worked in the Human Rights Commission and to compare diplomatic relationships with community requests is like comparing apples and oranges.

Whether Mayor Lee decides to fly the Trans flag or not, the community does not wish for you to use this as an opportunity to put him, his staff City Hall or the community in any awkward position.

My reply to Cecilia laid out the concerns of Bill Wilson and myself of finally persuading the city to develop transparent and equally-applied rules for public access to the Milk Plaza and mayoral flagpoles. Unfortunately, Cecilia's hush-hush request shows she is not interested in larger public property access issues, or advancing a transparent request process for everyone not just mayoral appointees with access to his staff.

In no way am I questioning Cecilia's credentials as a transgender and HIV leader. Heck, earlier this year when she was a POZ cover girl, I sent her congratulations for the honor and her years of strong healthcare advocacy. What I am questioning is her commitment to transparency and putting queer public property issues before mayoral warm fuzzies.

The flag request is essentially about her having a meeting with Mayor Lee, looking out for his back and her moving up the political ladder, while using the flag request as the vehicle. I see no reason why sunshining all of this should in any way dissuade the mayor from doing the right thing, and if it is, well, then it's just one more problem on the very long list of problems stemming from opaque flagpole policies.

Why should the Ts get something from the mayor while the LGBs can't get their calls returned and questions answered? This is not just about the trans flag commemorating TDOR on Tuesday at City Hall, and I sure hope the mayor takes down the SF Giants flag and replaces it with the trans flag. The battle for reclaiming important city-owned tools on municipal grounds paid for by taxpayers is the larger issue here.

Transparency advocates could really use the support of the transgender community for our agenda of making flagpole use fair and equal for all.
Open Mic, No Pols
at Trans Flag Raising at Milk Plaza?

Tommi Avicolli Mecca and dozens of grassroots activists today staged a sit-in, literally, with plastic lawn chairs and the installation of a wooden bench, at Harvey Milk Plaza to protest the recent removal of purple benches lining the walkway.

A bunch of us queers got to talking about Monday's raising of the trans flag at Milk Plaza on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance and what we most want to see at the event.

After a blessing from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and speeches from trans folk about all the transgender people killed in the past year, we would like for there to be an open mic session. Let's hear from anyone who feels the need to speak and keep everyone other than trans leaders to a 2-3 minute time limit, just like at public comment during City Hall hearing.

We don't want to hear from opportunistic politicians including the likes of Scott Wiener, Mark Leno, David Campos, Ed Lee, or any other elected. They have plenty of chances to raise trans issues in Sacramento and at City Hall. There is no need to give electeds a platform to spout off and pursue votes for their next elections.

Considering that the Sisters and all the politicians haven't done a damn thing to create equal access to the flagpole on public property, and they haven't stood up to MUMC's bullying about controlling the flagpole, it's beyond hypocritical for these folks to now show up at the flag raising when if things were left to them, there wouldn't be the trans flag flying at the plaza tomorrow night.

No one I spoke with was pleased that Terry Bennett, owner of Cliff's Variety and president of MUMC, who insulted trans folks for an entire month ignoring Veronika Fimbres' request to use the pole for TDOR among other acts of stupidity, is listed as the media contract for the flag raising. What gall.

For two years, Benner and MUMC have done everything to divide the community over equality in terms of using the city-owned flagpole, and now they are the press contacts.

The insanity of these control issues and how MUMC irrationally make decisions about the flagpole will be on full display Monday evening at Milk Plaza. See you there.
Weekend Woof #17:
Mix of Gay and Straight Guys

I have more photos of fine fellas to share this weekend, and these guys are a mix of gay and straight and very pleasing to look at. Many thanks, fellas, for standing still so I could capture you with my camera.

Lemme introduce you to Larry, a youngish friendly straight dude who sells flagpoles and offers expert advice to folks like my colleague Bill Wilson and I, about the 21 foot portable flagpole he sole us. Larry owns Bolander's Company with his dad and mom. Bill and I will soon debut the pole in the Castro neighborhood.

This handsome mature gay man is Michael, who owns the Sweet Inspirations Cafe on Market Street in the Castro gayborhood. Not only does he serve the best freshly made (sinfully delicious) desserts, his cafe also offers truly tasty coffee to go with the sweets. Michael is quite a dish himself in the flesh.

Say hello to thirty-something Dylan, who owns the Woodhouse Fish Company restaurants in the Castro and Fillmore. He may be straight, but he's always been open to receiving my compliments about his good looks. I included the top photo of him pretending not to notice me snapping away because it shows what a goofy kid he can be at times.

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekend Woof #16:
Straight Biker Boys

Last weekend's edition of attractive guys didn't happen because I took a break from this series, but that doesn't mean I've been lax about snapping photos of guys. Let's get to today's young fellas who please my queer eye. I know they're straight because I've either met their girlfriends or they've disclosed the info when I've asked.

Remember WW#15 and pix of Erik from Box Dog Bikes? Well, he's not the only sexy straight boy working there. Say hello to furry Dan, who has been helping me with my biking needs for years. Most recently Dan filled my medicine ball with air and posed for my camera.

This handsome smiling dude is Ian and in recent months, he's taken care of tuning up my bike's brakes and keeping the air in the tires are their proper levels. A fast and reliable repair guy, Ian always earned my gratitude for his work and his grin.

I think Robert was finishing up his shift, which is why he's wearing a nice clean shirt free of grease and grime. It's a good thing I don't have to choose a favorite biker boy at Box Dog Bike because they're all so cute I just wanna squeeze them!

Previous batches of woofy dudes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Milk Plaza Pigeon Abatement Update

(DPW's Steve Shih, left, and Luis Agurto of Pestec.)

The Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Health and Muni, along with the transit system's contractor for anti-pigeon work Pestec, are all responding to my renewed complaints regarding the return of pigeons and their foul poop at Harvey Milk Plaza.

I am pleased to report they are all communicating and coordinating with each other, and working diligently to prevent the birds from roosting at Milk Plaza's streetlight, pictured, at the Castro and Market crosswalk.

On Wednesday afternoon, I met up with DPW's Steve Shih and Pestec's Luis Agurto and we inspected the Market and Castro intersection, to see which spots need to have spikes installed.

I thought it was just the cables and streetlight at Milk Plaza requiring spikes, but Steve and Luis noticed other spots where the birds roost and poop. They pointed out the streetlight near the Muni shelter, pictured, on Castro in front of the Twin Peaks bar.

On 17th Street, between Jane Warner Plaza and the other side of the Twin Peaks bar, Steve and Luis pointed out another streetlight and more cables, pictured, where the pigeons currently gather, with their excrement landing on the sidewalk and plaza.

Reports will be written up about the inspection and recommended courses of action will be proposed to all the city agencies involved in this matter. I'll keep tabs on suggested solutions and hope that our Castro neighborhood will be much improved by the end of the year with spikes in place to deter the pigeons and eradicate the health menace posed by their poop.

Big thanks to Steve and Luis for coordinating their site visit with me and for moving on my complaints. Sames goes for all the folks at DPW, DPH and Muni working toward an acceptable abatement of the pigeon problems.
60 Kinksters Attend
Eagle Tavern Meeting

I've got a follow up report to my post last week promoting a forum about the reopening of the Eagle Tavern and associated kink community issues South of Market. Last night, about sixty men and one woman attended a robust and wide-ranging two-hour discussion at the Beatbox Club on 11th Street. There was a diversity of ages and kinky interests represented, but lacked ethnic variety and everyone was putting forward creative do-able ideas and positive vibes.

Many thanks to the Beatbox Club co-owner Brian Kent for making his space available, to Demetri Moshoyannis, pictured right in blue shirt, for facilitating the meeting with a gentle touch that allowed attendees to set the agenda and keep it moving. Much gratitude to Eagle owners Mike Leon and Alex Montiel for engaging the community for ways to make the new venue a success for them as businessmen and for the kinksters of all stripes.

First off, Mike and Alex hope to be open before the new year dawns. They have all of the necessary permits and are purchasing equipment. A booted Daddy wants male bootblacks on duty at beer busts, which may happen on Saturdays and Sundays unlike in previous times only on the latter.

Since men in fetish wear and gear come to SOMA to enjoy a few bar and venues and not just the Eagle, a shuttle van to safely get guys around the neighborhood was proposed.

Other ideas dealt with organizing leather, social and biker club nights, offering soft drink specials at beer busts for our sober brothers and sisters, reviving Thursday night live rock music events that were wildly popular with straight people. Everyone agreed we want our straight friends to come back and feel welcome.

City Hall has a number of significant planning and land-use changes in the pipeline that will further dramatically gentrify the Folsom Street and 11th Street corridors. They include amending some historical preservation designations, constructing additional condos, developing new small businesses and turning Folsom Street into a two-way street. That last item was news to lots of us.

I suggested transforming the Eagle into a private sex space on a slow night, charging nominal membership and entry fees, an idea that received nods and murmurs of approval. The sticking point would be determining state liquor laws and keeping the booze locked up on sex nights, hopefully rendering the bar free of liquor-and-sex prohibition statutes.

Demetri broached the topic of DJs and their eclectic tastes in alt or 70s punk or classic rock styles, and that it seemed to keep the customers happy. This gave me the chance to say how I don't go to Blow Buddies as often I'd like because the thumping bass music and loudness detract from my primary agenda of oral sex. My suggestion to Mike and Alex was to retain the policy of high-volume speakers inside the bar and a lower sound out on the patio so guys can cruise and talk at the same time.

Toward the end, wealthy gay man Tom Taylor, who really controls the flagpole and flags at Harvey Milk Plaza on behalf of MUMC bosses, said he wants to donate the old Leather Pride flag to the Eagle. Leather leader Steve Gaynes explained that MUMC will no longer fly the black-and-blue kink flag in September and someone suggested erecting a 70-foot flagpole somewhere in SOMA and flying the kink flag from it.

Finally, there was general agreement to create a fabulous future for the Eagle, its patrons and the SOMA neighborhood, with a deep commitment honoring our collective kink history and our friends and lovers who have passed away.

Here's a short video I shot early in the meeting:

Big thanks and hugs to all participants who make last night the best community forum I've been to all year. We could use more meetings like it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jesus Saves Clay Theatre;
John Waters Aiding Roxie Cinema

Two of San Francisco venerable single-screen theatres, the Clay over in the Fillmore and the Mission's Roxie, in recent years have faced numerable threats to their survival and thankfully continue to operate.

I was one of twelve people on Tuesday night at the Clay's 7:00 PM showing of "Sister", an excellent film with strong echoes of Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's modern neo-realism style. "Sister", directed by Ursula Meier, is Switzerland's submission for the best foreign language Oscar and well-worth catching on the big screen because of the elegant cinematography by Agnes Godard.

The Clay's marquee advertised Sunday religious services with the Calvary San Francisco church, so I asked the theatre's staff for more info. They told me the church has been holding services for several months now and that the income from the rental is keeping the theatre open.

Considering the paltry number of folks at the prime showing on Tuesday, it's a good thing to have Calvary San Francisco utilizing the Clay. Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn!

Across town, the perennially fiscally challenged Roxie has launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay off $60,000 in debt. As of today, they've raised $14,300 and have until December 14 to secure the rest of the money needed to keep the theatre operating.

Legendary director John Waters is helping out. He's made a fantastic YouTube video urging folks to donate and help save the Roxie. Praise Divine and pass the "Hairspray"!

You can support the Clay and the Roxie simply by catching a movie soon at the theatres, or in the case of the latter, by making a donation to their Kickstarter effort. Let's keep these movie palaces in business.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

DPW: $500 Fee
to Delete More Castro News Racks 

(The mostly empty news rack on 17th Street abutting Jane Warner Plaza in front of Twin Peaks Bar.)

More rallies and social events are being held at Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro, attracting hundreds of people in addition to the high number of pedestrians walking through the public space which also serves as a street car area for the F line. If the plaza had to evacuated and the crowd made to exit toward Castro Street, the useless pedmount above would impede a quick and safe evacuation.

Something to bear in mind as I continue my campaign to rid the Castro of this street furniture clutter, and have the Department of Public Works, Clear Channel and publishers consolidate a few remaining pedmounts in fewer location. 

I've contacted DPW's Grace Moore, who's in charge of news racks, about deleting more pedmounts just like the one that was taken out at Harvey Milk Plaza on Monday.

If you want to reclaim the Castro's public sidewalks for the public, please contact Grace via email or phone and let her know you want more pedmounts removed as quickly as possible. Her email is, and you can leave vmail for her at this number, 415-554-5892.

Maybe Castro merchants, who would benefit from more foot traffic unimpeded by the pedmounts, can raise the $500 fee to remove more of them. This is Grace's latest info:

You may request the removal of “qualified” pedmount units to be removed at a cost of $500 ea. Through the consolidation process, the 5 units (listed below) have been identified by DPW and approved by publishers as pedmount units in the Castro area that qualify.

Unit # 117 

Unit # 118 

Unit # 124 

Unit # 139 

Unit # 160 

If you’re interested in pursuing the removal of any of the units listed above, I will notify the affected publishers and ask Clear Channel Outdoors to schedule a date and time for it to happen before year end. 

Parties interested in the removal of pedmount units at other locations should notify me. 

I've told Grace I'm very interested in more removals and hope to hear from her soon, about the response she receives from the publishers.
New Italian Cinema
at Embarcadero Theatre till Nov 18

The San Francisco Film Society launched its 16th annual survey of recent Italian movies last weekend and the mini-festival continues until November 18, and as always the slate of new works promises many pleasures. I wish there were enough time to catch all of the remaining films to screen over the next few days.

Two of them are of keen interest, starting with "The First on the List". Here's the synopsis from the program notes:

Set against Italy’s political upheaval in the late ‘60s, this lighthearted comedy follows three young potential revolutionaries who become convinced that there’s going to be a military coup and set off for the border . . . [and] combines screwball comic flair underscored by sly political satire.

The other film high on my list is "100 Meters to Heaven", pictured, and just reading the thumbnail description made me chuckle:

Monsignor Angelo is concerned that the Church is losing touch with the common man. Teaming up with his childhood friend and running coach Mario, they decide to form a Vatican Olympic team to compete in London’s games . . . this charming and spirited comedy details the pair’s difficulties with conservative Church authorities and their worldwide quest to find ten talented athletes to help build the team. 

Many of the films lack U.S. distributors and so your only chance to see them is during the New Italian Cinema event, down at the Embarcadero Theatre. In addition to the films, several directors and actors are expected to attend a few of the screenings. 

Click here for more info on the films, showtimes and to purchase advance tickets.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Empty News Rack Deleted at Milk Plaza

My first post about the useless pedmounts gobbling up too much of public sidewalk space was published in July 2009. Following up in August 2011, I blogged on the twelve mostly empty news racks cluttering up the Castro's pedestrian-congested sidewalks and called for deleting some, while consolidating others.

After three years of kvetching, the Department of Public Works and Clear Channel have finally removed one pedmount from the Castro. This effort also involved the support and strong advocacy of Andrea Aiello of the Castro Benefit District and pushing from Supervisor Scott Wiener.

BEFORE: Here is what pedmount number 133, on the right, looked like last year on the edge of Harvey Milk Plaza and Castro Street.

AFTER: And this is how the plaza looked yesterday afternoon when I took this photo.The former pedmount was deleted early yesterday morning.

BEFORE: This is a shot of the backs of the then-two pedmounts at the plaza last summer, when they had lighted ad space on their rears.

AFTER: Here is what the same part of the plaza looked like yesterday, after pedmount 133 had been removed, so had the lighted ad shell on the remaining pedmount.

It feels so satisfying to reclaim a small piece of public space back from Clear Channel and to have more room on the sidewalks for the public.