Monday, December 30, 2013

Russian Envoy Attends SF Mayor's Party; Dede Wilsey's 100 Guests

(Standing, l-to-r:  Catherine and Nigel Warren, the Australian consul general. Seated, l-to-r: Charlotte Shultz, George Shultz and Ed Lee. Credit: SF Chronicle.)

Until I read Catherine Bigelow's society column in the SF Chronicle on Christmas Eve and read about Mayor Ed Lee hosting a party at City Hall for the diplomatic corps based here, I didn't know the party was an annual December event attracting hundreds of people. Curious about whether the Russian consul general Sergey V. Petrov and his wife were present, I fired off a public records request for the guest list.

The mayor's staffer for sunshine requests provided me with the list today and I've posted it here.

It's fascinating to see who among diplomats, local politicians, mover and shakers were invited, who RSVPed and how many guest they brought. Not sure why BART and City College board members, or the head of the Exploratorium and scads of mayoral staffers were invited but that is how the elite of San Francisco operate at our City Hall - without a lot of scrutiny.

I was curious to learn that the governments of Botswana, Kazakhstan, Malta, Senegal, Slovenia and Yemen all have honorary consuls here. Plenty of names had no job titles or organizations listed next to their names and I wonder if they're just good party pals of Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, the mayor's Chief of Protocol, and her hubby George Shultz.

According to the guest list, one such Shultz pal, socialite and wealthy party-lover Dede Wilsey brought 100 guests with her. Being part of San Francisco's 1 percent certainly has its privileges at City Hall.

Mayor Lee has steadfastly refused to address requests this activist and other members of Gays Without Borders have made to him since August to forcefully denounce Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws. If he's made such a denunciation, I'm not aware of it.

However, on October 23 Rachel Swan of the SF Weekly reported that the mayor on behalf of the City would commemorate the Russian Imperial government assisting the Union side in our Civil War with armaments for troops shipped via San Francisco. However, Swan noted that plan was scuttled:

San Francisco administrators changed their tune shortly after the first vodka dump [staged by Gays Without Borders under the mayor's office], indicating that they no longer want to be seen cuddling up to any vestige of the Russian government -- even one from 150 years ago. [...]

[The local Russian organizer of the commemoration] says that he first heard about the LGBT community's disapproval of all things Russian via an e-mail from City Hall, and then from Matthew Goudeau, director of the Mayor's Office of Protocol.

Huh? The mayor and his protocol staffers were against engaging with the Russians before they were in favor of having the consul general attend the December party? Sure do wish the mayor had declined to extend an invitation to the Russian envoy and his wife this year, as a form of diplomatic protest on behalf of LGBT Russians.

How much did this shindig cost us taxpayers? Here's what the sunshine staffer said today about my request for an itemized breakdown of expenses for the party:

A staff member in the Mayor's Office that may have responsive documents is out of the office until January 2, 2014.  At that time, we will be able to finish reviewing the Office's files and can provide a final response to your request.  Therefore, we will be in contact again on January 2, 2014.   

I'll let you know what I hear from the mayor's office on Thursday.

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