Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who Got More Ford Fdtn Money, NYT's Jo Becker or Evan Wolfson?

Following the money can lead to mighty interesting funders and grantees.

Over the weekend, Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson wrote about New York Times journalist Jo Becker's appearance in DC to promote her new book about the Prop 8 gay marriage lawsuit "Forcing the Spring". It's stirred up a few hornets' nests of controversy from many LGBT writers and advocates about her very narrow focus on Chad Griffin, David Boies and Ted Olson, and various omissions and distortions about the long fight for gay marriages in America.

Chris reported on an interesting fact that I believe was first uncovered by blogger John Becker, no relation to Jo Becker, for the Bilerico web site which said:

[I]t was revealed [on April 25] that she received a $150,000 grant last year from the Ford Foundation "to research and write a book on the marriage equality movement in the United States."

Curious about that grant, I used the Ford Foundation's search engine to see who else received money from them for LGBT advocacy and research in recent years, and discovered that from 2011 to 2013 they gave Even Wolfson's nonprofit Freedom to Marry grants of $500,000, $175,000 and $1,250,00 for a total of $1,925,000.

So Wolfson received more money from the foundation than Becker and I sure would love to be the fly on the wall if they are ever brought together at the foundation to discuss her book and his advocacy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

AHF's Weinstein Denies Tithing Claim Linked to Gilead & HIV Drugs

After publishing my post on AIDS Healthcare Foundation honcho Michael Weinstein's labeling Truvada a party drug for sexually active gay men using it as a prevention method, and pointing out how many millions AHF had received from Gilead over the years, an East Coast based treatment advocate of longstanding sent me this note about what he believes is reason for Weinstein's opposition to the drug as PrEP. The advocate writes:

Weinstein wants more than Gilead has been willing to give. His rationale is that other companies have given a lot when they have a smaller share of the HIV drug market; Gilead has the largest sales and they should "tithe" to AHF proportionately to their sales.

I shared that with Weinstein today and he replied:

There is not now nor has there ever been a tithing concept applied to Gilead or any other company. 95% of Gilead contributions went to supporting treatment for poor countries. We knew we were jeopardizing the support from Gilead when we first took them on on pricing and then PrEP. I don't know why it is so difficult for people to believe that this is our principled position.

We currently get no support from any drug company other than a limited amount of drug donations in the developing world where the overwhelming majority of our patients reside.

AHF has bitten the hand that feeds us, when needed, from day one.

Our 2014 budget is $904 million. Any amount of support from Gilead or any company would not be significant. I wonder why the opposite question is not being asked: How are the tens of millions that Gilead is spreading around to promote PrEP contributing to the support that groups are giving them on pricing and PrEP?

Next, I contacted Gilead's Amy Flood and she responded thus:

Gilead is not promoting PrEP; that means there are no dollars being allocated to promotional activities by Gilead or by any organization receiving grant funding from Gilead; this is a stipulation of our grant-making. 

The company provides financial support for third-party non-profit groups conducting educational activities with respect to the role of PrEP as part of comprehensive HIV prevention; that support has totaled approximately $3 million in the past two years. 

Additionally, Gilead has in some cases provided support via a donation of drug for the conduct of clinical trials and demonstration projects to evaluate PrEP.

Here's my two cents on this. First, we need to keep shining a spotlight on Weinstein's Truvada views and Gilead's responses.

Next, I recall a tithing idea floating around for AIDS Inc groups during my time on ACT UP/NYC's Treatment + Data Committee and didn't think it was necessarily such a bad idea. Still don't, in theory. But the larger picture of sky-high prices charged by Gilead and all of Big Pharma for their HIV medicines is an issue that never goes away.

It's long irked me that AIDS Inc hasn't applied sustained pressure on Big Pharma to reduce domestic prices of HIV cocktails and didn't lobby during negotiations over Obamacare when drug pricing competitiveness, or lack thereof, was on the Congressional table.

At best, AIDS Inc has lobbied mightily at the federal and state levels for government payment of the cocktails for qualified people living with HIV.

And this is my bit of AIDS treatment and prevention activism for the day.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

SFIFF57: Over Two-Days, Five Films Including Fabulous 'Queen Margot'

Try as I did to keep up my energy for a three films on Friday, I was able to see only two and they were both satisfying and a great way to start off the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival.

From Romania, "When Night Falls on Bucharest, or Metabolism", was a droll look at a manipulative (is there any other kind?) director in the middle of shooting his latest film. Told in long takes, after opening scene explaining why scenes can only be 11-minutes long, the action is mostly talking leavened with sly humor and the camera rarely moves. Occasionally, it pans slightly to the left or right, but this is very much a film with a proud gazing stare and actors worth watching.

After that I saw the quite unique documentary "Manakamana", which is a holy shrine in Nepal and destination of people on pilgrimages or those visiting for the soaring beauty. A camera and microphone were stationed in the cable cars that hoist people, or in one instance half a dozen goats, up to the shrine or villages dotting the mountain, and the camera never moves.

What makes this film wonderfully cinematic is the faces of pilgrims in the cable cars, their reactions (or blase stares) to the scenery and length of the trips up or down the mountain, and the vast forests they soar over. This is one documentary I would see again.

On Saturday, I managed a triple header, something I have not done in years. I started with finally seeing the late opera and film director Patrice Chereau's restored director's cut of his 1994 epic "Queen Margot", starring a radiant and fantastic Isabel Adjani, pictured. Chereau was an out gay artiste and he fills the screens with the most handsome 25 to 30 year old supporting actors and extras, that add to the overall sumptuous production design.

Warring French Catholics and Protestants, royal intrigues and betrayals, human and animal blood and gore, operatic coronation stagings, the most eye-pleasing costumes and decors, fast-paced editing that does not lose the audience with numerous subplots, and top-notch acting all around but the great '60s Italian siren Virna Lisi steals every scene she's in. "Queen Margot" is being distributed by the Cohen Media Group and it is one movie that requires a big screen with a great sound system.

Next up was the new film from Greece "Standing Aside, Watching" that held my interest well-enough but needed a stronger script and clearer motivations explained for several of the characters. The Greek economic crisis forces a young women to leave her life in Athens and return to her seaside home town. One female friend engages in self-destructive behavior such as shoplifting at the same store and suffers physical and mental abuse from a sometime lover, without any explanation. Engaging camerawork and I expect the director Yorgas Servetas to expand his storytelling skills with his next film.

I closed the evening watching a terrific Estonian-Georgian film titled "Tangerines". During a regional war in 1992-1993, a nearly empty Estonian village contains two farmers who remain growing and harvesting a tangerine orchard. A skirmish between Estonian soldiers and Chechen mercenaries fighting on behalf of the Georgians leaves two young wounded fighters in the care of one of the farmers.

An allegory for the larger political situation, the soldiers despise each other and vow fatal revenge on the other once they are restored to health, but they come to an understanding that shows their common humanity and soon some of the hostility melts. Even with a tragic deadly climax, "Tangerines" still concluded with a small and well-earned note of optimism.

Click here for all the necessary info about the films and plots, dates and times of screenings and how to purchase tickets. See you at the San Francisco International Film Festival!

(All images courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.)

Weekend Woof #73: Chilly Week, Attractive Dudes

Hard to believe I've kept up this series of images of fine eye-pleasing men and boys for more than seventy posts, but I guess it just goes to prove again that lustful desires are rarely far from the minds of men regardless of sexual orientation. Here's the latest batch of handsome dudes to catch my and grace the lens of my pocket camera.

It's impossible to pick a favorite this week among this fine group of guys. We may have had chilly days this week, but that didn't put a damper on finding attractive fellas to photograph. And how was your week for man-watching on the streets of San Francisco?

Friday, April 25, 2014

SFIFF57: An Orgy of Cinema Now Till May 8th

The 57th edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival opened last night with a gala showing at the Castro Theatre of "The Two Faces of January" and a party afterward, both of which I'm sure were a blast and pleased the crowds. But today is when the orgy begins of at least a dozen movies on offer for cineastes at the Sundance Kabuki and New People Cinema in Japantown, and at the Pacific Film Archive across the Bay.

I have much anticipation for a satisfying festival experience and will blog on films before and sometimes after seeing them. Do your part to support cinema and the San Francisco Film Society, and see a few movies between now and May 8th at the festival.

My hope is to catch the new Corneliu Porumboiu work this afternoon, "When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism", because his two previous features so intellectually stimulating and the Romanian New Wave continues a streak of excellence.

After that there is "Manakamana", described thus in the program notes: "High on a ridgeline in the heart of the Nepalese foothills lies 'Manakamana', a Hindu pilgrimage site once accessed only by a winding mountain footpath. Today, the sacred temple is more easily reached via cable car. This gondola's interior is the unlikely setting of Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez's carefully crafted observational documentary. Embedding themselves and their ever-watchful 16mm film camera inside the cable car, the filmmakers patiently record passengers' journeys up and down the steep hillside."

The film opened commercially last week and received a glowing review from the New York Times. I'm a sucker for such films with fixed camera positions, long takes observing people and location and a "watch the paint dry" approach.

And if I have the energy and a ticket is available, I'd like to close out my first day of the festival watching "Tip Top" from France and starring one of the world's best actresses Isabelle Huppert. The program notes say it a cross between a police procedural, screwball comedy and social satire, three genres the French handle very well. The director is Serge Bozon who delighted SFIFF audiences in 2008 with his "La France" World War I drama with songs, which should have been a disaster but instead pushed a few cinematic boundaries and delivered a terrific ending.

(All photos courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fighting City Hall & MUMC, Succeeding With Rainbow Blight Removal

Not bad, if I do say so myself. Here's an instance of fighting City Hall and winning an important District 8 blight battle.

(Taken March 30.)

(Snapped on April 20.)

(Photo from April 24.)

At the end of March, I complained to the Department of Public Works about dozens of tattered and faded rainbow banners around my district on City utility poles contributing ugly blight to the Castro's beauty. The department is headquartered at City Hall, fyi.

DPW contacted the Merchants of Upper Market Castro, who've created unnecessary confusion with a questionable name-change to Castro Merchants (have they thought of Control Queens of the Castro as an alternative?) and folks from both entities are looking at who is responsible for maintenance of the many banners.

I followed up this week with Mindy Linetzky at DPW about one filthy and hideous rainbow banner in particular, and she share this news yesterday:

The damaged Rainbow Banner on the light pole at Market and 14th Streets was removed by the Castro Merchants’ installation/maintenance contractor this morning. Note that the takedown of this banner was done as a courtesy accommodation to Public Works, at the Castro Merchants’ cost, in the spirit of mutual cooperation. We appreciate their help.

Now, if only DPW and Castro Merchants/MUMC would work with the community about allowing reclamation by the taxpayers of what used to the public rainbow flag pole at Harvey Milk Plaza, we would have a District 8 meeting more of the needs and concerns of all Castro stakeholders.

Until then, I'm happy one ugly rainbow banner is now gone.
Dan White Audio Confession Now Online: Killing Milk & Moscone

(Public domain photo.)

The author of "Double Play", a book about the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, is Mike Weiss who covered the trial of convicted killer Supervisor Dan White. He obtained a copy of the audiotape of White's confessional interview with officers of the San Francisco Police Department, conducted the day of the fatal shootings at City Hall.

Weiss gave a copy of the audiotape to Randy Shilts when he was conducting research for his book "The Mayor of Castro Street", and he placed his copy in his archive which is now housed at the San Francisco Public Library History Center.

(Credit: The Associated Press.)

I paid for a CD version, signed up at SoundCloud so I can share the audiotape and everyone can hear the confession. A portion of it was excerpted for the Oscar-winning documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk", and as far I can determine it's not available anywhere on the web which motivated me to take on this homo history project.

What has been on the web for a while is a transcript of the interview with White at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law site for famous trials. The transcript includes text of about 30-40 seconds of the first remarks that are missing from the audiotape version the library provided to me.

Click on the white forward arrow in the orange circle and begin listening. If you're having trouble opening and listening to the tape, go here: https://soundcloud.com/michael-petrelis .

"Today's date is Monday, November 27th, 1978. The time is presently 12:05. We're inside the Homicide Detail, room 454, at the, Hall of Justice. Present is Inspector Edward Erdelatz, Inspector Frank Falzon and for the record, sir, your full name?
"A Daniel James White.
"Q Now, Dan, before I go any further I have to advise you of the Miranda rights. Number 1 you have the right to remain silent. Number 2 Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Three- You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned. 4. If you can­not afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish one. Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?

“A I do.

"Q And having these rights in mind, do you wish to ah. . .tell us about the incident involving Mayor George Moscone and Super­visor Harvey Milk at this time?
"A I do.
"Q Would you, normally in a situation like this ah. . .we ask questions, I'm aware of your past history as a police officer and also as a San Francisco fireman. I would prefer, I'll let you do it in a nar­rative form as to what happened this morning if you can lead up to the events of the shooting and then backtrack as to why these events took place.
"A Well, it's just that I've been under an awful lot of pressure lately, financial pressure, because of my job situation, family pressure because of ah. . . .not being able to have the time with my family. It's just that I wanted to serve the people of San Francisco well an I did that. Then when the pressures got too great, I decided to leave. After I left, my family and friends offered their support and said whatever it would take to allow me to go back in to office-well they would be willing to make that effort. So since I felt the responsibili­ty for the people that elected me I went to Mayor Moscone and told him that my situation had changed because of the support of family and friends and I'd like to be, retain my seat, to be appointed to my seat. Initially he told me that he felt that I was an elected represen­tative of District 8, that I was doing an outstanding job, people of District 8 were lucky to have me, and that if it came to a legal ruling that he would appoint me, reappoint me, because of the type of per­son I was. So with that in mind I tried to set my personal affairs in order, preparing to take my seat. And then it came out that Super­visor Milk and some others were working against me to get my seat back on the board. I learned of this I was in the City Attorney's of­fice, when Supervisor Milk called, stating that he, he was of that mind. He didn't speak to me, he spoke to the City Attorney but I was in the office and I heard the conversation and that he was going to try to prevent me from taking my seat again. I went back to the Mayor and he told me that he had had some comments made to him that he felt that some of the people in District 8 didn't want me to, to serve, and I told him that these were people that had op­posed me in my election, had traumatized my family by taking me, taking, pressing charges against me at the District Attorney's office twice on false charges. They put a lot of pressure on me and my family.
"Q Can you relate these pressures you've been under, Dan, at this time? Can you explain it to the Inspector Erdelatz and myself?
"A Well, it's just that some of these people have charged me with taking money from big corporations and not recording it but I never did that. I never took money from anybody but the papers print it. Like, my constituents believe it. They, they asked me about it. These people that are irresponsible and bring these charges. Two months later the District Attorney said they're unfounded but no one hears about it, that the charges are false. But my family suffers and I suf­fer for it, phone cans we get.
"Q These meetings that you were having with the Mayor, were they an occurring last week or, or were they going into the weekend, this past weekend?
"A No, I, I hadn't spoke to the Mayor since last Saturday. This would be Saturday a week ago and he told me that I would have to show some support from the people of District 8 if I was going to be reappointed. I could see the game that was being played, they were going to use me as a scapegoat, whether I was a good supervisor or not, was not the point. This was a political opportunity and they were going to degrade me and my family and the job that I had tried to do and, and more or less hang me out to dry. And I saw more and more evidence of this during the week when papers reported that ah. . .someone else was going to reappointed. I couldn't get through to the Mayor. The Mayor never called me. He told me he was going to call me before he made any decision, he never did that. An it was only on my, my own initiative when I went down today to speak with him. I was troubled, the pressure, my family again, my, my son's out to a babysitter. My wife's got to work, long hours, 50 and 60 hours, never see my family.
"Q Dan can you tell Inspector Erdelatz and myself, what was your plan this morning? What did you have in mind?
"A I didn't have any, any devised plan or anything, it's, I was leaving the house to talk, to see the Mayor and I went downstairs, to, to make a phone can and I had my gun down there.
"Q Is this your police service revolver, Dan?
"A This is the gun I had when I was a policeman. It's in my room an ah. . .I don't know, I just put it on. I, I don't know why I put it on, it's just. . .
"Q Where is this gun now, Dan?
"A I turned it in to Officer ah. . .Paul Chignell who I turned myself in to at Northern Station. I, I. . . . . . . .
"Q You turned yourself in, I wasn't aware of that.
"A I turned myself in at Northern Station to Officer Paul Chignell who, who I could trust and I, I know would do things properly. An then, an then I, I went to the, to the Mayor's office.
"Q You went directly from your residence to the Mayor's office this morning?
"A Yes, my, my aide picked me up but she didn't have any idea ah. . .you know that 1 had a gun on me or, you know, I just was going to the Mayor to, to see if he was going to reappoint me and if not, the reasons why. And I went in to see him an, an he told me he wasn't going to reappoint me and he, and he wasn't going to, intending to tell me about it. He had some, he told me he had a press conference scheduled and he was going to announce it at the press conference. Didn't even have the courtesy to call me or tell me that I wasn't go­ing to be reappointed. Then ah. . .I got kind of fuzzy and then just my head didn't feel right and I, then he said, Let's go into the, the back room an, an have a drink and talk about it. An ah. . . .
"Q Was this before any threats on your part, Dan?
"A I, I never made any threats.
"Q There were no threats at all?
"A I, I. . . .oh no.
"Q When were you, how, what was the conversation, can you explain to inspector Erdelatz and myself the conversation that ex­isted between the two of you at this time?
"A It was pretty much just, you know, I asked, was I going to be reappointed. He said, no I am not, no you're not. And I said, why. He said, he said well I've had people in your district say they don't want you and I, I reiterated that I told him before that these were people that had brought false charges against me and had been dog­ging me since I've been in office and that he had been in politics and he understood that there are going to be people that dislike you, you, not everybody as a 100% supporter but I told him that oh, you know, an overwhelming majority of the people in my district wanted me as their supervisor and I told him how a person told me last night that they had on their own gone out with neighbors and gathered over a thousand signatures in one day, my constituents, to keep me in of­fice. He knew that and he told me, it's a political decision and that's the end of it, and that's it.
"Q Is this when you were having a drink in the back room?
"A No, no, it's before I went to the back room and then he could obviously see, see I was obviously distraught and upset and then he said, let's go in the back room and and, and have a drink and I, I'm not even a drinker, you know I don't, once in a while, but I'm not even a drinker. But I just kinda stumbled in the back, went, went, went in the back room and he sat down and he was all, he was talk­ing and nothing was getting through to me. It was just like a roaring in my ears an, and then em. . . . .it just came to me, you know, he.
. . . .
"Q You couldn't hear what he was saying Dan?
"A Just small talk that, you know it just wasn't registering. What I was going to do now, you know, and how this would affect my family you know an, an just, just all the time knowing he's going to go out an, an lie to the press an, an tell 'em, you know, that I, I wasn't a good supervisor and that people didn't want me an then that was it. Then I, I just shot him, that was it, it was over.
"Q Was he, was he using the telephone at the time or going to use the phone?
"A No.
"Q Not any time. . . .
"A I, I don't even know if there's a phone in that back room.
"Q What happened after you left there, Dan?
"A Well, I, I left his office by one of the back doors an, an I started, I was going to go down the stairs and then I saw Harvey Milk's aide across the hall at the Supervisors an then it struck me about what Harvey had tried to do an I said, well I'll go talk to him. I said, you know, at least maybe he'll be honest with me, you know, because he didn't know I had, I had heard his conversation and he was all smiles and stuff and I went in and, like I say, I, I was still upset an ah. . . .then I said, I wanted to talk to him an, an, an just try to explain to him, you know, I, I didn't agree with him on a lot of things but I was always honest, you know, and here they were devious and then he started kind of smirking cause he knew, he knew that I wasn't going to be reappointed. And ah, . . . .it just didn't make any impres­sion on him. I started to say you know how hard I worked for it and what it meant to me and my family an then my reputation as, as a hard worker, good honest person and he just kind of smirked at me as if to say, too bad an then an then I just got all flushed an, an hot an I shot him.
"Q How long a conversation did you have with Mr. Milk?
''A It wasn't very long, I, I, he was in his office when I came in to the supervisors' area and I said, Harvey can I talk to you? He got up or he was standing up, I can't remember an he, and he walked into the room and I shut my door and he and I were in there, then. . . .
"Q This occurred inside your room, Dan?
''A Yeah, in my office, yeah.
"Q And when you left there where did you go?
''A Well let's see. When I left there I went into my aide's room and I, an I took her keys to her car, an, an I ran out and went in the back to where her car is parked in, in the well and I took her car and I drove over to the, where did I drive to? I didn't even know what I was doing an I. . . .
"Q Did you go back home?
"A No, no, no I drove to the, the Doggie Diner on, on Van Ness and I called my wife and she, she didn't know, she. . . .
"Q Did you tell her Dan?
''A I called up, I didn't tell her on the phone. I just said she was work. . . .see, she was working, son's at a babysitter, shit. I just told her to meet me at the cathedral.
"Q Did she meet you?
''A Yeah. She. . . .
"Q St. Mary's?
''A She took a cab, yeah. She didn't know. She had knew I'd been upset and I wasn't even talking to her at home because I just couldn't explain how I felt and she had no, nothing to blame about it, she was, she always has been great to me but it was, I couldn't tell anybody I didn't, there was just, just the pressure hitting at me an just my head's all flushed and expected that my skull's going to crack. Then when she came to the church I, I told her and she kind of slumped an just she, she couldn't say anything.
"Q How is she now do you, do you know is she, do you know where she is?
''A I don't know now. She, she came to Northern Station with me. She asked me not to do anything about myself, you know that she, she loved me an she'd stick by me and not to hurt myself an then we just walked to Northern Station and went an talked to Of­ficer Chignell and that's it.
"Q Is there anything else you'd like to add at this time?
"A Just that I've always been honest and worked hard, never cheated anybody or, you know, I'm not a crook or anything an I wanted to do a good job, I’m trying to do a good job an I saw this city as it's going, kind of downhill an I was always just a lonely vote on the board and try to be honest an, an I just couldn't take it any more an that's it.
"Q Inspector Erdelatz?
[Inspector Erdelatz]: "Q Dan, when you went to Northern Station, what did you tell Officer Chignell?
"A I didn't say anything, the police obviously knew. They all knew and I know most of them, I've worked with most of them, and sh. . . .they just, you know, checked me out, frisked me and I had the gun and took out my wallet and everything, an ah. . .that's it, I told them I, I, I wasn't going to say anything.
"Q Dan, right now are you under a doctor's care?
"A No.
"Q Are you under any medication at all?
"A No.
"Q Have you. .have you carried a gun with you in the past, Dan, since you've been ah. . . .a Supervisor say?
"A I have, because there were some threats on my life you know from people that I dealt with before the board. I never told my wife about it, I never told anybody cause it, you know, that's something you don't want to hurt anybody else, you know, bring anybody else but. . . .
"Q When is the last time you had your gun with you prior to today?
''A I guess it was a few months ago. I, I was afraid of some of the threats that were made and I had a committee hearing coming up where some of these people were going to appear and I, and I know they had a history of violence an I, I just wanted to make sure protect myself you know this, this city isn't safe you know and there's a lot of people running around an well I don't have to tell you fellows, you guys know that.
"Q When you left the Mayor's office, Dan, you proceeded you say to Harvey Milk's office?
''A I, I didn't even know if he was there. Like I said, I, I saw his aide come out of the door and I said, well I'm going to go over and talk to Harvey and kind of explain to him you know, he, I worked hard for that job and we disagreed on things but hell, I never was devious and I never lied, just tried to do my best.
"Q To your knowledge was anybody aware of the fact that the shooting had occurred in the Mayor's office?
''A I, I have no idea. I don't even know.
"Q Was there anybody running about at that time or was any excitement?
''A There wasn't anybody in the hall ah. . .across the hall, like I say, was his aide an, an I, and then I passed two people in the hall that were walking an, an by the Mayor's office, and they didn't seem excited or anything.
"Q How long did you converse with Supervisor Milk prior to the shooting?
''A Oh it's, maybe a minute or so, a minute and a half maybe.
I, I don't know, it was a short time.
"Q Was there anybody else present at that time?
''A No, no I wanted to talk to Harvey and see, make him under­stand but he kind of smirked at me, he knew I wasn't getting the job back,
"Q And this, when Inspector Falzon asked you about what had transpired when, when you were with the Mayor, you mentioned that there was a roaring in your ears, is that right?
''A Yeah, it's just like my head was going to burst, you know, I just. . .
"Q Had that ever happened to you in the past, Dan?
''A Yeah, it had, it had when I was under this pressure at home an at night I couldn't sleep. I didn't sleep last night. I wasn't even with my wife in bed, I was on the couch cause I didn't want to bother her. I couldn't sleep, I never even slept. It's just, I don't know I, it felt like my head was going to burst.
"Q When you left your home this morning Dan, and was it your intention to confront the Mayor, Supervisor Milk or anyone else with that gun?
''A No, I, I, what I wanted to do was just, talk to him, you know, I, I ah, I didn't even know if I was going to be reappointed or not be reappointed. Like I say, they didn't contact me, they didn't tell me ah. . .I just was going down there to talk to him, you know, an ah. . .why do we do things, you know, why did I, it, I don't know, No, I, I just wanted to talk to him that's all an at least have him be honest with me an tell me why he was doing it, not because I was a bad Supervisor or anything but, you know, I never killed anybody before, I never shot anybody. . . .
"Q What did. . . .
"A . . . . . . . . .I didn't even, I didn't even know if I wanted to kill him. I just shot him, I don't know.
"Q What type of gun is that you were carrying, Dan?
"A It's a 38, a 2 inch 38.
"Q And do you know how many shots you fired?
''A Uh. . . .no I don't, I don't. I, out of instinct when I, I reload­ed the gun ah. . .you know, it's just the training I guess I had, you know.
"Q Where did you reload?
"A I reloaded in my office when, when I was I couldn't out in the hall.
"Q When you say you reloaded, are you speaking of following the shooting in the Mayor's office?
''A Yeah.
"Q What or where were you carrying that gun when you left your house this morning?
''A I was carrying it in the holster on my hip, you know. . . .ah. . .ah. . . .under my vest.
"Q And how many bullets did you have with you?
''A I, I, I don't know, I ah. . .the gun was loaded an, an I had some ah. .extra shots you know, I just, I, cause, I keep the gun with, with a box of shells and I just grabbed some.
"Q Are you referring to some loose. . . .
"A Yeah. . . .
"Q . . . . . . . . .bullets?
"A Yeah, yes.
"Q Inspector Falzon?
[Inspector Falzon]: "No, questions. Is there anything you'd like to add Dan before we close this statement?
''A Well it's just that, I never really intended to hurt anybody. It's just this past several months, it got to the point I couldn't take it and I never wanted the job for ego or you know, perpetuate myself or anything like that. I was just trying to do a good job for the city.
"Q Inspector Erdelatz and I ah. . .appreciate your cooperation and the truthfulness in your statement. At this time, we'll close this statement, it's now 12:30 in the afternoon. Thank you."

[End of Tape]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sullybait: HRC in 2007: Voiding Gay Marriages Not a 'Real Problem'

This note was emailed earlier today to Andrew Sullivan, who's been holding New York Times reporter Jo Becker accountable for numerous problems, omissions, distortions and wrongful glorification in her new book "Forcing the Spring" about gay and lesbian marriage after Prop 8 passed in California.

(Joe Solmonese. Public domain photo.)
Hey Andrew - 
You wrote last night about a former communications staffer at the Human Rights Campaign named Steven Fisher weighing in your criticism against Becker and HRC's history: 
As for Fisher, take a look at this NYT story from December 2004, reporting that HRC had decided even at that late date to drop marriage equality as an issue. And who in that piece is quoted backing this surrender? Steve Fisher! 
What caught my eye was your reference to December 2004 as "that late date" and not mentioning where HRC stood in February 2007 on gay marriage. You'll recall that a courageous and straight, young Republican legislator in Wyoming, Dan Zwonitizer, made an impassioned speech before voting against a bill that would have voided gay marriages performed in Massachusetts if the couples moved to his state. The Associated Press wrote
Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, echoed that: "Surely the Wyoming legislature has real problems to deal with." 
After reading that quote, I spoke with Zwonitizer and he shared his remarks with me and they resonated around the gay blogsphere and in LGBT papers. I also took HRC to task for again minimizing discussion about gay marriage, this time at the state level and for failing to give recognition to the young GOP politician who stuck his neck out for us. See here and here
My nemesis former Washington Blade publisher Chris Crain opined
Longtime gay and HIV activist-blogger Michael Petrelis, who is also a long-standing [critic of HRC executive director Joe Solmonese], most recently questioned HRC's refusal to acknowledge the remarkable stand taken by several Republicans in the Wyoming state legislature, who blocked passage of a bill that would have refused recognition of gay marriage licenses issued by Massachusetts. One in particular, Republican Dan Zwonitzer, said, "If it costs me my seat, … I can say I stood up for basic rights, and history can be my judge."  
HRC not only stayed mum about these courageous Republicans, it stuck to the usual party line that the Wyoming legislature had more important, "real issues" [sic] to worry about — a bit of tired rhetoric that minimizes our own struggle and always acts to cover weak-kneed Democrats who want to stop anti-gay laws without coming off as (ick!) pro-gay. 
Silence or tired rhetoric, that's what we got from HRC in February 2007. By March 2007, when Solmonese finally got around to issuing a release about Zwoniter and the Wyoming gay marriage debate, it was in the form of a letter to him and another legislator and HRC omitted the word marriage. So much for HRC using every opportunity to argue forcefully for gay marriage when it cropped up in the news. 
Yes, HRC was missing in action in December 2004 on gay marriage and that status continued for a solid three more years. 

SF Chron: Punish Homeless Library Patrons, Not Photogs' Lawbreaking

Journalistic hypocrisy thy name is the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle and its editors.

Over the past seven months, the major daily has gone after homeless people at the main public library for violating library rules and breaking the law and demanded Mayor Ed Lee and the library commission enhance punishment for homeless patrons who don't follow the rules and law. Previous posts on the Chronicle's photos are here and here.

(Photo credit: Michael Macor, SF Chronicle.)

It is against the library's code of conduct to snap photos anywhere in the main branch at Civic Center, and state law prohibits photographing individuals in public restrooms as explained in section 647(j)(1) of the penal code.

Yet, none of that stopped Chronicle editors, reporters and staff photographers from coordinating the taking of photos of homeless folks in the library's restrooms including images of a man at a urinal, top image, and men behind metal partitions clearly sitting on toilets. The photos appeared in the print edition of the Chronicle and on their web site.

The Chronicle on Monday editorialized in favor of enhanced punishment -- for some library users -- totally ignoring their photographers' potentially illegal behavior:

With the support of Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco Public Library is trying to crack down on unruly behavior. It's about time.

Frequent patrons to some of the library's branches, especially the main branch downtown, are plenty familiar with the kind of behavior that the library commission is seeking to restrict.

Incidents such as indecent exposure, verbal harassment and outright assault happen all too regularly in the aisles, and it can make the library a frightening experience for its patrons. Lee called for an overhaul of the rules after a string of events that included the assault of a patron with a chair and someone urinating on a bookshelf.

Yes, there are problems among some library patrons and a better solution to dealing with the unruly folks would be stationing social workers at the main branch to provide outreach and mental health services. The paper goes on to say:

The proposed revisions beef up penalties for some existing violations, like fighting and misusing the restrooms. 

Well, if we're going to address misusing the restrooms we need to address the Chronicle's hypocrisy of sending photographers into them and taking photos. Of course, the editors conveniently omit the bad behavior of their employees at the library.

If we're going to have a crackdown on such behavior, let's be sure the authorities also target Chronicle photographers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City Delaying Charlotte Shultz Charity Law-Breaking Investigations?

(Shultz, lower left, at her annual taxpayer-funded diplomatic City Hall party in December 2013. Credit: Catherine Bigelow, SF Chronicle.)

There are two San Franciscos. One is for the elite 1% where they wield power and public money at City Hall, and pay no heed to good government laws and ballot propositions they don't like. The other San Francisco is for the rest of us who will be arrested and charged at the drop of a hat for minor infractions of the law.

This month marks the fifth month I've been investigating Mayor Ed Lee's director of protocol, socialite and party-giver on the taxpayer's dime Charlotte Shultz and how she receives a nice chunk of City change and evades a few laws in the process.

I've written to the head of the General Services Administration, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, to see if the City is delaying the two investigations it has opened against Shultz. My letter sent today:

Dear Ms. Kelly,

In March, I brought several complaints to your attention regarding the annual $250,000 City grant to Charlotte Shultz's SF Host Committee charity your General Services Agency administers. Your department has confirmed that Shultz and her nonprofit have not complied with City law requiring open board meetings annually, as one legal requirement in exchange for municipal money, for at least the past six years.

Indeed, in a written response to you at the end of March from Shultz's attorney, he admits the committee has never met this the requirements of Sunshine laws and were unaware of the full laws that apply to them.

Your deputy Bill Barnes in early March wrote:

"After receiving a response, the City Administrator will swiftly make a determination and/or request additional information. The grantee and the complainant will be notified of the results. If the grantee is deemed to have violated the provision, the City Administrator will consider next steps based on the seriousness of the violation and the provisions included in the Administrative Code."

Additionally, I've complained that Shultz is violating the 1998 Prop F law passed at the ballot box, barring the use of City funds for Protocol Office expenses and functions because her committee spends its $250,000 on diplomatic events and such. Also in March, your department wrote to me saying you'd asked the City Attorney to investigate the potential violation to Prop F.

Mr. Barnes in said:

"The Proposition F issue, which we are treating as a separate request, relates to a ballot initiative from 1998 which references policies in effect in 1989. Therefore, additional research is required to properly respond. Once that research is complete, we may find it necessary to consult with the City Attorney. Such consultation would be subject to attorney-client privilege. We will inform you once we have completed this research, received advice, if any, and made a determination of how to proceed." 

Thanks to a public records request I made because your office was refusing to respond to requests for updates, in early April you wrote to Shultz's attorney saying you would investigate the apparent breaking of City law and for several years.

Today I am requesting an update on both the Sunshine complaint and the City Attorney's investigation, and any steps you've taken regarding these several apparent violations of the law. Please provide me with a status report by the close of business on Wednesday, April 23. 
Sups. Chiu & Campos's Offices: Public Comment Around 3 PM Today

(Campos, left, and Chiu, are competing in June's primary for Assembly District 17's seat in Sacramento. Public domain photo.)

A short while ago, I spoke with Taylor in board president Sup. David Chiu's office and her counterpart Meredith in Sup. David Campos's office and they each guesstimated public comment today would start between 3 and 3:30 pm today. Spread the word so more folks can take advantage of this info.

It's just one way the Board of Supervisors disrespect the taxpayers. While each Tuesday's full board meetings always include public comment time, the supervisors make no effort at allowing the taxpayers to show up at a fixed time to address our public officials. Sometimes public comment is early in the meeting or way at the end, forcing working people to take off from their jobs and give up pay in order to make use of 2 minutes of public comment.

I've advocated with staffers at Chiu and Campos' offices for each to take up the cause of a fixed time for general public comment on Tuesdays, if only to win a few votes as they compete against each other for the district 17 seat in the state Assembly. Unfortunately, neither candidate addresses this matter but that could change between now and the June election.

Practically all City commissions and advisory panels, like the police and healthy commissions and the HIV community boards, put public comment at the top of the agenda which allows for taxpayers to show at a certain time and know they can speak. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force's monthly meetings always start at 4 pm and regardless of the agenda, when the clock strikes 5 pm they take public comments on matters not on the agenda. So civilized!

For the past few weeks, I've emailed most of the supervisors and their aides, along with Clerk of the Board Angela Calvillo, urging a set time for public comment. The supervisors and staffers haven't replied, but Calvillo shared these details:

California Government Code Section 54954.3(b) and Administrative Code Section 67.15(c) state that a policy body may adopt reasonable rules and regulations relating to public comment. In Chapter one of the Board’s Rules of Order, while various rules have been adopted pertaining to public comment, a time certain Rule has not been codified. 

As you know, the Board welcomes input from members of the public on items of interest that are within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board, including items being considered at the meeting which have not been referred to committee, public comment is placed on the Agenda in order to fulfill both types of public comment. 

Thus, the current placement of public comment on the Board’s agenda is to allow working individuals a chance to get off work and get to the meeting and still have the opportunity to provide either general public comment or public comment on those items not referred to committee. This would not be the case should public comment be placed at the beginning of the meeting. [...] Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide anyone with an estimated time when any item, including general public comment, will begin.

Well, it's not rocket science to determine a set time for public comment and our supervisors should address this subject so that taxpayers can make regular appearance at the Tuesday meetings, and not waste hours of our precious time.
SF Ex: Gay Man Living With AIDS Faces June 1st Eviction

Kudos to reporter Chris Roberts who yesterday had a cover story in the SF Examiner about a gay man living with AIDS facing eviction from his loft. The one bright spot in this matter is that this guy is being offered a market rate apartment in the city, something rarely happens with other people dealing with an eviction notice.

A reminder. Last October, KQED published a story about gay men of a certain age living with HIV in the Castro district, either homeless or facing eviction, and it was pointed out that they had survived the challenges of AIDS, but maintaining their wellness was seriously challenged by lack of affordable housing.

I believe that mainstream media coverage and attention from bloggers and via social networks, can assist folks facing eviction in either helping them retain their current housing at an affordable rate or obtaining increased compensation from speculators. Just one reason why I'm blogging about the Ex story today.

(Jon Stoa and his dog in his loft. Photo credit: Mike Koozmin, SF Examiner.)

From Roberts' article:

Live-work lofts were a flashpoint during San Francisco’s first dot-com boom over a decade ago, and now they are again wrapped up in a city housing controversy. No tenants are feeling this more than those living in the several Potrero Hill and South of Market buildings that comprise the Bennett Lofts, where an eviction crisis is threatening to develop. [...] 

Jon Stoa moved into his airy ground-floor loft on Pennsylvania Avenue in Potrero Hill in the early 2000s. He’s not anti-tech — in fact, he worked for Apple as an art director on one of the most important projects in the Silicon Valley titan’s history, the launch of the first iPhone. [...] 

Stoa and as many as 24 other households in the Bennett Lofts -- 147 units in two buildings in Potrero Hill and three in SoMa — received eviction notices last month from property owner Essex Trust. [...] The company is using the “discovery” that it bought illegal units as a pretext to get tenants like Stoa to vacate by June 1 [...]

If Stoa leaves the Bennett Lofts, he will be given 60 days to move and $500 in relocation assistance — or $1,000 if he agrees to move to a market-rate unit at another Essex property, such as Fox Plaza on Market Street. “That won’t even cover the U-Haul,” he said.

Despite the pressure from city officials, there appears to be little they can do to help Stoa — who said he has lived with AIDS for 20 years and is on full disability following a motorcycle accident — or his neighbors.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dangling Castro Rainbow Banner Blight Worsens: Removal When?

The Castro district was full of happy, peppy people and much beauty on 4/20 and Easter Sunday with all that beautiful sunshine beaming down on everyone and everything yesterday. Unfortunately, the blight of faded and soiled rainbow banners on City utility poles hung over the streets, and at Market and 14th Street the terrible condition of one banner showed serious deterioration.

This photo was snapped at the end of March and was sent along to Mohammed Nuru, head of the Department of Public Works, with other photos of similar dirty and tattered rainbow banners and a complaint requesting immediate removal of the blight. On April 7, I blogged about and shared emails between DPW and the administrator of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro, Richard Magary.

The City and the private merchants group were trying to determine which flags were the responsibility of DPW or MUMC, and the fate of each banner.

I took this photo yesterday afternoon and as you can see the rainbow banner is now split, torn and blowing in the breeze like a windsock. Since this location is several blocks distance from all the tearing up of Castro Street's roadway pavement and sidewalk cement, there is no reason to delay it's removal until after that urban redesign work is finished in the summer.

This note was sent to DPW from Magary of MUMC earlier this month:

Upon current inspection, this Banner, in our opinion, is in poor repair and should be removed promptly, along with its outdated hardware. It is torn and overly soiled. This Banner is NOT part of CASTRO MERCHANTS' SFDPW-BSM Permit and is not our responsibility. It was not installed by us, nor has it ever been maintained by us. [...] Removal of the Banner shown in [Petrelis' photo] is NOT our responsibility.

On April 16th, in response to my request for an update, DPW's Mindy Linetzky shared this info:

The Department of Public Works Bureau of Street Use and Mapping has contacted permit holder Richard Magary regarding the banners.  He is coordinating removal of most of the banners with the Castro Streetscape Improvement project and they have asked him to remove them as soon as possible.

It is our understanding that when the Castro Streetscape Improvement project is complete, all the banners will be replaced. Mr. Magary is also removing the banner [at Market and 14th Street] right away.

Since MUMC is saying one thing and DPW another, I've written to DPW for both clarification and renewed by request for removal of the banner in question. I'll update when the City responds.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Woof #72: For Boy Lovers

Was today the most fantastic 4/20 celebration and enjoyable Easter revelry day of sunshine, great people and abundant love you could imagine? It certainly was for Mike and I, as we mellow out for the evening.

Presenting a bevy of boys who caught the attention of my queer eye, and reminded me of the gift of being gay. While not representative of my usual taste for the mature male of the human species, I occasionally have to salute the under 30-somethings.

Thanks to Mike and these fellas for making it a groovy week!

BART boys smiling for my camera.

 Boy in blue checking his cell phone messages as Valencia Street baked in the sun.

 Latin boys from Noticias 14 fiddling with their electronics near the Twitter headquarters.

Construction boy of the large and fine chunky variety near a Muni stop.

 Boy in orange playing with his big stick and digging up Market Street pavement.

Super smooth boy waiting for the light to change near Fox Plaza.