Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Plaza 16's 'Hail Mary' Moratorium Ballot Plan Revealed

Since I'm not part of the cabal of nonprofits and their allies running the Plaza 16 "community" organization, I've not been privy to how the steering committee has arrived at the decision to put the group's name, time and energy into a development moratorium ballot prop for this November.

I've monitored Plaza 16 coordinator Andy Blue's cheerleading posts on Facebook and learned of signature gathering in recent weeks to qualify the initiative for the fall election. Why bother with the trouble of democratic engagement with the public in a town hall or two to see if the "community" beyond the nonprofits backs the ballot prop route?

A recent public records request to Joseph Smooke, Sup. David Campos' legislative aide and former member of the Plaza 16 steering committee who is a founder and current coordinator of the PeoplePowerMedia video news service, produced this email June 10 to Smooke:

"This is a Hail Mary pass and I'm not a good candidate to 'bottom line' a moratorium initiative, but I have a strong belief that without one, the Mission will continue to gentrify rapidly.

"Though NOT a member of SFHAC, I'm on their mailing list and go to their public events. I'm also a licensed remodeling contractor, and know the developer mindset. If the Mission community does not mount a moratorium initiative in 2016, the developers will declare victory, increase land speculation, file more projects, evict and gentrify on steroids. This is especially true if they believe there will be an initiative in 2016.
"Giving developers a full year to consolidate their financial and political power is a terrible idea. The current activist "A" team has too little bandwidth to take on a huge moratorium initiative. So bring in a "B" team.

"The Mission community clearly wants escalation. The community will feel betrayed if the only deliverable is a few hot protests followed by the steady juggernaut of eviction, displacement and socio-economic cleansing."

The email is from David Carlos Salaverry, who is the paid staff coordinator of Save The Mission, a new arm of Plaza 16 with the same old Mission and housing leaders in charge.

Salaverry attached a three page Word Document laying out the Plaza 16/Save The Mission's campaign and fundraising plan for their electoral effort. Sure would be great if we had democratic agreements with our "community" leaders who shared such documents with the rest of us, but until such time as genuine transparency and accountability are integral to Plaza 16, let's be grateful with have the power of open govt laws and folks who request and disseminate public records.

You can read Plaza 16's campaign plan here.

A bit of money must have been raised because the campaign leaders are paying up to $50 an hour for signature-gatherers.

This image has been recruiting paid workers for Plaza 16's campaign and has been circulating on social media. In the middle, it reads: "Keep your freedom to live in SF. Join nonprofits: Causa Justa, MEDA, PODER & more."

Does Plaza 16 and the nonprofit cabal pulling its strings have any plans to eventually hold public meetings open to all, to communicate a bit of their campaign plans with folks who don't work at these organizations?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unanimous SOTF Vote Against Breed Related to Her Calendar

I've been tangling with San Francisco's president of the Board of Supervisors, London Breed, for willfully disregarding sections of the City's open government laws when it comes to my requests for a copy of her work calendar.

In April, in response to my public records request for a duplicate of Breed's calendar for February, she claimed demise of such a public document as of February 1 and this was the basis for lodging a complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

At a City Hall hearing, two floors above where Breed and her three paid staffers carry out City business which is supposed to include adhering to sunshine statutes and requests to send a knowledgeable person to SOTF meeting, the complaint committee heard my testimony. Since it was too far and too much trouble for Breed's brooding and hostile legislative aide Conor Johnston to make an appearance, no rep from her office rebutted my claims.

The committee of three voted unanimously to find Breed in violation of the section of law requiring her to have a rep at the complaint hearing. The second matter of failure to produce her calendar couldn't be considered without her rep.

While the SOTF full panel couldn't vote on that matter, it's my contention that Breed's refusal to keep and produce a calendar upon a public request and her ongoing hostility toward existing sunshine statutes is an outrageous display of contempt from the board president.

Breed is again asked by the SOTF to send a staffer to their compliance committee because this complaint of mine is still an open matter.

An Order of Determination was issued on June 29, today, and here are the pertinent sections:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

6-Hours: SF Pride Parade or Lav Diaz's New Film?

I hear there's a loud crowd of homosexuals and their pals creating much hoopla on Market Street for a little ol' parade today. Should last about six-hours, if all goes well with gaps between contingents at the SF Pride parade.

Not my scene and as my luck with the Cinema Gods would have it, today is a screening of director Lav Diaz's new almost-six-hour film from the Philippines, "From What is Before", at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. My ticket was purchased in advance, just in case the showing sold-out. You never know!

For me, Gay Day Pride is every day and I'm quite queerly pleased for all the folks celebrating in downtown San Francisco and soon at United Nations Plaza and the Civic Center, but the crowds and horrible music are not for me so I'm off to what is sure to be another masterpiece from a leading light of global cinema.

Enjoy the day, everyone, and be safe whatever you do.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SF Pride's Top-Spots Lineup: AirBnB, Cops & Sheriff, Pelosi & Mayor

Regardless of the old anti-Chelsea Manning board replaced with "reformers" two years ago, the SF Pride Parade lineup is very telling about the same old boring corporate, law-and-order agencies and Democratic Party dominance of the prime event of the entire weekend.

As in previous years, the lineup's composition was made behind closed doors without transparency by the SF Pride board president Gary Virginia, veep and longtime parade control queen Marsha Levine, and executive director George Ridgely.

Among the folks getting prime-time at the parade, in the first twenty top-spots are AirBnB, Apple, the SF Police Department and Sheriff's Office, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, and a few nonprofits and grand marshals.

The parade is not liberation. Remember when we queers were fighting for that in all aspects of our lives, at least among those of us wanting more from SF Pride than just Democratic politics and profits from attracting LGBT dollars? Yes, a long time ago but that is no reason to totally sell-out.

If the transgender and queer folks acted up at the Compton Cafeteria in the Tenderloin, protesting abuse by the police force, an issue still with us today and more so for black folks across the City and America, just so law enforcement agencies could lead a parade, then they demonstrated in vain.

Here's the list of top-spots for tomorrow's parade. Full list is here.

Oaklander Sets SF's Activist Housing Agenda: Maria Zamudio

If you've attended any of Plaza 16's meetings or protests at San Francisco's City Hall or at the BART Plaza at 16th and Mission Streets, you've seen paid organizer Maria Zamudio of Causa Justa literally running the show.

No matter when or where Plaza 16 puts on an event, Zamudio is front and center hogging the mic and limelight, and more problematically, setting the San Francisco Mission housing activist agenda, as the above photo montage illustrates.

Many folks are not aware that Zamudio and her girlfriend live in Oakland. There is a lot radically wrong with Plaza 16 allowing an East Bay resident to have so much power over who sets the Mission's course of action to either stop the Maximus Partner's condo project or deciding who gets time to speak at meetings, or even attend "community" meetings.

Recently, Zamudio and her partner were experiencing housing troubles and they launched an online fundraising effort to gain housing security:

"Unfortunately, within a week of signing our new lease our landlords informed us that our home was on the market [...] Because we live in Oakland, there are no requirements for anyone doing an Owner Move-In eviction to provide relocation support for the tenants."

Why has it not been continually disclosed at Plaza 16 events that Zamudio lives in Oakland? Sure, no matter where she resides her right to have an opinion about San Francisco housing issues allow her a say but she dominates the agenda that people who actually live in the Mission don't have influence over.

I wish to also point out that her nonprofit, Causa Justa, and the other charities running Plaza 16 as their front-group, come to the community and position themselves as "the" community's voices. The nonprofit footprint of reps such as Zamudio in Plaza 16 and the Mission is too large and needs curbing.

Not only must there be a challenge made to the dominance of Zamudio and nonprofits, we also need to look at activists attending the board meetings of Causa Justa, PODER, MEDA, the Housing Rights Committee/SF, Dolores Street Community Services and Mission SRO Collaborative. If they can come to our community meetings, they should reciprocate and allow activists to attend theirs.

Related to all this are fascinating quotes HRC/SF executive director Sara Shortt gave to the San Francisco Business Times in March, about the SF Bay Area Renters Federation and its leader Sonja Trauss who, like Zamudio, resides in Oakland:

"'I think they are a sham group that is acting as a shill for market-rate developers and other pro-development groups. I find it offensive that they are purporting to represent the voice of renters.'"

"Shortt said that Trauss has 'no experience or qualification in the field of housing,' lives in Oakland and doesn't speak for San Francisco renters. 'I think it's very deceptive. They haven't proven themselves to be a representation of the community.'"

I'm of the opinion that some aspects of Plaza 16 are a sham, that it shills for nonprofits and purports to be the voice of Mission renters and others, that if we're going to criticize Trauss for living in the East Bay and advocating policies in San Francisco the same standard should be applied to Zamudio, and Plaza 16 has proven themselves to be a restrictive organization where all are not welcomed.

It's time to question who leads Plaza 16 and look at where their steering committee members live.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Plaza 16 = Undemocratic Cabal of Nonprofits & Campos

The Mission is well-known for the vibrancy of the Latino, queer and artistic cultures long-established but ever-diminishing in the district and our neighbor suffers greatly from the lack of political vibrancy, not to mention genuine democracy and transparency, and the reason is Plaza 16.

This front group for the nonprofits receiving millions in City and other government and private grants sucks up the most political oxygen and frustrations of Mission and citywide folks, and it's time to look at the Plaza 16 foundation laid down via Team Campos at his City Hall office.

Responsive public records from Campos generated by my request shed necessary light on how a cabal was created. Let's start at the beginning.

(Click on each image to enlarge for easier reading.)

After having contact with Bert Polacci, Maximus Partners' lobbyist, Campos' right-hand Nate Allbee contacted reps at two nonprofits, the key person being Oscar Grande at People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic RightsPODER.

On September 13, 2013, Allbee began soliciting feedback on arranging meetings between Maximus and nonprofits, asking a rep of Dolores Street Community Services, DSCS. to attend a meeting of "community" based organizations to attend and wondered if a subsidiary of her group, the Mission SRO Collaborative, MSROC, would also be present.

Previously released Campos emails disclosed this note:

"From: Oscar Grande [mailto:ogrande@podersf.org]
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:59 PM
To: Allbee, Nate Subject:
Re: Meeting with 16th and Mission Development

"Nate, Both those dates work fine with me. Also, when we spoke over the summer we talked about getting a meeting of stakeholders together on the state of affordable housing in the district. From your vantage point do you feel it's an issue the Supervisor wants to get a handle on/prioritize? Our interest is in having a back and forth with smart folks on when and how to move forward (together) on the opportunity sites like 17th & Folsom, 1950 Mission, Shotwell (oyster development offsite), others... Thanks!"

Make note, please, of Grande not pushing Campos to meet any demand and no mention is made of opening the debate to the at-large community beyond Allbee's nonprofit contacts. Those "smart folks" Grande cites ain't the riff-raff who don't work in grant-driven advocacy.

"From: Bert Polacci [mailto:bpolacci@maximusrepartners.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:34 AM
To: Allbee, Nate Subject:
Re: Meetings with CBO's

""Thanks Nate. Lets talk before we set up any more..
On Sep 24, 2013, at 2:57 PM, "Allbee, Nate" wrote: > 
Hi Bert, > > So schedule is as follows: > > Fri, September 27: > > PODER:10:00am - 10:30am > Dolores St:10:30am - 11:00am > Carecen:11:00am - 11:30am > > Setting up more service oriented CBO's for the next week and working on that neighborhood group as well. Have you had a chance to meet with the Principal of Marshall Elementary yet? > > Nate"

From the get-go, no effort was made by Grande and Allbee to deliver transparency to the real community. No public letters were circulated, no town hall held, nothing posted on an open web site.

A few meetings between Maximus and the nonprofits took place and we, the people, were not informed of any of this. The above email is dated October 2, 2013. Democracy isn't a big concern to Grande and the nonprofit reps Gabriel Medina of Mission Economic Development Agency, MEDA,  Fernando Marti of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, CCHO, and Vero Majano of the Mission Neighborhood Resource Organization, MNRO.

On October 3, 2013, Medina circulated a proposed agenda for an upcoming meeting of the nonprofit cabal and he audaciously listed info sharing, the community's need, everyone's vision and inviting other possible stakeholders/partners. 

The cabal met behind closed doors at MNRC on October 9, 2013, as documented in Grande's email.

The next day, October 10, 2013, Grande sent out notes from the meeting. We see that Maria Zamudio, who resides in the East Bay but works at Causa Justa, Wendy Phillips of DSCS, Laura Guzman of the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, MNHC, and Joel Streicker of the Central American Resource Center, CARC, joined the cabal.

They discussed what role Campos would play in addressing Maximus and building a major condo complex at Mission and 16th Streets and whom to invite to the next in a continuing series of invitation-only meetings. 
Those folks included Roberto Hernandez, executive director of the Carnaval Celebration that has received robust six-figure grants from the City and Victor Marquez, Latino lawyer and Democratic Party stalwart.

Grande announces he's off on a junket to the Philippines for a week's confab. 

An October 24, 2013, from Grande reveals he invited more nonprofit reps to the meeting including Sara Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee/SF, HRCSF, Allbee from Team Campos, Andy Blue, an anti-developers gadfly, Christina Olague and Mara Rosales of the SF Latino Democratic Club, SFLDC, Jose Carrasco of Our Mission No Eviction, OMNE, an ad hod committee, and Erick Arguello of Calle 24, a Latino advocacy group.

More than a month after Allbee began his outreach to a restricted list of nonprofits and Campos supporters about Maximus, none of these or other emails release show a shred of concern to make this info and process transparent to the larger Mission community. The nonprofit cabal kept a tight grip on invitations and sharing of emails.

Again, an email from Grande shows his key position in this cabal, dated Nov 1, 2013, about the previous well-attended meeting at a nonprofit (city-funded) office. Because of the length, the email was divided into two screen-grabs with part one above.

Part two of Grande's email reveals the cabal in secrecy decided these ideals were important: inclusion of those most impacted by the problem of Maximus' condo plan, put community needs above the needs of individual organizations, articulating what the community really needs.

It's the height of domineering arrogance that Mission Housing Inc, my term for the nonprofits, to see how these "community" leaders agree on the agenda for the rest of us, all done without any sunshine or voices outside the cabal's circle.

One month later, Campos aide Hilary Ronen circulated an email on December 9, 2013, concerning future closed-door meetings of the cabal. She writes of the sensitivity, without specifics, of the meeting and that only folks in previous meetings should be at the January 2014 sessions. Very telling, Ronen moved conversations from the email-trail to the telephone and no public record of those verbal communications.

This December 19, 2013, Grande email is probably the most telling about his (and by extension the other nonprofit cabal members') ultimate motivation: his organization. Grande writes he must skip a meeting and has staff evaluations to attend to and that "staff stuff trumps all else". Yes, those four words scream what is the central problem of the Plaza 16 leaders and their stewardship.

Their organizations and the government and foundation and corporate grants and donations, and everyone's paycheck, trumps all else.

So, when did these un-democratic leaders finally get around to sharing a smidgen of their activities and knowledge about Maximus and related issues? 

On May 16, 2014, at the Victoria Theater opposite where Maximus would build its condos, eight long months after a lotta meetings and emails and phone chats amongst themselves, the nonprofits held a public meeting giving formal birth to Plaza 16 with themselves in charge of the agenda.

There can be no political vibrancy and effective, authentic grassroots community organizing in the Mission until such time as the nonprofits are held to account and made fully transparent. 
SF Pride Has 226 Parade Contingents But . . .

Every year at this time, I'm always curious to see the lineup of the SF Pride Parade's contingents and with Sunday just days away, here's the reply I received this morning from Marsha Levine who is vice president of the board and parade manager:

"As you can imagine, we’re very busy right now, and even so, the line up is still in a bit of flux and not yet finalized. We’d prefer not to put out misinformation and create confusion for the contingents. The best we can offer you, right now and pre-event, is the Alpha List of all registered contingents. Should we get the opportunity closer to the event, we’ll post an update."

If the SF Pride leaders can't finalize the lineup with five-days to go before the parade, I suggest they change the wording on their Parade Lineup page since the pertinent info is missing. I've posted the Alpha List at my Google Docs page here, which should also be shared on SF Pride's site.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

LGBT Asians Begin TV Campaign Featuring Their Parents

Every day brings more folks out of the closet from all countries and societies, including across Asia and the Pacific Islands and here in America. A new social marketing campaign launched this month promoting visibility in these communities and I'm giving their news release a bit of attention.

Unfortunately, one of the nonprofits behind this laudable campaign, the Asian Pride Project, has disabled the embed function of their powerful videos but you can view them at the project's YouTube channel.

Many conversations will take place because of the TV ads and social media attention, conversations that will advance acceptance and love in Asian and Pacific Islander families for their queer friends and relatives.

Here's some info:

For Pride Month 2015, we pause to commemorate the powerful achievements in our struggle for LGBT equality. There is much to celebrate. However, some LGBT communities continue to face resistance. Especially the LGBT Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Due to centuries of religious and cultural tradition, many LGBT Asian-Americans remain in the closet. Or if they come out, they risk being exiled from family. This month, a powerful new television advertising campaign depicts Asian and Pacific Islander parents declaring unconditional love and support for their LGBT children.

This groundbreaking series of public service announcements will air on Asian television stations across America during Pride Month. Airing in 8 Asian languages and dialects, the PSAs will reach millions of viewers. The attached media release explains more – and provides links to these powerful public service announcements. The series was created by the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and Asian Pride Project.
Mike + Mike Celebrate 20th Anniversary Today

My, how the years fly by when you're happily partnered with a fantastic life-mate to share the joys, challenges, laughter and a few tears of living together.

On June 21, 1995, Mike Merrigan and I met through mutual friends and here it is twenty-years later we are celebrating a milestone.

The journey of our deep friendship and the creativity necessary to still love each other and enjoy being a couple, is my greatest accomplishment.

Mike and I are husbands, even though we "live in sin" without a marriage license, because we reclaim the term hubby for ourselves every time we say it.

Please share in our celebration today, as we take pride in our love and two decades united as one terrific couple!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Obama Lowered US Flag for Aurora, Newton, Boston not Charleston

After a dozen individuals died in the Aurora, Colorado, theater act of domestic terrorism, President Obama used his power of proclamation to lower the Stars and Stripes flown at half staff to honor the victims in July 2012.

At the end of 2012, after another gun-related act of homegrown terrorism in Newton, Connecticut, fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults, President Obama decreed flags on government property lowered out of respect to the dead.

When three people were killed and more than 250 were maimed and injured after the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing in March 2013, President Obama issued a another flag lowering proclamation.

But when a white gunman carried out one more act of American terrorism, armed with legally-obtained arms, on sacred soil in Charleston, South Carolina, leaving 9 black persons dead, President Obama didn't order his usual proclamation directing Old Glory to fly at lowered height to honor the murdered folks.

What's up with that?

His most recent proclamation was on June 12 commemorating Flag Day and National Flag Week. I'd like the Confederate Flag removed from South Carolina's capital grounds and American and LGBT Rainbow Pride Flag lowered to half mast in honor the dead of Charleston.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Supe Breed Lies About Her Calendar & Sunshine

There are numerous violations from the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force levied against Supervisor London Breed for her failures to comply with my requests for her calendar.

On June 2, the SOTF went on record expressing dissatisfaction she failed to send one of her three paid legislative aides to the hearing to explain why she ceased keeping a calendar as of February 1, in response to my asking to see a copy of it.

I was amused to watch and listen to Breed at the June 16 Board of Supervisors meeting state on camera that she maintains a calendar and complies with requests to make it transparent. Try telling that to the SOTF, Madame President of the Board.

Frankly, she lies when verbally claiming a calendar is kept and that it's so complex she needs new technology for her and three staffers to keep it current and properly categorized.

Watch this video of Breed lying at the June 16 meeting:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Plaza 16 Orgs Wanted $1.25M from Maximus Partners in 2013?

The Mission rumor mill's been humming since Plaza 16 bullies barred freelance journalist George McIntire, SFBARF leader Sonja Trauss and myself from attending their alleged community meeting, with speculation that several nonprofits sought large donations from Maximus Partners in the fall of 2013. Here's what I know.

It is said that at September 2013 meetings arranged via Sup. David Campos' office between the developer that wants to build a condo complex at BART's 16th and Mission Plaza, representatives of nonprofits who now steer Plaza 16, each requested $250,000 community outreach grants from Maximus Partners in order for the groups to support the project.

The groups were Causa Justa, Central American Resource Center, Council of Community Housing Organizations, MEDA and PODER.

(L-to-R: Ex-Milk Club prez Tom Temprano, Campos, Allbee.)

Longtime Campos right-hand and former president of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, Nate Allbee, now heading up Aaron Peskin's campaign for his old supervisorial seat, collaborated with Maximus Partner's lobbyist Bert Polacci and meetings were held at Campos' City Hall office. The nonprofits didn't receive the money they requested for their "community" cooperation, is what I've heard from reliable sources.

I'm trying to get confirmation about the alleged requests for donations and amounts, and will update when and if I get more info. Some background you should read.

My public records request in February to Campos for emails related to the housing crises in the Mission produced the following documents.

"From: Bert Polacci [mailto:bpolacci@maximusrepartners.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:34 AM
To: Allbee, Nate
Subject: Re: Meetings with CBO's

"Thanks Nate. Lets talk before we set up any more..

"On Sep 24, 2013, at 2:57 PM, "Allbee, Nate" wrote: > Hi Bert, > > So schedule is as follows: > > Fri, September 27: > > PODER:10:00am - 10:30am > Dolores St:10:30am - 11:00am > Carecen:11:00am - 11:30am > > 

"Setting up more service oriented CBO's for the next week and working on that neighborhood group as well. Have you had a chance to meet with the Principal of Marshall Elementary yet? > > Nate"

Very curious that instead of getting all the community based organizations in the same Campos City Hall room at the same time, the meetings were stacked for each group separately. I've filed a new request today for more emails from Campos about his collaboration with the groups.

Everyone concerned about the Mission should be mightily demanding reps from those groups explain in writing and public meetings, what they said when they met with Maximus Partners. It surely wasn't cookie recipes they discussed.

Those groups and their reps have positioned themselves and Plaza 16 as _the_ only folks to lead Mission community organizing about both the Maximus Partners project, which Plaza 16 has said nothing about for weeks and weeks, and all housing issues in the Mission and any question of their stewardship is dismissed as racism or sexism or betrayal of progressive ideals.

Um, we just want to hold Plaza 16 leaders accountable and learn who they've spoken to behind closed doors. Look at whom Janan New, both a Maximus Partners and SF Apartment Association lobbying, wanted to meet with in December 2013:

[CORRECTION: In December 2014 is when Ms. New and Campos' office were trying to arrange another meeting with the nonprofits to take place in January 2015. Why would Plaza 16 reps, who spent all of 2014 mobilizing against Maximus Partners, be invited to a meeting with the developer in 2015? Answers are needed.]
"From Janan New
To Allbee, Nate
Subject 16th and Mission
Date Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:04:26 +0000

"Here are some dates that work for us on the 16th and Mission meeting:
Thursday, January 15th in the morning
Friday, January 16th, in the morning
Wednesday, January 21st in the afternoon
"The people we would like to invite are:
Supervisor Campos, you, Maria Zamudio, Gabriel Medina, Fernando Marti and Oscar Grande. -Janan."
Let's back up to November 2013 and look at an excerpt of an email about a closed-door meeting of the nonprofits, to strategize about Maximus Partners where decisions were made about community engagement which average activists and tenants had no idea was going on. Same old Mission Inc/Housing Inc names, many of whom are now running the Plaza 16 show:

"From: Oscar Grande [mailto:ogrande@podersf.org]
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2013 4:19 PM
To: Kendra Froshman; Wendy Phillips; Andy Blue; Jose Carrasco; Laura Guzman; Fernando Marti; Mara Rosales; Erick Arguello; Sara Shortt; Gabriel Medina; Veronica Majano
Cc: Nate.Allbee@sfgov.org
Subject: 16th/Mission Monday Meeting 12pm Community Group 6th &

"Mission Proposed Market Rate Development
Notes from 10/28/13

"Compañer@s, Quick little reminder for our next meeting and follow up notes from this past week. We are meeting this Monday 12pm @ PODER

"And here are the rough notes that I could gather from the white board and from my notebook:
Present: Kendra Froshman/DSCS, Wenday Phillips/DSCS, Andy Blue, Jose Carraso/Good Samaritan, Karoleen Fong/MEDA, Laura Guzman/MNRC, Fernando Marti/CCHO, Mara Rosales/SFLDC, Sara Shortt/HRCSF, Erick Arguello/Calle 24, Gabriel Medina/MEDA, Vero Majano/MNRC."

These folks owe everyone in the Mission answers to my questions about why they met with Maximus Partners in 2013 and what was on the agenda. Let's not allow the nonprofits and Democratic Party activists continue to hijack the grassroots agenda and community suffering without fuller accountability.

Monday, June 15, 2015

SF Chron: Toilet Access Expands; Public Citizen Omitted

This is one way to reach the homeless. The SF Chronicle's entertainment section socialite columnist Leah Garchik promoted the toilet access expansion at taxpayer-funded firehouses. Here's what she wrote on June 11th:

"And bravo to the San Francisco Fire Department, for a May 30 release — signed by Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Department of Public Health Director Barbara Garcia and chief of the city’s homeless programs Bevan Dufty — underlining the department’s policy of making fire station toilets accessible to the public, including homeless people, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The announcement, which also lists the locations of automatic public restrooms, specifies that "any member of the public may ring the Fire Station doorbell and will be let in to use the toilet.'"

I'm not sure how many homeless folks read the Chron's Datebook section, but any publicity for making more people aware that they can pee and poop at SF Fire Department facilities is a good development. Would have been nicer for the paper to give this development some hard news coverage and mention the public citizen advocacy I performed, but can't have everything.

By the way, on June 13, on page two of the Chron's Sunday edition, "Native Son" columnist Carl Nolte highlighted the work of Dufty and no mention was made about the change in SFFD restroom policies.

You may recall my advocacy at the fire and health departments and with Dufty led to this toilet access expansion. Here's the video of me at the May 19 health commission, after months of delays and broken promises from DPH and Dufty, demanding access not only to toilets but also showers at fire houses:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Stop Evictions & Executions Forms; Monday Mtgs Announced

A new ad hoc committee has formed to address pressing housing needs in the San Francisco Mission District and to organize for the upcoming 10th anniversary of Iran hanging two gay teenagers.

SEE, Stop Evictions & Executions, is dedicated to open discussion about halting Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from executing any tenant evictions, seeking a court-ordered eviction moratorium, and collaborate with global gays to end the death penalty everywhere for every reason.

Among the top concerns are filing public records requests with Sheriff Mirkarimi, using responsive records to stop evictions, developing a strategy to fully fund right to Civil Counsel and organizing against state-sanctioned executions everywhere. Since 2012, low income San Franciscans have had a right to an attorney to help defend evictions, but the program is still unfunded. 

The two leaders are Michael Petrelis of Gays Without Borders and Sonja Trauss of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters' Federation. Both have been active in Mission affordable housing issues. 

Petrelis is working in coalition human rights advocates who in late July will commemorate the execution by hanging of the Iranian teenagers, and call for a moratorium on executions.

Trauss continues to advocate for open dialogue about deeply affordable housing and all development needs and concerns in the Mission and around the Bay Area.

The San Francisco eviction and execution moratoriums are two areas of agreement that Trauss and Petrelis will work on, then assess if they will continue to collaborate.

Five meetings are scheduled, all on Mondays from 6 pm to 8 pm at Cafe Tazo on 16th Street, near Valencia. The meetings happen on June 15th, 22nd and 29th, and July 6th and 15th.

Preliminary agendas will be shared via social media the day of each meeting and then finalized by participants who show up.

The draft agenda for the first SEE meeting on Monday, June 15th, includes these items: 

1) Introduction
2) Presentation of the agenda; group agreement on evening's topics
3) Examination of eviction stats and records from Sheriff Mirkarimi's office
4) Organizing a committee to request and share public records
5) Using public records to stop evictions
6) Status report on Toronto, London, and DC, perhaps even Tehran, LGBT solidarity actions in July
7) Announcements

For more info, contact the organizers:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mrs Mirkarimi's Show Zapped; She Backs Eviction Moratorium

Ah, the pleasures of making a dramatic, show-stopping cameo appearance in a live theatrical production and achieving a political goal!

Eliana Lopez, the wife of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi who is facing a tough reelection battle and has not taken a stand on an eviction moratorium, stepped out on to the stage to perform her ""Cuál Es el Escándalo?" or "What Is the Scandal?" bilingual monologue at the Mission Cultural Center, tonight to wild applause.

I stood up with my flyer comprised of eviction stats from Mirkarimi's office showing 3,100 evictions executed during his tenure and called on her to endorse the eviction moratorium.

She was full of good humor and smiled a knowing look my way, as I explained to the audience that I wanted her to back this moratorium and boos were yelled at me. A male member of audience came over to me and put his hands on my shoulder attempting to steer me outta the limelight.

How San Francisco is it that a zapper is zapped? Quite, I'd say.

All due credit to Eliana who never lost her composure, seemed to enjoy the improv spectacle unfolding, and then said after I again asked if she endorsed the eviction moratorium, said "Yes, I endorse!"

Very fine of her to stand in solidarity with the nascent eviction moratorium effort shaping up in the Mission. Sure would love to know what she and her husband discuss about tonight's show and Eliana's backing of this important moratorium. Check out my video:

Sheriff Mirkarimi's 3,100 Evictions, Withholds Execution Calendar

My quest to learn more about Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's handling of thousands of tenant evictions motivated me to file a few public records requests with him. The head of the legal division of the Sheriff's Office, Mark Nicco, has provided me with various responsive records and explanations of the stats and terminology.

In my estimation, during Mirkarimi's tenure as sheriff he's executed approximately 3,100 evictions. As Nicco explains, when a unit is emptied of the tenant(s) and the property restored, then it is counted as an eviction.

Thus, for 2012 and 2013 the number is 1,964, during 2014 it is 815 and for 2015 so far the stat is 379 for a cumulative total of 3,158.

Since the 2015 responsive record is different than previous years', I've repeatedly called and emailed Nicco for confirmation that the 379 figure is for restorations and accurate, but he's not responded. For argument's sake, until more info is forthcoming from Mirkarimi's office, let's use the 3,100 stat.

Regarding my request of the calendar and addresses of impending evictions just for the month of June, Mirkarimi is withholding that info, making it almost impossible to mobilize grassroots activists to blockade a few of the evictions unless the evictee reaches out for public protest to retain her or his housing. Here are the emails from Mirkarimi's office:

"I have attached responsive records for 2012 – 2013. The Notice of Restoration documents that possession of the property has been restored to the owner. My understanding is that the number of evictions would be that number (2014 would be 815). However, I will confirm that information for you.

"I have confirmed that the number associated with Notice of Restoration is the number best reflecting the number of completed evictions. This would include all evictions that were posted, but would not necessarily represent the actual removal of an evictee. It could include those cases where the tenant voluntarily left the premises, cancellations, or other conclusion.

"For the most part, eviction stats are for a unit, not a building. A unit may have more than one person being removed. The underlying reason for the unlawful detainer action/eviction is not shared with the Sheriff’s Department, so that information would not be known.

"I am not aware of responsive documents for the reasons for the evictions and the names of tenants on the lease of evicted properties, as that information is not known to the Sheriff’s Department.

"I am responding to your public records request, dated June 10, 2015, regarding eviction calendars. The request is marked 'Immdediate Disclosure Reqeust'. The upcoming eviction calendars are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(f), as confidential security files. They cannot be disclosed for public safety and deputy safety concerns."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Plaza 16 Calls Cops on Activist; Vice Reporter Barred

The complete moral and political bankruptcy of Plaza 16 was on full display at their alleged "community meeting" on June 8, at the Redstone Building, where supposedly "everyone" was needed to effect change in the Mission.

Instead of developing a written plan to stop the Maximus Partners from building a luxury condo at BART's plaza at 16th and Mission Streets, the stated goal of Plaza 16, the steering committee comprised primarily of nonprofits and paid "organizers", the group has developed a loyalty oath/exclusionary policy and put it in writing.

At the June 8 meeting, where every effort was made to halt me from document the b.s. of this group, several leaders were upset I took photos of the loyalty oath. If you check out Plaza 16's social media, the loyalty oath is omitted.

It's quite telling of the group's leadership that one Chirag Bhakta, a paid community "organizer" with the Mission SRO Collaborative, SF Police Dept accountability activist and Plaza 16 steering committee member, on June 2 at the Board of Supervisor complained about the heavy presence of the cops.

Less than one week later, Bhakta called the SFPD to have me ejected from Plaza 16's June 8 meeting. Needless to say, left before the cops showed up.

On top of that, a reporter for Vice, George McIntire, [CORRECTION: He's a freelancer, not a staff writer for Vice], was barred from attending the meeting, as was Sonja Trauss of the SF Bay Area Renters' Federation. Guess Plaza 16 leaders didn't really mean it was a "community" meeting and "everyone" was needed.

Check out my video:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mayor Moved 14 Homeless From Center to Permanent Housing 

My latest public records request to Mayor Ed Lee related to his homeless Navigation Center and number of clients served and exited for various reasons, produced these numbers.

According to the Office of the Controller, thirty clients have exited the center located on Mission near 16th Street, 14 of whom exited to permanent housing, 6 to temporary housing and 10 have had unstable exits. Previous emails from City Hall showed some tenants residing at SROs were evicted so the City could lease those hotel rooms for homeless folks leaving the center.

The great unanswered question surrounding the Navigation Center is whether any actual new housing units were created, or is the City just shuffling folks from SROs and contracted beds so that the mayor can say he's moved homeless people from the streets to the center and then into permanent housing.

The grand total, since the center began operations in mid March, of all folks who've exited comes to thirty.

The cumulative number for all clients served since opening is seventy-five, which is the total capacity of folks who could reside at the center at the same time. At the end of may, there were forty-five total active clients.

I wonder if clients of the center, Mayor Ed Lee and Homeless Inc consider these numbers successes. What do you say about the mayor's latest stats?

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Sup. Campos, The Tamale Lady & An 'Unusual' $40,000 Loan

What's happened with Sup. David Campos assisting Virginia Ramos, alias The Tamale Lady, since I wrote in March 2014 about his efforts to secure a physical location for her to run her business from? Not much I thought, until a public records request to Campos produced this curious string of emails:

It appears Campos' aide Joseph Smooke since late April has been coordinating a loan of $40,000 for Ramos from the Opportunity Fund based in San Jose, that would be coordinated with the Mission Economic Development Agency and the Mission Housing Development Corporation.

Complications and details about rehabbing Ramos' intended location at 2943 16th Street near Capp Street and working with contractors, were addressed in mid May.

And on May 20, Smooke thanked the Opportunity Fund for their "hard work to close this unusual loan" and the hope of Campos' office to make "a big splash" when Ramos finally opens her cantina. None of the emails released explain exactly what is unusual about the $40,000 loan.

In a related matter, the Mission Local site, which deserves beaucoup credit for original, balanced, fair and vital reporting, ran a story in August 2014 about Ramos' various troubles with a multi-family apartment building she owns on 24th Street. One tenant, who remained anonymous, called her a slumlord. Check out 
the Mission Local story here.

We'll see if the load leads to Ramos opening a bricks-and-mortar business on 16th Street this year, or ever.

Monday, June 08, 2015

I'm a Great-Uncle for the Second Time!

My niece Alexis recently gave birth in New Jersey to her second child.

She and her husband Kevin, along with their beautiful daughter Malina, welcomed their newest family member, William, into the world and their loving circle of relatives and friends couldn't be more delighted.

Being a great-uncle for the second time is a wonderful experience and I'm so happy to be alive for this occasion!

Here are photos of the two cuties, Malina and William, and their gorgeous mother Alexis too.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Plaza 16 Doesn't Give a Crap About BART's New Toilet

In April, I needed to use a restroom at the 16th Street BART Plaza and the kiosk toilet was out of order, reminding how lack of toilet access at the hub created health hazards for all users of the public space. I contacted BART and SF Department of Public Works officials and nudged them to being operating a Pit Stop mobile toilet at this location.

I quickly learned both agencies were soon implementing a Pit Stop program here and was delighted the government folks responsible for the hub were taking another step to clean up the plaza for better public hygiene. Last summer, I succeeded in getting DPW and SF MTA to more often power clean the surfaces of the plaza and the Department of Public Health very quickly, after I complained, installed pigeon spikes in more spots to keep the birds from roosting and pooping on people and handrails.

This past week, I asked Rachel Gordon, communications director for DPW, what was happening with the Pit Stop plan and she said:

We are still planning to move forward with BART on operating a portable Pit Stop nearby – final location TBD. We’re hoping that will open soon. Still working on agreement.

Meanwhile, we opened a Pit Stop at the existing JCDecaux. I just got the numbers today and the results look good. Prior to the Pit Stop model, that toilet had an average of 27 uses a day.

Since then, the number has ranged from a low of 49 uses a day to a high of 105. Many days in the 70s and 80s. Big difference. It shows that people are more comfortable to use that JCDecaux toilet at 16th and Mission if it’s staffed.

For me, cleaning up the plaza has always equaled from a public health perspective not one about displacing any users of the hub and I've never seen or heard evidence of the Plaza 16 group lifting a finger to address improving the plazas for all users.

The group is called Plaza 16 but they don't give a crap about the filth and fire menaces of dry papers and trash in the hot sun at the BART entrance near Walgreens. Their only agenda is stopping the Maximus Partners from opening a luxury condo and shopping complex where Walgreens now operates.

On that matter, Plaza 16 last said a peep about Maximus Partners in March.

Plaza 16 leaders are not concerned with improving the BART plaza in any way because they fear that would somehow make the area more desirable to developers and lead to more disfigurement of the Mission. Frankly, if there were effective community organizers running the Plaza 16 show they would be able to focus on Maximus Partners _and_ changing the hazardous hygienic standards at the hub.

Well, piss on Plaza 16 leaders! DPW and BART officials have dealt with controlling pigeon poop, more water-washing of the surfaces, the toilet kiosk is now a Pit Stop and staffed weekdays and there's a drop-box for used syringes and dog waste, and soon signage aiding handicapped folks and locals and travelers in need of the elevator will be up because of my ADA complaint.

I've done more advocating directing with BART, DPW, DPH and SF MTA in the past year and delivering tangible improvements than Plaza 16 leaders. Check out my photos of the expanded toilet access at the BART hub at 16th and Mission:

Friday, June 05, 2015

Number of Evictions Executed by SF Sheriff so Far in 2015?

There has been much chatter among San Francisco progressives, especially in the Mission and Castro districts, about declaring an eviction moratorium to protect renters but one thing that never comes up is pressuring Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. He's responsible for executing tenant evictions and this is an election year for him and he's facing a serious challenger. 

Sounds like a recipe for much-needed pressure to be placed on Mirkarimi, but the current crop of community organizers in the David Campos orbit, paid and volunteer, aren't the least bit interested in making an eviction moratorium an election issue.

Today, I requested the number of tenant evictions carried out by Mirkarimi and his deputies and the responsive records show there were almost 380 completed evictions, through the end of May. I've followed up with the sheriff's department asking if they have an estimate of the number of residents evicted. Once I have their reply, I'll share it.

How many tenants must be evicted in the remaining months before November's election for progressives and Mission and Castro housing advocates to make the eviction moratorium proposal something for Mirkarimi and his challenger to address?

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Call to Action: July 19 = 10th Anniversary of Iran's Gay Hangings

Dear LGBT Human Rights Advocates and Allies,

On Sunday, July 19, members of Gays Without Borders and the African Human Rights Coalition will hold a vigil at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro district of San Francisco, to mark the 10th anniversary of Iran hanging two gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni.

We will have dual purposes, to condemn the hangings on July 19, 2005, in Mashad, Iran, and the country's oppression of LGBT people, while also expressing deep solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iranians.

Global activists are asked to participate in their local city or town on July 19 and stage their own event, especially if they live near an Iranian diplomatic mission.

This list of diplomatic missions is extensive and will help you identify potential sites for an action in your city: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diplomatic_missions_of_Iran.

We've heard from friends and colleagues in London and Washington expressing interest and strong support for organizing vigils in those cities, with more details to soon follow.

Please join with the LGBT community of San Francisco on July 19 and make it a global day of action and cooperation. Be sure to share this call-to-action via social media far and wide.

Let us know if you and your local activist group will organize an action on this important day. We need you and look forward to hearing from you.

In solidarity,
Melanie Nathan, African Human Rights Coalition
Michael Petrelis, Gays Without Borders

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Gov Clinton & ACT UP, Dec 1991: HIV History Video

In the fall of 1991, the ACT UP chapters in Washington, DC, and New York City provided me with grants to move up to New Hampshire in anticipation of the coming primary season for the presidential race.

There were no effective AIDS cocktails, Democratic and Republican politicians weren't adequately addressing the plague, the media's coverage of people with AIDS was stigmatizing and ill-informed, and the gay community raged against institutions ignoring our plight.

Yet, members of ACT UP were full of anger and optimism that we could change the situation and that Silence = Death. We were not quiet queers.

Gov. Bill Clinton held a forum at a theater in Manchester, NH, in 1991 and I was there in an aisle seat wearing three political buttons, ready to thrust into his hand our list of demands and say something about AIDS.

This was the small start to ACT UP's efforts during the 1992 race for the White House, that soon led to hundreds of activists across the country confronting all candidates with a simple question: What about AIDS?

On May 30, 2015, the MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris Perry aired a segment about the benefits of Democratic presidential hopefuls facing other Democrats in primaries. She used b-roll footage showing Clinton have a brush with me.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge all the dead and still-living folks from the AIDS plague years who acted up and changed the world for the better. Those who died didn't pass away in vain and we, the living, are survivors and thrivers.

Here's a bit of queer and HIV history:

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

BART's Major Changes Coming to 16th/Mission Plazas

My video complaint to BART in early May about lack of elevator location signage is producing major changes at their transit hub nearest to our apartment, for which I laud the public transit agency. I wonder why the hell BART board of directors member for this hub, progressive gay leader Tom Radulovich, has been on silent regarding improving the hub for handicapped folks, bicyclists and travelers with suitcases and all who need an elevator to access the trains.

BART, in response to my video, has ordered nearly two-dozen signs and will soon install them at the hub. Permanent signage improvements won't happen till 2016, so let's get regular updates from Radulovich about why that work is so far in the future and what exactly he does to engage the users of this hub, and how he works to maintain it.

You may recall my success last year persuading the San Francisco DPW and DPH to steam clean the hub, and my separate accomplishment of getting pigeon spikes installed, to maintain best public health practices protecting the wellness of hub users.

Here's BART letter about the signage matters sent yesterday:

"Dear Mr. Petrelis, I have been awaiting a legal opinion about your complaint to BART on 5/14/2015 regarding the elevator signage at the 16th Street Mission BART station. I have yet to hear back, but wanted to send you an email to let you know what we have been doing.

"[W]e will be making improvements to wayfinding at 16th Street Mission. We have been in preparation to overhaul all signage at the station beginning next year as a part of the 10 station Wayfinding Improvement Phase 3 Project.

"The improvements include removing unneeded existing signage, replacing existing signage with new signage and providing additional new signage at platform, concourse and street levels. Illuminated elevator signs will be provided as a part of this project.

"Since this project is over a year away, we will be adding 21 additional temporary elevator signs within the next month. The signs were ordered this past Friday. They will mirror the plan at the 24th Street Mission BART station. 

"The signs will be in ADA blue and will include universal pictograms with directional arrows, Here is a sample of one of the signs from 24th Street Mission:

"Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or additional comments. Thank you for contacting BART. We appreciate your input.

"Bob Franklin
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)
Department Manager, Customer Access and Accessibility Office"

Monday, June 01, 2015

NYT, Early HIV Rx, SF Infections Fell in 2004, not 2010

Here's some of what the New York Times' science reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr. wrote last week about new research confirming that use of AIDS drugs by newly-diagnosed HIV poz people is of great benefit to the patient:

"'This is fantastic,' said Dr. Susan P. Buchbinder, director of H.I.V. prevention research for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Her department began recommending immediate treatment in 2010, and new infections in that city have dropped substantially since then. 'The evidence for this has been building for quite some time, but now it’s clear that people should be offered treatment right away and told why it’s beneficial.'"

What is of concern to me is McNeil implying HIV infections in San Francisco have significantly fallen because of the DPH recommendation in 2010. While infections have dropped in the past give years, let's look at the latest stats from the department.

The green line in this graph from the most recent HIV epidemiology report shows infections began falling in 2007-2008, a few years before DPH recommended early use of cocktails.

Looking back at the 2008 epidemiology surveillance, we see that there was a high number of new HIV diagnoses in 2004 for both categories of reporting by California law. For individuals whose diagnoses were reported by the names-based system or the combined names- and code-based system, the numbers were falling many years before DPH urged poz folks in the early stages of their infections to take AIDS drugs.

My point is that San Francisco's HIV stats began a serious decline way before 2010 and the Times should not have reported the drop since then was due to DPH's recommendations. Certainly, more poz people on cocktails helps them stay healthier longer and their low infectivity reduces new transmissions, data clearly shows HIV began falling at least in 2004-2005.