Sunday, July 31, 2016

Valencia Street's Bahai Center for Sale, Realtor Omits Price

We've voted there, donated clothes when our neighbors lost their homes because of a fire and attended a few community events over the years at the Bahai Center, two short blocks from our apartment.

Now, the beautiful Art Deco building at 170 Valencia Street is on the market. There's a huge for sale sign from the realtor Collier's International on the Bahai Center's facade that certainly caught our queer eye.

Half a block away, in the direction toward Market Street, is where McCoppin Hub is located, the troubled public space in Supervisor Jane Kim's district that will soon have an anti-homeless fence built on the edge if it so the area can be locked up overnight.

Collier's omits the asking price of the property from their web listing, which seems odd but maybe this is standard practice for the real estate industry in these parts. We'll keep an eye on the property and see how the attempt to sell it progresses.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Film Friday: BAMPFA's Classics; 'Sexplanation' Doc

What's on my movie-mad mind today? Classics from the canon and a sex-doc.

Here are several excellent choices for avoiding the beautiful weather in the coming days, to instead catch fantastic films in Berkeley.

The BAMPFA schedule tonight features a screening of an archival print of Max Ophuls' "Liebelei," which I've not seen, as part of their look at Vienna in the movies.

After that, it's Francois Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player" with Charles Aznavour in the lead and it's in glorious black-and-white and Cinemascope. Saw this just once, at the old Thalia on Manhattan's Upper West Side back in the day.

On tap for Saturday evening at the film archive is Alexander Sokurov's masterpiece "Russian Ark," a single-take journey through Mother Russia's history inside the Hermitage Museum. It repeats on Sunday night. Nice that BAMPFA is programming multiple chances to see certain films, giving cineastes and movie-lovers more opportunities to experience cinema with an audience.

Also on Saturday is Wim Wenders' Cuban music documentary "Buena Vista Social Club," which I'm embarrassed to say I've never seen. Glad to finally catch it and the print we'll see has been digitally restored.

More info on all BAMPFA programming just a click away.

I'm sharing news from budding publicist Lorraine Petel, who handled front-desk chores at the San Francisco International Film Festival in the spring, about her friend's in-development flick about everyone's favorite topic, sex. This is from their site:

"'Sexplanation' is a new documentary written and directed by San Francisco journalist and science videographer, Alex Liu. The film seeks to peer into our sexuality, exploring the challenges facing society as we seek to embrace greater sexual diversity yet hold onto long held cherished beliefs.

"Join Alex as he travels from church pews, biology labs, fetish conventions and therapy sessions in his quest for an up-to-date and holistic understanding of sex. His immersive journalism will get under the nation's bed sheets, as he explores what makes our sexuality throb."

More info on this sex-doc project here. Check out their great teaser:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

ACT UP Co-Founders' Inpromtu Street Reunion

My shopping trip to the Castro farmers' market on Wednesday was special because I ran into my friend David Tuller. We go back to the plague years in New York City, both still standing, more grays and wrinkles, surviving and thriving to the best of our Judy Garland goddess-given queer abilities.

Nice to snag another pic of David and I and add it to my collection of fotos of running into cohorts from my activist life

Many moons ago, we were arrested in March 1987, as part of ACT UP's first wavelet of protests over the AIDS epidemic, and we became known with the other arrestees as the Wall Street 17. We got into the streets and blocked traffic near the stock exchange in Lower Manhattan and thus was a movement born.

Who was among the Wall Street 17? Here's a partial list I drew up with assistance from ACT UP veteran Bill Dobbs. If you know the other ten names, please share them with me:

1) Neil Broome
2) Frank Dowd, RIP
3) Prema Lee
4) Rodger McFarlane , RIP
5) Michael Petrelis
6) Charles Stimson
7) David Tuller

When the Wall Street 17 appeared before a judge a few weeks later, where the charges of disorderly conduct were dismissed, the judge was the late Richard Failla. He was a trailblazing jurist appointed by Mayor Ed Koch and at the time we went before him he was a member of the board of directors of GMHC. How's that for interesting homo history trivia?
Texts Reveal DA Gascon Co-Opts SFPD Accountability Priest

Former police chief and current District Attorney George Gascon hasn't brought a single charge in any of the deaths of the 20 civilians killed by members of the San Francisco Police Department, during his tenure as the City's prosecutor. 20 deaths, zero indictments.

A public records request to Gascon produced dozens of texts between him and the naive and gullible Father Richard Smith of St John's Episcopal Church in the Mission, and they clearly reveal how the DA has skillfully co-opted this cleric.

The texts clearly show Smith's subservience to Gascon, a very unhealthy attitude for anyone leading community efforts for justice from the DA in various deaths of black and brown people by the cops.

This text from Smith shows he's been keeping a lid on the anger in the community, and reporting this to the man he should pressuring not kowtowing to. Smith's too keen to give a platform to the DA and plead his case to activists, while getting nothing but empty promises in return. Someone should inform Smith Gascon has and continues to blow off the activists.

It seems Smith is all too willing to do Gascon's bidding and serve as his mouthpiece in the community, while getting nothing in return from the DA.

Another text documents how eager Smith is to cool off community anger, even though a this point it had been three-months since Gascon didn't deliver on his promise of an announcement about charges in the fatal shooting by the SFPD of Amilcar Perez-Lopez.

Proving yet again how cozy Smith is with Gascon and his weird willingness to run his group's planned actions by the man they're lobbying. With such subservience, it's no wonder the DA feels no pressure to take action regarding indictments in the death of Amilcar Perez Lopez.

More proof Smith is not an effective police accountability advocate in this text, where he requests a meeting with Gascon to have him turn down the heat in the community. He wants activists to develop sympathy for the DA, instead of demanding to bring the anger to Gascon, and tell him the reassurances are bullshit delaying tactics.

I'm sure Father Smith's heart is in the right place, but he is woefully unprepared to withstand the co-opting machinations of a very ambitious and cunning elected official, as evidenced in the texts. I've posted all of the responsive public records here for all to read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Open Govt Foe Sup. Peskin Withholds Emails For Bogus Excuse

Whether they're a moderate or a progressive, certain members of the Board of Supervisors are foes of government transparency when I file public records requests for emails and other public files.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whom many label Napoleon of North Beach for his autocratic methods and short physical stature, lived up to his reputation recently, after I filed a request for all of his emails for June and July.

His legislative aide, Lee Hepner, who used to be a member of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and is a vice president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, which should be fighting for expanded City Hall sunshine, this week informed me Peskin is withholding responsive public records:

"As for the request itself, we will not be responding to the below request, the scope of which clearly exceeds the boundaries of reasonableness. [Citing a 1967 California Supreme Court ruling] . . .  we will not be responding to your records request, as it will substantially interfere with the orderly function of the Supervisor’s office and his staff."

I've lodged a complaint with the SOTF and intend to have them adjudicate this matter. Considering Peskin has three paid aides, including Hepner, and the board soon goes on recess for most of August, I don't at all believe complying with my request will in any way interrupt the function of this office.

Speaking of interruption, that's exactly what Peskin did to me during public comment time at the July 20 meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee.

Showing no concern for eating up my two-minutes of speaking time, Peskin interrupted me to tell me how to stand exhibiting evidence of his Napoleonic tendencies. Needless to say, I took extra time to make up for his interruption and lectured him and other DCCC members about keeping their mouths mute when it's public comment time.

Check out my vid from the meeting:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SFPD's Cost for Officers to Attend Dallas Cops' Funerals?

There is no public safety reason for San Francisco cops to attend funerals of slain police officers in cities around the nation, nor is there justification for taxpayers to pick up any part of the costs when our cops choose to pay their respects to fallen colleagues.

Somehow, it's considered work that seven SFPD personnel flew to Dallas earlier this month for that city's tributes to their dead officers and we're paying out $8,100 for those seven who were on City time.

How did average San Francisco residents benefit in any direct way from the Dallas trips?

I wonder if the City would pay a municipal employee's hourly pay if they went to a funeral of a black man or woman killed by a cop.

Would San Francisco taxpayers and police watchdogs approve of assistant public defenders billing the City for time spent at the funeral of Philandro Castile in Minnesota or Alton Sterling in Louisiana?

The information shared here was in response to my public records request submitted to the SPFD. Follow the municipal money!

Monday, July 25, 2016

DPW: McCoppin Hub Anti-Homeless Fencing Up by Labor Day

The City's next steps to fence off the public space at the McCoppin Hub, near the intersection of Valencia and Market Streets, are outlined in this update from Rachel Gordon, the public info officer for the Department of Public Works.

State senator-wannabe Supervisor Jane Kim, in whose district the problem public area is located, as far as I can determine, has steadfastly not said a word about DPW's plans. That may change once the anti-homeless fencing is built.

Anecdotally, there's been a reduction in the number of homeless folks, and their belongings, in the hub in recent weeks and a Pit Stop has setup shop weekdays in front of the U-Haul parking lot. From DPW:

"Here’s the latest: Over the past several months, our designer has been working to resolve issues related to the new fence and to prepare bid documents that lay out the scope of work for the contractor.

"The project will involve removal of many of the bollards and chains, installation of perimeter fencing, two gates that vehicles can access and three gates for use by pedestrians.

"In addition, there will be some concrete demolition, and new concrete will be poured to provide accessible access at the west end of the site.

"We expect the contractor’s proposal (which will include the cost) by July 29, and work would begin within four weeks or so of that date. The initial work will include installation of a temporary fence, which close down the HUB while the work is underway.

"The City will be contracting with Cal State Constructors, Inc. Hours of operation of the Hub will be determined by San Francisco Real Estate Division, but would likely model the dog and skate parks across the street -- essentially 7 AM to sunset. The hours can and will be adjusted as needed."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vid: Mike's 65th Birthday & My New Face

We're having a terrific month of July and recently Mike and I went on a date, to hear the San Francisco Symphony performing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" symphony, over his birthday weekend. He's hit the Medicare birthday, sixty-five, and he continues to improve with age, sharing his wisdom and life with me.

I've regained my facial and cranial wellness, after the fat injections into my facial creases, brought on by years of AIDS cocktails, with a fuller, somewhat newer, face. Still here, with some wear and tear, and proudly queer!

Enjoy the vid.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kim + Wiener = Job Order for McCoppin Hub Anti-Homeless Fence

If the issue is a public plaza and who controls it, don't expect much communication from either Supervisor currently running for the District 11 state senate seat.

Neither Jane Kim nor Scott Wiener has addressed the controversy ignited over the failure to fly the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza at half-mast for five days honoring the LGBT people massacred on June 12 in Orlando, and they're both silent about a soon-to-be built fence at the McCoppin Hub. We live three blocks from there.

Located at near the intersection of the two Supes' district, closed to Valencia and Market Streets, the hub will soon be fenced as an anti-homeless measure.

For many years, residential and business stakeholders have activated themselves with any and all City officials who might address the lack of housing for the crowds of homeless drifters and others, and the resultant sanitation and criminal problems of folks living in the public space for extended periods.

Let's follow the email trail in recent weeks.

The hub is nestled just inside the border of Kim's District 6, alongside the freeway off-ramp which is in Wiener's District 8, so neighbors are right to put pressure on her for communication. One nearby resident's plea, made on June 11, for a response from Kim expresses the wish of many but Kim's office is woefully silent.

On June 29, a local businessman complained of no engagement from either Kim or Wiener and that it's an election year, and we might expect these electeds to address quality of life concerns in the hub. Still no word from Kim.

A response from a manager at the Department of Public Works informed everyone that the City is rapidly moving forward to install the fence and it should be completed at the McCoppin Hub in about 4-5 month period. We'll see the fence at this public space after the November election when either Kim or Wiener is newly-elected to Sacramento.

What surprises me about these latest anti-homeless developments at the McCoppin Hub is that I've not heard a peep of protest from all the progressive nonprofits, Democratic affiliates including the Harvey Milk Club, and community organizers backing Kim.

Can you imagine the din that would erupt if the fence were to be erected in Wiener's district? It'd be so loud my hearing aids wouldn't be needed to hear the kvetching.

Watch this recent video taken at the hub:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Laura Truffaut & 'Day for Night' Delight at BAMPFA

Magic was up on the big Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive screen last night (July 16), and cinema was alive and thriving in the sold-out audience.

We were treated to a witty introduction by Laura Truffaut of an imported and pristine print of her father Francois Truffaut's Oscar-winning valentine to the movies, "Day for Night."

This short video, shot before and after the film unspooled, captures a small amount of the exhilaration everyone felt during this special evening BAMPFA's new home.

Experiencing the joys of "Day for Night" again like this guarantees this is one of my top movie-going times of 2016.

Big thanks to Laura Truffaut, the folks at BAMPFA and our amazing audience!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Supes' Public Advocate Agenda: Public Comment = 1st Item 

No matter how you look at the special full Board of Supervisors' meeting today, including the unusual starting time of 5:15 pm, it's quite a unique situation extending also to the fact that public comment is item one. This needs to be an occurrence at every full board meeting!

Even this cynic is impressed with this act of democratizing City Hall, if only for one board meeting, to such a degree I sent this letter to the Supervisors and various folks in City govt:

Dear Members of the Board of Supervisors,

Thanks for providing the City with the miracle of allowing general public comment at the start of your special meeting today, as stated on the agenda:

Myself, and other good govt watchdogs, have long implored you to set a fixed time for public comment at your Tuesday meetings, especially for working folks who don't have hours of time on an afternoon workday to wait around for public comment, but our pleas have not led to change.

Over in Berkeley, their City Council takes public comment at the start of meetings, for about ten minutes, allowing at least a few folks the chance to speak, and returning to more public comment later.

I suggest you, and Jane Kim particularly if she wants to distinguish herself from her senate race opponent, look to Berkeley as a way to improve making San Francisco's BOS a body with better best practices for public comment.

Check this out from the Berkeley council's site:

"Public Comment on Non-Agenda Matters: Persons will be selected by lottery to address matters not on the Council agenda. If five or fewer persons submit speaker cards for the lottery, each person selected will be allotted two minutes each. If more than five persons submit speaker cards for the lottery, up to ten persons will be selected to address matters not on the Council agenda and each person selected will be allotted one minute each. Persons wishing to address the Council on matters not on the Council agenda during the initial ten-minute period for such comment, must submit a speaker card to the City Clerk in person at the meeting location and prior to commencement of that meeting. The remainder of the speakers wishing to address the Council on non-agenda items will be heard at the end of the agenda."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

DA Gascon Denounced at Police Hearing: No Killer-Cop Charges

At last night's San Francisco police commission meeting, I used my public comment time to focus attention on corrupt District Attorney George Gascon and his b.s. blue-ribbon panel.

Since Gascon became DA in January 2011, there have been twenty civilians killed by SFPD officers and he's not indicted even a ham sandwich in any of the fatalities.

He has put much energy and time and City resources into his hand-picked blue-ribbon panel, ostensibly looking at problems within the police force, which was head of before assuming DA duties. It's really about him running to be appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to replace Kamala Harris, if she's elected to the US Senate as many predict.

How many civilians have to die due to fatal use of force by an SFPD officer before Gascon charges someone with murder?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Laura Truffaut to Intro 'Day For Night' at BAMPFA: 7/16

Maybe five years ago, Francois Truffaut's daughter Laura, who lives in Berkeley, hosted a screening of his classic "The Wild Child" when a newly restored print was playing in art houses, including San Francisco's Opera Plaza Cinema.

She was the consummate presenter, anticipating seeing the film again and with an audience, then afterward holding a fantastic discussion about the making of the film when she was just a child during hot summer in the countryside without any air-conditioning.

I spoke up in praise of the high turnout of folks thirty-and-under, even a few teens, in the theater and said it was a sign of hope for the cinema that the tradition of watching films communally was alive and thriving in the Bay Area.

This Saturday evening at 6 o'clock at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Truffaut, who's a longtime Berkeley resident, will introduce "Day for Night" and we'll be treated to an imported print up on the big screen and a special evening will be had by all.

More info and to purchase a ticket, click here.

The BAMPFA programmers have scheduled this film as part of their Hitchcock/Truffaut series which kicked off showing the recent documentary "Hitchcock/Truffaut," all about the famous landmark book of interviews by the French filmmaker with his idol and occasional mentor and confidante.

Details on the remaining flicks in the series are here.

Get yourself to BAMPFA soon and often over the summer for great movies!
City Atty Ban's Supes' $100K Slush Funds; Kim's $18K Banner?

This is news to me from the City Controller's Office, that arrived a few days ago. The City Attorney banned the annual $100,000 district allocations, a.k.a slush funds, the Board of Supervisors gave themselves:

"The City Attorney determined that district allocations were an abrogation of the Board’s duty to approve appropriations because they effectively delegated appropriation decisions to a single member. While the full Board approved appropriating $100,000 to each district in the budget, the actual uses of funds over the course of the fiscal year were determined by each supervisor for their district."

I don't recall any news about the City Attorney's ban or the Supervisors objecting to it, neither do a number of City Hall and open govt watchdogs I asked.

My emails to the City Attorney seeking more info about the end of these allocations haven't produced a response yet and it's important to get the word out about this matter, and show where some the Supervisors spent their final slush fund amounts that caught my eye.

Let's follow the money in the comments. Figures are for FY 2014/2015.

Board president London Breed's biggest allocation, at $35,000, was for street fair permits in District 5.

Even though the police department has a multi-million dollar budget, apparently not enough money was set aside for plainclothes officers in the Bay View District, so Supervisor Malia Cohen spent $50,000 on their teams.

For Supervisor Mark Farrell, his largest gift, a robust $45,000, went to the San Francisco Zoo in District 2.

In District 6, Supervisor Jane Kim spent $18,000 on a pedestrian safety banner, her second biggest allocation. Must have been a mighty large banner at that price.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Castro Courier & BoS: Clash Over Rainbow Flag & Orlando 

The controversy regarding the rainbow flag on City land at Harvey Milk Plaza just won't go away, no matter how hard the Castro Merchants and Supervisor Scott Wiener think the control issues are settled iron-clad policies.

It's now one-month since 49 LGBT and friends were massacred at the Pulse bar in Orlando and the terrific Castro Courier newspaper's front-page article that hit the streets on Monday should be widely read. The article is not online.

Reporter Sam-Omar Hall informs us that on June 12, crusty Castro businessman and staunch anti-community-control-of-the-flag advocate Patrick Batt texted Castro Merchants president Daniel Bergerac to say this extraordinary day demanded the flag be lowered. Batt also wants a policy when the display is occasionally altered. That's a major shift.

Longtime area resident and antique seller Isak Lindenauer, longtime proponent of open debate about who maintains the flag reminds readers it belongs to the people, not a bunch of merchants. Lindenauer says stewardship needs to be reexamined.

Andrea Aiello, president of the Castro Benefit District, states she got a lot of calls on June 12 to fly the flag at a lowered position out of respect for the dead, even though her group has no say over it.

In keeping with their practice of not engaging with stakeholders, Castro Merchants boss Bergerac refused to speak with the reporter. Ostrich. Head. Sand. Been that way for too long with this private group having domain over vital queer public space.

At the June 28 Board of Supervisors meeting, I used public comment to inform them San Francisco's Castro had common ground with a county in Alabama for refusing to lower flags until June 16 at sunset, as President Obama requested in a proclamation. Watch the short vid:

FBI: Access to Orlando Shooter's File Denied

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is mighty inconsistent about releasing or denying access to files of great public interest, including the massacre of 49 LGBT and friends in the Orlando gay Pulse nightclub in June.

Sure, the agency has held news conferences and shared selective bits of information about the killer, whom I won't name here, and their investigation into matters such as whether he was gay and calling him in for questioning a few years back but release of any records, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, is rejected.

Yes, I expected such a response after decades of filing FOIAs with the agency but it still was important to me to make the request and see what happens. The most important advice I give everyone considering making a request is to just file it -without delay.

Never know what records you could receive if you don't ask for them. Have you filed a FOIA lately?
SF Drug Disposal Sites Need Expansion & Updating

Mike and I have several bottles of medicines we no longer need and we want to safely dispose of them, so I checked out the SF Environment's site for information about drop-off locations and didn't find a list of them; pharmacies, health clinics, etc., right there without any click-throughs.

There was a Google map requiring a lot of clicks and a PDF with details about locations and drugs accepted. Ok enough, but the PDF list is also outdated and needs updating and expanding.

I reached SF Environment spokesman Peter Gallotta on the phone and expressed my concerns, as he clicked through his department's pages and agreed with me.

He mentioned that a few more Walgreens' are now accepting unneeded medicines and I told him the info about AIDS Healthcare Foundation's pharmacy, listed on 18th Street while it's actually been on Castro Street for two-years, requires correcting.

Peter promised to get on with making the necessary changes and I'll be dropping off our medicines later today, safely and responsibly.

Let's monitor how the SF Environment folks revamp their information and site, better serving the needs of residents so we don't dump drugs in the trash or compost heap.

Btw, you can leave medicines at any San Francisco Police Department station around the City but I'm just not willing to walk into one and leave any such products with or without our names on them in the hands of cops.

Drugs and police just don't go together for me!
Vid: Anti-LGBTI Speeches at UN Human Rights Council

Please share, retweet, forward vid link widely via your social media - thanks!

The UN Human Rights Council on June 30 in Geneva held a lengthy debate regarding creation of a SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, alias Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) Independent Expert with a three-year mandate and option to renew it.

For nearly four-hours, pro and anti arguments and statements were made. As I watched the anti-LGBTI speeches, it became clear a short vid of highlights of the arguments made against us and the expert was needed to more queers could listen to key points of the UN debate that led to an important advance on the global level.

This is what the delegates considered and voting results:

"Vote on Draft Resolution - A/HRC/32/L.2/Rev.1 - "Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity' submitted by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay - ADOPTED (23 YES / 18 NO / 6 ABSTENTIONS)"

A guide to my vid. It opens with Mr. Choi Kyonglim, President of the Human Rights Council, stating the matter before the body then introducing Saudi Arabia's rep, Mr. Faisal Bin Hassan Trad requesting a "no-action" vote stating polarization will result and the expert could destroy the council itself if the pro-SOGI forces prevail.

Following him is Pakistan's rep, Ms. Tehmina Janjua, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stating they reject violence in all forms but the expert position would ignore high religious sensitivity, is a confrontational approach, the proposal's language is offensive, no international treaty includes SOGI definitions or protections and concludes there are SOFI lifestyles on which there is no consensus.

A few more appearances by the Saudi rep, one in which he claims Islam has been about human rights for 1,400 years, mixed in with scenes of the Russian Federation rep, Mr. Alexey Goltyaev, speaking against establishing the expert position and spending UN money on it.

Next up is another Russian Federation delegate, Ms. Natalia Zolotova, talking about all the protections her country has in place to allegedly protect everyone's rights and how SOGI matters are personal choices.

We then hear from South Africa's Ms. Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, reminding of her nation's inclusion of LGBTI rights in their laws but rejecting the expert because the process created acrimony so she was abstaining, then we hear from Mr. Mothusi Bruce Rabasha Palai of Botswana, saying SOGI protections are not in existing treaties and a concept of legal sensitivity.

Lastly, Namibia's delegate, Ms. Gladice Pichering, alleges no reports of violence against LGBTI people there and that such persons live freely and participate in the government.

The vid closes with the council pronouncing the results and applause breaks out. Watch this:

Monday, July 11, 2016

FBI Denies Request for Pulse Nightclub Massacre File

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released selections of data about the June 12 shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, at news conferences and via online press releases.

We've seen the FBI's timeline of the tragedy, transcripts of desperate 911 calls and details about the investigation into the killer's motives and whether he was gay or received assistance from anyone. Googling for the FBI and massacre of 49 LGBT and Latinx friends produces voluminous relevant links to the agency's information.

Yet, my Freedom of Information Act request for the file on the Pulse nightclub shooting was denied on the specious basis that the public records are exempt from disclosure because they're part of an ongoing investigation.

Surely the feds can compile their already-released records - names of the dead, phone transcripts, etc - and other information that won't compromise the investigation in any way, and not hide behind a blanket refusal to give me even a shred of a public file.

Just another example of how the FBI abuses sections of the FOIA statute to withhold public records.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Black Poz Inmate Michael Johnson's Solitary Confinement

The last letter I had from my prison pen-pal Michael Johnson in early May and I was concerned not hearing from him in such a stretch of time.

This week, a card arrived from him reporting that he's been in solitary confinement and his overall health is excellent, while he keeps up developing his reading and writing skills.

The prison authorities have not curtailed his mail privileges. He writes of his sadness over the massacre in Orlando and asks how Gay Pride was for Mike and I, and makes mention of a few positive aspects of his life today in jail.

Michael is serving an unjust 30-year sentence in Missouri for exposing others to HIV and he's in touch with his attorneys, as they pursue an appeal on his behalf in the courts.

I've written back to him and know that he appreciates the support we give him via writing letters, along with the assistance and correspondence others share with him.

Always good to hear from Michael.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Rainbow Flag at Half-Mast Honoring Slain Dallas Police Officers

Consider this crazy idea, after a week that has convulsed America. Flags lowered out of respect to the two black men killed by cops in Louisiana and Minnesota and the police officers slain in Texas by a lone sniper.

Down in San Diego's Hillcrest gayborhood, their rainbow flag is flying at half-mast after taking to heart and heeding the directive of President Obama that flags on federal govt property should remain in that position until sunset on July 12, but only for the police officers not the black men too.

Here in San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee issued this order:

"In conjunction with President Barack Obama’s call for flags to be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for the victims of the attack on police officers perpetrated in Dallas, all flags at City Hall and upon all public buildings and grounds shall be flown at half-staff until sunset, July 12, 2016."

You know where this is going. The rainbow flag on City grounds at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro District, is flying normally today and even though it assuredly falls under Lee's decree, the Castro Merchants are ignoring the mayor.

There needs to be a full and transparent public debate over the Castro Merchants stewardship of the rainbow flag and how the City has privatized an incredibly valuable piece of queer public grounds.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Restored Kurosawa's 'Ran' & More Film Treats at BAMPFA

A weekend of fine cinema unspools at Berkeley's BAMPFA starting on Friday with a showing of Akira Kurosawa's masterful "Ran" and we'll be treated to a digitally restored print on the big screen.

The last time I saw it was three years back at the Castro Theater and I'm primed to enjoy its visual splendors, and knotty plot, again. "Ran" plays July 8 at 7 pm.

On Saturday, BAMPFA shows more restored prints. Carol Reed's classic "The Third Man" with Orson Welles in a supporting role and magnificent cinematography and a zither-driven music track, screens at 6 pm.

Then at 8:30 pm, Wim Wenders' documentary about Japan's capital city, the films of Ozu and a favorite actor of his, "Tokyo-Ga," plays as part of the retrospective of this modern German director.

The weekend concludes with a rare screening of Ernst Lubitsch's American-made silent "The Marriage Circle" starring Adolphe Menjou, at 4:30 pm on Sunday. The incomparable musician Judith Rosenberg provides live piano accompaniment.

All of these choices offer delights and are worth catching. Click here for program notes and tickets.
Mayor Uses City Resources Boosting Wiener in Tight Senate Race

As you all know, I'm a staunch critic of the Mission District's David Campos, a queer member of the Board of Supervisors, but today I came to his defense about two recent episodes organized by Mayor Ed Lee where City infrastructure was used to single out Sup. Scott Wiener and no other supervisor for attention.

On June 15, the mayor swore in members of the newly-created HIV council at an invitation-only City Hall event where a social media campaign about PrEP was also unveiled. Despite Campos' long history of advocating for City funds to make PrEP available to all at-risk HIV negative folks who need it, emails from the mayor's staff reveal only Wiener was asked to participate in the ceremony.

Neither the mayor's aides nor folks at the Department of Public Health, which greatly assisted in organizing the photo-op and presser in the middle of Pride Month, oh, and an unexpectedly tight race for Wiener against Sup. Jane Kim for state senate, engaged with Campos.

If the focus truly were on the HIV council and the PrEP ads, even I say, if only as a professional courtesy and to show the queer and Latinx community that the mayor and DPH that all appropriate City Hall leaders are working toward success of the council and prevention of HIV transmission, Campos should have been there on June 15.

The other episode of Mayor Lee elevating Wiener as the only supervisor involved with an important City function, that was widely promoted via the mayor's press office folks, occurred at a June 20 meeting of law enforcement, emergency responders and SF Pride executives, about security concerns for SF Pride after the massacre of 49 LGBT and friends in Orlando.

It sends a very exclusionary message that Campos was not invited to either the powwow or presser, and that only Wiener, again, was given mic and media time, not to mention demonstrates use of City resources featuring just one gay supervisor. There are two of them, in case the mayor has forgotten.

One point here is not to be a cheerleader for Campos but instead to say these events should have seen him at the mic for a few minutes.

My larger point is that, regarding security at the two-day SF Pride Celebration in Civic Center, which is squarely in Kim's District 6, where many queer Asians live and work, she should have been invited to City meetings and the presser.

Kim also should have been engaged on the HIV photo-op, if only for the reason many District 5 residents are among the hardest-to-reach at-risk folks for becoming poz, and she's another supervisor besides Wiener who's an AIDS advocate.

If the mayor, public safety and police officials, and DPH were truly interested in using all available supervisors when staging media events after dog-and-pony-show coordinating meetings, then more supervisors than Wiener need to be involved.

Otherwise, the mayor is using City personnel and infrastructure to benefit Wiener and that isn't right, democratic or fair.

Absolutely nothing about getting either Kim or Campos on board for a media show about AIDS issues they care about. By the way, this merger is among the last of eligible metropolitan areas to merge their HIV prevention and AIDS care councils and San Francisco and far from being the leader on such panels.

Why exactly the mayor needed a quote from Wiener is not explained.

No indication whatsoever that DPH wants the Asian rep from District 6 or the queer Latino rep from the Mission at the event, even though the department is desperate to penetrate their PrEP program into Asian and Latinx communities. Putting politics above people much, DPH?

This may get me tossed out of the Critics of Campos Club but good of Campos to write to the mayor, and his SF Examiner mouthpiece stenographer Joe Rodriguez who dutifully wrote something about the email. There was every public safety reason to have Campos and Kim at this mayoral meeting.
Archbishop Cordileone: Orlando Solidarity & 'Personal Lifestyle'

Oh, that Salvatore Cordileone, leader of the San Francisco Catholic community, rarely misses a chance to illustrate his disdain for LGBT people. Some might call him an Archbigot because of his provocations toward gays, the latest of which came last month.

The day after 49 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and friends were massacred at the queer nightclub Pulse in Orlando, the SF Archdiocese issued a statement from Cordileone, of sympathy posted on their FB page. Here's the offensive section:
"We stand in solidarity with all those affected by this atrocity, for regardless of race, religion or personal lifestyle, we are all beloved children of God, called to respond to the mystery of iniquity with love and compassion."
If Cordileone's solidarity can't encompass using the words sexual orientation, gender identity or the collective phrase LGBT in describing the victims of Orlando's, then he could just keep his hateful mouth shut.
Cordileone might reach out to LGBT Catholics and learn finally, in 2016 and San Francisco, one of the gayest cities on the planet, how to better choose his words when writing about and praying for gays and our allies.
Hey, Sal, to paraphrase Pope Francis, who are you to judge LGBT folks and demean us with the "personal lifestyle" wording in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy?
Speaking of personal lifestyle and all, where did you get those fuschia gloves? They match your lavender vestment so well!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

UN Vid: ILGA Rep Reads Statement Demanding Gay Envoy

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), enjoys observer non-governmental organization status at the United Nations, and on June 27, 2016, a representative of the group read the statement below into the record at the UN Human Rights Council's meeting in Geneva.

A vote was taken on June 20, 2016, with 23 nations voting to establish a UN LGBT Independent Expert to investigate violations of and adherence to human rights treaties as they pertain to queer folks, 18 against and six nations abstaining.

This is an enormous advance for us! For more info, visit ILGA's page about the vote and creation of this independent expert.

Statement from ILGA:

In countries and regions around the world, individuals experience grave human rights violations on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). These include murder, rape, assault, torture, arbitrary arrest, discrimination in access to health care, employment, housing and education, repression of freedom of expression and association, attacks and restrictions on human rights defenders, denial of police services, extortion, bullying, denial of one’s self-defined gender identity, and other abuses.

It’s time for the UN Human Rights Council to take meaningful action to end these abuses and advance positive reforms. In June 2014, more than 500 NGOs from over 100 countries expressed profound concern at systemic human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Activists from around the world called on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure sustained, systematic attention to the breadth of human rights violations on these grounds, including through regular reporting and constructive dialogue.

Now it is time to translate that call into action. The Human Rights Council mandated the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce two groundbreaking reports focusing – for the first time in the history of the UN – on discrimination and violence against persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. While these are welcome steps, it is time to move beyond one-off initiatives and piecemeal measures.

As the High Commissioner noted: “current arrangements to protect the human rights of LGBT and intersex persons are inadequate”. The report emphasised “there is as yet no dedicated human rights mechanism at the international level that has a systematic and comprehensive approach to the human rights situation of LGBT and intersex persons”. This protection gap urgently needs to be addressed.

The undersigned organisations, from countries around the world, call on the Human Rights Council to address this gap through the creation of an Independent Expert to address discrimination and violence against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This UN mechanism should take into account the linkages to broader issues of gender equality, autonomy over bodies and lives, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of factors such as class, religion, gender, race, HIV status and disability.

We, the 628 NGOs listed at the end, call for a SOGI Independent Expert to monitor and document human rights violations, prepare regular reports on issues such as root causes, trans rights, and protection gaps, engage with States from around the world to build awareness of SOGI issues, identify good practices and encourage reforms, help ensure the issues are better integrated throughout the UN system, work to support civil society and NGOs working on these issues, enhance regional and cross-regional collaborations and strengthen attention to the issues at the national, regional and international levels, highlight multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and further articulate and increases awareness of these connections, particularly by recognizing that SOGI issues are connected with a broad range of issues including gender equality, class, bodily autonomy, sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The establishment of a dedicated protection mechanism to address SOGI-related human rights violations is a necessary step towards urgently addressing the serious abuses on these grounds in every region of the world. We urge the Human Rights Council to act urgently and establish such a mandate. As UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon affirmed: “The time has come”.
FBI Director Comey's FEC Donations Reveal . . . ?

You can learn a lot reading a prominent official's Federal Election Records.

For FBI director James Comey, today making headlines after announcing no indictments of Hillary Clinton over her email-and-servers mess, it's no surprise that he donated $2,300 to John McCain for president, $250 to Tom Kean for US Senate, $2,500 to Friends of Susan Brooks, and $5,000 to Romney for President.

Comey's a Republican, after all, so the contributions are in keeping with his political leanings.

Ignore the donation from another man with the same name from Iowa, who gave to the Natural Law Party, as listed on public records from the Political MoneyLine.

It strikes me, as a someone who won't vote for Hillary, I'm leaning in the Green Party direction and again casting my ballot for Jill Stein, that the GOP bona fides of the FBI's top-cop making it all the more difficult for Fox News and Republicans to spin a conspiracy of favorable bias on Comey's part toward Clinton.

Follow the money!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Homeless Man Lying in Valencia St Disabled Ramp Kicked?

Around 5 pm today, I saw what appeared to be a homeless man either quite inebriated on drink or drugs or suffering severe mental health challenges, lying on the sidewalk at Valencia and 16th Street.

No surprise that the majority of passersby barely give him a glance but it appears another man kicks him. Do they know each other and is the standing man nudging an acquaintance to get up? I don't know.

All I know this is one more episode of what life is like for a few thousand folks living on the streets and everyone else, who even in one of the most progressive areas of the very liberal environs of San Francisco suffer from homeless fatigue.

Just part of our urban landscape in the summer of 2016. From any angle, the optics in this video document much about the social ills of the City right now.


SF Symphony Dedicates Mahler's 'Resurrection' to Orlando's Dead

The 2016 season of the San Francisco Symphony closed last week with several concerts of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, widely known as the "Resurrection Symphony" and I caught the first performance last week on Wednesday evening.

For the first time, after years of enjoying music director Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the orchestra, I sat to the side in the third row and had the pleasure of seeing his mature and expressive face as he led the musicians to aural perfection, giving me a deeper appreciation of his talents and Mahler.

From the tragic, somber passages to joyous and wondrous bombast, this Mahler symphony as beautifully played by the orchestra pushed all the right emotional buttons with me. The subtle and soft strings tugged at my heart and brought some tears to my eyes, while the muscular thunder of drums, signifying uplift, raised my spirits.

When soprano Karina Gauvin and Kelley O'Connor sang about the primal light and resurrection, their voices were balms for my ears and aching soul as were the sounds of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus members from the terrace section above the musicians.

Every element fused together made for a thrilling evening at Davies Symphony Hall and the rousing standing ovation and loud cheers at the conclusion were well-earned and rightfully deserved.

As if all of that weren't enough for a memorable and honestly satisfying evening of high-brow culture, this announcement was printed in the program:

"As advocates of peace and hope through the message of music, the entire San Francisco Symphony family extends its deepest sympathies to those affected by the tragic event of June 12 in Orlando. These concerts are dedicated to the memory of the victims."

I much appreciated reading this and the dedication is welcome, I just wish the SF Symphony had included mention of the LGBT and Latinx identities of the victims in the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

SF Cathedral Adds LGBT Flag to its Orlando Shrine

On a day filled with unexpected religious and spiritual occurrences, the first miracle of the day was Mike, very against his nature, accompanying me to the action at the seat of the San Francisco Archdiocese, St Mary's Cathedral. Joining us was snap-happy pal Bill Wilson clicking pics.

For the few dozen parishioners in attendance this morning, we displayed our LGBT rainbow flag featuring the names of the 49 gay and Latinx folks killed in the Orlando massacre. Our display was also seen by tourists in the plaza and traffic driving by. 

At one point during our presentation, two priests came out to greet us and look at our memorial flag. I held my breath to see what they would say. Then the second miracle happened. Unexpectedly, they informed us that they had erected their own shrine to the Orlando massacre inside the cathedral. Who knew? They welcomed us inside to see it.

We were being watched at the time by three black men  on the plaza dresses in all-black business suits, which were pretty oppressive for this sunny day. I introduced our gay team to them, and learned they're the security crew protecting the church.

Every request to pose for Bill's camera was granted by the clerics.Here we are at the heavy wrought-iron gates of the entrance to St. Mary's chapel. Nope, didn't expect for this to be happening atop Cathedral Hill this morning. 

We came inside to see the temporary shrine, which comprised white flowers, a waist-high table with a church vestment covering it. Priests Larry Finnegan and Art Albano welcomed us to add our flag to the alter, an offer we gladly accepted. We solemnly added the rainbow memorial flag to the shrine draping it over the table.

A scroll-like sheet of white paper hung in the background, printed in black ink were the names of the Orlando victims, and next to the alter-piece was a prayer for them in English and Spanish resting on an easel.

The priests invited us to stay for mass. They promised to announce our presence, explain our mission in coming to the cathedral today and sharing the news that we gifted the rainbow flag to both the parish and Pope Francis in Rome at the Vatican.

The gesture was a lovely one, far more than I could have hoped for. We graciously declined and explained we needed to get to brunch — the gay version of Sunday Mass. We all enjoyed a light laugh, before shaking hands and saying parting pleasantries.

Here's Mike taking part in the third miracle this morning: speaking with the reporter from KCBS Radio who covered our action. Look at the pride of my gaze as Mike makes his remarks. My activist hero and fabulous hubby!

All in all, this engagement with the St Mary's folks was queer and quite amazing. From witnessing their own initiative at remembering the Orlando 49 LGBT and Latinx dead, to the warm and accepting time with them, not to mention and the participation of Mike and Bill Wilson, this made for a perfect small act of remembrance and visibility on a glorious Fourth of July Weekend Sunday!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Orlando Rainbow Flag: St Mary's Cathedral, 7/3, 11 am Mass 

The LGBT rainbow flag I hold in my hands, with the names of the 49 dead LGBT and Latinx, was created with the tremendous assistance of Mike in our living room and kitchen.

It will hopefully be presented tomorrow, Sunday, July 3, at the 11 am mass at St. Mary's, 1111 Gough Street, to the congregation by myself and my friend Bill Wilson. We'll see if we're allowed in.

Skip brunch and sleeping in this Fourth of July Weekend and join us!

Here's a terrific note from my friend Patrick Monette-Shaw, stating a few good points about what needs to change with the local archdiocese:

"Congratulations, Michael, to you and Bill Wilson for staging this needed demonstration in support of our fallen in Orlando tomorrow at St. Mary's Cathedral. It's too bad the Pope has allowed that arch-homophobe, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, to remain as archbishop of our City of St. Francis.

"Pope Francis should have a litmus test for those who have risen to the top in the Catholic hierarchy: If Church leaders can't utter apologies to gay people for centuries of Vatican-approved abuse against us, then they should not be allowed to rise, and stay, at the level of archbishop.

"The next thing Pope Francis should do is to replace Cordileone, as the Pope's act of contrition!

"God bless you and Bill Wilson, Michael, for having the moral and ethical courage to confront the Catholic Church, since I'm assuming many of the Latino/Latina brothers and sisters massacred in Orlando were raised, or were practicing Catholics!"
SFPD: Cost of Rose Pak & Suhr's Mom's Funeral Cop Escorts?

In keeping with serving as the mouthpiece of City government and various public safety agencies, the SF Chronicle's gadfly political gossip writers Phil Maiter and Andy Ross recently reported on the cops providing motorcycle escorts for Chinatown political operative Rose Pak and the funeral of former SFPD chief Greg Suhr's mother, and they omitted the cost borne with taxpayer dollars. Source:

The Chronicle was again too busy kissing butts to broach the subject of using City infrastructure, so I filed a public records request to get the facts.

Responsive records show there were a total of 73 such escorts from January through the first week of June, at a cumulative cost of $194,400 and the department is hiding behind security concerns in order to withhold a breakdown of cost for each escort.

On average, each of the 73 escorts so far this year carried an approximate price tag of $2,600. My gut says the Pak and Suhr escorts were higher than that and whatever the cost was, the bill should not have been footed with public dollars.

Below are excerpts from the reply the cops sent me outlining their policies of withholding fiscal information as allowing by state law:

"The San Francisco Police Department (“SFPD”) received your Immediate Disclosure request on June 6, 2016.

"On the same date, the SFPD informed you that your request was not simple, routine, or otherwise readily answerable and it was considered a standard public records request that allows SFPD up to 10 days to respond.

"You requested '…All notes and correspondence and reports pertaining to motorcycle cops providing escorting services to drive Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak from SFO to the City on May 22 or 23, 2016, and the funeral last week of former SFPD chief Greg Suhr's mother, and all other such police escorts since January 1, 2016, through today's date. For each escorting event, I am requesting the names of all officers providing the escorts, total staff time driving to, during the escorts and afterward heading back to regular duties, and total amount of pay to the officers.'

"The number of staff hours and amount paid to officers are not maintained in the manner sought, however, the Department is providing you with an estimate and in a composite manner due to security concerns.

"The SFPD declines to release information broken down by event pursuant to Cal. Govt. Code § 6254(f), which exempts from disclosure records of complaints to, investigations conducted by, intelligence information or security procedures of, and investigatory or security files compiled by local police agencies. The information you seek broken down by event would reveal security procedures, which if disclosed would compromise security. The SFPD compiles the information for law enforcement purposes. In addition, the SFPD also declines to disclose documents pertaining to the planning of escorting services pursuant to Cal. Govt. Code § 6254(f). Such information compromises SFPD's security procedures.

"As for your request regarding all other police escorts since January through June of 2016, below please find the composite number of escorting events by month:

JANUARY 2016: (5)
FEBRUARY 2016: (18)
MARCH 2016: (13)
APRIL 2016: (19)
MAY 2016: (14)
JUNE 2016: (4)"