Monday, November 28, 2016

Did the NY Times Hold Taped Meetings With Clinton?

The Gray Lady's lips are sealed. Read this exchange between the spokeswoman for the New York Times and myself.

Here's some unsolicited advice for the paper, especially for new deputy directors AG Sulzberger and his cousins Sam Dolnick and David Perpich.

Get transparent with your political endorsement meetings.

Assuming the paper's editorial board and reporters met with Hillary Clinton, at least once and perhaps twice, before endorsing her in the primaries and general election, inform us of what conditions were requested by the candidate.

We also need to learn what ground rules the paper agreed to. Shedding light on how the Gray Lady came to endorse Clinton would show a new less-opaque way of engaging with readers.

And if there were no sitdowns, just say so. Do you agree?

-----Original Message-----
From: Eileen Murphy
To: mpetrelis
Sent: Mon, Nov 28, 2016 3:27 pm
Subject: Re: NYT and any editorial interviews with Clinton: My questions

When editorial board meetings are conducted off the record, and most are, we don't discuss them at all.

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 28, 2016, at 6:16 PM, "" <> wrote:
Hi Eileen,

Thanks for this reply with general info. All of these details give me and my social media followers more clarity about the workings of The Times and why we trust it so much.

Some specific followup questions I ask you to address so I can write a comprehensive report for my blog.

Did The Times hold one or more editorial board meetings with Hillary Clinton?

If so, did the candidate request the sit-down be off the record and if she did ask this of The Times, was it agreed to by the editorial board?

Lemme know, please.


-----Original Message-----
From: Murphy, Eileen <>
To: Michael Petrelis <>
Sent: Mon, Nov 28, 2016 12:45 pm
Subject: Re: NYT and any editorial interviews with Clinton: My questions

As you will have read, this meeting with the President Elect was conducted as an on-the-record session with our reporters and editorial columnists, which is why there was a transcript and an audio recording. 

This differs greatly from our editorial board meetings, whether with Presidential candidates, or otherwise. In the case of candidates for office, these meetings are often done on an off-the-record basis, at the candidates’ request. Editorial Board meetings are not for the purpose of writing news articles. They are intended as informational sessions for the board that help inform editorials - or endorsements. 

Eileen M. Murphy
SVP, Communications
The New York Times
t. 212-556-1982 /
Twitter: @NYTeileen

-----Original Message-----
From: mpetrelis <>
To: eileen.murphy <>
Sent: Sat, Nov 26, 2016 1:26 pm
Subject: NYT and any editorial interviews with Clinton: My questions

Dear Eileen,

While reading the many tweets from your reporters at Donald Trump's extraordinary, and well-documented, recent meeting with The Times, which proved again the vital role the paper plays in American democracy, I wondered about any similar sit-downs with Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

Did The Times conduct interviews with Clinton before she was twice endorsed this year by the paper - during the primary and then general fall elections?

If so, what can be disclosed to me about what transpired? I'd also like to know what the ground rules were and if you advocated for an on-the-record conversation, one that could be shared in its entirety now.

In the interests of fairness, I'm asking The Times to be as transparent as possible about any editorial endorsement meetings with Clinton and hopefully readers will be given the chance to read a full transcript or listen to an audio recording of them.

Would appreciate a substantive response at your earliest convenience. Thanks.

Michael Petrelis

Friday, November 25, 2016

Did you see the "Jeopardy" clue in the national print edition of today's New York Times's arts section?

It was this: "He won a Tony and later an Oscar for the same role & decades later, published a memoir called 'Master of Ceremonies."

The response, in the form of a question, of course, is "Who is Joel Grey?"

He's receiving the Oscar Hammerstein Award soon enough from the York Theater Company, according to their ad next to the clue!

Rust Belt Recount: NYT Omits Stein; WaPo Includes Greens

Talk about mainstream media bias favoring the two major political parties and ignoring third parties. Here's a prime piece of evidence from the New York Times that ran on Nov. 24.

Reporters Trip Gabriel and David E. Sanger, in a story headlined "Clinton Supporters, Citing Experts, Urge Her to Seek Recount in 3 Key States," note that many of Hillary supporters want her to endorse growing demands for a recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The Times omitted mention of the successful crowdfunding drive spearheaded by Jill Stein and the Green Party, that as of the Times' deadline was on the way toward raising $2 million for the recounts.

How the hell can the Gray Lady run a lengthy piece, ran across six column print inches, on the recount call and fail to once report on Stein and the Greens? All the news fit to print, indeed.

As if to correct their journalistic cohort's omission, the Washington Post on Nov. 25 published an article by David Weigel with this headline: "Why People Are Giving Jill Stein Millions for an Election Recount."

Link to source.

Granted, the Times piece ran yesterday and the Washington Post waited a day to run it's story, it's still very telling that the former with all its resources and reporters completely ignored the Green Party moving forward on recounts.

Has the Times learned anything about its narrow vision when it comes to political organizing outside of the Democratic and Republican parties? Their article yesterday leads me to think not.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

San Francisco Districts Where Trump Did Best?

Before getting to the numbers, happy Thanksgiving wishes from Mike and I to all of you.

For all intents and purposes, the Department of Elections has concluded tallying ballots cast in November's races.

Let's go over the most interesting figures regarding Donald Trump's 37,688 votes, which equals 9.23% of the San Francisco vote.

Trump's top vote-getting districts are as follows, in descending order:

Sunset: 5,166
West of Twin Peaks: 4,133
Richmond: 3,720
Marina/Pacific Heights: 3,717
Excelsior: 2,871
Civic Center/Downtown: 1,969
South of Market: 1,491
Western Addition: 1,353
Chinatown: 1,349
Bayview/Hunters Point: 1,184
Lake Merced: 1,088
Portola: 1,022
Mission: 1,069
Ingelside: 983
Seacliff/Presidio Heights: 775
Vistacion Valley: 745
Laurel Heights/Anza Vista: 728
Noe Valley: 656
Potrero Hill: 636
North Embarcadero: 600
Upper Market/Castro: 522
Inner Sunset: 512
Diamond Heights: 431
South Bernal Heights: 425
Haight Ashbury: 403
North Bernal Heights: 275

Data gleaned from page 22 the Statement of the Vote from the San Francisco Department of Elections, which is of keen interest to policy and election wonks. Give it a look and crunch the numbers of all the campaigns.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mahler Tonite With the Berlin Philharmonic

Whether it's the best or worst of times, culture always redeems and soothes hurting souls or provides some exhilaration of being alive.

Any opportunity to hear the Berlin Philharmonic perform live is something to treasure.

I'm pleased to share the news that we have tickets to experience this orchestra at 8 pm tonight at Davies Hall, home of the San Francisco Symphony.

On the program is Mahler's 7th Symphony and needless to say, after hearing thrilling performances of other Mahler works this year by our symphony and most recently the Los Angeles Philharmonic, we're anticipating a fabulous night with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Donald & Ivanka Trump: $11,000 to Dems Harris & Newsom

Public elections finance disclosures at the California secretary of state's office reveal Donald Trump gave $6,000 to Kamala Harris's 2014 attorney general reelection campaign.

He also wrote a $2,500 check for Gavin Newsom unsuccessful bid for governor in 2009.

President-elect Trump's adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump also gave $2,000 to Harris and donated $500 to Newsom, in the same races.

Total Trump dollars that flowed to Harris: $8,000, to Newsom: $3,000. Combined Trump sum to these two California Democrats: $11,000.

I'm calling on United States Senator-elect Harris and Lt. Gov. Newsom to donate the amount they received from the Trumps to individual persons facing deportation in the California criminal justice system.

Under no circumstances should they return the money to the Trumps.

We need to drain the Democratic Party swamps - nationally, in Sacramento and here in San Francisco.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Green Voter Zealous Petrelis Breaks 10,000 Vote Ceiling!

The latest results for all races from the San Francisco Department of Elections were released this afternoon and yours truly has a new vote total: 10,143. That is 6.79% of ballots cast.

Yuge thanks to all who voted for Zealous Petrelis!

For a registered Green Party voter who spent less than $100 on his campaign, I'm damn proud of my DIY Democracy effort that put public health concerns over the 16th Street BART Plaza on the community agenda, and captured enough votes to smash the five-figure vote count ceiling.

About 14,000 ballots are still to be counted and the department expects to complete the vote counting by the close of business on Wednesday. Stay tuned to learn what my eventual total comes to.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Trump's Top 20 Donors: Boycott, Divest & Sanctions Now!

The researchers at have compiled this list of the top twenty donors to the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign. I'm sharing it to see if other folks wish to consider holding these companies and the persons who run them to account.

Only one contributor produces something I can boycott. Top donor number nine, the John Powers Middleton Companies, is run by a young GOP fundraiser and Hollywood producer who teamed up with Casey Affleck to produce the Oscar-buzzing "Manchester by the Sea" that soon opens wide across the nation.

No need for me to spend my cinema dollars seeing a film made by one of the top ten donors to the election of Trump and Pence. I'm boycotting "Manchester by the Sea" and ask for your feedback on creative ways to send these Trumpians a message or two.

From Wikipedia:

"Middleton has spent time in major donor fundraising, political strategy, the youth movement, and media, with his first effort in creating and producing The Alfonso Aguilar Show.[4]

"John Powers Middleton served as national co-chair from age 25 to 26 of the Republican National Committee’s Young Eagles program to serve young Republicans.[9]

"In support of the Republican Party, John Powers Middleton has hosted a variety of events. This included an early summer 2015 fundraising event for Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election.[10]

"As of June 2016, John Powers Middleton Companies is the top donor to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.[11]"

From Let's put this info to good use:

ACT UP Lessons for the Trump Era?

I heard from good buddy Victor Mendolia today and have to share his thoughts beyond my two little eyeballs. He raises important thoughts on how best to respond to Trump and Pence, and their dangerous appointees and advisers.
My top question: How best not to waste this election crisis?
For me, it starts with keeping wellness high for hubby Mike and I. Oh, and staying woke. Read Victor's note, please:
Dearest Michael,
First of all, Glenn's accolades are entirely well deserved. In fact, you’d be well within your rights to say, ‘what took you so long?’ Anyone in NYC when we did what we did, knows that on many occasions, if not all of them, you were the biggest shit stirrer that got us to exactly where we needed to be. Congratulations to you and a big thank you to Glenn for calling it out.
I’m starting to finally come out of the depression-haze-deeperdepression-anger-but-never-acceptance-funk I’ve been in (thanks Kevin Hertzog). So this is not terribly organized, but it’s a start.
What I am starting to understand and realize is that in many ways we need to do what we did back then. A year or two ago I thought that we could never get away with most of the things that we did back in the day in today’s America. That taking control of government buildings, drug company offices and all the rest which we successfully orchestrated, would be nearly impossible to accomplish post 9/11, Patriot Act etc. But there are going to be so many portals of activism, they won’t be able to see everything that everyone is doing, even with cameras everywhere.
We must do what we did back then. Most of all we need to support each other. When we are getting off track, we need the wiser people amongst us to help us pull back to where we need to be. We need to be certain to fight our real enemies and not each other. We also need most of all, to laugh at our sick senses of humor. We need to dance with each other, entertain each other and have wonderful and celebratory sex with each other, and try to always help make what will be a lot of fucking work, a lot of tears and a god damn shit storm, as less damaging to us as a community and to our country as possible.
I go back to the pre-action meeting the night before the Stop the Church Demo. Ann Northrop was coaching us on what to say to the media, because each of us were able to speak on ACTUP’s behalf as to what we were doing there. She said it wasn’t our intention to change people’s minds about their religion or about anything else. Our only intention was to make them understand, that we are the people fighting for people’s lives, and that they are the murderers.
Now more than ever, Ann’s words ring true. They are actually an even bigger reality. This time it’s not just junkies and queers. It’s anyone other than them.
Think about the words again!
We are on the right side.
Our most pressing agenda item must be to begin organizing now to take every fucking seat locally in 2017 that we are able. We need people to step up and run for office or at the very least, work to help elect others who have. We have to fight the hardest, for the seats that we think we will never win. We can win those too, if we work together.
Then we have to organize like we have never organized before, to once and for all put an end to the racist, homophobic, anti-science, anti-anything-that-makes-sense Congress FOREVER.
Things can start to get better in one year.
They can get substantially better in two.
Finally, this time we need to not make Obama’s biggest mistake when he came to office. For those who are guilty, we need to ship them all off to the Hague and put them on trial in front of the entire world for war crimes and crimes against humanity. We need to show the world once and for all, that the people of this country do not support the policies that have been executed in our names. That we are not their enemies. That corporate greed, nepotism, corruption and bigotry are the enemy of all people, and we stand united with the rest of the sane people around the globe for peace, true justice, and real equality that can never be taken away.
I’m still in recharge mode. But only for another few minutes. Then I’m ready to fight. Who’s in?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept: 'Fan of [Petrelis'] Activism!'

Yesterday afternoon, American journalist and whistle-blowing confidant of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald tweeted info and screengrabs of donations from Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to top Democrats.

I retweeted Glenn's note urging him to follow the Democrats' money.

He soon replied, "I've been a fan of your activism since law school in NYC! Glad for the opportunity to tell you."

Needless to say, I was quite touched by his kind words. Told him I hope to one day meet him, perhaps when he's honored by the San Francisco Pride organization.

As a government transparency activist and gay man, I'd like to see him receive accolades from the LGBT community. That is why today I began researching how to nominate him to be a grand marshal of the 2017 SF Pride celebration.

I'll keep you posted on what I learn.

Thank you, Glenn, for your incredibly brave and necessary journalism and advocacy. Your support of my activism means much to me.

Onward to more government sunshine domestically and globally!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dem Women: 'Never Talked About Plan B' For Trump Win

One more reason I don't trust Democrats and their party apparatus. In a presidential election, there will be a winner and a loser. Not rocket science to know this will happen. Tell that to all the Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party voters who just couldn't conceive of Donald Trump winning.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle brings light the lack of intelligent planning by party leaders:

"'We were talking that when Hillary is elected, we will see this flood of women who want to run for office,' said Amy Pearl, board chair of Emerge America, a training program that aims to propel more Democratic women into public office. 'Anything will be possible, we said. We never, ever talked about plan B. We never, ever considered the alternative. My heart is broken. It is indescribable.'"

Yes, anything including Clinton losing was possible and Emerge America should have considered that development. It's now our reality.

The Democrat's farm team developers never had a plan B. Given the controversy over Plan B drug products and services for emergency pregnancy contraception, a Plan B should have had a place on their pre-election agenda.

Says a lot about what's wrong with this party.
'Fire at Sea' Deserves to be Seen & Oscar-Nominated

Put Italy's submission for the best foreign language film at this year's Oscars on your must-see list.

Thanks to the San Francisco Film Society's second annual Doc Stories series at the Vogue Theater, I had the welcomed experience of seeing "Fire at Sea" in early November with an appreciate audience.

After the screening, the director Gianfranco Rosi engaged with the audience inside the theater and out on the street, where I caught up with him.

Sad to say, the distributor Kino-Lorber has no current plans to bring the film to the Bay Area. Let's hope they change their minds. Click here to see where "Fire at Sea" is playing in coming weeks.

Check out my vid and hear a few wise words from director Rosi.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Latest Count: 8,493 Votes

The new numbers from the Department of Elections show my vote count is now up to almost 8,500. Following the daily updates for all San Francisco elective offices and ballot props has been a welcome diversion from my immersion in the Trump win aftermath. The new number of outstanding ballots left to tally stands at 77,000. Stay tuned!

5 SF Chronicle Reporters Omit Expert's Donation to Hillary

This a prime example of why I loathe most political "reporting" in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A page-one above-the-fold story written by five reporters with this sub-head, "Experts say it will take, planning, hard work to build sustained movement," was the usual lecturing from this moderate paper to the anger in the streets.

One of the experts is Erica Chenoweth, of the University of Denver and a supposed expert on mass movement. She's given three paragraphs in the story, but the five reporters omitted this important fact.

In September, Chenoweth donated $250 to Hillary Clinton. Took me about two-minutes to find the donation online. Nice that she exercised her rights to give money to a political candidate. Just wishing the Hearst-owned publication informed readers of this fact.

The Chronicle loves to quote academics as great sages above the political fray. This is elites talking to other elites and packaging their quotes as independent thinking worthy of column inches.

Today's paper, in addition to Chenoweth, gives space to two other academics in the political sciences field. Three in one day. What's so great about these alleged experts, who all missed the coming election disruption of last week before it happened?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump Got How Many Votes in San Francisco?

Well, that's democracy for you. The nightmare that is Donald Trump captured 30,758 votes in San Francisco, which is 9.61% of ballots cast as of November 14.

The Department of Elections has about 100,000 outstanding ballots still to count so those stats are sure to rise. Follow the daily updates here.

Sure, we'd like to think our alleged progressive enclave wouldn't have produced almost a 10% vote amount for Trump but it just one of many results from Tuesday's election to mull over.

More than ever, silence equals death so it's time again to act up and fight back!

New Stat: 8,200 Voters Embraced My Campaign

A loud shout-out to the thousands of folks who cast their ballots for me. I'm taking this count as an endorsement of my advocacy for better public health and safety at BART's 16th Street Plaza.

For less than $100, I've managed to rack up 8,199 votes thus far. Damn good return on my investment, wouldn't you agree? While my actuals go up, my percentage has decreased from 7.04% to 6.89%.

Listening to folks who gave me their votes, I hear their wish for BART to regularly clean the two plazas with simple trash pickups, pigeon poop removal and power-washing.

Like them, I await guidance from Bevan Dufty regarding his plans for the plazas and how he'll engage the public and all users of BART and its public space at this Mission hub.

We'll see how much higher my vote total climbs in coming days, as more voted are tallied. Here's the latest word from the elections folks at City Hall regarding how many ballots await counting:

"The Department continues to review approximately 105,000 ballots for processing. This total includes approximately 81,000 vote-by-mail ballots and approximately 24,000 provisional ballots."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hugging One of My 7,675 Voters 

The first words out of my handsome neighbor and friend John's mouth tonight, when we saw each other on Valencia Street tonight, were "I voted for you!" Music to my queer ears.

He was with friends commiserating over the coming Trump Presidency, waiting for a table at Pauline's Pizzeria. I joined in their discussion and felt better after hearing their concerns and worries.

Sure felt good being told they appreciated my civic engagement both on the 16th Street BART Plazas and running for the board of directors.

John was one of a few pals I engaged with on my walkabout on this fine warm San Francisco evening, sharing the news that my latest vote total is now at 7,675 and 7.04% of ballots cast. Nice numbers!

I'm glad to have had a four-hour nap this afternoon and caught up on much-needed sleep. It certainly helped to workout at the Embarcadero YMCA yesterday and connect with my circle of buddies there.

Many thanks again to all who voted for me or supported my BART campaign. More voting figures in coming days as the Department of Elections continues to process and count over 100,000 provisional ballots.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thanks, 7,456 Voters, from Mike and Mike

The photo here was snapped this morning and since then, my vote total went up from 7,456 to a new number: 7,596.

A big thanks from Mike and I for every voter and supporter who either cast a ballot for or in other ways backed my BART campaign.

Mike was away for a week till yesterday, Wednesday, evening, visiting with the Merrigan branch of our family as they held a funeral for our beloved matriarch Mary Merrigan.

I can now report that my stress and tension levels have greatly diminished, after the tragic news of Donald Trump capturing the White House, with Mike back home at my side.

The San Francisco Department of Elections still has tens of thousands of outstanding ballots to count. Here's hoping my vote total crosses the 8,000 mark.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Zealous Green Voter Petrelis Subtotals: 7,404 & 7.12% of Ballots

The final results this evening, early morning, actually, in my BART race show a bump from the first results released earlier. I'm just over 7,400 votes and that's 7.12% of ballots counted thus far. It should go up slightly as provisional and other ballots-to-be-counted are tallied.

It will give me great pleasure to remind the victor in this race, my friend Bevan Dufty, and the rest of the BART board and senior management that I represent a sizable chunk of the electorate in this district.

All the more remarkable in that my budget was under $100. I also ran as a registered Green Party voter. Independence has its rewards.

Huge thanks to the folks who voted for me!

On this depressing and infuriating night of President-elect Trump making plans to measure the drapes of the Oval Office, I'm enjoying balm upon my battered queer soul.

Pulling in 7,400 votes on a minuscule budget, on top of the public health and safety changes I've begun at the 16th Street Plaza, which Bevan has assured me he will work on as the BART director for District 9, is deeply healing and satisfying.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Prelim Result: Over 6% of the BART Vote

A short while ago, I was texting with my opponent Bevan Dufty and he informed me I've garnered 6.37% of the votes cast, a sub-total of 3,447.

What with all the crappy news about Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in the race for Electoral College votes, I wasn't online to view the first results from the San Francisco Department of Election on my own race.

Yes, I feel quite good getting this many votes, so far, when I wasn't sure I'd get near the 1,000 mark. Let's see how the BART race numbers change as more results come in at the department's results page.

Congrats to Bevan, the apparent winner, and high praise to our opponent Gwyneth Borden for running a positive, issues-focused campaign. I assure Bevan and everyone I'll be advocating for continued betterment at the 16th Street BART Plazas and other BART concerns of importance to me.

I'm soon heading out to Bevan's party to congratulate him in person and commiserate with everyone about the tragic national news and the frightening prospect of having to write the words President Donald Trump.

Here's my selfie after I voted for myself for the BART board by connecting the arrow next to my name on the ballot. Have you voted for zealous Petrelis yet?

This is my friend Rowan McNiven in front of his Woodhouse Fish Company restaurant at Market and Church Streets this afternoon. We're doing our part to get-out-the-vote on this important election day. At the presidential level, cast a ballot for anyone but Bigly Loser Donald Trump. Be sure to vote for zealous Petrelis for BART board!
My BART Campaign Closes at 16th Street Plaza

There was no better way to conclude the last full day before voting than to have my friend Jake Conroy stop by as I staged one more visibility event before Election Day. It was at BART's 16th Street Plaza, which has been my primary focus, of course, where I had taped up a few of my posters.

After five months of campaigning in various forms and venues, I accomplished a significant goal: improve the public health and public safety at the 16th Street transit hub.

Engaging with an array of public agencies and nudging them to take action making the plazas better spaces for all, and delivering concrete and visible betterment equals a success for me, and users of the hub.

Regardless of the number of votes received, I'm proud of my latest ride as a candidate on the merry-go-round that is the San Francisco election enterprise and you can expect me to continue my advocacy regarding BART matters after the election.

Now, go vote for zealous Petrelis!

Monday, November 07, 2016

One More Day Before the Election!

If you haven't mailed in your absentee ballot, please don't snail-mail it today. Either bring to the Department of Elections at City Hall or drop it off at any San Francisco polling station tomorrow.

I'll be campaigning today at BART's 16th and Mission Street Plaza. Stop by and say hello and vote for zealous Petrelis!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

ACT UP Reunion With GMHC's Tim Sweeney 

Look who I ran into while campaigning tonight, amid the large crowd walking into the Castro Theater for a showing of Werner Herzog's new documentary "Into the Inferno."

None other than Tim Sweeney, former deputy executive director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis who was a co-founder of ACT UP and co-facilitator of the group's meetings.

The 30th anniversary of ACT UP's creation will be commemorated in the spring of 2017. Damn proud to still be here and spend a few moments from anyone who was in ACT UP during the plague era.

You knew there was something special about ACT UP when the meeting to zap the closeted Mayor Ed Koch at his appearance at GMHC's upcoming annual AIDS Walk, was essentially run by Tim.

Two former East Coast-living survivors of the AIDS plague, see each other on Castro Street and share smiles, chat about Herzog's latest cinematic expedition and enjoy a fabulous evening in a packed movie palace.

Surviving and thriving and waiting for the election to be over! Vote for zealous Petrelis for BART board.

Positive Side of 'AIDS Victim' Use in Today's Media?

The 1980s AIDS plague years were full of pejorative and demeaning language used by the mainstream press that sadly but quite accurately reflected how much Americans looked at who was contracting HIV and dying.

Self-empowerment by those infected led to creation of the terms persons with AIDS and PWA. A gathering of PWAs in Colorado 1983 developed the Denver Principles which boldly began thus:

"We condemn attempts to label us as 'victims,' a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally 'patients,' a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are 'People With AIDS.'"

It was a constant struggle insisting on terminology that didn't stigmatize and undermine assistance for HIV pozzies.

That struggle continues today as evidenced by three recent examples of mainstream reporting and writing.

In August, the Vice news site headlined a piece, "Why the Ashes of AIDS Victims on the White House Lawn Matter.

The autumn issue of Book Forum in a review of Rabih Alameddine's new book, refers to a deceased character as "a surrogate marker for the Unknown AIDS Victim."

Finally, the November edition of the Castro Courier, in a gayborhood that was devastated and challenged by the AIDS epidemic, they ran this sub-headline: "Student to Honor Names of AIDS Victims."

What possible positive element could I possible extract from these citations?

This is proof we are in a second post-AIDS-crisis phase and that those writing and editing these publications escaped the plague years and the war over language and perceptions of who was getting HIV and how they were treated with shunning and vicious shaming.

For those under 45 or so, and certainly folks younger than that, they are blessed with an America that has controlled AIDS to a remarkable degree and the lives of many long-term and recently-diagnosed are vastly improved.

On the other hand, an important part of the AIDS fight in the United States has been forgotten or perhaps was never learned by these writers and editors.

Click here to read other recent instances of medical, global and domestic news outlets using the AIDS victim phrase.

AIDS victim? No, not a suitable choice of words.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

All-Female NY Times Obits Day: Women's Lives Matter

The paper edition of the national New York Times on Friday, November 4th, ran only two obituaries and they were about women who achieved degrees of fame and noteworthy accomplishments.

Miriam Weinstein, the mother of film impresarios Harvey and Bob Weinstein who inspired the name of Miramax Films, has died. And singer Kay Starr, who crooned in many styles, also passed away last week.

In terms of real estate, each obit warranted banner presentation across all six columns and included photos of Weinstein and Starr. Bravas, to these ladies and their legacies!

I long for the day when it's common for the Gray Lady and other publications that still run obits, to have many days when they're all the lives and deaths of women.
Nearly 150,000 ballots have been received or dropped off at the San Francisco Department of Elections office. The stat comes from Gregory P. Slocum, the department's director of campaign services. Have you voted yet and also cast a ballot for zealous Petrelis for BART board? Vote by November 8th.

Vote for Zealous Petrelis for BART Board!

The final weekend of the 2016 election is here and I'm spending time out in BART's District 9 and online, campaigning for votes.

Mike called this morning from South Dakota, to catch me up on the Merrigan family saying good-bye to their loving matriarch Nana Mary. Wish I could be there with our fabulous extended family.

My Mike comes home on Wednesday but fear not - he voted for me by mail before traveling!

This is a selfie of us at Tuesday night's incredibly terrific and emotionally moving concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the spirited conducting skills of Gustavo Dudamel.

It was our first time hearing this great orchestra performing live and Mahler's 9th Symphony was the only piece on the program. Quite cheeky of them to come to the home of the San Francisco Symphony, and music director and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, celebrated globally for their renditions of Mahler's symphonies.

We can say both the visiting philharmonic and hometown symphony bring joy to our ears playing the majestic music of Mahler.

Vote for zealous Petrelis!

Friday, November 04, 2016

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Flashback Friday With Ian McKellen for LGBT Russians

Mike and I had the great pleasure of meeting Sir Ian McKellen and staging a photo-op with him in August 2013, on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians.

He was performing in Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land" at the Berkeley Rep company, and thanks to iconic gay human rights advocate Peter Tatchell I was put in touch with the celebrated actor and activist.

McKellen agreed to meet us after a performance in the Berkeley Rep courtyard. Along with his former partner and the play's director, Sean Mathias, we four gay men held up a rainbow flag and signs declaring solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Russia.

Our Russian allies greatly appreciated this photographic gesture of support as they faced draconian anit-gay laws and prosecutions, and the image was widely circulated in Russia.

I could say, after the meetup, that I had directed McKellen. Yes, I told him where to stand for the photo-op! LOL.

Thanks for the memory and advocacy, Sir Ian.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

BART Board: Open Data, Plazas & Public Engagement

The current members of the BART board of directors heard about nine minutes of public comment from me at their October 27 meeting. As you can see from the many empty chairs behind me, there wasn't a crowd at 9:00 am.

I called for better community engagement by BART managers and directors, support their attempt to become an open data public agency, held current District 9 director Tom Radulovich accountable and thanked the workers and supervisors who've taken action on my service requests to improve the 16th Street station plazas.

A proposal I put forward was using the five plastic displays at the western 16th Street entrance with signage and imagery showing exactly where the elevator is located.

After campaigning at the plazas over the past few months, I know very well the large number of disabled folks, moms with large strollers and kids in tow, and travelers with heavy luggage who need easy-to-find visuals directing them across Mission Street to the much-needed elevator.

I'll be advocating for these changes and improvements regardless of who becomes the next District 9 director for BART, but you knew that already.

Vote for zealous Petrelis by November 8th!


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Poz Prisoner Michael Johnson is Out of Solitary Confinement

This may be the most upbeat letter from Michael Johnson I've received since we began writing to each other.

Topping off the great news is that he's no longer in hole and is back in the general population. Michael's latest blood work is all good and he hopes Hillary Clinton defeats Donald Trump.

I've written back expressing happiness that he's out of solitary confinement, to encourage him to maintain his wellness and taking advantage of any education program inside the prison.

Michael stepmother from when he lived in Indiana, Meredith Rowan, has reached out to me. She provided this update and we hope to better coordinate our assistance for Michael from the outside.

If you'd care to write Michael and brighten his day with written communication, Meredith share the info on how to write him via snail mail and email. This is her update:

Dear MPetrelis,

Michael can receive letters, news clippings, and cards. Any card cannot have glitter or any texture on it. He cannot receive magazines unless shipped directly from the publisher. There is a limit on the # of pages he can get at one time. It is 8 pages. His address is -

Michael L Johnson
DOC Inmate #1285371
South Central Correctional Facility
255 MO-32
Licking, MO 65542

In addition, you can send him a letter via email. To do this, you have to have account on You would search for Michael using his Department of Corrections Inmate #1285371.

There is no fee to send the letter and the prison will print the letters off each day and give them to Michael. With this option you are limited to one letter per day. 

My family and I ensure he has funds in his account to get any items he needs. We are not able to send any items from the outside. In addition a few people have given me money to help support Michael.

I have used that money to get him magazine subscriptions to People, Entertainment Weekly, and Sports Illustrated. Please let me know if there are any other questions or people need any additional information. Thank you for all you have done for Michael. We greatly appreciate it.