Wednesday, December 30, 2015

SFPD In-Custody & Cop-Involved Deaths Rose in 2015

My public records request a few weeks back to the San Francisco police for names, races and ages of all civilians who died in-custody or from an officer-involved shooting has produced responsive records.

In 2014, one person named Jonathan Mitchell, age 49, died in police custody.

During 2015 there were three deaths in-custody: Darnell Benson, age 40; Marvin Day, age 51; Filimoni Raiyawa, age 57.

The number of officer-involved killings in 2014 stood at three: Alex Nieto, age 27; Giovany Sandoval-Contreras, age 34; Oshaine Evans, age 26.

For 2015, six lives were lost in such fatalities: Matthew Hoffman, age 32; Emilcar Perez-Lopez, age 20; Alice Brown, age 24; Herbert Benitez, age 27; Javier Lopez, age 25; Mario Woods, age 26.

Fyi, Briseida Banuelos of the department's legal division explained the omission of races for the victims:

"Please find attached responsive documents to request number 3. With respect to your request for 'races of civilians,' under California Government Code § 6254(f)(1), the disclosure of race is not required. The SFPD declines to disclose the race of individuals as an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Please see California Government Code § 6254(c)."

There needs to be a community discussion and debate at the police commission about the tripling of in-custody deaths and a doubling of officer-involved fatalities.

On top of that, we need Mayor Ed Lee to get his sorry self to a few town hall meetings about police accountability. If he can travel to Hong Kong over the holiday season, he can take Muni to the Bayview.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rachel Maddow's ACT UP Boi Photo on Display till 1/3

My friends and longtime queer photo documentarians, Rick Gerharter and Jane Philomen Cleland, have a terrific joint exhibit on display only until Sunday, January 3, at the main library.

Titled "Daily and Transcendent: 25 Years of Photojournalist Portraits," the show contains fantastic images of LGBT and HIV/AIDS activism and the folks behind the organizing.  Cleland and Gerharter made wise choices about which black and white and color photographs to include showing the breadth of our communities in the past quarter century.

In addition to the photos, Cleland and Gerharter each have a glass exhibition case featuring their press passes, political buttons and stickers, along with other artifacts from the conventions, conference and protests they covered. After looking at the photos and artifacts, I came away with a fuller understanding of the work and commitment of these documentarians.

The image that most captured my attention shows a younger Rachel Maddow, from back in the day when she was a member of ACT UP/Golden Gate, in her boi phase and was snapped by Gerharter.

He also included his contact sheet from his shoot with her. Gerharter took his Maddow photos on December 24, 1994, and this is his account of how he got the photos:

"Maddow was semi-famous on the occasion of her being the first out lesbian to be a Rhodes scholar. She was visiting friends in San Francisco over the Christmas holidays. She is from Castro Valley and maybe had family there. I met her there and took the photo. Not really much more. She was in town several years ago and Bevan Dufty was planning to introduce her at a local LGBT event. I happened to run into him near my home and he mentioned Maddow. I told him about the photo, he got a copy and then gave it to her at the event. He said she was surprised and happy, but I never heard anything from her."

A 2008 profile of Maddow from The Nation shed light on her ACT UP involvement:

"She earned a degree in public policy from Stanford before beginning work with ACT UP and the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. But Maddow had trouble breaking into treatment activism, which was then the rock-star world of AIDS policy. 'It was boys’ land,' she says. 'I knew like two women total who were doing treatment activism. And I didn’t totally get it. I’m not like Barbie–‘Math is hard!’–but it was a techie world, and I didn’t feel like I could be all that helpful.'”

Be sure to catch this show at the San Francisco main library at Grove and Market Streets before its last day, January 3!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas From Mike + Mike

Greetings of the season to all, near and far! Wishing everyone the best of times and company over the holidays. We're off to spend two nights at the St. Francis Hotel on Union Square. Our friend Dan is staying in our place while we're enjoying our staycation and gaycation in San Francisco. We're both happy to unplug from our computers. See you around Nob Hill waiting for Santa Claus to arrive!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SF Mayoral Aide: 'Cover the Costs' of Mario Woods Funeral

There wasn't much of interest in the several hundred pages of emails the Mayor's Office provided to me today in response to my public records request seeking files on the killing-by-cop death of Mario Woods.

What stood out among the emails was a two-pager from Mayor Ed Lee's senior adviser Paul Henderson dated 12/7/2015, stating the following:

"Here is a draft I created of what the statement [from the mayor] could look like for edits/modifications [sic]. 

"I think it's important we give folks something to measure and look forward to OTHER than the evaluation of whether or not last week's shooting is justified (which I think it is likely to be).

[Text of mayor's draft statement]

"A couple of things to note that I am hearing from the community and various other relevant folks.

"- SFPD is not being helpful in the open data conversations. (See the article in the Examiner this weekend). The State and Federal government have made great headway on the topic and there are some very easy reforms we can adopt to stay ahead of this growing criticism that will only continue to grow. The answers/solutions for this issue have been offered from our office (Joy), the AG's office and the 21 Century policing guideline.

"- We are doing more and there is an open RFP out (or coming shortly) regarding 'implicit bias' for city departments that we should be taking credit for. Community leaders will support our expansion of this issue.

"- I want to plant 3 points with Amos [Brown] to give him a playbook to support our announcement when he meets with AA leaders this evening. FYI he has asked Joe Marshall to help him come up with an agenda of how to work with the city and move something forward.

"- FYI because of how the shooting took place, the city does NOT cover funeral costs. And it would go a long way if we let it be known that 'we' are going to those costs (@7)."

Always good to read what City Hall officials are saying to each other in emails about SFPD personnel killing civilians. Mayor Ed Lee can issue his proclamations and directives at the department and police commission, but he's serious MIA on engaging with the Bayview and black communities, and allies concerned for cop accountability.

Let's see the mayor hold a town hall soon in the Bayview to hear from the community.
Sup. Breed Guilty of 3 Open Govt Law Violations

She's the most ardent anti-sunshine practitioner on the Board of Supervisors and her resistance to following open government law has earned her three violations at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

Earlier this year, I requested all of Breed's sent or received emails and she objected that the request was too broad. The SOTF disagreed and after a number of hearings, one of which nobody from Breed's office attended even though they were required to be present, Breed was found guilty of "failing to respond to a public records request in a timely and complete manner."

Another request of mine asked Breed for her emails from the first week of March, and her office again failed to comply as required by law so the SOTF has found her guilty of two additional sunshine violations. Three government transparency violations are now permanently on Breed's record.

It's my cautious belief that Breed and her staff will be more cooperative and compliant when receiving public records requests in the future.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Kiosk Ad Revenue: $4M for SF - $62M for JCDecaux

As long-time readers of this blog are well aware, I am no fan of various forms of street furniture cluttering our precious public sidewalks and spaces. Recently, I had to know how much ad revenue the City has received over an eight-year period and a public records request to the Department of Public Works delivered these responsive figures.

SF:                 $498,600
JCDecaux:  $6,629,000

SF:                 $555,300
JCDecaux:  $7,420,000

[Complete omission. Estimate based on years where figures were provided.]
SF:                 $517,000
JCDecaux:  $7,490,000

SF:                 $568,300
JCDecaux:  $7,597,800

[Partial omission.]
SF:                 $603,800
JCDecaux:  $7,800,000
[Estimate based on other figures provided.]

SF:                 $615,100
JCDecaux:  $8,786,000

[Partial omission.]
SF:                 $715,300
JCDecaux:  $8,900,000
[Estimate based on other figures provided.]

[Partial omission.]
SF:                 $604,600
JCDecaux:  $7,800,000
[Estimate based on other figures provided.]

Totals, accounting for omissions and estimates:
SF:                 $4,722,000
JDCecaux:   $62,521,800

Here are the public records for years 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012, letters from JCDecaux to DPW in which revenue due SF and overall advertising revenue were both included:




I asked DPW spokeswoman Rachel Gordon how this arrangement favoring the street furniture and advertising giant came to pass, and she said:

"The revenue structure is part of the contract that the City forged with JCDecaux in 1998. Part of the deal was that the company would install and operate the self-cleaning public toilets in exchange for advertising rights. 

"The contract expires in early 2017. We recently issued as RFP (request for proposal) asking interested vendors to submit proposals for operating public toilets once the current contract expires. The new contract opens the door to opportunity for more revenue, more public toilets, etc."]

Even if the City were getting more of the ad revenue, I'd still be against the clutter of the kiosks and it sure as hell ain't worth an average of $7 million annually to maintain the public toilets.

FYI, there are 25 toilets and 114 kiosks owned and operated by JCDecaux on San Francisco's streets. We could use public toilets in the triple digits and the kiosks reduced to a dozen.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

PM David Cameron: No LGBT Jamaica & UK Files

Remember my Freedom of Information request in October to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron for any emails and files pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans from his advisers or embassy in Kingston, in the weeks leading up to his controversial visit to the island nation?

At the request of the PM's office, I amended and narrowed my broad request and new search was undertaken. The latest response states the office "does not hold information relevant to your refined request."

Some thoughts. Either the PM's office didn't conduct a thorough enough search or neither Cameron and his advisers and the embassy staff cared enough to put LGBT issues on the agenda during his visit. I would expect the prime minister would at minimum have received a status briefing on the current conditions of LGBT Jamaicans, wouldn't you?

Here is the three-page response from London:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mission Arson Claims Debated at Fire Commission

At yesterday's San Francisco fire commission meeting, there was a lengthy debate about allegations of arson blazes in the past year or in the Mission District.

Since the commission's agenda is always vague about exactly what Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and her deputies will say during their verbal reports, there was no way anyone reading the December 17 agenda would know that arson was to be debated. All the agenda said was various division would present reports.

Deputy marshal Daniel DeCossio shared arson and investigation stats and commissioners questioned him about Mission community concerns, fire prevention and formally calendaring the matter for a commission meeting early in the new year.

I was there to request the commission investigate deputy Mark Gonzales' email to me regarding this video. I believe public safety hazard was created by this errant fire fighter and foolishly thought the SFFD would conduct a transparent probe. Not so. Gonzales wrote:

"With regard to the issue you raised related to a San Francisco Fire Department vehicle blocking the bus stop on Van Ness at Market,  I directed my staff to conduct an investigation into your concerns. We take safety-related issues very seriously. This matter was investigated by the Department and appropriate action was taken. Again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention."

How convenient of the fire department to investigate itself, not contact the complainant for more detail, withholding the name of the SFFD deputy behind the wheel and what supposed action was taken! 

The City needs to discuss establishing an Office of Civilian Complaints to oversee the bad behaviors of fire fighters and deputies, but unlike the police OCC we need to guarantee an SFFD version is fully transparent with names and actions released to the public.

Anyone know why David Campos and no one from his office was at the commission, monitoring the debate? Here's an excerpt from last night's meeting regarding fires in the Mission:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Meth Legal Mess Involves an SF Fire Commissioner

A reader brought it to my attention that a blog operated by an anonymous person was alleging Ken Cleaveland, a member of the San Francisco fire commission, had tangential meth legal woes stemming from a former roommate.

FYI, Cleaveland, pictured, is also the vice president at the Building Owners and Manager's Association of SF.

I reached out to Cleaveland, who initiated airing fire commission meetings on SFGovTV and broadcasting them from City Hall begins in January, asking him to respond to the tangled claims he's involved in speed related legal troubles:

"I've been made aware of this post about a meth legal case in which you are mentioned:

"There are a number of posts at that blog that reference your alleged problems with a former roommate who possibly was dealing speed. Frankly, I'm always suspicious about blogs where the author isn't clearly stated nor is a contact addy provided.

"What's your response to what is written at that blog about you? Lemme know."

Here's Cleaveland's reply:

"It’s complete bs, Michael. The soon-to-be former housemate’s ex-boyfriend had to have a restraining order issued against him by my housemate as he was defaming him (as he is doing to me, but worse) that actually caused him to lose his job. The guy is psycho and possibly dangerous. The DA’s office is already investigating him for his continued violation of the restraining order. 

"The guy who is defaming Tim (my roomie) and me (because I testified against him at the restraining order trial) is a guy named Matthew Martinez, who is definitely a meth head and has a long history of bad separations from past boyfriends." 

On the surface, this seems to a clear reminder of various ways of how destructive and damaging meth is to gay men and our community, whether we use the drug or not. Let's see how these legal troubles resolve themselves in superior court.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Current Number of SF Cop-Involved Shootings' Investigations?

Last week, I filed a public records request with police chief Greg Suhr for deets about San Francisco police officer involved shootings and today the department's legal department sent me dozens of responsive records.

An October 6th memo from internal affairs to the risk management commanding officer, states there are fifteen open officer-involved shootings.

Thirteen cases are under investigation by former SFPD chief and current district attorney George Gascon, one case is being handled by the San Mateo DA's office and another case is a joint investigation between the two DA offices.

I don't believe Gascon will bring charges in any of the shootings or fatalities, but if he does I'll be among the first to applaud such a move.

The SFPD needs until December 17 to provide me with the names and demographic info on all civilians killed by local cops in 2014 and so far for this year. Once I have that info, I'll share it.

If you know of any organization keeping tabs on these shootings and investigations, please lemme know because I want to learn all there is to know how these investigations are conducted and if accountability and justice are well-served.

Btw, 24-pages were provided to me and there isn't a single name of any officer under investigation included. Just one more example of police privilege whereby they're accused of misdeeds and crimes, yet are guaranteed many protections keeping their names confidential.

That confidentiality undermines San Francisco's community policing practices.

Friday, December 11, 2015

$1400 for 'Sanitized' FBI File on Peter Seeger?

After legendary folk singer and leftist political peacenik Pete Seeger died in in 2014, I filed a FOIA request for his FBI file and it was routed through the National Archives and Records Administration. It was projected that federal review of Seeger's file would take 24 months before some of the records might be released.

This week, NARA contacted me to say a "sanitized copy" of several thousand pages was available for public inspection at no-cost at their facility in Maryland or a disc of those records, for a few, could be mailed to me.

I replied asking for an estimate of the fee, since I was across the country and unable to visit Maryland, and received this info:

(Click to enlarge.)

Rather than pay $1,400 to view this sanitized version of Seeger's FBI file, I'm pushing NARA to make it available online for the great number of people who are interested in reading any documents the government kept on Seeger.

Let's hope NARA does the right thing and publishes whatever it has ready for public inspection on Seeger to the web, by the end of January if not sooner. Here's the entirety of the response yesterday:

Dear Mr. Petrelis,

I just wanted to give you an update on your FOIA request RD 42423 for FBI Headquarters case file 100-HQ-200845 on Pete Seeger. We are currently awaiting instructions from other government agencies regarding their release determinations pertaining to classified documents found in the file. We cannot proceed further with processing until we receive these responses. Unfortunately, whenever we are in a "consultation" phase of our FOIA processing, we are at the mercy of outside agency queues and timetables. I would love to give you an estimate as to when we will hear back from the agencies, but the truth is there is just no way to tell. As soon as we receive all agency responses, we will release as much as we can based on agency guidance and finish our processing of your FOIA request.

Until that time, we have a sanitized copy of file 100-HQ-200845 with all classified documents withdrawn that is available for free if you or a designated representative visit our facility at College Park, Maryland. If you plan to visit, please notify me at either or at (301) 837-1999 at least a week in advance of your arrival. If I do not acknowledge your notification of arrival within 48 hours, then contact our office at either or at (301) 837-3190. A digital copy of the file will be loaned to you on DVD in our 4th floor research room (room 4000) where you will have the option to either burn a copy to your own DVD, download a copy to a flash drive, upload a copy as an attachment to an e-mail, or download a copy to your laptop if it has a CD/DVD-ROM drive.

There is also the option of having us mail you an electronic copy on CD or DVD, but standard reproduction charges will apply and you will be charged $0.80 per page. The 2,500 pages initially cited to you was a good faith estimate based on the maximum number of pages designated to be in one of our standard record center boxes. The actual page count is 1,761 pages. If you would like to receive a copy of the file in the mail, just contact me, and I will send you an official price quote for reproductions.

At some point in 2016, we plan to have a copy of the current version of file 100-HQ-200845 made available to view for free on the internet. I do not have an estimated time when it will be placed online as there is a backlog of digital files waiting to be uploaded to our servers. In the future after we receive all agency consultation responses, which will presumably allow us to release more information, an updated final version of 100-HQ-200845 will replace the obsolete one online.

A line-by-line review was completed of file 100-HQ-200845 and information exempted from disclosure under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552) has been redacted. For your information, 321 pages have been sanitized and 92 pages have been withdrawn in full. The redactions have been applied under the following exemptions and reasons:

(b)(1)-To prevent the disclosure of classified information
(b)(3)-To prevent disclosure of information exempted by statute; the specific statutes for this case are 50 USC 3024(i)(1)/50 USC 403-1(i)(1) which protect intelligence sources and methods.
(b)(6) and (b)(7)(C)-To prevent an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
(b)(7)(D)-To prevent the disclosure of the identity of a confidential source or informant
(b)(7)(E)-To protect techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations

You have the right to appeal our decision to restrict access, either in whole or in part, to any document over which this agency has release authority within 60 calendar days of receipt of this e-mail. Your appeal can either be submitted in writing and addressed to the Deputy Archivist of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, Room 4200, College Park, MD 20740-6001, or sent by e-mail to  Depending on how your appeal is filed, please cite case number RD 42423 and “Freedom of Information Act Appeal” on either the envelope or in the subject line of the e-mail.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions pertaining to the processing of your FOIA request. You will hear from us again once we receive all agency returns and complete the processing of your case.

Mark Murphy
Special Access/FOIA Staff
National Archives and Records Administration

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Is Walgreens Violating SF's Anti Tobacco Law?

I've reached out to Barbara Garcia, chief of the City health department, with this request for an investigation and expect a response before the week is over:

Dear Barbara Garcia,

There is a potential violation of San Francisco's law banning the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies that I wish to report for investigation.

The Walgreens pharmacy inside the Westfield Mall on Market Street is selling cigarettes. I'm attaching a photo snapped over the weekend at the pharmacy, showing a sales associate at cash register and behind him are packs of smokes for sale.

My interpretation of the law,, is that this Walgreens outlet is non-compliant with the statute.

Questions must also be asked if the anti tobacco law is being violated not just by the leasee, Walgreens, but also by the landlord of the property, the Westfield Corporation.

If your department finds the pharmacy in violation, should you also pin the violation on the mall owners?

Please task your tobacco abatement program staff to look into this and communicate their findings with me.

I'm copying folks at both firms on this request for a health department investigation.

SF Top Cop Suhr to Post His Calendar Online?

My recent public records request to police chief Greg Suhr for several months of his calendars produced responsive files that shed light on how our top cop earns his salary.

At the December 2 police commission meeting, I urged the president Suzy Loftus to direct Suhr to make his calendar available on the web. Paper copies of the calendars I obtained were handed to Loftus. She needs to weigh in on this issue.

I followed up this week and emailed my plea to Suhr to get his calendar up on the SFPD site and received this reply today:

He's not putting his calendar online. In response, I asked why the chief was keeping his calendar offline and what factors went into his decision. It's not satisfactory for the chief to make a one-sentence denial of my request. Suhr would give taxpayers and voters a much-need ray of govt sunshine if he took the step of sharing his calendar online.

Another police accountability concern of mine is the lack of a coherent and fair social media policy, especially regarding circulating mugshots of arrested suspects or, as in the Hot Cop of the Castro hit-and-run scandal where the SFPD withheld Chris Kohr's mugshot.

This Wednesday, December 9, starting at 5:30 pm, the police commission will meet at City Hall and among the important items on the agenda is a status update on social media policy for the department.

A crucial matter is learning from the SFPD exactly how many platforms or programs - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, etc - the public affairs office or other divisions maintain, the named personnel responsible for each platform and behind every Twitter account, and how SFPD output is archived.

The meeting will also delve further into the killing last week of Mario Woods by SFPD officers, the use of tasers and de-escalation tactics. It's going to be a long and hopefully productive meeting.

Monday, December 07, 2015

SFPD Pizza Pickup; Uppity Biker Questions Cop Privilege

On two occasions in recent days, I've seen members of the San Francisco police force exhibiting signs of arrogant first responder privilege.

This is when cops don't care about where they park their squad cars, either when answering a call at the main library of stabbing in the men's room or picking up a pizza, or use their sound-system to order a civilian to get out of the street even if they're not blocking traffic.

As you see in my video from November 30th at the library's entrance on Grove near Market Street, and the footage from December 4th shot in front of the Pizza Zone on Valencia near Duboce Street, SFPD cops blocked vehicular traffic or a bike lane.

In both videos, you'll hear me getting uppity and questioning cop privilege on display from the officers.

If you've got a camera, use it to film SFPD personnel on the streets and do your part to monitor their service to the public, and be sure to share your videos on the web. It will do much to hold the department accountable and we all know there needs to be a whole lot more accountability of cops in this town.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Sup. Breed Helped City Hall Lobbyist Get New Job

Thanks to a recent public records request I filed with staunch anti-open government practitioner Sup. London Breed, the president of the Board of Supervisors, I've learned she aided a lobbyist get hired for a new job.

In January 2014, lobbyist Alex Clemens of the Barbary Coast Consulting firm emailed Breed saying, "if you've got any suggestions for who our next teammate(s) should be, I'd love to hear them."

Breed recommended a woman named Rosie Dilger and since Clemens didn't have her addy, Breed shared it with him.

The president of the Board hoped it all worked out well for Clemens and Dilger, and her words must have carried much weight because Dilger got the lobbyist job. According to the consulting firm's web site, Dilger is a member of their team.

Does anyone know if this is all ethical, having a consultant ask a Supervisor whom to hire and that the recommended person eventually gets the lobbying position? 

Even if this all passes the smell test and violates no laws, it's still very important to show how cozy Breed is with the Barbary Coast Consulting team.

Friday, December 04, 2015

NYPD Needs 90-Days to Release Chief Bratton's Calendar?

My Freedom of Information Law friends in New York City have warned me that the NY Police Department is notorious for doing all it can to thwart and hinder requests for public records, starting with keeping all important correspondence with requesters on paper. Yep, the NYPD doesn't do transparency via the web and email.

In late November, I filed a FOIL request for a copy in electronic format of Police Commissioner William Bratton's calendar from January through October.

A snail-mail reply arrived today informing me that "[b]efore a determination can be rendered, further review is necessary to assess the potential applicability of exemptions set forth in FOIL, and whether the records can be located. I estimate that this review will be completed, and a determination issued, within ninety business days of this letter."

We'll see if the NYPD needs that much time to figure out if Bratton's calendar can be located!

While waiting for the next move by the police, be sure to read an excellent investigation into former NYPD boss Ray Kelly's calendar from New York Daily News reporters Rocco Parascandola and Larry McShane, that appeared on Nov. 20th.

These intrepid reporters obtained hundreds of pages of Kelly's calendar and all police accountability should laud such govt watchdogging. There simply is not enough scrutiny of calendars of big city police chiefs.

File a public records request today for your police department chief's calendar and write about the process and what's on the calendar, in order to increase accountability.

Here's the paper letter from the NYPD:

SF Police Commission: Social Media Rules Debate is When?

In early November, I went to the San Francisco Police Commission, which is a nominally independent body providing very weak oversight of the police department's personnel and policies.

My issue was the lack of a written social media policy and the willy-nilly posting of mugshots on Twitter and other sites.

I provided commission president Suzy Loftus, pictured, with a printout of my exchanges with SFPD public affairs officer Albie Esparza, that were posted here.

This past Wednesday, December 2, I attend the commission meeting at City Hall to again complain about capricious mugshot rules and the failure of Esparza and the department to web-post the mugshot of Chris Kohrs. He's the "Hot Cop of the Castro" arrested over the weekend for a hit-and-run accident in North Beach.

When Loftus asked other commissioners for future agenda items, one colleague asked that they address social media policies and Loftus asked the commission secretary to follow up on this matter, according to the closed-caption notes.

It says a lot about the inadequate and discretionary ways only certain arrestees have their mugshots made public on the web, that the SF police commission may get around to creating fair and equitable social media rules in 2016.

Why have the commissioners allowed the department to operate without such rules already in place and how long will it take for the rules to be developed and implemented?
Silence & Laughter Reign at 'Mummenschanz' in Berkeley

At the opening moments of two enormous puppet hands parting the heavy curtain of UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall at Sunday's performance of the Mummenschanz troupe, all audience members regardless of age were silent.

Soon enough, laughter broke out as the hands greeted each other and ninety-minutes of pure enjoyment began.

With no bright lights or sounds or electronic gizmos, I was amazed at how rapt the hundreds of children were as they watched the show.

No cries of "What's happening?" were heard from the kids. The loudest sounds were giggles of delight or applause.

Using foam rubber, plastic tubing, colored toilet paper, large pieces of billowing, pliable fabrics and a whole lot of imagination, the Mummenschanz performers made great use of the stage. Much of the troupe's presentation dazzled the eye. No need for narratives driving the many vignettes.

During several sketches, the jumpiness and anticipation of some children standing on their seats waiting for what came next, was palpable.

Mummenschanze was in Berkeley for only three performances and Mike and I feel sorry for folks who missed the shows, and have to wait for the company to return to the Bay Area to enjoy their wonderful creativity.

After the show, I ran into a friend from ACT UP/New York during the plague years, G'Dali Braverman and his mother. Mike and I spoke with them for a few minutes, about how we all adored the show.

G'Dali's two children were running around the Cal campus plaza and were soon collected by poppa and grandma, for the trip back to San Francisco.

What more could we ask for then a terrific time watching Mummenschanz live, then seeing a pal at the end?

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Dramatic Arrest of Threatening SF Man With a Gun

As the Twitter clock at Market and 10th Streets hit 3:55 pm on Wednesday, December 2, a swarm of San Francisco Police Department officers descended on a man who had threatened a stranger with a gun allegedly in his backpack, and I was there.

I began filming a few moments after the cops had removed the backpack and pinned the suspect down to the street pavement. The man who'd been threatened walked up beside me and began explaining how he flagged down a passing cop car and told the police he'd just been harassed.

Let's all be grateful no one was harmed or killed in this situation and I salute the officers for performing their duties with all the rapid response it required.

Is it just me or is there more first responder activity happening along Market Street and other areas of the City?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

SFFD Deputy Blocks Muni Stop & Complaint is Filed

[UPDATE: Chief Hayes-White sent word this afternoon of the action she's taken: "I received your email complaint regarding a Department vehicle and have assigned Deputy Chief Gonzales to investigate the matter." Let's see how this investigation unfolds.]

Here is what I sent off today to San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White, followed by the video I shot yesterday.

The behavior of the SFFD deputy, and that of so many other public safety employees in such instances, where they ignore simple rules all in the alleged pursuit of protecting ordinary citizens, led me to coin a new phrase and social problem: first responder privilege.

When a potential crisis or attack or fire or deadly accident or altercation occurs, and the cops or firefighters swing into action, under their rules of first responder privilege, they go into hyper-activity and flout a few rules.

Yes, there are many occasions when the last thing first responders should worry about is where to park and they are employed to deal with crises, but those are no reasons why the public should avoid scrutinizing first responder operations.

My note to the SFFD:

I wish to lodge a complaint against one of your deputies for needless creating a traffic hazard for Muni passengers, in an incident caught on tape which I've posted on Vimeo.

Yesterday, December 1, at around 12:40 pm at the hectic SF MTA bus stop located at Van Ness and Market Streets, your deputy in an SFFD vehicle pulled up behind an idling Muni bus and then prevented a second bus from pulling over to the curb.

The name of your deputy is not known but the licence plate number of 1437933, clearly visible in the tape, must be used to check SFFD records to see who was driving that City vehicle on Tuesday.

As you can see in my video, there is no fire or public safety emergency in the immediate vicinity and none of us waiting Muni riders understood what the heck your deputy was doing with his disruption. 

Questions in need of addressing are who was the deputy creating an unnecessary problem for Muni drivers and passengers, why did he idle between two buses, why were his emergency lights flashing when there was no obvious emergency and is this proper behavior of a member of your staff?

I will attend the December 3 fire commission meeting to raise my concerns about the incident and to ask the commissioners to also request an investigation into this matter. This complaint letter is being shared with commission secretary Maureen Conefrey and I request that she share this with all of the commissioners.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Big Mike's Eye Surgery Went Well

It's that time again in the house of Mikes for me to play Nurse Ratched and tend to my patient and hubby Mike, as he recovers from laser surgery this morning.

His eye care specialist, Dr. Lillie Mosaddegh, a relative of the CIA-deposed democratically elected Iran prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, operated on his left eye. It's covered with cotton padding, a clear plastic lens and surgical tape.

Mike is doing fine without the use of his glasses. He could use a monocle for the right eye, which will be operated on in two weeks if the left eye heals well as expected. You should have seen him sitting near the television monitor tonight, entertaining himself.

After bringing him home from the medical arts center on Post and Polk, getting caught up on his after-care and needs, I gave him the gift of solitude.

When I came home from seeing a film, Mike was in fine fettle and looking even more adorable then when I left, with the layers of protection covering part of his beautiful face.

Mike hates posing for selfies and whatnot, so it was a pleasant surprise he asked me to snap his photo and share it on the web. "Get it out there!" he said, with a wave of his hand as his painkillers were in full effect.

Dr. Lillie removes the bandages tomorrow and all will go well. Let's all wish Mike a thorough and rapid recovery, and improvement with his vision.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Complaint Filed Over SFPD Withholding 'Hot-Cop's Mugshot

Earlier this month, I got the runaround from San Francisco Police Department spokesman Albie Esparza, pictured, trying to get answers about their written policy for sharing mugshots of arrestees on Twitter.

It took a public records request to Briseida Banuelos of the legal division for social media policies to learn there are no such written regulation. Banuelos said "release of mugshots is discretionary."

After almost 24-hours of news accounts regarding the arrest of Chris Kohrs, known as the "Hot Cop of the Castro" for his well-developed and many times photographed body, for a hit-and-run accident he caused in the early morning hours of Nov. 29th, no mugshot of the arrestee has been distributed to the public. Two individuals were transported to the hospital and Kohrs allegedly left the scene of his accident.

Since all I'm getting is radio silence outta the department, I've today lodged a request for an investigation with the Office of Citizen Complaints for the following reasons:

"1. Withholding the mugshot of arrested officer Chris Kohrs, who was booked on two felony accounts on Nov 29th, for a hit-and-run accident he caused that sent two persons to the hospital with serious injuries in the early morning hours yesterday. Despite numerous pleas to the Twitter accounts of @SFPD, @OfficerAlbie, @OfficerGrace and @SFPDChiefSuhr from my account @MichaelPetrelis over yesterday and today, the department has failed to acknowledge receipt of my request and has no provided me with the mugshot.

"2. As of this writing, on Nov 30th around 2:25 pm, the SFPD's archived news site contains no info about Kohrs' arrest: In other high-profile arrests involving suspects who are not cops, the SFPD has quickly posted news of their arrests and mugshots either on the department's site or via social media. Why is Kohrs' being treated differently by the public info division?

"3. According to the report about Kohrs' arrest, the SFPD release stated in part, "due to pending identification matters, no booking photo will be released at this time." I have no idea why Kohrs' was arrested and a mugshot taken if a pending identification matter is still open. Your office needs to investigate exactly what this vague phraseology means and why the alleged matter is reason to withhold Kohrs' mugshot."

To end the special privileges of cops in San Francisco, it's going to take many citizens and institutions demanding the police department once and for all develop written mugshot policies that apply to all arrestees.

No more of this discretionary posting on social media of only certain persons arrested and the b.s. of saying unknown and supposed identification issues need to be cleared up first.

The special treatment it appears Kohrs is receiving from his SFPD colleagues does tremendous harm to community policing.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Schindler's Killer on Facebook & Divorced With Kids? 

A tipster named David Collins of Indianapolis, Indiana, contacted me this week about a Facebook page for Terry Helvey, the former U.S. Naval petty officer servicing a life sentence for brutally murdering gay sailor Allen Schindler in a Japanese men's room in 1992.

It appears to be a page operated by an associate of Helvey's on the outside of the Greenville, Illinois, federal correctional institution where he's currently incarcerated. I've emailed the public info addy on the institution's web site, asking the authorities to verify if the man who's the subject of the page is indeed the same person.

A side-by-side photo comparison of Helvey from 1993, left, during his trial and his 2013 Facebook profile pic with a goatee and tank top, to my eye, shows a remarkable resemblance but I still would like independent authentication that this is the same man.

When enlarged, the images clearly show the same clump of bushy eyebrows closer to the nose and thinner at the sides. The nostrils also share the same angular shape.

This may be Helvey's former wife and mother of his kids, in a picture posted in March 2013. A comment mentions how the children have grown, indicating the person is familiar with this family.

Looks as though Helvey sent a text in July 2013 on a smartphone to a Becky who may be his sister, as there is a Becky Helvey among the Facebook account's friends. Helvey must have had a parole hearing and his bid for freedom denied. Curious if he made another bid to get outta prison, as he promised, in 2015.

In August 2013, Helvey or someone on the outside acting on his behalf, shared this info:

"I haven't written anything in a while, so I suppose this is a good time to do so:) As you can see by my new 'single' status, the divorce went through. Pretty easy process thankfully. It was the best decision for us to make and I feel very comfortable with it. So, that chapter is closed. I am still doing the prison thing, which kind of sucks, but hey, that chapter will close soon too. Just have to be patient."

Yeah, I don't imagine doing the prison thing is anything other than something that sucks, which won't be over for a number of years.

When I hear from the authorities at the Greenville federal penitentiary, I'll share their response.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Top Write-In Vote-Getter in San Francisco Mayor's Race!

The Department of Elections recently certified the vote counts for San Francisco's November 3rd races and I'm gratified to report receiving the highest total of votes among all write-in candidates.

I was the only candidate to break into the double-digits and registered 0.02% of all votes cast.

Not bad for a campaign with a budget of zero! This was my second race for office and I'm proud to have participated as a candidate before the voters two years running.

Many thanks to all who supported my campaign and who engaged with me, as I distributed business cards and gathered signatures to become a qualified write-in challenger.

Feels great to have played a small role in this election, in which 44 percent of those who voted said no to Mayor Ed Lee.

Let's feed two birds with one seed and celebrate the thirty-six votes that came my way and the fact that those votes didn't go to the incumbent.

What office will I run for next year?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Delightful Mummenschanz Entertains in Berkeley

One my cultural highlights in the late 1970s was twice seeing the Swiss mask-oriented Mummenschanz troupe unleash their original props and surrealist visions on the audience. Some of their work was trippy but no drugs were necessary to see visionary and humorous movement on the Mummenschanz stage

Decades later, I can still recall with clarity and much bemusement some scenes from those shows in the 1970s, and it's with tremendous pleasure that I will soon introduce Mike to the wonders of the troupe.

Mummenschanz is playing at Zellerbach Hall on the Cal campus for two remaining shows, on Saturday, Nov. 28th at 2 pm and also Sunday, Nov. 29th at 3 pm. For more info and to order tickets, click here.

Mike and I are catching the Sunday performance and we're making plans to enjoy a good meal in Berkeley afterward, and taking in the sights and forest smells of the Cal campus beforehand.

Don't miss out on seeing the hugely talented and delightful Mummenschanz folks before the weekend is over! Your inner child and funny bone will thank you.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving With Family & Love

Greetings to all! Mike and I have enjoyed today with my brother John visiting from Miami, hanging out along the wharves of San Francisco. It was a brisk but not too chilly day along the Bay. Being with family was terrific. Wishing everyone an enjoyable and loving Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Truck Hits Hydrant, Wasting Water from Gorgeous Geyser

Remember my post and video from May about a truck knocking over the fire hydrant on our block, creating a river in the street as the water flowed into the sewers?

Well, on Tuesday, November 17th, another truck hit the same hydrant and the result was similar to what happened in May.

A geyser of water shot up into the air on Clinton Park, for about ten minutes before fire fighters arrived to cap the gusher.

The problem appears to be truckers park their vehicles half on the sidewalk and half on the street, a few feet above the hydrant on the sloped section of our block, and when they shift gears and their trucks lurch forward by accident, the hydrant gets knocked over with ease. Too much ease!

Yes, the geyser was a gorgeous thing for the eye to behold but the thousands of gallons of water wasted, especially during this horrible drought, was thankfully stopped by the fire fighters in a relatively short amount of time.

Maybe it's time for the City to erect a barrier around the hydrant or find other means of preventing another geyser. Check out this video:

Monday, November 16, 2015

PC Problems & 1,700 Write-Ins Uncounted

My desktop computer experienced terrible problems last week, after an automatic Windows Vista updating on my system caused trouble. Had to bring my PC into the repair shop and the small problem was solved but I need to upgrade my system.

With the troubles and shop repair, I took a bit of a break from the web.

Regarding the write-in tally for votes cast almost two weeks ago, the San Francisco Elections Department has accumulated about 1,700 write-ins of which only 59 have been counted.

My vote total stands at 36 and all other write-in candidates are below 10 votes each, so far.

The department has until December 1st to certify the San Francisco results, as required by state law, and then the numbers are turned over to the Secretary of State in Sacramento.

Until that date, the department will release the latest counts every work day at 4 pm at City Hall and on the elections web site.

Will the San Francisco write-ins for mayor be more fully counted today or tomorrow?

Photo snapped by Bill Wilson.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

978 Write-In Votes Need Counting by Elections Dept
It was quite a low turnout for last week's election in San Francisco and the underwhelming number of voters had no impact on the Elections Department, in terms of counting the 978 mayoral write-in ballots.
Today's new numbers show 32 write-ins tallied with yours truly in the lead, wow, with 16 votes which equals to 0.01% of total ballots cast. Should it take more than a week for our local election officials to determine write-ins?
I don't think so and now is a good time for the department to develop a sub-group of counters, solely for write-ins, and better practices that would give candidates and voters answers more quickly.

Bach's Brandenburgs Played This Week Around SF Bay Area

It's a bit embarrassing to confess I've never had the pleasure of hearing these concertos performed live, after decades of listening to Bach's music played in concert halls here and abroad. That's soon changing. I'm attending the Thursday, November 12 performance by this orchestra of well-earned renown at the Herbst Theater. What better venue to give the ears a treat from dear old Johann Sebastian than this newly, and fabulously, restored and spiffed up hall? Excepts from the orchestra's release:

In November, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra welcomes acclaimed conductor and harpsichordist from the Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr, pictured, to guest conduct the orchestra in historically informed performances of Bach’s popular Brandenburg Concertos.

Egarr is listed as both conductor and harpsichordist for these concerts as he will perform as part of the ensemble. “This repertoire is really big chamber music and it’s important, I feel, not to be conducting something like the Brandenburgs” says Egarr.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra music director, Nicholas McGegan – who is celebrating his 30th season with the orchestra – selected the repertoire as the second concert set of the 2015/2016 season. “[The Brandenburgs] are some of the most wonderful of all Baroque music. Bach wrote them in the teens of the 18th century. They are wonderful for Philharmonia because they feature so many of the musicians in a solo role” says McGegan.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra will perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1, 3, 5 and 4 with Richard Egarr throughout the San Francisco Bay Area starting November 12 at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco followed by a sold-out performance at Bing Concert Hall in Palo Alto on November 13 and at Berkeley's First Congregational Church on Saturday, November 14 and Sunday November 15. Tickets start at $25. For more information about the concerts and tickets, click here:

Monday, November 09, 2015

Navy's File Reveals Truth Behind Gay Sailor Schindler's Murder

Many thanks to my longtime, dear friend and comrade in the struggle Jay Blotcher for his editorial assistance in creating this package of info. We both advocated for justice on behalf of Allen Schindler and this week, as the nation marks Veterans Day, we're here to bear witness to the U.S. military's complicity in Schindler's demise and honor this fallen gay youth. Read on.

SAN FRANCISCO – The truth behind the 1992 gay-bashing murder of US Navy serviceman Allen Schindler has finally been uncovered.

The 900-page file from the United States Navy has only been made public now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request made by veteran gay activist Michael Petrelis of San Francisco. Buried in these pages are eight startling facts previously not made public.

Schindler, a young U.S. sailor, was stationed in Sasebo, Japan. After numerous episodes of harassment and beatings, Schindler sought to get out of the military. However, on October 27, 1992, Schindler was brutally beaten and killed by two fellow sailors. The murder took place in a men's restroom on the grounds of a public park. His head was bashed repeatedly against a urinal so violently that the porcelain broke. Schindler’s own mother, Dorothy Hadjys, was unable to identify the mutilated and disfigured corpse.

The murder took place during a time when President Bill Clinton was reviewing the military’s policy of excluding gay and lesbian people from the military, and the decades of abuse – and killings – inflicted upon suspected homosexuals while serving their country.

The Navy covered up the Schindler killing, granting a sweetheart immunity plea bargain to one of the suspects, Charles Vins, and convicting the other, Terry Helvey. But gay friends of Schindler's demanded that justice be served; they shared information about the miscarriage of justice with the Stars & Stripes newspaper, which wrote the first news story about the murder.

Lawyers for the killer attempted to use a gay-panic defense, with their client erroneously claiming Schindler had tried to entice the suspects into sex inside the restroom. Even though two sailors admitted causing bodily harm on Schindler, only one received an appropriate sentence.

Activist Michael Petrelis, a member of the direct-action organization Queer Nation, traveled twice to Japan to research the case. His travel was sponsored by many LGBT activists. Petrelis lobbied energetically on behalf of justice for Schindler, and to hold the Navy accountable.

“Allen Schindler was destined to become yet another gay man killed and forgotten,” said Michael Petrelis. “Now, 23 years after his death, we finally share the full details of his murder. In doing so, we honor his memory on Veterans Day 2015. People must know the role that governmental homophobia played in his murder and the subsequent cover-up.”

Mr. Petrelis is sharing the Allen Schindler file here with reporters who plan to file a story on the case. He has highlighted eight salient facts about the gay-bashing murder that have never been shared before with the media or public.

The U.S. Navy’s Gay Witch Hunt: 8 Facts About the Schindler Murder

Here are the major revelations in the Allen Schindler file, unveiled for the first time:

1. A Sodomy Witch Hunt: During its wide-ranging and comprehensive criminal investigation, the Naval Investigative Service questioned Schindler's acquaintances in the service. However, telling the truth about Schindler made his colleagues vulnerable to persecution under the military’s archaic anti-sodomy laws. (Pages 286 - 297)

2. Constant Anti-Gay Harassment: Allen Schindler's berthing area on his ship, the USS Belleau Wood, was defaced with the words "ball-gazer" – just one part of a constant and escalating campaign of homophobic harassment he faced from fellow sailors. (Page 729)

3. A Diary of Persecution: Allen Schindler meticulously chronicled the anguish and abuse he experienced in a diary he kept in the weeks leading up to his murder. The entire diary, part of the evidence at trial, is now available to the media. (Pages 379-412)

4. Public Humiliation: Radioman Petty Officer Schindler filed for a discharge because of his homosexuality and requesting a closed and private hearing. Instead, sadistically, the ship's captain discussed the matter in front of other shipmates, accelerating the climate of danger that led to Schindler’s brutal killing. (Page 133)

5. Private Humiliation: Medical examiners performed post-mortem rape protocol tests on Schindler’s corpse by taking a rectal swab and mouth smear. (Page 570)

6. Perjury: Terry Helvey, the convicted killer now serving a life sentence at the Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary, initially made a bogus confession to naval authorities. Later, it was amended in his own hand-writing and presented to the judge, including honest details of the fatal beating and killing of Allen Schindler. (Page 608)

7. Beaten to Death: Accomplice Charles Vins, who served only four-months in the brig in exchange for testimony against Helvey, confessed to kicking and stomping Schindler as he lay dying on the public restroom floor. Vins also admitted guilt to a sodomy charge, but did not name his sexual partner. Because of his sweetheart deal, Vins was protected from the typical punishment for servicemen convicted for sodomy. He was ultimately given an honorable discharge in June, 1993. (Pages 27, 753-761)

8. Gay Media Watchdogs: The Navy closely monitored the gay media's coverage of the investigation and trial, paying particular attention to stories in San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, Chicago’s Windy City Times and San Diego’s Update. (Pages 133, 182 - 186)

9. The Murder Scene: Local Japanese police in Sasebo took extensive photographs of the crime scene within hours of Schindler's brutal death. These graphic images were shared with the Naval investigators, who nonetheless covered up the facts. (Pages 516-562)

ATTENTION MEDIA: Michael Petrelis is available for interviews about his years of investigation into the Allen Schindler murder case. He can also make available three additional files in connection with the Schindler case. Call (415) 621-6267 or email