Monday, February 29, 2016

Homeless 'Shabby Chic' in Pacific Heights: Video

In all my years of traveling home from The Vogue Theater in Pacific Heights after catching a flick, I've never seen a homeless person settling in for the night on the sidewalk or in front of a business. Last Wednesday, February 24, that changed.

I was riding past the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture emporium at Sacramento and Baker Streets, and there was homeless man preparing to bed down in the store's vestibule.

This sight was so odd I had to capture it on video.

Let's place higher taxes on all the profitable tech firms across San Francisco and use the money for enhanced social services and construction of low-cost and affordable housing, to help folks like the man in this video.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

11 Best Films of 2015: 'Saul' to 'Tangerine' & 'Pigeon'

Before we all settle in front of the TV for this year's Oscar telecast, I'm presenting my list of the best flicks to flash in front of my eyes in 2015. It's never too late to present movie-love lists.

1. I've seen the Hungarian "Son of Saul" twice and plan a third trip to the theater for another viewing. Yes, it's that amazing. A Holocaust story that pushed the boundaries of such narratives and with virtuoso cinematography and flawless sound design. Brutal humanity in a soulless death camp. First seen at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Deserve every accolade it receives.

2. With beautiful production design in service to the plot and creative team in front of and behind the camera, "Carol" knocked my socks off. Another triumph for auteur Todd Haynes with flourishes of melodrama to make Douglas Sirk and Rainer Fassbinder proud - and envious. Should have received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture of the Year.

3. A bravura look at the iconic life and career of musician and political advocate Nina Simone, director Liz Garbus's documentary revealed the majestic heights and travesties of her life. "What Happened, Miss Simone?" brought this brilliantly talented woman back to life and seeing it with an appreciative audience, thanks to the San Francisco Film Society made for a magical screening.

4. From Romania, the black and white epic "Aferim!" opened a window into gypsy slavery and feudal rulers in the 1800s countryside, in a widescreen format perfect for adding dusty and dank atmosphere to the plot. Wicked comedic relief as horrors for a runaway slave returned to his owner, leading to castration. Seen at the Mill Valley Film Festival and later enjoyed a short commercial run.

5. Who needs the spoken word? From Ukraine, "The Tribe" used only sign-language and pure cinema to show the sexual and moral depravity of teenagers at a state-run school for the deaf. Cast of amateurs are (sometimes too) believable rough and raw, a truly unique work with tight cinematography. Made its local debut at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

6. Philippine auteur Lav Diaz's epic, "From What is Before", examines 1970s life in a village as the Marcos regime is fighting Marxist guerrillas. Told over nearly six-hours, long takes and luminous cinematography illustrate a poverty-stricken community's struggle for dignity and security. Brought to us by the adventuresome programmers at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room.

7. The master of the dramatic historical Hollywood film with a robust dose of actual truth, Steven Spielberg, chilled and thrilled me with his Cold War drama "Bridge of Spies" and Mark Rylance shone as a Soviet spy on trial. Terrific camerawork and from a terrific screenplay co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen.

8. In a single long and un-edited take, "Victoria" followed an attractive young woman meeting a handsome street boy-thug in a Berlin techo dance club and their criminal spree across the city's gritty landscape. More than stunt-filmmaking - a new extended way of telling cinematic tales.

9. The queerest film this year, "Tangerine", directed by straight-boy Sean Baker, took us on a wild quest tracking a black trans street sex worker, just outta the slammer, and her blabbermouth BFF, hunting for her boyfriend pimp who's been cheating on her was an extraordinary jolt of DIY-moviemaking. Another film seen thanks to the San Francisco Film Society.

10. It took decades for master Russian director Aleksei German's "Hard to Be a God" to reach the screen and it is a glorious, mostly incomprehensible film overflowing with bodily fluids and cruelty. As with all German's works, scenes are crammed to the hilt with stunning compositions, made all the more eye-pleasing in black and white. Thanks to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room for scheduling three screenings.

11. Droll, with a drab color design and still gorgeous to look at, "A Pigeon Sat on Branch Reflecting Existence" contained absurd characters in a series of fixed-camera scenes, inducing chuckles. That this latest head-scratcher from Swedish director Roy Andersson received distribution in U.S. arthouses is testament that there is a theatrical audience for challenging independent film. Gratitude goes out to the Roxie Theater for playing this film.

Check out these films. What were your best-loved films of last year?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SF Chronicle Editor Fellates Willie Brown 4 Times on 1 Day

Truly independent and balanced journalism is dead at the San Francisco Chronicle and one need look no further than then the Sunday, February 21st edition for proof of deep bias and favoritism at the paper.

No, I'm not referring to columnist C.W. Nevius' continuous stenography services for Scott Wiener, but that is one more example of the low journalism standards of the Hearst-owned publication.

The editor, Audrey Cooper, fancies herself "independent in all things" according to her Twitter profile but when it comes to power-broker and ethically-challenged former mayor Willie Brown, a columnist for her rag, she's a co-opted journalist.

In his latest weekly love-letter to himself and assorted pals, Brown brags about using the Department of Public Works to house down the homeless on City sidewalks in early morning hours, when he was mayor. Cooper's blow job number one on Brown this week.

On the same day, political gossips Matier & Ross followed Cooper's lead and performed oral sex on Brown, allowing him to opine about a recently deceased friend. This is blow job number two by Cooper.

The Style Section's society columnist, Catherine Bigelow, sucked Brown's dick on Sunday and conveniently omitted his status as a Chronicle writer and called a "civic mastermind." Blow job number three from editor Cooper.

Not content with just text about Brown's latest collaboration with social matron Charlotte Shultz, there was also a photo of them with Tony Bennett accompanying the piece. Cooper's fourth fellating of Brown.

You don't have to dig deep to find political favoritism in Audrey Cooper's SF Chronicle.

Monday, February 22, 2016

'Gascon = Corruption' Zap Expose's DA's PR Stunt Panel

Put this at the forefront of your understanding of what California attorney general wannabe George Gascon is up to with his ridiculously named SFPD cop accountability panel: it's all a PR stunt to burnish his image.

Such pretension of grand justice: the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement.

The panel was created by Gascon, he picked the director from PolicyLink, a progressive nonprofit with four offices across the country including Oakland, he selected the three retired judges on the panel, the agenda is set by Gascon and his panel behind closed doors.

From the police commission, with its regular meetings at City Hall and unofficial listening sessions, the establishment of a joint task force between the Dept of Justice and the SFPD, which will soon hold hearings, and the three meetings of Gascon's PR panel, we're fed a diet of Law Enforcement Inc activity that we think is taking into account community demands for policing changes.

But it's all window dressing for the decisions that the Mayor and his cronies created without any public hearings, announced today at City Hall and additional new strategies like stun guns for cops.

There hasn't been a single vote at the too-close-to-the-brass-for-comfort police commission since Mario Woods was killed by the cops on December 2, yet commissioners are all over the Law Enforcement Inc activity map, giving their implicit approval to what the Mayor announced today. More blather.

This video was shot around 2:30 pm on February 22 at the main branch of the public library.

DA Gascon's SFPD Transparency Panel Breaking FOIA Laws?

Ambitious political animal and San Francisco's district attorney George Gascon last year established the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement. He received a bit of gushing media coverage with no questions asked by reporters regarding open govt laws applying to the panel.

For some odd reason, the Justice 4 Mario Woods coalition is doing PR work for Gascon by promoting the panel's meeting today, Monday, February 22, from 2:30 to 5:30 pm at the main branch of the public library at Grove and Market Streets. The Facebook page for the meeting raises no questions about the panel, which surely pleases the DA's office.

Gascon alone picked the panelists, hardly a sign of community involvement or transparency, and the leader of is Anand Subramanian of the nonprofit, PolicyLink, which has posted a two-page explanation detailing how the DA controls this process. They claim, "The Panel is operating as a passive meeting body pursuant to San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 67.4", and that law states the following:

"(1) Such gatherings need not be formally noticed, except on the City's website whenever possible, although the time, place and nature of the gathering shall be disclosed upon inquiry by a member of the public, and any agenda actually prepared for the gathering shall be accessible to such inquirers as a public record."

Gascon's site contains no agenda for the meeting today and no agendas for previous hearings, and forget about any minutes. This lack of sunshine over Gascon's alleged accountability and transparency panel is the basis of my complaint filed today with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

Bear in mind, the SOTF's recent annual report labeled Gascon as woefully ignoring his open govt enforcer duties: "The District Attorney's office has failed to respond to any referral for enforcement from the Task Force, including a failure to provide any explanation to the Task Force or the underlying complainant. Enforcement of the [Sunshine] ordinance is essential to protecting the public's right to open government."

The only addy for the panel is not one with an "" email and it is where I've sent this letter, requesting more info about today's meeting and raising necessary questions about the supposed independence of this body and why the Justice 4 Mario Woods coalition is shilling for the DA.

Let's hope cop accountability activists bring much-needed scrutiny to the PR ploys of Gascon. I'll let you know when a reply comes from the blue ribbon panel's addy:

"Who are you, the person who handles this addy,, and are you a staffer for Gascon and his DA office? I am concerned that Gascon is using this panel to further his own career.

"He set up the panel, decided who would serve on it and so far has not posted any agendas of previous hearings or minutes of them. Why are there no community members on the panel and only judges, selected by Gascon, who will issue a report at some unspecified date. Alarms are going off in terms of, um, accountability and transparency, that there is no public agenda or anything of substance about Gascon's panel on the DA's site.

"Just a press release announcing the expansion of the panel last year,, and nothing about who the other members of the panel are. On Gascon's opening page,, there is an alert about the three hour Feb 22 meeting and no agenda shared with the public. 

"Curious to learn who operates this FB page,, is it Gascon or the friends of Mario Woods?

"Frankly, as someone who had Gascon gear up the law enforcement machinery against me in 2012/2013, and who has taken him to task at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force for numerous transparency violations, I think Gascon is part of the police/law enforcement accountability problem and not a key player toward solutions that serve the community.

"Do you really think the former head of the SFPD gonna deliver genuine cop accountability, especially he's refused to indict any cop-killers? Questions need to be answered about the lack of transparency with Gascon's panel. Exactly at what time tomorrow is public comment and who's running the show at the library, the community or Gascon? Answers please!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Oscar Doc on Executed Black Man Funded by SF Arts Agency

As an individual due-paying member of the Roxie Theater on 16th Street, I was happy to find fifty other people at a recent screening of Oscar nominated short documentaries. Always good to catch films there with an appreciative audience.

One of the richly-deserved nominated docs is "Last Day of Freedom" directed by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman, a queer married couple based in San Francisco's Mission District. Their terrific and contemplative film delves into how one black man was executed in America, told in a hand-drawn style. They describe their doc thus:

"When Bill Babbitt realizes his brother Manny has committed a crime he agonizes over his decision - should he call the police? "Last Day of Freedom," a richly animated personal narrative, tells the story of Bill’s decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime and capital punishment. The film is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day – veterans’ care, mental health access and criminal justice."

I highly recommend this short doc, which airs on February 22 at 7:30 pm on KQED in the Bay Area.

At the end of the film and on their web site, Hibbert-Jones and Talisman acknowledge and thank the San Francisco Arts Commission for their support. I reached out to Kate Patterson at the commission for details about any City funds that went toward creating this movie and she replied:

"I asked our grant staff and they indicated that this would have been an Individual Artist Grant. I looked in our database and found that one of the filmmakers Dee Hibbert-Jones received a $8,500 Individual Artist Grant in 2009."

Public money well-spent for this artistic and anti-capital punishment film. Watch this clip from KQED from "Last Day of Freedom" and tell your social media networks to tune in on Monday and see the entire doc:


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SOTF: DA Gascon Broke FOIA Law, Fails to Enforce Sunshine

Ambitious political animal George Gascon is very selective about which laws he'll follow and enforce as the district attorney of San Francisco. 

Regarding open govt statutes, he was found numerous times in violation of access to public records by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force for failure to maintain and release a daily work calendar. 

In July 2015, the task force unanimously voted to find him guilty of noncompliance with City law. Quite telling of Gascon's attitude towards transparency and accountability to the citizens of San Francisco.

Gascon is supposed to not only follow sunshine laws but also enforce them and on that front, he's an abysmal failure, as documented in the most recent annual report from the task force which stated:

"The District Attorney's office has failed to respond to any referral for enforcement from the Task Force, including a failure to provide any explanation to the Task Force or the underlying complainant. Enforcement of the [Sunshine] ordinance is essential to protecting the public's right to open government."

Pretty strong words and condemnation from the sunshine panel. Gascon doesn't follow the sunshine law, won't enforce findings of the SOTF and gives them and the public no answers about why he flagrantly ignores access to govt documents statutes.

Gascon blowing off sunshine laws as not applying to him and his office, and ignoring SOTF calls for enforcement against violators, is a blot of shame on the district attorney and his staff.

Monday, February 15, 2016

City Atty: Mario Woods Killing on Cop Commission Agenda?

After a complaint is lodged with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force alleging a violation in open govt laws and it's accepted for processing, the City Attorney weighs in on legal questions.

In the matter of my complaint being heard tomorrow, in which I allege the police commission's January 6th agenda omitted the murder of Mario Woods as agendized, yet the police chief and commissioners debated the killing most substantively, deputy city attorney Jerry Threet responds for the City.

Supporting documents including Threet's full response are online. He asks:

"In other words, would a person of average intelligence and education, who was interested in the police killing of Mario Woods and its aftermath, be alerted by the agenda description in question that he or she may have reason to attend the Police Commission meetings or seek more information on the items?"

Here's the pertinent section of the January 6th meeting. The name Mario Woods is absent. It's time for the San Francisco Police Commission to formally agendize the killing of this young black man.

The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, and representatives of the SFPD and commission who will be in attendance, considers the City Attorney's question tomorrow, Tuesday, February 16 at 4 pm in Room 408 at City Hall.

SOTF Hearing on 2/16: Police Agendas Omit Mario Woods Killing

On December 2, a young black male named Mario Woods was murdered by members of the San Francisco police force in a hail of 20 bullets. He was surrounded by firing squad and at the time of his death didn't possess a firearm. Videos of him moments before he died, show him with his hands down at his hips.

Since then, the police commission has omitted his killing from their agendas. Not once does the name Mario Woods appear on the advance agendas of the six meetings held since early December.

The commission and Chief of Police Greg Suhr think it's alright to simply say their reports are about recent activities with no specifics. The quartet of excerpted recent agendas, above, proves my point.

Too often, I show up for hearings and the reports, always presented verbally and never in writing, seem to be whatever pops into their minds of the commission president and chief. That is no way to run an effective and accountable law enforcement body.

Yes, the Woods killing has been discussed at the commission hearings but that is no excuse for the commissioners to not formally agendize his death and the subsequent fallout and controversy.

The omission of Woods' death is the basis for my complaint before the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 16 at 4 pm, the SOTF's compliance committee will consider my complaint in Room 408 at City Hall.

If you're not satisfied with how the police commission can't formally put the Mario Woods death-by-cops matter on their agenda and want to improve how their meetings are conducted and what is debated, please show up at tomorrow's SOTF hearing and speak up for change.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rainbow Grocery's Homeless Tent City Action Alert Issued

They're not going away and more of them are expected in coming weeks. Homeless folks living in Tent City along Division Street in SoMa have pressing public health concerns impacting them and the wellness of the areas in which they find themselves on the street.

After months of being a central bathroom and hangout location in the heart of Tent City, the Rainbow Grocery worker's cooperative has in recent days issued a call to action with a paper flyer.

Available at all checkout lanes and the customer service desk, the flyer's front answers the question of what's going on with the homeless encampments around Rainbow. 

While recognizing the need for affordable, low-income housing for homeless people and engage them to contribute to our society, Rainbow workers ask City Hall to address these matters immediately:

Install public toilets, garbage receptacles that are emptied on a daily basis, syrine needle clean ups, sidewalks and streets cleaned every day, water and sanitation facilities, and mental health professionals.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Will City Hall leaders heed the requests of Rainbow workers? To encourage action from elected officials and law enforcement agencies, the flyer's back provides contact info for Mayor Lee, the Board of Supervisors, the DA and SFPD, the mayor's homeless coordinator Sam Dodge and DPW.

Somethings's gotta be done because the status quo is intolerable. The Super Bowl's over. Where's Mayor Lee's homeless solutions plan?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Peter Greene, Longterm SF Castro AIDS Survivor, Has Died

(Photo credit: Suri Staver,

This past Tuesday, I met up with Erin Allday from the SF Chronicle's medical desk to chat about her upcoming package of stories about longterm gay HIV poz men in the Bay Area. One man she's profiling is Peter Greene, a friend and object of masculine lust for myself and a lotta other queer dudes and totally charming fella.

Today I visited his Now Voyager travel agency storefront in the Castro, wrote him a note of affection and love, slipped it into his mailbox slot then asked neighbors where he was.

Peter apparently passed away yesterday from internal bleeding brought on by a tumor that couldn't be stanched. I was told he didn't live long after getting to the hospital.

The news hit me hard, losing another queer poz brother. Been thinking about the good times when my life-path crossed Peter's, his battles with his various demons, losing his friend and business partner Jonathan Klein to suicide, and saluting him for keeping the travel agency going.

(Photo credit: Unknown, Bear Magazine, early 1990s.)

Peter's iconic erotica gave much sexual healing to his brothers, during the darkest crap that was AIDS in the plague years, helping us to survive and die with dignity.

Rest in peace, my friend. You earned it. Glad to have known you, Peter Greene!

Who'll Control SF's New $8,500 LGBT Public Flagpole?

Many moons ago, I was part of a coalition staging a memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza for slain Ugandan gay leader David Kato that wanted to lower the rainbow flag to half staff in his honor.

We all soon learned an important piece of queer public space, the flagpole, was actually controlled by the private merchants group thanks to a verbal agreement with the City.

The Castro Merchants are obstinate control queens who choose to thwart community debate about a transparent process over who retains the keys to the flagpole, and the business owners bar any change in how they display the rainbow flag - always at full staff and never is another flag allowed to be flown.

The San Francisco Planning Commission today votes on a proposal for a fee waiver that would move forward the plan for the LGBT and kink public space known as the Eagle Plaza. That space will include a flagpole.

It's my hope the commission members address control issue now and that we avoid the Milk Plaza situation and control of community property by an elitist commercial organization. Here's the letter I've sent to the commissioners and commission secretary, asking that my statement be included in the minutes:

Dear Commissioners,

The proposal for the Eagle Plaza mentions creation of a flagpole at a cost of $8,500 in taxpayer dollars, and I support this project in its totality and specifically spending money on the furnishing that will allow LGBT people and allies to raise and lower flag for various purposes.

However, there is no explanation as to who will control the flagpole and how decisions will be made regarding when and how to alter the display of banners and flags.

I'm requesting that the developer, with whom I have left vmail, forthwith present written guidance as to how flagpole control issues will be processed, once the Eagle Plaza is created and operational for public use.

Before you vote today, please raise these issues with the developer and express support for a truly transparent community process requiring public domain, and not a private business organization, over the keys to the flagpole.

Queer cheers,
Michael Petrelis

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

SF Chronicle Journalist Donated $1000 to Wiener

All too frequently, the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle serves as the mouthpiece in news stories and editorials for Scott Wiener and you'll often find columnist Chuck Nevius provides stenography services for this ambitious politician.

The latest example of Nevius' slavish stenography for Wiener appeared today. I expected to find that Nevius had donated money to one of Wiener's various campaign committees, but his name doesn't show up among the supervisor's donors.

However, photojournalist Lea Suzuki likes Wiener's politics so much she has twice donated to him.

In 2010, Suzuki cut him a check for $500 for his supervisorial run and in 2012 she made a second $500 donation, this time to his campaign for the Democratic County Central Committee, according to SF Ethics records.

Seems clear to me that Chronicle editorial side employees adore Wiener and provide him with acres of free ink, while there is no prohibition on Hearst journalists, and photographers are journalists in my view, contributing to politicians they cover.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

VisionSF Party: Our Goals & Agenda for 2016 Elections

Given the epidemic of disgust in San Francisco with the Democratic County Central Committee, City Hall sleaze, the corruption of Democratic clubs and too many nonprofits their community organizers (many from the East Bay) looking for p.r. and grants, there's real hunger among a lot of folks for an truly alternative organization or network open to all.

Unfortunately, the local Green Party is not the vehicle or home for those of us looking to put our energy into an effective group. Even though their mayoral candidate Francisco Herrera in November came in a solid second against Ed Lee, the Greens did nothing of significance to build on their electoral accomplishment. 

No big outreach to voters, no meetings scheduled, no nothing on their website since November. Yeah, three months after the election, the Greens of San Francisco haven't updated their home page. If you can't even maintain a damn decent web site, how the hell do you expect to pull in folks to your party and achieve realistic goals?

A tipster sent this alert from the VisionSF organizers. Maybe they'll do a better job of political organizing and tapping into progressive disgust with the status quo. Make of this what you will:

Hi VisionSF activists. 

Our steering committee had a very productive meeting on Friday Jan. 22. We'd like to tell you the highlights and to invite you to our next general meeting, which will be held on Friday, Feb. 19-6 pm, at the Women's Building Auditorium, 3543 18th Street.

As you know, 2016 will be a very important election year, not just nationally, but in SF, where control of the Board of Supervisors is at stake, as well as the important State Senate race to replace Mark Leno. VisionSF has decided to hold several public events in each of the supervisor districts where progressive candidates will be involved in close, key races. These events, which will be modeled on our successful Brava Theater "coming out party" last fall, will combine speeches, musical performances and other entertainment -- and will channel this energy into the district races.

VisionSF will by supporting the following candidates for Supervisor this year:
Dist. 1 -- Sandy Fewer
Dist. 3 -- Aaron Peskin
Dist. 5 -- Dean Preston
Dist. 7 -- Norman Yee
Dist. 9 -- Hillary Ronen
Dist. 11 -- Kim Alvarenga

In addition, we will be backing Jane Kim for State Senate.

This is the year that VisionSF will seek to have a significant impact on the political dialogue in San Francisco. We feel that the issues of housing displacement and citizens control of the police are particularly urgent issues, where our voice needs to be heard. 

For VisionSF to go to the next level of political engagement, we will be taking steps to formally organize, so we can begin raising funds and making political endorsements. Several members of VisionSF have generously promised to make a financial commitment to the organization, so our fundraisers can hit the ground running as soon as we are officially registered. And to ensure that VisionSF stays on track between meetings, we are pleased to announce that we will be hiring a half-time executive director, former Supervisor and Planning Commission president (and longtime activist and VisionSF member), Christina Olague.

To put our ideas into action, we are forming three committees -- Fundraising, Media and Outreach. The following VisionSF members will be serving on these committees. If you're interested in getting involved with any of these working groups, please contact us and and we'll bring you on board.

David Talbot
Christina Olague
Tim Redmond
David Carlos Salaverry
Lia Salaverry

Julie Levak-Madding
Tim Redmond
David Talbot

Gordon Chin
Calvin Welch
Christina Olague
Spike Kahn

We look forward to seeing you on Friday, Feb.19. It's going to be an exciting year.

Contact David Talbot or Christina Olague for more information on how to get involved.

...our Mission Statement...

It’s Time to Take Back San Francisco
A broad coalition of San Francisco residents is coming together to meet the challenge of a great city in crisis.  Whether or not we have always agreed, we are united in our understanding that powerful players, unconcerned with the public interest, now dominate City Hall. We know it is up to us, the people of San Francisco, to turn things around. And now.
We believe a sustainable city, like a natural ecosystem, requires diversity to thrive. where everyone is welcome, where diverse and engaged communities can work together to build a better future. We believe that the overwhelming majority of the city’s residents agree – and if we can mobilize, we can change the direction of San Francisco.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Wiener's Biggest Senate Donor is Castro Blight King Natali

The merchants of San Francisco's gayborhood are frequently bemoaning LGBT business owner Les Natali for his many empty storefronts, especially the long-for-lease old Patio venue on Castro Street.

In early September 2015, I blogged about Natali's donations to state senator Mark Leno, Supervisor David Campos and Scott Wiener's campaign for a Democratic County Central Committee seat and his 2014 reelection effort.

A few days after my post went up, Natali become what I believe is Wiener's largest individual donor to his campaign to succeed Leno in Sacramento.

A search today at the California Secretary of State's election finance page shows that on 9/11/2015, Natali gave a whopping $8,400 to Wiener's senate campaign.

If there's someone else who's equaled the Natali donations, I didn't see that info at the SoS's site, and if you know otherwise, lemme know and I'll amend this post.

Do these donations accepted by the Supervisor of the Castro show he puts getting elected to higher office above addressing the blight of empty businesses owned by Natali?
No Open Pozzie on NYC's HIV & Stigma Panel?

My question was provocative to Sarah Schulman and Steven Thrasher, two participants in the "Shifting the Stigma of HIV/AIDS" panel in March organized by the Center on LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS) at City University of New York.

Via Twitter, I asked, "No openly #HIV #poz folks on panel?" and my friend from our 1980s ACT UP/NYC days together and writer Sarah Schulman, who knows a few things about PWA (person with AIDS) empowerment, negative-splained her view: "Of course there are."

No, Sarah, my pozzie eyes don't see any panelists openly disclosing as living with HIV and its stigma.

Writer Steven Thrasher, who currently reports and opines for The Guardian, took great umbrage at my question and told me panelist Ian Bradley-Perrin was openly poz. Ok, but that disclosure is missing from the CLAGS announcement.

I asked CLAGS to formally respond via email to my concerns as a pozzie and Matt Brimm, an organizer of the panel who discloses his poz status, said:

"People living with HIV, myself included, are responsible for imaging and organizing the HIV Stigma panel, in close concert with writers who have been working on HIV/AIDS for decades. I am not on the panel, but Ian Bradley-Perrin is on the panel and is openly HIV positive. [...] Our intended audience is first and foremost people with HIV/AIDS.

"However, we did not list Ian’s status, and even though a quick google search clearly reveals just how public he has been as HIV positive, we could also have mentioned that in the brief bios. I was responsible for collecting the bios of the panelists and submitting them to CLAGS, and, because I was under some time pressure to get the bios turned in, I didn’t think to ask Ian if I could amend his bio paragraph to include his status. [...] I’m going to check with Ian about changing his bio on the website."

Sarah, Steve and Matt all raise the matter of me googling each panelist to discover if anyone is poz.

Frankly, as a longtime pozzie and advocate, telling me I have to google to learn if any panelist is poz and fill in their blanks feels disempowering to me. Just disclose and be done with it!

For me, empowerment equals questioning academics and reminding everyone of the Denver Principles, a set of recommendation developed in 1983 for persons living with HIV and AIDS and this key element:

 "Be included in all AIDS forums with equal credibility as other participants, to share their own experiences and knowledge."

Memo to CLAGS and other universities: Put openly poz people on your panels, disclose their status in announcements and raise the bar on empowerment of people with AIDS.