Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Write-In Petrelis 4 State Senate D11 Vid Now Online

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, my cameraman and prop master and makeup artist, alias my hubby Mike Merrigan, and I created this get-out-the-vote video.

We're promoting my write-in candidate for California's state senate seat for District 11 and also the Bernie Sanders for President campaign.

It was also time to show off my new Euro-style bike and its fabulous light blue metal frame, which matches my safety vest and helmet so well.

Only one more week till the June 7 primary!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Time: HRC's Griffin's Clinton Cabinet Post & WH Emails

Earlier this month, Time magazine's cover story on LGBT people generally, and transgender folks in particular, referenced ambitious Democratic gay leader Chad Griffin and where his career path may lead:

"On March 32, Chad Griffin, an activist who helped lead the fight for marriage equality and is now mentioned as a possible Cabinet Secretary in a Hillary Clinton Administration, met with North Carolina's Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, who had signed the bathroom bill."

Rather curious Time omitted the Human Rights Campaign entirely and failed to note Griffen is CEO of the group, which has endorsed Clinton for president and is devoting many resources to her election effort.

Griffin, who, like Bill Clinton, hails from Hope, Arkansas, worked for the First Couple in their White House press office starting in 1993 and left a relatively large paper trail stretching up to 1995.

Two years ago, I filed a FOIA request with the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock for Griffins emails and paper correspondence, and recently received a handful of pages out of the thousands of responsive public records located.

Bottom line: If we want to inspect Griffin's paper trail from his White House years, it's going to take crowdfunding $1,800 for documents we're not sure all of which will be relevant. I'll need assistance from others establishing a GoFundMe campaign.

Can you help obtain these public files? Let's make it plain from the start of this wider effort to make Griffin as fully transparent as possible: All records from the Clinton Library will be shared online for all to read.

Latest word from the library, after they provided me with about a dozen responsive pages:

"[We're] glad you found the sample interesting. In answer to your questions . . . Of course someone could come and visit the Library in person to view the records and take pictures, as long as the flash is turned off. He or she may also bring a flatbed scanner. There is no charge for taking pictures or scans of the records, and self-service copies in the research room are $0.25/page . . .  $1,800 is the best estimate of what it would cost for the Library to scan/copy the remaining records from this FOIA case. We will not have a final figure until the records have been scanned . . .  Of the approximately 2,287 pages in this FOIA case, 469 pages were either withheld or redacted, leaving about 1,818 pages open with no redactions."

Got a hankering to make a donation or otherwise assist in this sunshine project targeting Griffin's email trail? Leave a comment or email or give me a ring. Here are some of the records, in chronological order:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Mike + Mike = 20-Years of Names On Rental Lease

The Write-In Petrelis 4 State Senate D11 Team has an important announcement to share on this glorious spring day.

Many moons ago, on May Day of 1996, Mike and I moved into our apartment and made a warm home day-by-day in San Francisco's Mission District, almost a full-year after first meeting and falling in love.

We are celebrating twenty-years of a lotta great living, fabulous loving and good laffs together in the same rent-controlled apartment with both our names on the lease. This important document is what is in our hands in the foto.

Yep, 21-years together and 20-years in the same home.

Somehow, we haven't gotten around to getting legally hitched but for all queer intents and purposes, we're a married couple and proud of it.

Mike + Mike = survivors and thrivers. Thanks for joining us on our life journey together and wishing everyone a fabulous long, holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

NYT Errs: Gay Citations in State Dept Reports Since 1991

When George H. W. Bush was president, three LGBT activists met in April 1991 with the State Department's analyst who wrote the annual human rights report because for the first time, it included a single gay reference about legalization of gay marriage in Denmark.

Representing ACT UP/DC, Margaret Cantrell and I, along with the late Barrett Brick of the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organization, began the dialogue with the department leading to them greatly expanding gay and AIDS human rights advances and setbacks in the yearly surveys. Only gay reporter Rex Wockner covered the meeting and the Danish reference.

We and many other activists submitted documentation to the human rights desk at the department after that 1991 meeting and in 2005, when George W. Bush was in the White House, the annual reports included specific sections on gay and HIV concerns for the first time.

Today's Editorial Observer column in the New York Times by Ernesto Londono titled "America's Global Campaign for Gay Rights" is a gushing and glowing essay about the State Department's openly gay envoy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and issues, Randy Berry.

However, the column is marred by this error:

"The State Department’s annual human rights report recently began including a section on the state of L.G.B.T. rights in each country."

Nope, it's not a recent development at all and the New York Times needs to correct this error and point out the honest history about these annual human rights reports and LGBT persons.

I mention who was in the White House at the time of these significant advances on the global gay front because I believe they were ignored by Gay Inc organizations who were mum when the advances first happened, because LGBT executives are too tied to the Democratic Party and will do much to burnish the reputations of Democratic administrations, at the expense of the truth.

Finally, my friend Barrett Brick passed away in September 2013 and his obituary in the Washington Post highlighted the 1991 meeting at the State Department and his invaluable work to get LGBT and HIV references into the reports.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Secretary of State Qualifies My Write-In Candidacy

The California Secretary of State had to certify my paperwork to run as a write-in candidate for the State Senate District 11 seat and certification was completed earlier this week.

That meant the San Francisco Department of Election could properly list me on their June 7 primary election information page on campaigns and candidates. The department yesterday update that page to reflect the certification from Sacramento.

Very glad to have this matter taken care and again ask for your vote. Remember that after writing in my name to complete the arrow and use dark ink when doing so. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SF Sheriff: 76 In-Custody Deaths; 20 Blacks, 8 Suicides

Accountability of law enforcement agencies in San Francisco needs serious expansion and quickly too. It's is not enough to have only the police subject to the (minimal) oversight of the Police Commission and Office of Citizen Complaints, but at least those two limited mechanisms exist.

We need a new commission to process complaints and whatnot involving the Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney. Currently, if you want to complain to an outside party regarding the policies or personnel at those City agencies you're outta luck.

For example, I'd like to bring attention to the number of in-custody deaths either at facilities under the domain of the sheriff, eg, the county jails and courts, or where sheriff deputies guard inmates at local hospitals or otherwise at the hands of deputies.

My public records request to Sheriff Vicki Hennessy this week for data on all in-custody deaths stretching to whenever records were first kept on such fatalities, produced five-pages of responsive info. Let's go over the stats:

Years for which race data was omitted:

1994: 3
1995: 6
1996: 2
1997: 5
1998: 4
1999: 3
2000: 3
2001: 3
2002: 3
Sub-total = 41

Years for which race was included:

2004: 3
2005: 6
2006: 1
2007: 4
2008: 4
2009: 4
2010: 4
2011: 5
2012: 3
2013: 1
2014: 3
2015: 4
Subtotal = 35

Total = 76

Sheriff Hennessy's public info officer explains what was released:

"I have attached two documents responsive to your request: 'Death in Custody Cases 1994-Present' and 'Death in Custody Cases 2004 –Present'. The 1994-Present is for 1994 through 2003. The information during this time period covers name and date of incident.

"The 2004 – Present is for 2004 to present. This more current information includes DOB, age, race. The causes of death are health information and should be requested from the Medical Examiner’s Office. For 2010 – present, a notation is made for apparent suicide cases. The 'Charges' field has been redacted as it contains criminal history information."

From 2004-2015 the racial breakdown of the 35 deaths was as follows:

Asians: 4
Blacks: 20
Hispanics: 2
Whites: 15

The number of suicides during that period was 8. Over both periods, there were 6 deaths for females and 71 for males.

The 20 deaths for blacks out of 35 seems disproportionately high but, then again, blacks have higher rates of arrests and incarceration than other races in San Francisco.

Still, those 20 fatalities and all of these deaths while in sheriff's custody need to be part of the City's discussion about better policing and the larger context of law enforcement agencies and how they interact with civilians.

Here are the records released today, including the names of individuals:

Monday, May 23, 2016

SFPD's FOIA Portal, Gun Buyback Stats & Cost Revealed

An online public records portal has been established by the San Francisco Police Department, I was informed today in response to my latest requests, and this is a step forward expanding transparency at the agency. When the portal went live and who within the SFPD set it up are questions I've posed to the public info officers and will share the answers when I receive them.


"GovQA Public Portal went live on May 9th, 2016. We released a press release regarding GovQA which I attached to this email. Responsive documents will only be able to be viewed by the person who requested them. GovQA was brought about by the Legal Division and is currently being used by the Legal Division, Police Commission, Media Relations and will also be used by the Body Camera Unit. We are hoping to expand it to other units within the Police Department in order to streamline the PRA process."

The SFPD also informed me today they found more responsive records pertaining to my request for data about the cost of the gun buyback program. It appears the City spent $50,000 for the buybacks in 2007/2008 and the money was administered by the Delancey Street social services nonprofit. No further info on costs from other years was located.

Public records show a total of 224 guns and rifles were purchased and taken off the streets of San Francisco in 2007 but it's unclear if the $50,000 was spent just on those arms or some of the money was used in the following years.

Here are the numbers of gun for the years 2003 through April 2016, purchased via the buyback program:

2003: 129
2007: 224
2012: 290
2013: 224
2014: 343
2015: 331
2016: 101

Total comes to 1,642. I've posted the list of all guns purchased and broken down by year for all to read here.

Let's all keep the pressure on the police department to increase transparency and to change their use-of-force policies.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekend Woof #103: Handsome Guys on the SF Streets

It's quite satisfying to post the one-hundred-and-third edition in this continuing series of vids or fotos or both, of men and boys who catch my queer eye. A lot of fine dudes have graced the lens of my cameras. How was your week for cruising fellas pleasing to your sensibilities?


Saturday, May 21, 2016

New SFPD Chief Chaplin's Political Donations Reveal . . .

Mayor Ed Lee promised he would be only an interim chief executive when he was appointed to replace outgoing Gavin Newsom and he lied to the City, eventually running for a full term.

Bear that in mind as his newly-appointed chief of the San Francisco Police Department, Toney Chaplin, claims he's not interested the job on a permanent basis. We'll see about as the City gears up for a national search to hire a new top cop, now that Greg Suhr has been forced into retirement.

Let's follow the money Chaplin has donated over the years to politicians and PACs.

First. he's made no federal contributions. At the state level, he gave Mayor Lee's adviser Paul Henderson $250 in April for his campaign to become a Superior Court judge and $100 to the SF Police Officers Association's political action committee.

Second, his local donations include $100 in 1999 for Willie Brown's mayoral reelection and about $140 to the SF POA's issues PAC over the years.

Chaplin's political giving reveals support for two local politicians and the SF POA. Make of it what you will and let's make Chaplin's full resume and political leanings abundantly transparent. Same goes for any potential new permanent chief of police.
82 HIV Exposure Convictions In Missouri, No Race Data Released

Michael Johnson is in his early twenties and an African-American former student and champion wrestler who's HIV positive and serving 30-years in prison for violating one of Missouri's HIV felony exposure laws, and recklessly transmitted the virus.

We're snail-mail pen-pals and because of the injustice against him and my interest in those serving time in America's prisons for breaking HIV criminal statutes, I filed a public records request with the Missouri's Office of State Court Administrator.

Responsive records show a total of eighty-two guilty convictions since 1997 and 19 outstanding charges pending in the courts. The court administrator points out that the total number of charges is not reflective of cases, as there may be more than one charge affiliated with each case.

This page reflects data from 1997 through 2014 by year. I also requested addition information on the individuals prosecuted by the state and the court administrator withheld the records: "Please be aware that due to data quality issues, Gender, Age, Race, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity will not be provided. Additionally, providing of Party Names (PartyID) is not typically approved by the committee reviewing requests."

For Michael Johnson, a bit of good news came on April 20 when the Center for HIV Law and Policy announced the filing of a friend-of-the-court brief on his behalf, along with dozens of other advocacy organizations, seeking to overturn his unjust conviction.

Nothing but best wishes for a successful lawsuit leading to the freedom of Michael Johnson.

Friday, May 20, 2016

SF's Top Butt Doc Is Retiring After 36-Years of Service

At my last appointment with Dr. Robert A. Bush, he informed me that early next spring he's closing his proctology office at the Castro District at the Sutter Health's Davies campus. He's been providing medical care for a lot of butts for thirty-six years which, of course, includes the AIDS plague years.

Bob said it's time for him to do what he wants to with his husband and enjoy retirement together, and he wants his patients to have plenty of time to find other butt docs to see. Unfortunately, at this point, there are no other such physicians stepping forward to take over his practice.

Before leaving the examination room, I express thanks to Bob for his tremendous and outstanding dedicated service not only to Mike and myself but to all the gay men and others he's taken care of over the decades.

I also said many kinds word to his terrific staff, Cesar and Selene, for all of their service to myself and all the people who've passed their office.

One time at the Davies ER during a 2 am visit when I had horrible breathing problems, Bob was there tending to a patient with a rectal emergency. Until then, I had no idea he got out of bed at all hours to deal with patients in need at the ER.

It's so like Bob to inform me way in advance of his retirement about him closing down his practice.

This means there won't be a proctologist in the Castro area, a big loss. Hard to accept that no butt docs want to take over his practice, but I hope that changes before Bob's retirement.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

ACT UP Reunions Blossom in SF Bay Area 

One of my proudest life-accomplishments is assisting in the founding of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, back in New York City during the plague years.

I had been acting up on my own and also had the good fortune to be mentored by the late Marty Robinson during our time in the Lavender Hill Mob, prior to Larry Kramer's speech that launched the group that changed the world.

 In recent months, I've had impromptu reunions with long-term survivors around the San Francisco Bay Area and now share with you pics of me with my friends.

Whenever I run into such pals, I get a feeling of meeting up with old war veterans who witnessed and lived through a terrible time with a lot of unnecessary deaths, but try to think positively about the tremendous great work we accomplished in the 1980s, 1990s and up to today either with ACT UP/NYC, which is still active, or just being alive and thriving.

Top left photo shows Rick Solomon of ACT UP/Golden Gate and I at the new BAMPFA facility in Berkeley. Top right, is Dean Ouellette wearing his gardening clothes on Market Street in the Castro this week. Bottom left is with Alan Shaw with me at Rainbow Grocery and bottom right is from November when I ran into G'Dali Braverman and his mom on UC Berkeley campus.

The last three boys were active with the NYC chapter. AIDS sure as hell isn't over so, let's all act up and fight back the best way we can today!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

NC Gov: No HRC Lobbying Before HB2 Signed into Law

The LGBT wing of the Democratic Party known as the Human Rights Campaign and it's CEO Chad Griffin is fully marshaling all its resources to elect Hillary Clinton president. Even more so than usual, gay Americans cannot count on this organization to effectively look after our interests at the state and local level.

My recent public records request to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory for copies of all correspondence to or from anyone associated with HRC and 36-pages of responsive records were produced and can be read here.

No one from HRC wrote to the governor before he signed the bathroom bill HB2 on March 23, lobbying him to reject the hateful bill.

When HRC executives got around to writing McCrory in Raleigh starting on April 6, they emailed the same note and it said nothing about North Carolina or anything specific about HB2. And to think McCrory falsely claimed HRC was more powerful than the NRA!

Longtime global and LGBT leader Melanie Nathan of Marin County, California, broaches important issues related to HRC executives and how they spend their working days, learning about their schedules:

"If you look at the timing of when this all occurred in March and April I recommend HRC account to the community for its staff's time and locations around the time when this NC Bill went down.

"Judging from what I am seeing on TV and social media, HRC has deployed resources to follow and promote Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"I wonder if there is a way to measure HRC's seemingly sluggish reaction and relationship to the events in NC against the resources possibly diverted to campaign for Clinton?"

Thanks, Melanie, for speaking up!

We need transparency from Chad Griffin and all of HRC about how they allocate organizational resources and staffing deployments, and we need full disclosure from them regarding exactly what the heck they were doing before North Carolina enacted the anti-trans and anti-LGBT bathroom and misnamed privacy bill.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Campaigning in the Valencia Street Sunshine 

On this glorious day in paradise, alias San Francisco, the Write-In Petrelis for State Senate D11 Team was out on Valencia Street keeping the camp in campaigning queerly alive and thriving.

You have until May 23 to register to vote for me. Even if you're registered, check with the Department of Elections at City Hall and make sure you're properly registered to cast a ballot for Bernie Sanders.

Check out and give a like to our Facebook.com/PetrelisFiles page today and don't delay. Only three weeks to the June 7 primary.

After writing in my name on your ballot, be sure to complete the arrow. Thanks!

Monday, May 16, 2016

SFIFF59: Walked Out of Eight Disappointing Films

For a number of different reasons, the recently concluded 59th edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival had the highest number of walkouts for me.

A combination of faults with what was offered on the big screen and the crush of cinematic offerings throughout the day and evening brought on festival fatigue. Some of these films, seen outside of the intensity of the festival, might have kept me in my seat till the end.


Not to be confused in any way with Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same title.

This "Frenzy" is a grim social realist film from Turkey about a low-level criminal released early from prison, in a deal that requires him to spy on his neighbors and family.

The protagonist and his brother, who's apathetic at his relative receiving parole, spend much time brooding over their economic and personal troubles, as demonstrations against the current political leaders breakout.

Every scene was gloomy and filmed with dull compositions, all heading toward emotional explosions. "Frenzy" didn't hold my attention visually and the narrative was predictable. I lasted fifty-minutes before exiting the screening.


I've seen only one film by Hong Sang-soo, "In Another Country" starring Isabelle Huppert and found it delightfully charming and quirky, but his latest work, "Right Then, Wrong Now", captivated me for only its first half.

A male director of arty films meets a woman painter before he delivers an obnoxious lecture to a local movie festival, they spend a day and evening together with a lot of chattering, then the tale is twice-told but from slightly different angles and with minor plot changes.

The French New Wave elements - heavy cigarette smoking, voice-over narration, mundane banter, awkward social encounters - add entertaining diversions, while long takes and minimal camera movement - many zoom-ins - raised my expectations for a more satisfying film.

What drove me out of the theater a few minutes into the second version of the same story was hearing the same overly-analytical conversations and knowing the basics of what would happen next.


Director Otar Ioselliani's new rambling and frustrating French film rather quickly wore out its welcome, got stuck in a narrative rut and made no pretense of a plot and forget about making sense of the onscreen antics.

My memory of his other works shown at previous editions of the San Francisco International Film Festival is of films with just-enough of a story or mini-outlines within the larger narrative, that made those films charming. Like spending a few hours with an urbane, well-traveled raconteur who entertains without pretense.

"Winter Song" displayed its absurdism proudly with a Revolution-set head-chopping and perhaps audiences in France mistake the surreal scenes as compelling, but I found myself bored silly after only thirty-minutes and made a quick departure. Ioselliani hit a creative brick wall with this flick.


From Canada hailed "The Demons," an intimate French-language young male coming-of-age tale. I was riding its enchanting low-key vibe until director Philipe Lesage staged the third scene with the same slow-zoom in as the boy has a tender encounter with older folks, and poignant theme music played on the soundtrack.

What was enjoyable was the camera's position mostly at the lead's eye-level, maybe four-feet from the ground, giving us his view of the world. Kudos to the lead young male for a performance that avoided cuteness. A scene about who may be gay among the lead's older brother's teenage friends gently illustrated his innate cool-with-it-all attitude.

Walked out one-hour into the story feeling if it had only been 90-minutes instead of two-hours, I would have stayed for all of it.


My high expectations for the gun-control advocacy documentary "Under the Gun" to deliver goals and idea to prevent violence from firearms weren't met, and that is fine with me even though I exited after forty-minutes.

Narrated by Katie Couric, we revisit many recent mass-killings across America and a swift history of the NRA and how its warped the Second Amendment and our political system, bringing up too many troubling emotions for me, especially anger. Excellent balance of stats, laws, maps and archival news clips engaged the eye and mind.

This longtime advocate for stricter regulation of firearms believes this film is best seen by viewers either apathetic about gun violence and deaths, and responsible gun owners whose views are not represented by the rifle association's lobbyists.


From writer and director Michel Gondry comes a French story following two young teenage boys from the same class who study together, talk about girls and build a motorized camper that the drive in the countryside during their summer break. "Microbe and Gasoline" are their nicknames.

The boys get lost, almost get laid at a massage parlor, one is mistaken for a girl and goes along with the charade of being female, and the slapstick got tired. One of their mother's tries to start a conversation about masturbation that is a hilarious.

It had some terrific biting dialogue, though. One of the boys argues with his older brother whose joined a punk band and demeans his new look: "But last month you had dreadlocks!" More: "You're rebelling - against what?"

I probably would have stuck around more than hour if the episodes weren't so short before it's on to the next quirky episode.


The last of my walkouts was this French movie, "Suite Amoricaine," where a female art history professor on the verge of middle age leaves Paris and returns to home region of Brittany to at the college she attended years ago.

Old friends and rivalries surface and a subplot involving one of her male students with a troublesome mother unfold as characters spout and debate philosophy or holding on to whatever good they have in life.

While the compositions and photography were pleasing to the eye, and the star Valeria Dreville gives her character a brilliant understated resiliency and doesn't play for easy emotional connections with the audience, the scenario left me feeling cold.

After just over an hour, I took my leave.

In addition to these six flicks, I also early-exited the too-melodramatic and under-written "The White Nights" featuring Vincent Lindon from France and Belgium, and master Italian director Marco Bellochio's very disappointing costume drama "Blood of My Blood," bringing my total of walkouts to eight. That's the highest number of any previous year's festival.

As always, I'm grateful to the programmers and underwriters of the San Francisco International Film Festival even when the movies they present don't tickle my cinematic fancy. The reason I carved out much time for the festival is for the rare opportunity to see these works that won't show otherwise on Bay Area screens.

Previous coverage of the 59th SFIFF is here, here, here and here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Cost of SF Gun Buybacks Unknown by Mayor Lee

Earlier this month, I blogged about my public records request to the San Francisco Police Department for data on costs of their gun buyback efforts stretching back a robust number of years.

The department stated the Mayor's Office of Violence Prevention Services organizes the program with various public and private organizations, so I filed a new request for the fiscal info on the City's very life-saving and valuable efforts paying money and getting firearms off the streets.

Today, the Mayor's Office replied:

"This office does not have any responsive documents. Please note that we are responding on behalf of the Mayor’s Office only, and not on behalf of other City departments. We recommend that you contact the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Children, Youth and their Families. Additionally you may want to connect with United Playaz, Omega Boys and Girls Club and CARECEN; however, they are not subject to public records laws."

As both a San Franciscan citizen's advocate and expanded gun control proponent, I want Mayor Lee and his staff to know exactly how much is being raised and spent to reduce the number of guns in the City, regardless of whether the funds for the buyback programs flow from City agencies or private nonprofits.

Yes, Mayor Lee, it is your responsibility to keeps extensive tabs on the City's gun buybacks. What possible explanation can you offer to explain why your violence prevention aides don't track the fiscal info I'm requesting?

Between the police department and the mayor, they is criminally minimal fiscal transparency and passing the burden to me to contact nonprofits not obligated to give me any records, has got to change.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mayoral Aides' Hunger Strikers Emails Dismiss Their Lawyer

Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown established a "leave no trail" policy when he ran City Hall and the current occupant of Room 200, one Ed Lee, closely follows that advice.

My recent public records request to the mayor for all relevant emails and correspondence about anything pertaining to the hunger strikers camped out in front of the Mission police station for over two weeks.

The protesters are upset over SFPD officers killing civilians, want chief Greg Suhr fired and lack of justice from law enforcement agencies and politicians.

I received hundreds of pages in PDFs consisting mainly of reporters requesting interviews with and comments from Lee, his staffers editing a boilerplate response, constituent letters and nothing of relevance about crafting engagement methods with the protesters and contending with their demands.

How can the mayor and his staff not communicate via email or in writing for something as media-grabbing and community-inspiring as the hunger strike, the mayor showing up at the police station unannounced and trying to hold a meeting with the activists and everything else that must be on the agenda in Room 200 stemming from the swelling anger over law enforcement injustices?

The answer comes from Brown who said the "e" in email stands for evidence, so he never used email when serving as City boss.

What Mayor Lee and his staff have crafted, with the great assistance of notorious open government foe City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his retinue, are methods of communication that evade the provenance of sunshine laws.

The most curious email trail began on May 4 around 10 am when an attorney named EmilyRose Johns of the Seigel & Yee law firm based in Oakland, claiming to represent the hunger strikers, wrote to mayoral advisers. Johns was following up on a verbal conversation about setting up a meeting at City Hall between the mayor and the activists.

On the same day withing two-hours, aides thought to refer Johns to the scheduler and top adviser Paul Henderson, who's black and gay and running for judge in the June 7 San Francisco primary, dismissed Johns as "just a lawyer that wants an audience. There is no pending legal requiring either representation or counsel for them or on their behalf. Unless she has anything different to add to the equation, her 'request' should be treated like all others."

Mayor Lee's staff, on May 5, drafted a reply to Johns and questioned amongst themselves why they needed to reply to her. Frankly, I had no idea the activists were using a lawyer as a go-between to negotiate with the mayor.

Aide Henderson again pondered what legal issue was at hand that required the services of a lawyer on behalf of the activists.

The mayor and his staff need to come clean about what written communication they shared as the hunger strikers mobilized thousands of citizens to demand law enforcement accountability, and that communication should be made public.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

1000s of SFPD Use-of-Force Logs With Cops' Names Online

The beleaguered police department of San Francisco maintains bi-monthly use-of-force logs that provide the names of officers involved, their badge numbers, questions about physical control, injury to the suspect or officer and other info, and I've obtained a few years' of the logs after law enforcement accountability activists filed public records requests.

If you support making law enforcement agencies accountable and transparent and sharing SFPD records online that shed light on use-of-force statistics, then please vote for me as a write-in candidate for the state senate seat of District 11.

Here are the SFPD use-of-force logs for select periods:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Historic SF Forum on HIV+ Folks & Dental Health

Every person with AIDS who qualifies for dental services funded by the Ryan White CARE Act in San Francisco, that I have spoken with recently and over the years is not satisfied with delivery of care via the University of the Pacific dental school.

We are assigned to sophomore students whose training and educating is of paramount importance and the actual oral health care delivery a secondary matter at the UOP.

The stress of dealing with UOP, not beneficial wellness of HIV pozzies with compromised immune systems, begins with just getting assigned to a dental student and then there's the matter of getting an appointment.

Any appointment with the student is between 3 and 4 hours because they need to practice what they've learned in class, then find one of their teachers to evaluate their assessment of your oral needs. In short, you need to block out half day, for the travel time and actual appointment, for each appointment and no procedure is quick.

Recently, I've filed complaints against UOP with the consumer advocate of the local CARE Council and pleaded with the council to reassess its contracts with and funding to the university.

There is need for an advance general dentistry clinic for ageing longterm HIV survivors, one that delivers actual services in less time and stress. The HIV negative UOP administrators don't understand the many other medical appointments and other demands on our time we survivors have and how the university's governance of the HIV services is a barrier to quick and expert care.

Thanks to my complaints to the school's administration, which has no general patient nor HIV-specific advisory councils, and CARE Council, the university is hosting a one-hour morning forum starting at 10 AM on Thursday, June 2 at their campus located at 155 5th Street near Mission.

This is an historic development in that UOP has failed to ever hold such a meeting. While nothing is said in their outreach flier about come talk to them about better delivery of HIV dental care that puts pozzies' need first and students' teaching second, I will bring up this and other ideas to protect the oral wellness of myself and other AIDS survivors.

For all the talk we hear in San Francisco in the past few years about honoring and caring for HIV poz men and women over 50 years of age, when it comes to dental care our needs have not been a priority. This needs to change.

Here's a message from another longtermer who will be at the June 2 meeting, echoing the same problems many pozzies deal with at UOP:

"I have many issues with UOP as well. I have to beg to get in for a temp fix on a partial and can't get my student dentist to make appts for a permanent solution. Started in Nov, two temp repairs, promises of an additional student to take my case but no calls, no appts. And three hours is a given for every appt. Just a simple teeth cleaning can take three appts over 6-8 weeks due to their schedules. Small problems become big problems while you wait for a treatment plan and the appts to address them. Thanks for taking this on. I've been frustrated for years, with only brief successes with UOP."

Monday, May 09, 2016

SF's Gay Adult Male Tea Room Theater is Closing

To do my part in keeping commercial sex venues alive and thriving for the gay, bisexual and down-low male communities, I visited the Tea Room Theater in the Tenderloin over the years to assess the gyrations of the dancers and engage with the crowd.

On May 10, 2011, I blogged about this adult gay male theater circulating a survey among the clients, soliciting our opinions and shared a copy of the satisfaction questionnaire.

The Bay Area Reporter's Seth Hemmelgarn today writes that the Tea Room Theater is closing in a few days:

"The theater, which has been open for decades at 145 Eddy Street, offers male strippers, porn movies, and spaces where customers engage in sex acts. The business’s last day will be Sunday, May 15, according to one source who didn’t want to be named. The Tea Room’s owner couldn’t be directly reached for comment. An employee confirmed the closing but declined to be interviewed."

Sorry to see this sex venue disappear and another commercial adult activity business closing its doors, leaving only the Nob Hill Cinema to serve the needs of men who like to gather in bricks-and-mortar establishments and get off their electronic devices for male-on-male fun, stress-relief and sexual healing.

I'm fully cognizant of all the momentous changes in how queer men find each other thanks to the web and our wired lives, but the death knell for all sex clubs and bathhouses is premature.

There remain a few such venues and bars in the Bay Area and there will always be a need for physical gathering spaces.

Au revoir, le Tea Room Theatre!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

SFIFF & Wknd Woof: 'Very Big Shot' Boys & Coppola

The San Francisco International Film Festival brought an eclectic array of films, in all genres and lengths to the Mission District for the just-concluded 2-weeks of cinemania, and many talented filmmakers to town for conversations with locals.

This post feeds two birds with one seed. It's about one fabulous episode of mine at the festival and there's Weekend Woof eye-candy from Lebanon on display too.

I met emerging Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou-Chaaya, ripe old age of 26, and his producer brother Lucien Bou-Chaaya, all of 28, at the film lounge in a high-end clothing shoppe at Valencia and 21st Street and spoke with Mir-Jean for this video report.

The Bou-Chaaya brothers' movie "Very Big Shot" is a brash and youthful mashup of Middle East politics, criminal activities to survive, the shooting a phony film in Beirut as part of drug smuggling scheme - all served with a hot flame of comedy.

Some of the violence was jarring and didn't jibe with the hilarity, to my Western sensibilities, but the surprise ending was memorable and induced robust audience applause and cheers.

For queer viewers, especially those with bear-loving eyes, the cast and extras are quite pleasing to the eyes.

Neither Lucien, pictured, nor Mir-Jean are gay but, of course, have LGBT friends and are true allies. Joshing with them about putting these photos on a gay blog and that folks might get the idea that these handsome fellas were part of the queer tribe, the boys laughed.

Lucien, who's based in Paris, helps gays from the Middle East get married in France and avoid the hassles of applying for refugee or asylum status, gaining access to citizenship rights allowing them to stay in Europe. Needless to say, I thoroughly appreciated engaging with both brothers on many levels.

The Bou-Chaaya brothers met Francis Ford Coppola when "Very Big Shot" won the top award at the Marrakech Film Festival last year, of which "The Godfather" creator was head of the jury bestowing the honor. While in San Francisco, Lucien and Mir-Jean stopped by Coppola's restaurant in North Beach and enjoyed a bite to eat and dose of cinema chat. Good for them!

Thank you, programmers, publicists, staff and volunteers of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival for this year's terrific edition and for bringing "Very Big Shot" and its creators to town.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Write-In Petrelis for State Senate District 11 Seat

As early voting begins this weekend for the June 7 primary, I am asking for your vote as a write-in candidate for the District 11 state senate seat. This is my third campaign for political office and just one more way for me to practice civic engagement.

My platform is the same as when I ran for Board of Supervisors in District 8 in 2014 and the Mayor's Office in 2015 and includes expanding government transparency, holding nonprofits and elected officials accountable, and advocacy for LGBT and HIV positive persons locally and globally and other matters of progressive importance.

If you're pissed off with San Francisco's moribund political scene and players, angry about the selling of the Democratic Party and City Hall to real estate and tech moguls, displeased with rigged economic and law enforcement systems, then please give me your vote.

Write-in Petrelis on your ballot, then complete the arrow and feel good about participating in the democratic process. I thank you in advance of receiving your support and vote.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Homeless Folks Not At SF Mayor's Homeless Meetings?

A recent public records request to Mayor Ed Lee regarding the Coalition on Homelessness produced several emails showing the group's executive director, Jennifer Friedenbach, is the gatekeeper for community representation at monthly meetings with Lee's chief of staff, Steve Kawa.

There is no evidence that any actual homeless persons are invited to nor attend these monthly City Hall sessions determining homeless policies and that Friedenbach controls high-level access to the mayor and his aides.

A February email from a mayoral aide listed the attendees and no person is identified as homeless. Names include Friedenbach and only City workers.

Friedenbach was emailed by two other mayoral aides regarding the February meeting, showing she's lucky to get replies from three of Lee's staffers. Such communication not all members of the general public enjoy.

An April email to Friedenbach gives her a heads up on City employees who will be at the regular meetings with Kawa and nothing is said about any homeless folks sitting at the table inside the mayor's office.

Another email last month, this one from Friedenbach to mayoral staff, nudges them to engage on an upcoming meeting with nothing said about getting homeless folks in the room.

I've emailed Friedenbach and others at the coalition, asking if any homeless people get to consult with Kawa every month, and their editor of the Street Sheet
replied only to say they received my note. While the SF Chronicle, a paper long at odds with homeless people and their advocates, regularly communicates with Friedenbach who is frequently quoted, I don't enjoy such courtesy. Such is accountability advocacy in San Francisco.

Mayoral adviser on homelessness, Sam Dodge, wrote this response to my question asking him to confirm people without housing were in attendance at the meetings:

"I don't believe so. Some formerly homeless staff people of the COH, but I could be wrong. Jennifer would know."

Says a lot about where we are in dealing with homeless individuals on the streets. They don't have a seat at the City Hall table when Kawa, Dodge and Friedenbach meet and determine actions and priorities.

Dodge should be able to state clearly, "Yes, we have homeless folks at the table. No need for me to pass the buck to anyone else."

As I've said in the past, Friedenbach, the leader of Homeless Inc and positioned as a progressive organizer, can meet with whomever she chooses at City Hall, but she has a duty to regularly report back to the public about her engagement with Kawa.

Would be wise of her to also start getting homeless folks into those Kawa chats.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

SF Chron: Vice Mayor Guilty of Destroying Public Records

Let's take a moment to thank the unpaid and dedicated volunteers who serve on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, for their time and efforts to uphold govt transparency at at City Hall not known for robust and legal open govt practices.

I must single out longtime member and current SOTF chair Dr. Allyson Washburn, who is stepping down from the panel and deserves special attention for all she's done and she'll be missed, tho I'm hopeful still engaged in transparency advocacy.

The San Francisco Chronicle for some reason gives a damn that I filed a complaint over the vice mayor's destruction of public records, and oddly hasn't taken the step of filing their own request for his calendar over the past few years and, um, you know, practice journalism and analyze who he's met with and topics discussed.

Well, any publicity for corrupt sunshine practices at Ed Liar's City Hall, fully embraced by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, is good. Excerpted from the May 6 SF Chronicle story written by Emily Green:

Steve Kawa, chief of staff to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, willfully skirted public records laws when he deleted his calendar on a rolling basis, a city panel that works for open government has concluded.

The 6-1 vote Wednesday, May 4, evening by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force means Kawa will have to appear before the city’s Ethics Commission to defend his actions.

The vote is a rebuke to both Kawa and the city attorney’s office, which maintained that Kawa is not governed by the same rules as elected officials — namely that they must maintain calendars listing who they meet with and the topic of the meeting. Kawa is one of the most powerful men in City Hall, even though he’s not elected.

“Clearly, Steve Kawa is not an elected official, and we have repeatedly sought out and received advice from the city attorney to affirm that Mr. Kawa does not fall under the same requirements as an elected official,” Christine Falvey, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said. “He serves at the pleasure of the mayor and, in his role, he fully complies with and embraces all of our city’s open government and sunshine laws.”

The dispute began when City Hall public records devotee and political gadfly Michael Petrelis requested Kawa’s calendar and was told his staff regularly deleted entries more than two weeks old. That was also Kawa’s defense to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

The commission found that explanation “perplexing.” “We have not received, in our view, a credible explanation for the calendar’s destruction,” a draft ruling by the task force states. “It is not at all clear why an electronic calendar ... would require Mr. Kawa (or his assistant) to manually purge entries from the calendar.”

Point by point, the task force’s draft ruling rejects the points made by the city attorney in a memo defending Kawa. For example, the city attorney maintained that a staffer’s individual calendar doesn’t serve a “historical function or to inform the public,” but to allow him to keep track of upcoming meetings. The task force countered that “Mr. Kawa’s calendar does not merely reflect his activities but the activities of the mayor’s office as a whole.”

The city attorney also said because Kawa had already deleted parts of his calendar at the time of Petrelis’ request, Kawa no longer had custody of it and therefore complied with the Sunshine Ordinance. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force said the city’s public records laws would have “little effect if city officials or employees could simply destroy public records before they were ever subject to a citizen’s request.”

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

SFPD's Costs of 1000+ Gun Buybacks Partially Revealed

Count me among the large number of America who favor more regulation and tracking of firearms and bullet.

My recent public records request to the San Francisco Police Department for info on their gun buybacks in recent years produced valuable data.

First off, the total costs for the buybacks comes via the Mayor's Office of Violence Prevention Services with the coordination of the Board of Supervisors and other govt and private agencies, according to the SFPD. The only costs borne by the department are for personnel to staff the buyback events.

Over at that mayoral office's web page, there is nothing but short bit of info about public safety and the appointment of Greg Suhr as police chief. The page's last update appears to have been in 2012 and there's nothing mentioned about the gun buyback program.

The SFPD states $100 was paid for any gun and $200 for assault-type weapons and they continue to search for info about precisely how many types of firearms were paid for through buybacks. Partial fiscal details are better than none and I hope to receive more before the week is over.

Here are the sub-totals for numbers of guns taken off the street via buybacks, for years available:

2012: 296
2013: 231
2014: 249
2015: 192
2016: 101

Total = 1069

How much money was spent to get these guns off the streets? Using the $100 per any gun figure multiplied with 1069 equals a minimum of $106,900 used to reduced firearms in the community.

Public dollars well spent, in my view.