Monday, January 30, 2017

FBI: $40 for 1000 Pages of FOIA Logs

I'm filing a fee waiver request with the feds tomorrow. My recent email request to the FBI for their Freedom of Information Act logs from January 1, 2016, through January 11, 2017, brought back a snail-mail reply today.

The agency has located 1,098 responsive pages of FOIA logs and the CD duplication costs are around $40, a bit less than paper copying fees at $49.

Who requested a document, what did they request, how did the FBI dispose of the request and were public files found and opened for inspection?

You can learn a lot by FOIAing the FOIAs. Have you filed a FOIA request today?

FOIA: Requesting Feinstein Staffers' Contact Info

This letter was emailed this afternoon to the addresses below. When I hear from the senator's office, I'll let you know. Have you filed a FOIA today? My request:

Dianne Feinstein, US Senator
Sean Elsbernd, District Manager

Caitlin Meyer, Constituent Services
Peter Muller, Communications Director
Tom Paulino, Field Representative

Dear Sen. Feinstein,

Under the full provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, I am requesting the following public documents. 

A list of all employees in every one of your offices in Washington and California containing this information:

All current names of staffers, legislative aides, assistants for each of the Committee Assignments you have in the US Senate, job titles and descriptions, direct office phone and fax numbers, email addresses, cell phone numbers, all Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or other social media outlets and platforms, accounts and profiles.

I wish to receive all responsive records in digital format via email. 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email them to me.

Please confirm receipt of this FOIA request by the close of business today.

Thanks in advance of your prompt attention and I look forward to responsive production and release of said public records requested.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: 415-621-6267

Very pleased to share this story from San Francisco magazine with everyone. Big thanks to all who participated yesterday, Sunday, January 29, in the action, especially to Michael J. Kirschner for snapping his great fotos and putting the writer in touch with Ben Becker and I.

200 Demonstrators Descended On Dianne Feinstein’s House to Protest Her Support for Trump’s Nominees 
By: Lamar Anderson | Photo: Aris Polyzos  
January 30, 2017 

They want DiFi to fall in line with Californians’ overwhelming rejection of Trump. And answer her phone.

On Sunday afternoon, as about 2,000 protesters were picketing at SFO against President Trump’s sudden ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, about 200 demonstrators headed in the opposite direction, to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s mansion in Pacific Heights. They were there to express their displeasure at the senator’s unexpectedly pro-Trump voting record.

So far, she has voted in support of four of the president’s cabinent nominees: James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Mike Pompeo for CIA director, John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Nikki Haley for U.N. ambassador.
By FiveThirtyEight's calculation, Feinstein has fallen in line with the president's positions and cabinet nominees 100 percent of the time, earning DiFi a pro-Trump score higher than some Republicans, including Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

“It’s disgusting,” says organizer Ben Becker, who is a Democratic Party assembly delegate for District 17. “It’s completely inexcusable.” The protest began at 3 p.m., as marchers filed into the public park abutting Feinstein’s property, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Jeff Sessions—just say no!” The proceedings were structured as an impromptu citizens’ town hall, with demonstrators taking turns speaking to the crowd for about two minutes each.

Addressing Senator Feinstein—who did not appear to be home—a protester named Julie took the floor. “If you keep following this agenda, I will register as an Independent,” she vowed, holding a sign reading “Stop collaborating with fascists.” She added: “If you don’t know what people want, you haven’t been watching the news; you haven’t been to the airport; you haven’t been to the women’s march. You are ingoring everyone that is trying to talk to you.”

Becker and fellow organizer Michael Petrelis decided to rally in response to what they see as Feinstein's unresponsiveness to voters. “We attempted to get through to her through her office lines in California and D.C.,” says Becker. “I tried to call about 50 times over this past week, and I wasn’t able to get through. I wasn’t able to leave a message because her machine was full and wasn’t being emptied. We got the impression that the opinions of her constituency were not important to Senator Feinstein.”

Feinstein’s office hasn’t yet responded to emailed questions about the protesters’ concerns.

San Francisco recently included Feinstein in a photo feature on the local resistance to Trump, though she rejected the term "resistance" with interviewer Randy Shandobil, host of the podcast This Golden State. “My view is you work with him where you can and you oppose where you can’t,” Feinstein told Shandobil in December.

Petrelis, who emceed yesterday’s unofficial town hall, wants to see regular forums with Feinstein—or at least her staffers—and her constituents. “It was great that we practiced town hall methods,” says Petrelis. "It was wonderful—about 200 people showed up on a Sunday at her home."

The organizers have set up a Facebook page, People's Town Hall, to promote more unsanctioned town halls in the future.

Team Feinstein: Names, Phone Numbers & Emails Needed

Dear Friends,

We are dedicated to more fully engaging Team Feinstein and need your help in creating a current list of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's top staffers in Washington and all of her California district offices.

We need the names, job titles, email addresses, direct phone and fax numbers, cell phone numbers, Twitter and Facebook and all social media profiles and accounts, for each Team Feinstein member.

This limited list of names and related info is our first effort to gather it all and circulate it to you, requesting feedback to improve the data.

The larger framework is requesting a necessary tool of democracy: regular town halls with Team Feinstein.

We understand the state's senior senator is unable to host the town halls herself because of governmental duties and such. 

However, the dozens of folks who comprise Team Feinstein must organize town halls open to all and take questions, and provide answers, to her constituents.

The first days of the Trump administration clearly show us the old political playbook's been shredded and new undefined rules apply. California's senators are called on to go above and beyond the call of duty in this time of crises on top of crises. 

Please pitch in and improve the Team Feinstein contact sheet. Thanks, from Ben Becker and Michael Petrelis.


1. Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Richard C. Blum
Husband and Business Partner
Blum Capital Investment Firm
Phone: 415-434-1111
Fax: 415-434-3130

2. Washington Staff

Michael McGill, Legislative Aide

Mark Kadesh, Legislative Aide

Howard Gantman, Legislative Aide

Please fax the her scheduler at (202) 228-3953. 
Give a call to the press office at (202) 224-9629.
Additional Washington numbers:
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501
3. San Francisco Office

Sean Elsbernd, District Manager

Caitlin Meyer, Constituent Services

Peter Muller, Communications Director

Phone: (415) 393-0707 
Fax: (415) 393-0710 

4. Los Angeles 

Phone: (310) 914-7300
Fax: (310) 914-7318 
5. San Diego 

Phone: (619) 231-9712
Fax: (619) 231-1108 
6. Fresno 

Phone: (559) 485-7430 
Fax: (559) 485-9689

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Call & Fax Feinstein's Hubby's Blum Capital: Stop Sessions!

Like many folks, I can't get through to Dianne Feinstein's offices on the telephone.

Apparently that's because she's overwhelmed with her California constituents who greatly rejected Donald Trump and his nightmare choice of Jeff Sessions for attorney general, trying to communicate their wish for Feinstein to reject Sessions.

In order to send her a message via her venture investor husband Richard C. Blum and his Blum Capital firm, I've tried calling its main number today.

It's not picking up and my calls go right to a dial tone, but I'll try again on Monday. However, the fax sounds to be in fine working order.

For those of you who can send faxes, please flood Blum Capital with anti-Sessions' comments.

The message for Blum and his firm is the same as for his wife: Stop Jeff Sessions from becoming US Attorney General.

Here's the information if you wish to call or fax Blum's investment company

Phone: 415-434-1111
Fax: 415-434-3130

Look who made it to the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive last night. That's me at the Barbro Osher Theater before my movie began.

I got out of the house to catch a terrific new hybrid documentary and feature film from Egypt directed by Tamer El Said, "In the Last Days of the City." This was my first major outing in two weeks and was a good reentry into the world, after recent health challenges.

A young director is trying to finish his film, as his mother lies dying in a hospital bed, he searches for a one-apartment to rent, and his closest friends wrestle with remaining in Cairo or moving abroad. Gorgeous cinematography, a melancholy story, characters who retain deep personal hope in the face of authoritarianism - all make this movie worth seeing.

There are two more screenings at BAM/PFA for "In the Last Days of the City" and the first is Sunday, January 24 and Friday, February 3. Both times playing at 4 pm. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

Take advantage of these multiple screenings, a most welcomed new programming feature since the museum and archived opened a year ago in their new home.


Is There An FBI File On Post Election Trump Protests?

Have you filed a Freedom of Information Act request lately with the federal government? I have.

The FBI has responded to my request for any and all files related to any protests that took place in any American city, after Trump was elected president in November.

They claim my request was too vague and state they're not searching their indices. If you think the FBI was monitoring your local demonstration after Trump won the White House, make a FOIA request to headquarters in Washington:

Please ask your federal government for public records.

Friday, January 27, 2017

NPS Has My FOIA Request for Trump's Inaugural Photos

Have you filed a Freedom of Information Act request today? We need a corps of citizens regularly asking for public records.

Since I found nothing through Googling showing anyone had made a request for photos snapped by the NPS officials of Trump's swearing in ceremony and the national mall crowds, or lack thereof, I filed my FOIA for the images late last night.

Let's see if the National Park Service and Department of the Interior releases any responsive records of substance.

But first, we need to learn if there's still a functioning FOIA unit at the DOI. The same can be said of other federal agencies.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Presser at Feinstein's SF Home: 1/29, 3 pm: Stop Sessions!

With California's senior Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, potentially voting for Pres. Trump's nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the following event is announced for this weekend:

What: Progressive Press Conference
When: Sunday, January 29
Time: 3:00 pm
Where: Sen. Feinstein's residence
Location: 2470 Lyon Street, near Vallejo Street, San Francisco

We have a simple and powerful message for Sen. Feinstein: Vote against Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General.

Feinstein is sitting on the fence regarding this nightmare nominee to be the nation's top law enforcement official, which we find unacceptable.

She has already crossed the aisle to vote in favor of Trump's CIA director this week.

She must represent unwavering San Francisco and blue state California values and also twist the arms of fellow Democrats and moderate Republicans to stop Sessions.

The earliest she may vote on the Sessions nomination is Tuesday. All activists concerned that Feinstein is not adequately putting forward strong resistance to the Trump agenda are asked to join us.

This protest is being organized by human rights and democracy community organizers Ben Becker and Michael Petrelis.

Today's My Birthday & I'm Celebrating!

In queer people years, I'm 70 today and on the normal person's calendar, I've hit 58. Whatever the number(s), damn proud and happy to be alive and mostly thriving.

Happy to celebrate my birthday with friends and fellow activists Greg Scott and Jon Nalley. We three share this day with Ellen Degeneres, Angela Davis and Paul Newman. Fabulous collection of good-trouble-making folks!

Many thanks to my husband and life-partner Mike Merrigan, for all his love and friendship, and the same goes to all of you - my good pals and family members.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Plea Deal Reached in Wiener Phone Theft Crime

I seriously doubt the San Francisco police force and the district attorney's office dedicate significant amounts of resources and staff time, when ordinary citizens are the victims of such crimes.

The public defender's office today informed of these developments:

"Just wanted to let you know that LaSonya Wells (Scott Wiener phone snatching) has accepted a plea deal. She pleaded to one count of extortion, a felony. It should be noted that she was originally charged with kidnapping---a life in prison charge. Judge threw it out.

"In exchange, prosecutors dropped the robbery charge, which was a strike. Her sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 16 in Dept. 23. Her sentence is expected to be three years at half time. So, with time served, she would likely be out in five months."

When it comes to criminal justice in San Francisco, Lady Justice lifts up her blindfold to see who the victim is.

The photo shows Wells with her assistant public defender Yali Corea-Levy back in the summer of 2016.

Monday, January 23, 2017

On this chilly San Francisco day, Mike went to work at the law office for a few hours. Glad he came home early to get his rest.

 I made it out twice. First, to get a few newspapers. Yes, I'm such an old news junkie I like to get facts and opinions on recycled paper.

 Made it to the laundromat too. Great to have clean bedding to rest upon. Taking my antibiotics for the diverticulitis but the pain's been bad a few times, so I'm managing it with the codeine pills.

 How are you and yours doing, as this new week gets under way?

Filed My First Trump White House FOIA Today

I wasn't surprised the information page for making a public records request of the White House was deleted by the new administration from their web site.

Today, I filed my initial Freedom of Information Act request with the #FakePresident. I used the "contact us" form and also snail-mailed my request to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

What am I asking for? The FOIA log listing who's made requests thus far, in the first few days of this nightmare administration.

Let's see who's filed a request, what was asked for and how the White House processed the request. Have you made a FOIA request lately?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

White House Lies About Mrs. Pence's Charity?

Absolutely everything posted to #FakePresident Trump's White House site must be challenged and verified. Here's some of what is posted there regarding the VP's wife:

"In her role as First Lady of Indiana, Mrs. Pence created the Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation. The Foundation was a 501 (c) 3, established with the purpose to encourage and support youth and families of Indiana . . . The Foundation’s board awarded over $600,000 in grants to charities serving Hoosiers in all 92 counties."

The GuideStar site reports the foundation received it's tax exemption in 2014 and only two IRS 990 filings have been submitted to the Treasury Department.

In 2013, Karen Pence's charity donated $100,000 to the Riley Children's Foundation and in 2014 the Feeding Indiana's Hungry nonprofit received $65,000. By my estimation, based on available tax records, only $165,000 was doled out the her foundation, not the $600,000 claimed by the White House site.

Finally, Mrs. Pence's charity's site is not operational. It's nothing more than a blank white page.


Morphine & Me: Greetings From the ER!

After a week of fighting a cold, I wound up visiting the Sutter Health Davies emergency room for what turned out to be diverticulitis. Spent over four hours there on Saturday afternoon and into the night.

The staff checked my chest and lung for any signs of flu or pneumonia; negative on both. They administered two doses of morphine with no hesitation but my desire for an antibiotic was refused.

I had to get my two antibiotics afterward at Safeway, where it took just over two hours for my prescriptions to be fulfilled. Only one pharmacist is on duty weekend nights. Started those week-long regimens as soon as I got home.

Mike stayed home, nursing his flu-like ailments. There was no need for him to get stressed out accompanying me. He's experiencing a few less problems and we're helping each other meet our health challenges.

The diverticulitis pain isn't so bad and I'm still feeling a morphine hangover. My food intake is small and water intake's steady and large.

Btw, the current issue of Harper's magazine featuring guidance to resisting the Trump agenda was predictable and not the least inspiring to me, but the essays helped pass the hours.

Brava, to all of the Women's Marches around the globe and across America and everyone who participated in the events yesterday. Finally, many thanks to all the caregivers who took care of me at the ER.
If #FakePresident #Trump's press briefings' page on his second day in the White House can't post the video of his spokesman Sean Spicer's lying lips moving at the podium this afternoon, it's one more sign of how inept he and his administration are.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

DPW: Building of Homeless Fence May Start on Monday

There simply isn't enough follow up with public agencies at City Hall.

You may recall my transparency effort over the summer with the Department of Public Works about their plan to erect a permanent anti-homeless fence around the McCoppin Hub, two-blocks from our home.

Neighbors closer to the public space near Valencia and Market, fed up with unruly behavior by folks camping in the plaza and unsanitary conditions, successfully lobbied Sup. Jane Kim and DPW to allocate funds for the fence.

No peeps of protests came from homeless advocates or progressive Democrats, many of whom were desperate, and failed, to get Kim elected over Scott Wiener to the state senate.

At a time when millions around the world are calling on #FakePresident Trump to build bridges and not walls, liberal San Francisco will soon construct a retractable metal fence to repel homeless people from using public property.

This week, I followed up with Rachel Gordon at DPW regarding the start date of building the fence and it could be as early at Monday.

A fence is no answer to the now greatly-diminished anti-social behaviors and filth of McCoppin Hub and social problems stemming from lack of affordable housing for all.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fake News: SF Chronicle Quotes 9 Professors, No Citizens

On an given day of the news week, what academics think hogs up much real estate in San Francisco's major daily.

In four of today original Chronicle-reporter penned stories, no less than nine college professors are quoted, extensively too, in the front news and business sections.

The voices and concerns of regular folks or people outside of the university bubble are omitted.

Too often, a high number of Chronicle journalists rely on their same old academic contacts. They're usually easy to track down via email and always welcome the opportunity to pontificate.

What they have to say on a daily basis is fake news. It's reason why I generally read the Chronicle's paper edition more to count how many professors are quoted, or given space on the open ed page.

I don't care much about the content of their opinion; only how often they're quoted on a given day.

Here are the links to the stories in question:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mike and I had restful naps late this afternoon. When we awoke, Turner Classic Movies was about to start broadcasting Jacques Demy's classic musical "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

The guest programmer was "La La Land" director Damien Chazelle who shared his love of the French film with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz and us, the viewing audience at home.

This was Mike's first time seeing "Umbrellas" and I'm pleased to report he enjoyed it. The only time I saw the film was back in the day at legendary Thalia Theatre on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Nice way to see it a second time. We love movie musicals!

Is There an FBI File on Carrie Fisher or George Michael?

Here's how to make a FOIA request to the FBI after anyone, famous or not, passes away.

Write your request, include the full obituary from a legitimate news outlet or other verifiable source and the URL, email everything to this addy:

I did exactly that after Carrie Fisher and George Michael died and yesterday I received via snail mail letters from the feds, stating they searched their Central Records System and found nothing on either of them.

Do American democracy a favor and file a FOIA request today with a federal agency or official.

Now, more than ever, government transparency is desperately needed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

While I had a good enough day with fewer cold-related aches, Mike is now experiencing chills and sweats. It's been quite chilly in our apartment, so we used the space heater in the TV room and oven in the kitchen to keep us warm. Both of us are drinking lots of water, taking our daily drug cocktails and napping. Here's hoping we continue to get the rest we need and maybe turn the corner by tomorrow, with our colds behind us.

Monday, January 16, 2017

SF Chronicle: Civic Leader Hopes '[Trump] Does Well'

I've never respected George Schultz, former adviser to President Reagan who served as his secretary of state in the 1980s. He's married to San Francisco's wealthy socialite and Chief of Protocol Charlotte Mailliard Schultz, and is frequently seen at City Hall soirees.

This power-couple often enjoys steno services from the SF Chronicle. Just yesterday, Sunday, January 15, the print edition of the paper asked George Schultz to weigh in on Donald Trump:

"Our economy has been slowed by a maze of intricate regulations. But a rearrangement of our tax system and regulatory changes, already in the works, will boost the economy. We’re also in a new era of renewable energy (wind, solar, electric) and, based on my involvement with MIT and Stanford, the problem of storing their intermittency will be reduced.

"As far as Trump is concerned, even though so many are rooting against him, I hope he does well. I’m always for the president, whoever he is. The better the president does, the better off our country will be."

I sure would like to know exactly what part of Trump's agenda is so attractive to Schultz. No, I don't agree that the better this pathological, narcissistic, thin-skinned liar the better America is.

FYI, there are at least seven pieces of public property named for one or both of the Schultz's including City Hall's grand staircase.
This is my third day of dealing with a cold. Grateful it's not the flu. Been taking life very easy.

Mike and I took a taxi out to the Legion of Honor on Sunday to catch the terrific Brother Le Nain exhibit. Otherwise, drinking lots of water, eating fruits and getting plenty of rest.

We're commemorating Martin Luther King Jr Day remembering the great man's work for peace and justice, and watching black-themed films on Turner Classic Movies.

What's happening in your world this weekend?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

CA Pols Wiener & McGuire Withhold TRUMP Act Emails

Did you know electeds in Sacramento have passed open government laws that exempt themselves as state legislators from being required to release public records?

I did and I still filed a public records request with state senator Mike McGuire for his emails related to his TRUMP (Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public) Act proposal that he and fellow senator Scott Wiener introduced in December.

The secretary of the senate informed me that records sought, which may or may not exist, cannot be released because of the exemption granting special status to members of the legislature. Isn't that special?

McGuire and Wiener racked up a fair amount of news clippings for their PR stunt, attempting to require Donald Trump and all presidential hopefuls to release their tax returns in order to get on the 2010 California ballot.

Sure, let's enact such a transparency requirement of POTUS wannabes, but let's also force California's state senators and assembly members to fall under the full purview of all open government laws.

How about it, McGuire and Wiener? Their sunshine philosophy currently is "transparency for thee, not for me" and that needs to change.

Friday, January 13, 2017

UCSF Reviewing Sup. Sheehy's Email Exchanges With City Hall

The University of California is subject to various open government statutes, a fact that needs repeating often since many folks don't know they can request a slew of public records from the various campuses.

Last week, I filed a request for copies of Jeff Sheehy's UCSF emails he exchanged with Mayor Ed Lee's staff and anyone at or any communication related to City Hall, from September 1 through the date of the request.

I also am seeking several years of his university financial disclosure forms, which are separate from the Form 700 he must fill out for the San Francisco Ethics Commission, now that he's a member of the Board of Supervisors.

Today, a public information officer for UCSF, Brenda Gee Peralta, sent me a letter stating my request is a work in process. Records have been gathered and are under review. Let's see how their process progresses next week when I'll ask for another status report.

American democracy, for me, equals being a citizen advocate year-round and recognizing voting on Election Day is a very minimal act of engagement.

Democracy demands we make our appointed officials as transparent as possible, and always remember Sheehy received a single vote, that of Mayor Lee, to assume the power he now possesses. There was no public vetting of Sheehy before he was chosen to be the supervisor for District 8.

Cory Booker's Pharma Donations as Mayor of Newark?

To follow the money from drug companies to the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is going to take a few sets of eyeballs.

Quickly perusing a small number of Booker's many filings with the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission, I found one contribution for $500 from an employee of a drug firm, Astrea Zeneca of Delaware, made in 2012.

Unfortunately, all commission filings from Booker are PDFs requiring downloading and contributions and expenses are listed in the same reports. There is no easy way of searching Booker's donors during his mayoral campaigns, according to a commission staffer I spoke with today.

Booker ran four times for Newark mayor, each time setting up two committees and there are at least seventy PDF filings from his campaign. That's a lot of records to comb through.

If you are or know of pharma watchdogs with the resources to research how much Booker raked in from drug companies directly and their employees, they can begin their searching here.

And if they need verbal assistance from the commission, the watchdogs should call 609-292-8700.

We must not only hold Booker to account for pharma funds received as a U. S. Senator but also during his tenure as mayor of Newark.
(Photo credit: Rick Gerharter for the Bay Area Reporter.)

What's in Sup. Sheehy's Financial Disclosure Form?

Only one person vetted and voted for the new District 8 member of the Board of Supervisors, Mayor Ed Lee, who himself was installed without facing the voters. 

So much for San Francisco democracy allowing we, the people, to directly choose our leaders all of the times.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who is not my supervisor just as Trump is not my president, assumed office on January 8. 

According to Ethics Commission rules, Sheehy has to produce his Form 700 and disclose a bit of financial information for himself and his husband.

Would have been nice to have Sheehy's Form 700 available for public inspection before he was anointed supervisor. Sames goes for seeing Trump's tax returns before he won the presidency.

We'll simply have to wait for Sheehy to provide the commission with his filing and once that happens, it can be read here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

NYT's Friedman: 'I Am a Small Shareholder' of a Cybersecurity Firm

It was a passing financial disclosure and generated curiosity about other info that should be disclosed.

Thomas Friedman opined in his January 11 opinion column for the New York Times, "Online and Scared," that our lives are ruled digitally and everyone needs to be careful about all that we do and share online.

Here's what caught my news watchdog eye:

"Alan S. Cohen, chief commercial officer of the cybersecurity firm Illumio (I am a small shareholder), noted in an interview on that the reason this tipping point tipped now was because so many companies, governments, universities, political parties and individuals have concentrated a critical mass of their data in enterprise data centers and cloud computing environments."

Good of Friedman to make this shareholder disclosure and I'd like for him and all regular Times columnists to fully disclose every company in which they are invested. Not only if they're writing about such a company but complete financial disclosures permanently posted on their Times biography page.

Why not have such media transparency? We demand it of our elected leaders. Let's also require it of America's news personalities and pundits.

There is also the matter of how Friedman and his editors define small. Is it ten or 10,000 shares he owns of Illumio? More info, and transparency, very much needed.

Time for Citizen Comments at the Start of SF Supes' Meetings

Gazing into my 2017 crystal ball, I see many meetings of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors every Tuesday, and lots of citizens anxious to speak.

Since there is no fixed time for citizen comments, forcing taxpayers to wait around for hours to petition our government representatives, I see working folks disrespected.

They don't know if they'll speak at 3 pm or 6 pm or whenever. This needs to change.

Casting my eye to the East Bay, there's a better way of handling time for the Supervisors to hear from we, the people.

Berkeley's City Council takes public comment at the start of the meeting for fifteen minutes and everyone not able to address the council at that time is given an opportunity for general comments at the end and on each agenda item. Public comments are always third on the agenda.

The full text of their rules are below.

For the Oakland City Council, the time is called Open Forum/Citizen Comments and it's third on the agenda and for fifteen minutes. I love how they use the term citizen instead of public, too. On top of that, you can also sign up online to speak at a meeting in Oakland!

How respectful and civilized of the electeds in these two East Bay cities. Folks know when to show up to speak. They don't have to spend hours listening to the pols blather on.

In San Francisco, the supervisors don't allow public comment at fixed agenda item and never at a fixed time. It always comes after making Roll Call Introductions, stood around handing out proclamations to constituents and generally campaign for the cameras and future votes.

A plea to every potential speaker at a Board of Supervisors meeting: Start demanding the members follow the example of Oakland and Berkeley and give us citizens time to speak at the start of every Tuesday meeting.

Berkeley's rules:

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Poz Inmate Michael Johnson Denied Clemency by Gov Nixon

When I was contacted in late December to write a letter to the governor of Missouri on behalf of my poz prison pen-pal Michael Johnson, I urged the leaders of his support team to go public with the effort. They opted not to mount a full-bore campaign for Michael.

Of course, we'll never know if such a campaign would have succeeded but it would have been a great assistance, I believe, if we had toward strengthening and expanding the support network for Michael. If there is another effort where public pressure could benefit Michael, I hope the leaders of his team more fully engage folks.

The news last week that clemency was denied by Gov. Jay Nixon was kept quiet but now, the Bay Area Reporter's sports writer Roger Brigham is the first to report this sad news.

I'll be mailing the print version of the story to Michael on Thursday, to keep him informed of how he continues to receive media attention in San Francisco. Here are excerpts from the BAR:

"A panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals in December overturned Johnson's conviction for knowingly infecting one man with HIV and endangering four other sexual partners, saying that the prosecution had engaged in a 'a trial-by-ambush strategy' by waiting until the last minute to reveal key evidence.

"Activists have been working behind the scenes for Johnson, but over the weekend outgoing Governor Jay Nixon declined to offer Johnson clemency, and St. Charles County prosecutors fought to have the appellate panel's decision overturned.

"If successful, the move by county prosecutors would reinstate a 30-year prison sentence under a penal code HIV activists call barbaric and counter to public welfare. Under Missouri laws, written decades ago when fear and ignorance plagued public fears regarding HIV and AIDS, it is a crime for an HIV-positive person to knowingly have unprotected sex. Repeated calls to the county prosecutor's office were not immediately returned . . .

"The antiquated laws under which Johnson was convicted spit in the face of that good sense. They infantilize and enable the hapless souls that do not assume responsibility for their own actions and who blame others for what they encounter . . .

"If county prosecutors are successful in having the conviction reinstated or hold a new trial with a new conviction, they will be flying in the face of virtually every human rights organization concerned about laws criminalizing HIV . . ."

My Freedom of Information Act request in December to the FBI for any files on Vice Media/Vice News, produced a reply that arrived via snail mail yesterday.

The FBI says they have no records responsive to my request. Just sharing this info to bring transparency to my FOIA-filing activities lately, maybe also inspire others to file requests for public records.

Have you asked a government agency for any records lately? American democracy needs more citizens making requests.

Attack Mailer: Airbnb Buying SF Supervisors' Votes?

Kudos to the good folks at the Share Better SF advocacy group for their hard-hitting snail-mailer arriving at homes across the City recently.

The front asks: "Campaign donations taken in 2016 from Airbnb and its investors. Is Airbnb getting its money's worth?"

Mugshots of Scott Wiener ($265,000), Malia Cohen ($51,000), and Mark Farrell ($250,000), and amounts they received from Airbnb are featured above the question that needs to be answered by the electeds.

On the back, we learn facts about the politicians and their favorable votes for Airbnb.

The mailer says: "Airbnb is now suing San Francisco - its hometown - claiming it has a Constitutional right to facilitate and profit from illegal short-term rentals. So whose side are San Francisco politicians taking -- yours or Airbnb's?"

Our local democracy needs more such paper mailers year round, not just at election time. Thanks, Share Better SF for holding Wiener, Cohen and Farrell to account.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sup. Sheehy Gave How Much to Wiener for Senate?

Never think you're getting the full story from Tim Redmond. The longterm progressive writer who fancies himself a thorough reporter, frequently omits important facts at his 48 Hills site.

Mayor Ed Lee's newly appointed District 8 supervisor, UCSF spokesman Jeff Sheehy, according to Redmond, has only made political donations at the local level. Redmond lists only the names of who received money from him, no amounts reported.

What Redmond also omits is that at the state level, Sheehy contributed $350 in 2016 to Scott Wiener's campaign for senate.

When it comes to following the money, Redmond needs a few lessons.

I predict Sheehy won't be an independent voice and vote on the Board of Supervisors. He'll be toeing the mayor's line and that is not good for the City.

Poz Prisoner Michael Johnson's New Year's Wishes

I continue to be amazed by this young man enduring a grave injustice.

Michael Johnson has been dealing with his successful legal challenge before a Missouri court and daily life in prison. I write to him often, regardless of his infrequent letters and cards to me.

In his latest note, which arrived right after the new year began, Michael apologizes for not writing back sooner! I replied telling him he has nothing to apologize over.

Michael writes that his health is good, he's busy with work and doing well in the general population.

He closes wishing me a merry Christmas and happy new year, and I'm sure he extends those sentiments to all of you who are among his supporters.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Wiener Phone Theft Trial May Begin on January 20th

Lasonya Wells is the middle-aged, homeless black woman who robbed elected official Scott Wiener of his phone in December 2015. She was in court on Friday.
Her public defender attorney Yali Corea-Levy told me today that “the trial has been continued to at least January 20 and I am ready for trial.”

You may recall Wells committed the alleged crime with her son Damian Wells and both have been in jail for more than year, because they can't afford bail. No word about when Damian's case will go to trial.

In my view, District Attorney George Gascon has over-charged in this case and is one that receives undue special prosecutorial attention because of the victim. If an ordinary citizen had their phone stolen in a mugging, I doubt Gascon would be pursuing a trial.

We'll learn on January 20 if the court will be clogged with trying Lasonya Wells and potentially locking her up for than the thirteen-months she's already been incarcerated.

Ex-Sheriff Mirkarimi is Now Working at . . . ?

I heard this bit of San Francisco news at a party over the weekend from a marijuana advocate.

Former sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is now the big boss at the Bay Area Safe Alternatives Collective and started his new gig last week. A call to the BASA Collective on Grove and Divisadero confirmed what I was told at the party.

After a career in elective politics, serving as a member of the Board of Supervisors and then sheriff where his controversial tenure was clouded by his physical and mental abuse of his wife Eliana Lopez, looks like he'll be employed in the pot industry from now on.

Let's hope he doesn't falsely imprison anyone as he did Lopez, and for which he copped a guilty misdemeanor plea.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Meryl Streep Gave to 27 State Democratic Parties in 2016

She stole the show. Meryl Streep sure knows how to impact an audience and she did it again at tonight's Golden Globes show.

Her speech taking Donald Trump to task for a few of his vile sins was a fabulous example of how to creatively resist the man who is not my president.

I checked her FEC records and learned that in 2016, part of the money she donated to either Hillary Clinton or Democratic National Committee went to twenty-seven state Democratic central committees.

While the amount to each state committee was small, $365 to be exact, the symbolism of the donations is huge. Thanks, Meryl, for wisely using your platform to hold the powerful and pitiful Trump to account.

RIP Nat Hentoff: Slick Willie, ACT UP & Petrelis

Back in the day, the Village Voice and its political columnists mattered. Among their marquee names was Nat Hentoff who was either feared or adored for his civil rights essays and reporting.

Hentoff passed away today at age 91 and it's the end of an era, one in which contrarians poked the powerful with conviction and terrific writing. He was always someone I could get on the phone and engage in conversation. Hentoff always returned my calls.

When I hit the 1992 presidential primary campaign trail in November 1991 by moving to New Hampshire, three months before any votes were cast, I started faxing Hentoff critical articles about Gov. Bill Clinton. Slick Willie was not winning me over due to his abysmal Arkansas record on HIV and gay issues.

Every week, I hoped Hentoff would opine about Clinton not being the savior many queer and HIV poz folks thought he was. Months of disappointment went by. It wasn't until October 27, 1992, that my advocacy paid off.

In a column titled "Slick Willie on Gay Rights," Hentoff said he was indebted to me for feeding him info and I was proud to receive mention from his pen.

What really pleased me, though, was Hentoff delving into Clinton's meager and twisted Arkansas record on the state's gay & bestiality statute, before linking it to his embrace of the death penalty. There was no other writer, gay or straight, putting the death penalty and sodomy criminalization in the same basket.

"I don't know if Rickey Ray Rector--the man with a hole in his head whom Clinton blithely executed to show he isn't soft on crime--has a family who thinks of him now and then. But I do. And my abstention from this presidential election is in memory of Rickey Ray Rector."

Amid the desperation of so many to rid the White House of 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, Hentoff stood up to say he would not vote for Clinton. I was glad to join him in rejecting Slick Willie, but voted third party, and to have known Hentoff in his prime.

Rest in peace and power, Nat!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

FBI: No Files on The NY Times or Wash Post After 2000

Out of curiosity, I filed Freedom of Information Act requests last month with the FBI regarding two major newspapers.

Yesterday's snail mail brought replies stating the agency has no responsive records pertaining to the New York Times nor the Washington Post. My broad request was from January 2000 through last month.

Let's see if the FBI opens an investigation or file on either newspaper once Trump become president.

People, has this ever happened to you?

While under the influence of 420, your spouse shows you his box of holiday cards and after a cursory glance you say, "Oh, my god. It's a Christmas goose!"

Only it isn't. As Mike points out in his sticker on the inside of all the cards he sent to our family members in South Dakota, the animal is actually a pheasant.

How the heck was I supposed to know it's the state bird of South Dakota?

This gay goose enjoyed a few good laughs when Mike showed me the sticker, which I am sure gave our rural relatives something to chuckle over.

How I love my Mike for keeping us in stitches all these years!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Schindler Killer's Has a Facebook Dating Page & Memoir? 

Let's talk all of what Terry M. Helvey says with a large amount of skepticism.

In 1992, while serving in the U.S. Navy, openly gay sailor Allen Schindler was murdered in a Sasebo, Japan, men's room at the bloody hands of Helvey and his accomplice Charles Vins. Helvey was sentenced to life in prison.

He somehow set up a Facebook page through "Date An Inmate" in June 2016 and claims that his memoir would be published last year. I've not heard of any book from him coming out and if you know it has, please let me know.

It sure is curious that he's got this online profile and I wonder who's responded and written to him.

Thanks to Dirty Dave of Indianapolis for alerting me to Helvey's Facebook page and what he wrote.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Is the Black-Led Boycott of San Francisco a Bust?

The New York Daily News's senior justice reporter, Shaun King, is a black writer with a virtual army behind him. He's got over 554,000 followers on Twitter.

On December 5, King launched the Injustice Boycott with these words:

"Today, we are announcing the first three cities of our boycott. They are Standing Rock, San Francisco, and New York City.

"We are giving those cities, the businesses and corporations that call those cities home, the states they are in, and the federal government, 43 days, that’s until King Day of 2017, to meet the reasonable and humane demands of local activists in those cities."

This is awfully vague and contains no actual demands, why they should be met and who exactly will carry them out. Is this supposed to be concrete organizing as the Trump Era dawns? Things get more opaque:

"The government officials in those cities know full well who the local activists are. The government officials in those cities know full well what the reasonable demands of those local activists are. And today, we are serving notice, that it is time for government officials, businesses, and all interested parties in those cities to actually make serious, substantive, measureable change happen over the next 43 days."

Well, I live in one of those cities and sure would like to know who these activists and what demands they have. Specific names and goals are needed, but none forthcoming from King or anyone in the Injustice Boycott group, if there even is anyone in a leadership position besides King.

Let me state that I follow King on Twitter and occasionally read his Daily News pieces, and much of what he is fighting for are causes I also believe in, such as full police accountability.

But I'm blase about his boycott and the long on history, short on details for contemporary grassroots organizing in and against two major cities. Good writing from King is no substitute for actual plans and details.

Numerous tweets and emails were sent to King, seeking answers to my questions and no response was received. Since the launch of his boycott a month ago, there's been no update on the site.

There is no page about King's demands on San Francisco and the page for Standing Rock's demands is empty, as shown in the photo. This is no way to organize a boycott and one that many progressives and liberals have heralded as effective resistance to Trump.

Where exactly is this boycott taking place and who's assessing its impact?

SF Chron Omits Yiannopoulos' Simon & Schuster Deal

How could a $250,000 book deal between a major publisher and a provocative gay writer be omitted from a daily newspaper's story about the writer's appearance in the Bay Area next month?

Today's otherwise excellent piece by education writer Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle, about Milo Yiannopoulos' speaking engagement at UC Berkeley on February 1, was marred by this omission.

Not one word about the book deal, the publisher Simon and Schuster or the heated backlash against the company in the Chronicle story. What's up with that?

Here's what Asimov and the paper reported about his college speaking tour:

"He typically aims his barbs and taunts at women, people of color and anyone left of Donald Trump. But it isn’t Yiannopoulos that campus officials are so worried about. It’s the people he infuriates — and there are plenty of them — who are causing the administration to consider hiring 40 extra police officers on top of the usual seven, said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof, who’s been bombarded with emails from students demanding that the university cancel the invitation.

"Yiannopoulos, a gay conservative, is a public speaker and editor for the right-wing opinion site Breitbart News Network. He’s been making the rounds at college campuses across the country with his 'Dangerous Faggot' talks, specializing in remarks meant to insult, offend and disgust those who disagree with his ideas."

This is not a matter of fake news but of incomplete news. The Chronicle should have informed readers about the Simon and Schuster deal and ensuring controversy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

CNN's Blonde Heads Blend & Blur, Boring My Eyes

It's getting blander by the day, what I see on a once venerable and actual news-driven cable TV outlet.

This screen shot was snapped today off a CNN broadcast and the two blonde female talking heads neatly blended together, boring my eyes.

A blur of blonde trusses hanging down past the chin, same hair parting, solid reddish tops and I didn't give a damn what they had to say. It just wasn't news, the forgotten middle letter in CNN.

Bye-bye, CNN, as a go-to source of news and facts.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Packed Roxie Theater Honors Carrie Fisher

San Francisco's venerable Mission District movie house was full last night. I was part of the packed Roxie Theater audience that came out to celebrate and remember Carrie Fisher on January 1, 2017.

The Roxie's great staff showed "Postcards from the Edge" on the big screen. Before that, we were treated to a selection of Fisher's TV appearances. The highlight was Fisher skewering George Lucas at the American Film Institute gala in his honor a few years back.

Not sure why, I again forgot that early in the film and for many scenes, her fictional alter ego played by Meryl Streep, wears a queer pink triangle pinned on her denim jacket. I should remember that.

Here's my video from last night:

NYT: Who Originated the Term 'People With AIDS'?

Important HIV and gay history was shared that greatly sheds light on an key matter from the early AIDS plague years. The lead letter in the New York Times Book Review on December 12 delved into who originated the term people with AIDS.

I've communicated my gratitude to Michael Helquist, the author of the letter, and am pleased to report his response edified me. Nice to connect with a fellow longterm survivor of AIDS, committed to keeping our history honest and honoring our dead.

Thanks, Michael, for getting this letter published in the Gray Lady:

‘People With AIDS’

To the Editor: Andrew Sullivan’s review of “How to Survive a Plague,” by David France (Nov. 27), credits Michael Callen with pioneering the empowering idea that individuals with AIDS were neither victims nor patients but rather “people with AIDS.” But this overlooks the contribution of Mark Feldman, who originated the term.

One of the first 50 to be diagnosed with AIDS in San Francisco, Feldman addressed 10,000 marchers in San Francisco’s first AIDS Memorial March on May 2, 1983: “I am a person with AIDS, a person with AIDS, a human being, not a victim and only a patient when I am in a hospital.”

A month later, at an AIDS conference in Denver, Callen noted Feldman’s and others’ efforts in New York to be called “patients” rather than “victims.” He added, “This has been a challenge to not call ourselves patients either.” “People with AIDS” was adopted by attendees.

After the conference, Callen championed the People With AIDS movement that he had embraced a month after Feldman coined the term.


Sunday, January 01, 2017

We received an unscheduled and delightful visit this New Year's Day from our friend Brett, and a former tenant in our building.

He stopped by with a charming gal-pal named Marianne. They brought libations, we toasted the dawn of 2017, shared a few laughs and snapped these photos.

Quite a lovely way to spend part of today, a day in which I stayed offline from 1 am through 3 pm.

May we all have a terrific new year, full of health and good times!