Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Worthington claims Berkeley council seat after three rounds of ranked-choice voting

It’s official. Openly gay Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington (at right) has won a fifth term in office and will continue to be a major thorn in the side of Mayor Tom Bates, who had targeted the progressive lawmaker for defeat this year.

Worthington had fallen just shy of the 50-percent threshold needed to win outright on Election Night. Late Friday afternoon (November 5) the Alameda County Registrar of Voters posted the results of the ranked-choice voting in the race for the Berkeley council’s District 7 seat.

His lead over his two opponents grew by two votes in the second round after the second choice votes of the five people who voted for a write-in candidate were tabulated. Lesbian graphic artist Cecilia “Ces” Rosales, who came in third, received two votes.

But Worthington remained just below the 50 percent mark, with 49.77 percent of the vote, sending the race into round three of voting. With Rosales knocked out and her voters’ second choices distributed, Worthington’s vote total went from 1,590 to 1,814, giving him 58 percent.

Gay computer programmer and community activist George Beier, in his third stab at trying to unseat Worthington, went from having 1,148 votes in the second round to a new total of 1,332 or 42 percent of the vote.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 5, 2010 @ 4:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Castro merchants criticize PG&E over response to gas line rupture

Representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric came under fire  as they talked to Castro merchants about the gas line rupture that shut down much of the neighborhood recently.

The men seemed unprepared to answer questions about the incident, and many of the responses they did have prompted derisive laughter and shouts from several people who attended the Thursday, November 4 Merchants of Upper Market and Castro meeting.

On October 21, a contractor working with Muni ruptured a distribution line, sending gas into the neighborhood for hours. Several businesses were evacuated, Muni lines were re-routed, and Castro Street between Market and 19th was shut down for most of the afternoon.

Josh Fredrickson, one of the PG&E staffers at the meeting, said that the contractor had worked with PG&E and painted lines to mark the site. But he indicated that the contractor had then ignored those lines.

Frederickson said two new representatives who were introduced at the meeting would help any businesses that were affected with claims.

“We can figure out the process to get you compensation, hopefully,” said Frederickson.

When it was time for questions, Terry Asten Bennett, general manager of Cliff’s Variety at 479 Castro, asked why there wasn’t another gas turnoff point.

She noted that for about three hours that afternoon, a loud hiss could be heard throughout the neighborhood as gas escaped from the pipe. Many in the people had been concerned about a fire, and there was a heavy gas smell throughout the area for several hours after the rupture.

One of the PG&E reps said, “That’s a really good question. We’ll have to look into that.” That hardly satisfied the merchants.

Asten Bennett recalled, “The contractors ran up the block screaming, ‘Run!’ That’s all the notification we got.”

She said Muni drivers were the ones who stayed behind to get people out of the neighborhood. She said nobody, including people from PG&E, was on the scene until 20 minutes after the line was ruptured.

After another PG&E staffer explained that the company had responded as quickly as they could, Patrick Batt, who owns Auto Erotica on 18th Street, said, “It’s time to man up. … This entire neighborhood could have gone up in flames.”

He criticized the representatives for the lack of outreach during and since the rupture, and referred to what had happened in San Bruno.

In that city, which is about 20 minutes south of San Francisco, several people were killed September 9 after a PG&E gas line exploded. Local officials have said that the line in the Castro was a 2-inch distribution line, much smaller than the San Bruno line.

One of the PG&E reps apologized for what had happened, but Batt said, “You did an outrageous, outrageously sloppy job, and you’re still doing it.”

He added that his shop, which is close to the rupture site, is on a second floor and said, “No one bothered to come up and tell me to get my ass out of the neighborhood. Everybody else did their job but you.”

One of the PG&E reps said, “We did hand out claim forms to businesses right around the pipe.”

But someone from Walgreens – which has a store right next to the rupture site – shouted, “We didn’t get one!”

Asten Bennett said that another PG&E representative had told her, “This isn’t our problem.”

She said her shop still smelled of gas at 8:30 the next morning.

Frederickson apologized for the poor outreach, and said he didn’t have claim forms with him at the meeting, but he said, “We’ll make sure a representative comes out with claim forms, and we’ll do this appropriately.”

After the presentation, Frederickson declined to discuss the issue with the Bay Area Reporter, but said he’d have someone from PG&E’s press office call. That hasn’t happened.

When the meeting was over, a handful of merchants shared their contact information with Frederickson and the other PG&E staffers so that they could get claim forms.

Petyr Kane and Dennis Collins, from the Castro clothing shops Citizen and Body, said they plan to file a claim. Collins estimated they lost $500 to $600 from paying eight employees for several hours while they couldn’t work.

The issue is set for discussion at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting Monday, November 15.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:08 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Harris continues to lead in AG race

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris continues to lead LA’s DA, Steve Cooley, in the race for attorney general.

Cooley, a Republican, had initially appeared victorious Tuesday night, but as more votes came in the margin drew closer, and the gap remains slim.

As of this morning (Friday, November 5) Harris, a Democrat, had 3,349,613 votes, or 45.9 percent of the total, while Cooley had 3,332,598 votes, or 45.7 percent.

Cooley’s campaign anticipates a final tally might not be available until December 3, after all the absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

The race could be significant in the fight over the state’s Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban. Harris, an advocate for LGBTs, has said the state’s “precious and few resources” shouldn’t be wasted on defending the measure, which was passed by voters in November 2008 and is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.

But Cooley has said he would defend it. (A Cooley spokesman has said that Cooley didn’t support Prop 8 in 2008, and that the Prop 8 case wouldn’t be at the top of his agenda if he wins office.) The attorney general also gets to decide ballot language, which could make a difference if marriage equality advocates attempt to repeal Prop 8 at the ballot box.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Robbery investigation underway at Wells Fargo in Castro

There’s been a robbery or attempted robbery at the Wells Fargo at 557 Castro Street this morning.

Sergeant Dan Greely confirmed the incident but said he couldn’t provide many details yet.

“No one’s hurt, nobody is in custody, and robbery personnel are on the scene,” he said.

Michele Ashley, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said she wasn’t sure if it was a robbery or an attempted robbery, but she said, “Everyone’s fine, and there have been no injuries.”

The incident occurred at 10:15 a.m. Ashley couldn’t immediately provide more information.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:18 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


DMV continues investigation into reported transphobic letter

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is continuing to investigate a report that an employee sent a transgender San Francisco woman a letter calling her “an abomination,” a DMV spokesman said.

“Since it’s an employee matter, our office of internal affairs is still investigating it,” Mike Marando, a DMV spokesman, said today (Thursday, November 4). He said, “It would be premature to speculate” how much longer the investigation might take.

He said the employee “is not working currently.” Asked if he’d been terminated because of the letter, Marando said, “I didn’t say he was terminated.” He wouldn’t say whether the worker’s been suspended, but he said the worker hadn’t resigned.

“The employee has been removed from the field office,” said Marando. The employee had worked in the Fell Street office in San Francisco.

Marando had said last week that the department hoped to “know something within the next week or so.”

The Transgender Law Center said in a statement last week that Amber Yust received a letter from the worker calling her “an abomination” and telling her that she’s going to hell.

According to the center, Yust had gone to the DMV with her court-ordered name change and DMV paperwork with her, and had obtained a new driver’s license in her new name.

But October 18, she received a letter at home from the employee who’d processed her name change. The DMV worker quoted from the Bible and stated that Yust had made a “very evil decision” and that homosexuals should be put to death, the center stated.

Yust declined an interview request, but in a TLC statement, she said, “This has been a traumatic experience for me and I want to ensure that nothing like this happens to anyone else.”

The DMV’s Marando said today, “In any case where we’ve investigated employees, there is due process involved … . We investigate to the fullest extent, and there are hearings conducted, and at that time we make determinations.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 4, 2010 @ 4:41 pm PST
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UPDATE: Transgender judge-elect Victoria Kolakowski’s historic win grabs international attention

Oakland Council woman Rebecca Kaplan, left, and judicial candidate Victoria Kolakowski

Transgender judicial candidate Victoria Kolakowski’s historic win Tuesday night is gaining international attention.

UPDATE: An administrative law judge for the state Public Utilities Commission, Kolakowski saw her lead grow by 891 votes late Friday. According to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, she now has a 4,611-vote lead in her race to secure a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court.

Her total had grown to 121,431 votes or 50 percent; while her opponent, John Creighton, had 116,820 votes or 49 percent.

In the race for Oakland mayor, lesbian at-large Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan found herself knocked out of the race in round nine of the ranked-choice voting. And in a surprise reversal from Election Night, second-place finisher fellow Councilwoman Jean Quan surpassed first-place finisher Don Perata, a former state senator, to eke out a win.

According to unofficial returns, Quan emerged the winner in round 10 of the ranked-choice voting with 43,825 votes or 51 percent. Perata came up short with 41,949 votes or 49 percent of the vote.

In a statement she released late Friday, Quan called the last several days a “cliff hanger” and that while “it’s looking pretty good” noted there are still 10,000 absentee and provisional ballots to be counted.

“This has been an amazing race. The fact that we have a slight lead despite Perata spending millions on this race is a tremendous accomplishment,” stated Quan. “Our massive grass roots effort–led by our dedicated and extremely talented team of almost 1000 volunteers–is already making a difference in Oakland.”

Kolakowski will become the country’s first transgender judge. Several of the Alameda court’s judges have already called to welcome her to the bench.

CNN named Kolakowski, the wife of Bay Area Reporter news editor Cynthia Laird, one of its “intriguing people” today (Thursday, November 4). The story has also appeared on European websites, such as in France and Italy.

And the Canadian Press noted that her win was a cause for celebration within America’s LGBT community on a night that saw three Iowa judges who overturned their state’s anti-same-sex marriage laws be ousted by voters.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Wiener introduced as next SF District 8 supe

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Supervisor-elect Scott Wiener, and MUMC President Steve Adams

Supervisor-elect Scott Wiener was introduced as the next representative for District 8 at the regular meeting of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro this morning (Thursday, November 4).

Nothing’s final, but Wiener and out gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who currently holds the seat, seemed sure that Wiener is the winner.

Rafael Mandelman, who’s in second place, has not conceded.

During the meeting, Wiener said it had been a “grueling, long campaign,” and he’d been “honored to be running against some exceptional candidates.” He acknowledged MUMC members might have voted for other candidates, but said, “I’m going to work with all of you,” and said he was looking forward to starting the job.

Dufty said, “I strongly support Rebecca Prozan and love her,” referring to the deputy district attorney he’d endorsed for the race, but said, “The district has clearly made a choice.” He also said he’s confident Wiener would be an even better supervisor than he’s been.

As of Wednesday, Wiener, an out gay deputy city attorney, held a sizeable lead in the hotly contested race for the seat. He emerged as the first place finisher Tuesday night among Prozan and two other out candidates seeking to represent the city’s gay Castro District, Noe Valley, Glen Park and Diamond Heights neighborhoods.

But Wiener fell short of the 50 percent threshold to avoid triggering the city’s instant runoff voting system, leaving second place finisher local attorney Rafael Mandelman still in the race to capture the seat.

According to unofficial returns posted Wednesday, Wiener had 8,964 votes or 41.73 percent of the total. He had been considered the frontrunner in the race as the seat has gone to moderate gay men the last three elections. Dufty is termed out of office and running to be mayor.

Mandelman took second place with 7,796 votes or 36.3 percent.

In a phone interview after the MUMC meeting, Mandelman said he’s still waiting for the final tally and hasn’t conceded yet.

He said there are 84,000 ballots citywide that have not been counted to determine first choices.

That means there are between 8,000 to 12,000 ballots left to be counted in District 8, “and when those are counted they have to go look at second choices,” said Mandelman.

“There are about 1,200 votes separating us,” he said. “… I think Scott has reason to be optimistic, but the process hasn’t played out, and I want to let that happen.”

Mandelman added, “Whatever happens, I’m really pleased with the support we were able to win. Even if the current totals stand, that’s more than one-third of the district” that was “attracted by our message,” he said.

Prozan, an out lesbian, came in third place with 3,594 votes or 16.73 percent. Bill Hemenger received 1125 votes, or 5.24 percent.

If past election results hold true, it is rare for the first place finisher in the first round not to be declared the eventual winner.

At the MUMC meeting, during a brief discussion of this year’s Halloween activities in the neighborhood, Dufty began saying, “The next supervisor is going to have to figure out …,” then corrected himself and said, “Scott’s going to have to figure out” Halloween logistics.

After the meeting, Wiener expressed confidence he’ll be the winner after all the votes are counted. He said factors such as absentee ballots are “unlikely to change the outcome.”

“It’s never over until it’s over. Anything can happen,” he said. But, he added, “I feel good about where we are.”

During the meeting, Dufty also noted “there’s a lot of speculation about the next mayor.” Current Mayor Gavin Newsom won Tuesday’s election to be the state’s lieutenant governor, so his job will soon be vacant. If he hadn’t been elected to the state post, Newsom’s term as mayor would have expired in November 2011.

Dufty said there appears to be an opportunity for the outgoing board to select the interim mayor. Board President David Chiu might become acting mayor for the next couple months, then “Scott’s board” might choose someone else, said Dufty. The next board will take their seats in January.

He said some of his colleagues on the board are “adamant” they want a “caretaker mayor” such as City Administrator Ed Lee, among other possible candidates.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Harris team predicts victory; Cooley campaign says it’s too soon

The race for state attorney general isn’t over yet. But that depends on who you talk to.

As of this afternoon (Wednesday, November 3), San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, a Democrat, (pictured at left) was leading Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley (R) by a tiny margin –  45.9 percent to 45.7 percent.

“San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris will be the next Attorney General of the State of California,” Ace Smith, a spokesman for Harris’s campaign, declared in an e-mail to “interested parties” Wednesday.

But Cooley wasn’t so sure.

“The race for Attorney General will not be decided for at least another couple of weeks, and potentially could go until the official Certification of Vote deadline on December 3,” Kevin Spillane, a Cooley consultant, said in an e-mail blast.

Over 1 million provisional and absentee ballots still haven’t been counted, according to Spillane.

Smith’s message countered that uncounted ballots would only bolster Harris’s lead, and “our model shows that Kamala Harris clearly won the vote on Election Day” by 3 percent.

In his message, Smith noted all precincts have reported and mocked Cooley’s campaign, calling the Republican’s initial declaration of victory late Tuesday night “Dewey-esque.”

Cooley’s campaign eventually acknowledged he’d spoken too soon by canceling a “victory” press conference this morning, Smith wrote.

In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, after the e-mails had gone out, Smith offered further explanation of the original message.

“We’re not declaring victory,” like Cooley did, he said. “We’re declaring our confidence in this outcome. We’re declaring when all the votes are cast, we’re going to win this thing.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 3, 2010 @ 3:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Election Night party offerings abound in San Francisco

The party atmosphere will continue tonight in San Francisco as candidates and their supporters gather to watch election returns and (fingers crossed) cheer on their endorsed winners in local and statewide races.

There even will be dancing in the streets as happened last night following the San Francisco Giant’s historic World Series win. The annual Day of the Dead processional will snake its way through the Mission District en route to Garfield Park where local residents will erect altars to their deceased loved ones.

The following is a sampling of the various election parties the public has been invited to attend this evening, Tuesday, November 2:

The local Democratic Party will host its own get together at the Great American Music Hall. Openly gay legislators state Senator Mark Leno and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano are expected to be in attendance, as are their straight counterparts Senator Leeland Yee and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. All but Leno were on today’s ballot and are expected to easily win their races.

Admission is free and the doors open at 8:30 p.m. The concert venue is located at 859 O’Farrell Street between Polk and Larkin.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, will gather with friends and supporters at Tres Agaves, 130 Townsend Street (at 2nd), as they watch to see if he is elected the state’s lieutenant governor. The party begins at 8 p.m.

Nearby will be the party for Distirct Attorney Kamala Harris, who is hoping to become the state’s first female attorney general. She will be gathering with friends and backers at 8 p.m. at the Delancey Street Foundation’s Private Club Room, 600 Embarcadero.

Across the Bay in Oakland lesbian at-large City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan and her supporters will watch the polling results come in from 8 to 11 p.m. at Everett & Jones BBQ at 126 Broadway.

District 6 supervisor candidates

Out lesbian artist Debra Walker has invited supporters to join her from 8 to 10 p.m. at The Outsider, 894 Geary Street, to watch early returns come in before heading over to the local Democratic Party’s event.

Drag queen Annaconda – whose real name is Glendon Hyde – is hosting a “Victory Party” at 9 p.m. at The Eagle Tavern on the corner of 12th Street and Harrison.

Openly gay Entertainment Commissioner Jim Meko is hosting a fete starting at 8 p.m. at his campaign headquarters, 366 Tenth Street (between Folsom and Harrison Streets), for what he is calling “a fitting finale to an amazing adventure.”

Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman who heads the city’s Human Rights Commission, is holding her party at 8 p.m. at Don Ramon’s Restaurant, 225 11th Street (between Folsom and Howard Streets).

District 8 supervisor candidates

Openly gay Deputy City Attorney Scott Wiener will gather with supporters at 8:30 p.m. at Harvey’s at the corner of 18th and Castro Streets.

Gay business executive Bill Hemenger has invited supporters to his house at 7:30 p.m., 11 Cameo Way, to watch election returns.

Gay local attorney Rafael Mandelman is gathering with friends tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Pilsner Inn, 225 Church Street.

Out lesbian Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan will be at the Valley Tavern, 4054 24th Street in Noe Valley starting at 8:30 p.m.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 2, 2010 @ 1:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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