Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Reward offered in investigation of SF gay man’s murder

The San Francisco mayor’s office has authorized a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the suspect responsible for the murder of Phillip DiMartino, 36.

DiMartino (pictured at right), who was gay, was found stabbed in his apartment at 138 Hermann Street on August 2.

Lisa T. DiMartino said in an e-mail about her brother this week, “It could take forever to tell you all the great things about him.”

DiMartino, who lives in Chicago, continued, “In short, Phil was a wonderful brother. He was witty, adventurous, and it was always fun to be around him. He was there for our family without hesitation whenever we needed him. Time spent with Phil was always filled with so much laughter. My family and I miss him so much.”

In its report on DiMartino’s death, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office described 48 stab wounds, most of them in his back, among other injuries. The cause of death was listed as “sharp force injuries with blunt force injuries.”

DiMartino’s body was found after a co-worker who had gone to check on him looked through a window and saw “a pair of what appeared to be bloody legs on the floor,” the report says. The co-worker did not enter the apartment, according to the report.

Fire and police personnel responded to the scene and entered through the unlocked front door, the report says. Police have said there were no signs of forced entry.

“Two notes were located in the living room that bore Spanish language,” the report says. What was written in the notes was not included in the report.

DiMartino was a senior marketing manager for Archstone, an apartment company. He’d listed Toad Hall and other Castro area bars among the interests on his Facebook page.

Police said he most likely was killed July 30. They also said that the suspect may have cut himself, most likely on the hand, during the assault.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the San Francisco Police Department at  (415) 553-1145 and ask for Inspectors Morley, Martin, Jones, or Velarde; or call anonymously at (415) 575-4444.

People with information on the case may also text a tip to 847411 (TIP411). Type “SFPD” and then the tip.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 12, 2011 @ 5:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF Castro area Edge bar to close

The owner of the popular Edge bar in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is closing the bar Sunday, January 16, when his lease expires.

That’s news to John Tran, the new owner of the building where the bar (4149 18th Street) is located.

“We’re still under talks, so I don’t think I’m privy to release any type of  information to anyone,” said Tran of negotiations with Don McMartin, the Edge’s owner.

However, he did say, “Don wants me to cut his rent in half, which is unheard of. If he doesn’t tell you the whole story, then I don’t need to tell you, either.”

McMartin, who’s planning a party for Sunday, said that Tran took possession of the building in October, but Tran wouldn’t confirm that, and he also wouldn’t say how much he paid for the building.

The bar owner told the Bay Area Reporter that he wants to pay less than the current $9.15 per square foot than he’s paying now. The market rate ranges from $2-$5 per square foot, McMartin said.

Asked if he would keep the space LGBT-oriented, Tran said, “I would like to, but I don’t know what’s going to happen yet.”

He wasn’t sure about the property’s future as a bar.

“I’m not too familiar with licensing issues” with the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control he said. However, he said, his broker is “confident he can lease it out, so I’m not too concerned about that.” He declined to say who his broker is.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay DA candidate Paul Henderson’s chances improve after Supervisor David Chiu declines job

After days of speculation that he had a lock on the job, San Francisco Board President David Chiu took himself out of the running for the vacant district attorney post.

In a statement sent to the media today (Thursday, January 6) Chiu withdrew his name from consideration. The district attorney post has been vacant since Monday, when Kamala Harris took her oath of office to be the state’s new attorney general.

According to a press release from Chiu’s office, he informed both Mayor Gavin Newsom and Harris about his decision. He had met with both in recent days to discuss his interest in the job.

Chiu, whose two-year term as board president expires this Saturday, January 8, said he feels he can have a bigger impact by remaining on the board.

“Right now my strong belief is that I can best serve San Francisco from City Hall. The challenges ahead of us will require a new level of collaboration between our elected leaders—many of them new to office—and all San Franciscans who care about the future of our incredibly diverse and inclusive City,” stated Chiu.

He added that he wants to tackle both the city’s $400 million budget deficit and growing pension and health care costs so that they do not threaten basic city services.

“We must defend and strengthen the fraying safety net that protects our most vulnerable residents and makes us worthy of the progressive legacy of St. Francis,” stated Chiu. “We must work quickly to grow our economy and create jobs, to promote affordable housing, to protect our environment, and to improve public transportation.”

The decision has ramifications for both Paul Henderson, a gay man who is seeking to become DA, and openly gay Supervisor David Campos, who has his eye on becoming board president.

After the new board is sworn in Saturday, its first order of business is to pick a president. The person needs to secure six votes to get the plum assignment.

In 2008 Campos and Chiu were both nominated for the job. With progressives upset with Chiu’s decision to back moderate City Administrator Ed Lee to replace Mayor Gavin Newsom once he departs Monday to become the state’s lieutenant governor, it is unclear if Chiu has the votes for a second term as president.

There is some speculation that a moderate will be able to grab the post. The four freshman supervisors set to join the board are considered to be less progressive than those they are replacing.

As for DA, it is anyone’s guess who will replace Harris. Nor is it clear when Newsom will name her replacement.

Henderson (pictured at left) has been Harris’s chief of administration since late 2007 and worked as a deputy DA under two other district attorneys: Arlo Smith and Terence Hallinan. He has made no secret he would like to be appointed to fill Harris’ job, giving him a leg up in the fall election for a full four-year-term as DA.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, others said to be under consideration for DA include Chief Assistant District Attorney David Pfeifer, the No. 2 in the office; Assistant District Attorney Andrew Clark; David Onek, senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice; top-flight San Francisco attorney John Keker; Deputy City Attorney Sean Connolly, who has represented the city in police excessive force cases; and Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Sharmin Bock, an expert on human trafficking.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 6, 2011 @ 3:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Justice Carlos Moreno, equality supporter, to retire

California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who cast the lone dissenting vote in the court’s May 2009 6-1 ruling upholding the Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban, is retiring effective February 28.

Lynn Holton, a court spokeswoman, confirmed media reports of Moreno’s (pictured at right) retirement today (Thursday, January 6).

“It has been a truly unique honor and privilege to have served the people of California as a judge for over twenty-four years and, together with my great colleagues on the Court, to have played a modest role in shaping California jurisprudence,” Moreno said in a statement.

He also stated, “I look forward to weighing my options in the private sector, including private practice and alternative dispute resolution, and broadening my civic involvement in public affairs.”

Holton said Moreno submitted a letter to Governor Jerry Brown yesterday.

Moreno, 62, was sworn in as an associate justice of the state Supreme Court on October 18, 2001, following his nomination by Governor Gray Davis. He’s married and has three children.

In a statement, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said Moreno is “a consummate professional, [and] a dedicated and gracious jurist.”

“He is known statewide for his distinguished service as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and for his leadership of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, which has brought improved practices and procedures in juvenile dependency cases,” she stated.

“I fully expected that Justice Moreno and I would serve together on the Supreme Court for at least another decade,” continued Cantil-Sakauye.  “While I am saddened by his announcement, I am happy for him because his future is filled with possibilities.”

Explaining what happens next, Holton said that Brown would select people he might want to appoint to replace Moreno and send their names to the state Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.

That commission will provide Brown with their review of the candidates, and Brown will then make a nomination.

Then, the Commission on Judicial Appointments will review that nomination at a public hearing. The commission is chaired by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and also includes Attorney General Kamala Harris – a strong marriage equality supporter – and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein., the senior presiding justice of the Courts of Appeal

If the panel confirms them, the nominee could immediately be sworn in, said Holton, who declined to speculate how long the entire process could take.

Moreno didn’t respond to an e-mailed interview request.

Tuesday, a panel of federal appellate judges asked the state Supreme Court to advise it on whether, the group behind Prop 8, can defend the anti-gay law in the federal courts. The state’s voters passed the measure in November 2008.

The issue of whether have standing in the federal lawsuit has been a key issue in the case since both former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brown, serving as the state’s attorney general, refused to defend Prop 8 before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when the three-judge panel heard oral arguments last month.

Harris, who was sworn in as the state’s attorney general Monday, has said she does not intend to switch course. Because neither of the state’s top law enforcement officers are willing to defend Prop 8, the anti-gay group has sought to do so in the federal lawsuit known as Perry vs. Schwarzenegger.

The issue of standing is key, as should it be determined that has no right to intervene, then a ruling last summer by U.S. Chief District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that Prop 8 is unconstitutional would stand. It will likely be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the matter, though, as the losing side in the case is expected to appeal the appellate court’s ruling.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

More out gubernatorial appointments announced

Two more out Californians have been given high level posts, one on several oversight panels and another in the governor’s office.

They join the other new gay or lesbian gubernatorial appointments announced in recent weeks, as the Bay Area Reporter reported in today’s edition. Among them are former lawmakers John Laird, the new secretary of the Natural Resources Agency; Carole Migden, a seat on the Agriculture Labor Relations Board; and Roy Ashburn, a seat on the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. All three require Senate confirmation.

Newly sworn in Governor Jerry Brown named Nick Velasquez, 30, of Los Angeles, as his director of external affairs. The openly gay Velasquez, a Democrat like his boss, had served as Brown’s deputy campaign manager last year.

Prior to that position, he headed the California Accountability Project at the Democratic Governor’s Association. From 2006 to 2009 Velasquez served as a senior communications and policy aide to Los Angeles City Attorneys Rocky Delgadillo and Carmen Trutanich.

Velasquez will earn $80,000 and does not need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Before Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger left office this week, he reappointed Vicki Marti, 63, of Fairfax, (pictured at left) to the California Medical Assistance Commission, where she has served as commissioner since 2002. The job pays $56,095 and also does not require approval by the state Senate.

The former GOP governor also appointed Marti, who is a Democrat, to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board. That position requires Senate confirmation and, if she is approved, Marti will earn $111,845.

A psychotherapist and drug and alcohol counselor, Marti has served on the Board of Directors of Marin Services for Women since 2009. She had worked there for nearly two decades prior to her retirement.

Marti is also the partner of Susan Kennedy, Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff in Sacramento whom he appointed this month to the five-person California Health Benefit Exchange.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Date set for 2011 Oakland LGBT Pride fest

Martha Wash sings at Oakland's 2010 LGBT Pride Festival

Oakland Pride has set September 4, the Sunday before Labor Day, as the date for this year’s LGBT Pride festival. The theme is “We Are Family.”

Organizers have been hoping to use money from the festival to establish an LGBT community center in Oakland. But there’s no money left over from the 2010 festival, which featured entertainers such as soul legend Chaka Khan and was the first full-fledged LGBT Pride celebration in the East Bay since 2003.

Oakland Pride’s deficit has been shrinking, though. Frank Ciglar, the group’s treasurer, said in late December that their deficit was “probably somewhere around $7,000.” That’s an improvement from October, when he’d estimated the gap was as much as $25,000.

He said fundraising for this year’s event would start in January. He didn’t know what this year’s budget would be, but last year’s was about $150,000.

Meanwhile, an e-mail from “Oakland Pride Press” announced that the singer Raz B. will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, January 15, 2011, at Oakland’s gay Bench and Bar club, 510 17th Street. Joe Hawkins, co-chair of Oakland Pride’s board, is listed as the press contact.

But it turns out it’s not a benefit for Pride. In response to an e-mail from the Bay Area Reporter asking whether there was a connection, Hawkins, who works with Bench and Bar as a promoter, wrote that he took the template he’d used for Pride messages and forgot to change the “from” line.

Also, lest there be any other confusion, Raz B. (Demario Thornton) said in Hawkins’s original message that he’s not gay, or even bisexual.

“I have been in a relationship with my girl for five years and I have a five year old son,” he stated. “I am not confused about who I am. I appreciate all of my fans including my LGBTQ fans because they have supported me and my music. They have booked me and welcomed me at their events. For this I am grateful.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 10:36 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

HRC postpones opening of store in Harvey Milk’s old Castro storefront

The Human Rights Campaign has postponed the opening of its store and action center in the old Castro storefront that once housed the late gay rights leader Harvey Milk’s camera shop and political campaign headquarters.

HRC had said it would close its current store located at the corner of Castro and 19th Streets today and reopen in the new space down the block at 575 Castro Street this Friday, January 7.

Now the opening of the store has been pushed back to a yet-to-be-determined date, the Bay Area Reporter has learned. And its current shop will remain open for the time being.

“Plans for the store are in flux. We are not opening on Friday,” HRC spokesman Paul Guequierre wrote in an email response to the B.A.R.‘s query about the store opening.

The national LGBT rights organization’s announcement last month of its plans has been fiercely protested by former friends and campaign aides of Milk’s, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California when he captured a San Francisco Board of Supervisors seat in November of 1977. They contend that Milk, who was killed in City Hall a year after his historic election, would not have embraced HRC’s inside-the-beltway chumminess with federal lawmakers and question if the group is the right one to move into the historic retail address.

A protest was held outside the store last month and community leaders have pushed to see HRC either abandon the space or allow the Trevor Project to operate from it. The Trevor Project runs a national hot-line for LGBT and questioning youth.

HRC and Trevor officials have been meeting to work out a deal where Trevor volunteers would use a portion of the space to man the phone hot-line, but so far they have been unable to complete the lease negotiations, said Guequierre.

“We are still working out the final details,” he said today (Wednesday, January 5).

Guequierre added that HRC still plans to move into the old Milk space but, for now, its plans are “up in the air.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 5, 2011 @ 2:13 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF supes block appointment of lesbian to Port Commission

A majority of San Francisco supervisors voted Tuesday, January 4 to block the appointment of lesbian former Supervisor Leslie Katz (pictured at right) from a seat on the Port Commission.

A number of appointments made by outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom, including that of Katz and gay Castro business leader Herb Cohn to the obscure San Francisco Relocation Appeals Board, have been caught up in political sparring between the mayor and progressive supervisors upset with Newsom’s delaying his swearing in as lieutenant governor until after the new board is sworn in this Saturday, January 8.

Supervisor John Avalos led the charge to postpone the Newsom appointments at Monday’s meeting of the Rules Committee. After four hours of testimony and debate, the committee did send three appointments on to the full board for a vote at today’s meeting, including that of Katz.

Supervisor Eric Mar motioned for Katz’s appointment be sent back to the Rules Committee and openly gay Supervisor David Campos seconded the motion. Campos had voted to support Katz at rules, which he chairs, and said he still supports seeing her serve on the Port Commission.

But he said he felt it was prudent to give Katz time to address concerns that have been raised about her ability to deal with maritime issues and other matters that will come before the Port Commissioners.

“I seconded the motion not because I am not supportive of this appointment but because I do believe to the extent some issues have been raised it is important for us to provide an opportunity for this individual to meet with those individuals. I am confident once she does the concenres will be addressed,” said Campos. “I do believe former Supervisor Katz brings something to the table and can play a positve role on the Port Commission, which is why I voted for it at rules.”

Openly gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is termed out of his District 8 seat this week, implored his colleagues to approve Katz’ appointment. He noted that the five-member Port Commission only has three members and that Katz would be the first out member on the oversight panel.

“Leslie is richly deserving of this opportunity,” said Dufty.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier also spoke in favor of appointing Katz to the commission immediately, especially in light of the fact the city was just awarded hosting the America’s Cup boat regatta race.

“She was a perfect pick and perfect nomination for this commission appointment at this time,” said Alioto-Pier,  a former port commissioner. “She is extremely well qualified. We should let this stand and allow this to come out today.”

But a majority of her colleagues disagreed. Joining with Mar and Campos in postponing Katz’s appointment were Supervisors Avalos, Chris Daly, Sophie Maxwell, Ross Mirkarimi, and Board President David Chiu.

Voting with Alioto-Pier and Dufty in support of Katz were Supervisors Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd.

It will now be up to the new board to vote on Katz and the other appointments sometime later this month.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 4, 2011 @ 4:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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