Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Lyon-Martin still needs another half million to stay open, officials announce

Lyon-Martin Health Services needs to raise another $500,000 by March 31 to keep from shutting down, the San Francisco-based clinic announced today (Monday, February 28).

News emerged last month that Lyon-Martin, which provides services to transgender people and women regardless of their ability to pay, is more than $500,000 in debt.

Since the clinic’s board announced in late January that it would close in days, even though board members had made no plans for where patients would go, community members have raised more than $300,000 to keep the clinic open.

But that’s still not enough.

“We are committed to keeping the clinic open, but only if it can be done sustainably,” board Chair Lauren Winter said in an e-mail blast. “Lyon-Martin cannot remain forever dependent on the type of generous outpouring of financial support the clinic has received from the community over the past month.”

In the clinic’s e-mail, Winter said the information on how much more is needed came from a recently completed external financial assessment.

The message also served as an announcement of the resignation of Finance Director Debbie Pappas, effective March 4.

Lyon-Martin’s e-mail comes as the clinic and its supporters plan to go to a Board of Supervisors budget and finance committee hearing Wednesday, March 2, to ask for city money. Some supervisors have expressed a desire to see changes on Lyon-Martin’s board, considering their apparent lack of financial management skills, among other concerns.

Treasurer Peter Balon stated, “With significant changes in the way the clinic is structured and managed, there is a point in 2012 where Lyon-Martin should be in a position to generate sufficient income to cover its expenses and pay down debt. An immediate infusion of cash, however, is needed if the clinic is to maintain operations long enough to reach that point.”

The e-mail said that “a substantial portion” of the funds raised so far were needed to pay for salaries and support “normal operations” for January and February. The money’s also allowed the clinic to hire several consultants “in hopes of turning the clinic around and stabilizing its finances,” the message said.

Lyon-Martin has also “retained experts in health center regulation and administration, and it is expected that consultants serving as turnaround Executive Director, Director of Finance, and accounting staff will be in place by the first week of March,” the e-mail said.

Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, Lyon-Martin’s medical director, has also been serving as interim executive director since previous ED Teri McGinnis resigned in November, without full public explanation.

The clinic’s message today said that Harbatkin’s “thrilled to be handing over the reins.”

Harbatkin stated, “What the clinic needs most right now is a turnaround Executive Director who can work full time on running the business of Lyon-Martin. I am excited to get back to focusing on the medical care being provided to the clinic’s patients. Things are definitely moving in the right direction.”

With that said, however, “several potential obstacles to Lyon-Martin’s survival” remain, the clinic announced.

If the clinic doesn’t get another half million dollars by the end of March, “the process of winding down the clinic must begin, if a responsible closure is to take place before the clinic runs out of money altogether. Lyon-Martin is hopeful that these funds can be raised through a combination of public and private funding sources.”

Finally, the clinic must significantly improve its performance on collecting funds from self-pay patients. “We have not historically been disciplined” when it comes to collecting funds from self-pay patients, “but that is going to have to change,” said Harbatkin.

Patients not covered under Medi-Care, Medi-Cal, or another government-funded health care program or private insurance will be asked to pay for their visits at the time of treatment, and follow-up invoices will be sent to those who cannot do so, the clinic said.

Harbatkin stated, “the clinic is committed to providing needed care regardless of ability to pay, but it is not — and cannot be run as — a free clinic.”



— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 28, 2011 @ 5:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Trial on fatal bludgeoning wraps up for week

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office presented its case this week in the trial of a man who fatally bludgeoned his partner with a glass pitcher in 2006.

Christopher Crandall, 37, is facing a murder conviction in the death of Guy West, 68.

One jury already convicted Crandall of second-degree murder in 2007, but in 2010 the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals tossed that verdict out.

According to Tamara Barak Aparton, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, some jurors had felt pressured into voting for murder over manslaughter because of two of the jurors’ vacation plans.

She said Crandall’s defense doesn’t dispute that he killed West, but attorney Sandy Feinland is seeking a manslaughter conviction because Crandall had been a domestic abuse victim. She didn’t know if abuse incidents had ever been documented with police.

Thursday, February 24, in San Francisco Superior Court prosecutor Linda Allen showed Judge Carol Yaggy and jurors video of homicide inspectors’ interview with Crandall that apparently had been recorded shortly after his arrest.

In the footage, which lasts for over an hour, a groggy  Crandall repeatedly deflected questions about what exactly had happened.

“We don’t think you’re a bad person,” an inspector told Crandall more than once, but “I believe something happened there, and you’re having a little difficulty telling us what happened. … You know and I know what happened.”

Crandall, who appeared in court Thursday in slacks and a striped shirt, claimed he wasn’t at all sure what had happened.

“I don’t know if I was involved with anything,” he said at one point in the video, “but if it had been something I’d done, I don’t think it would have been on purpose.”

The inspector said Crandall’s bloody fingerprints were found at the scene.

“If you did find a fingerprint and it happened to be mine, that would be evidence I did something,” Crandall acknowledged.

Feinland is expected to present his case next week.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 25, 2011 @ 5:04 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Out gay man leaving SF DA’s office to join mayoral staff

The out gay man who’s held the highest ranking of any openly LGBT person ever in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is leaving that agency to become Mayor Ed Lee’s director of public safety.

Paul Henderson, 43, (pictured at right) announced his departure from the DA’s office this week, just as DA George Gascon laid out his reorganization of the office.

At the same time, Henderson has dropped his plans to run for DA himself, saying it’s not “the right time.”

Henderson had served as chief of administration under former DA Kamala Harris, and continues to hold that position. After Harris was sworn in as California’s attorney general in January, ex-Mayor Gavin Newsom surprised many by appointing Gascon, who had been police chief, to the DA position.

Gascon is running for a full term in November, and Henderson is now backing him.

Henderson said his departure from the DA’s office isn’t related to the reorganization, which Gascon announced detailed plans for Wednesday, February 23.

But in an interview today (Thursday, February 24), Henderson volunteered the question, “How does this tie in to my political agenda from two months ago and now?”

“Obviously, the appointment process turned out differently than I had expected,” he said. “I think a lot of people were surprised, but I sat down with a lot of the people who were supporting me, and I sat down with a lot of leaders in the city, and it may not be my time for me to serve San Francisco as the DA right now. Clearly it’s not, because I didn’t get the appointment.”

Henderson said his new job will involve working on areas such as keeping the crime rate low, selecting the next police chief, hate crimes, and “quality of life” issues. He’ll be aiming to facilitate the coordination of local, state, and federal agencies.

He’s also keenly aware of his position as an out gay man in a place of leadership.

“It’s not that I’m trying to reflect a gay agenda, but I absolutely am mindful of gay inclusion,” he said. However, he said, “It’s not like I have to wear a flag or wear a button to know that’s who I am. … It’s part of who I am, and I don’t think that diminishes my leadership of the city.”

With hate crimes and other problems, he said, “If we don’t take positions of  higher visibility and public service, it’s hard for the community to recognize they have allies, or a perspective that reflects their own in positions of power.”

He’s not yet certain which specific agencies he’ll be working with, but speculates that they would include the DA’s office, the police department, the state attorney general’s office, and others.

“It’s just a mater of how those agencies coordinate what they do in San Francisco,” which is “always something that can improved. … I’m hoping my voice facilitates that process,” said Henderson. He said he couldn’t specify yet what changes are needed.

Henderson said he doesn’t know how much power he’ll actually have in his new role. That’s “a subjective interpretation,” he said.

“Along my way in public service, I never thought about it in the sense of what my power is. I only looked at it in the perspective of what problems can I solve, [and] how can I facilitate change that’s going to ameliorate or improve a situation.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Gascon talked about Henderson  leaving only after a reporter asked him about possible departures, and he said that he hadn’t wanted to talk about Henderson. He said Henderson would be on leave from the DA’s office.

Asked about that Thursday, Henderson said, “I think they’re still trying to figure out what the structure is going to look like,” and whether he’ll be on loan, or transitioning completely to the mayor’s office, or something else.

Henderson said the mayor approached him about the position a couple of weeks ago.

“What they approached me with was an opportunity to play a broader role with a bigger perspective that would be inclusive of other agencies, and that prospect seemed attractive to me,” he said. He said the position dovetailed with all the reasons he was drawn to public service and has remained committed to the work for 16 years.

Asked if he would run for district attorney later, Henderson said, “I think anything is possible, and this opportunity and this position only, I think, allows me to be even more prepared for opportunities in the future.”

Henderson’s current salary is $198,000. What he’ll earn in his new position hasn’t been determined. He’ll start in the new job around March 8.

“I am thrilled that Paul Henderson has agreed to join my administration to advise on citywide public safety policy issues,” Lee said in a statement. “…Paul has proven his commitment to protecting the safety of the people of San Francisco, and I am grateful that he will continue his service to our city and work together with our diverse communities and law enforcement agencies to ensure San Francisco is the safest big city in America.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 24, 2011 @ 5:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF hate crime defendant out on bail

One of two San Francisco men facing charges for an anti-gay hate crime that allegedly happened Sunday, February 13 is out on bail.

A profile photo posted to Antonio Herico's Facebook page in 2010

Antonio Herico’s Facebook wall bears the message, “I’m back… But I gotta wash off five days worth of funk… It feels good to be home. What ever y’all might have heard, I love all people, races, genders and all sexual preferences what ever they may be. Were all children of god.” The message was posted late Thursday  night (February 17). Herico hasn’t responded to an interview request sent through Facebook.

Eileen Hirst, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, said that Herico was released from custody just after 9 p.m. Thursday. She couldn’t say how much money had been paid for his release.

Herico and Pio Alexander Garcia, both 21, pleaded not guilty to felony anti-gay hate crime charges from the alleged attack Sunday in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. Hirst said that Garcia remains in custody.

The District Attorney’s office charged the men on Wednesday, February 16, with assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and burglary. Garcia is also charged with felony vandalism. They each had been in San Francisco County jail on $115,000 bail.

The DA’s office alleges that the men assaulted and burglarized the owner of a business on the 2200 block of Market Street based on their perception of his sexual orientation.

The victim’s name hasn’t been confirmed.

According to police, Herico and Garcia attacked the 51-year-old victim after he asked them to leave his property at about 3:15 p.m. Sunday. The men refused and got into an argument that escalated to a physical attack with “homophobic epithets,” police said.

Neither the police nor the DA’s office have provided details of what exactly Herico and Garcia allegedly said to the victim who, according to police, suffered a non-life-threatening head injury.

Angelina Casolla, who said she knows Herico, said she had no idea what happened Sunday, “I just know he got into some trouble.”

Casolla, 25, said that she and Herico aren’t close, but “I know he doesn’t have a problem with gay people at all. We all grew up in San Francisco.”

Seth Steward, a spokesman for the DA’s office, said that the men are being charged with burglary because “they went in to hurt somebody and/or steal something.” He said the vandalism charge was based on the destruction of glassware in the store.

Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said the men took off on foot after the alleged attack, but the police were called and “several witnesses were able to identify the suspects.”

The preliminary hearing is set to begin Wednesday, March 2, in San Francisco Superior Court. Assistant District Attorney Victor Hwang is prosecuting the case.

Through a spokeswoman, Tiffany Tisen, who’s representing Herico, declined an interview request since they’d just received the case.

A representative for Garcia couldn’t be reached for comment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 18, 2011 @ 1:52 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF LGBT Center welcomes new additions

The San Francisco LGBT Community Center is seeing some new faces.

Tony Moraga (pictured at left) has joined the center as a consultant for their small and microenterprise program for the next few months.

Moraga was previously general manager for the Golden Gate Business Association, the country’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

He’s worked with local entrepreneurs to start, grow, and sustain their businesses, and, according to the center’s latest newsletter, “Tony strives to empower those around him to create their own success.”

To arrange for a one-on-one meeting or to find out about upcoming workshops, e-mail Moraga at tonym@sfcenter.org.

Besides new staff, the center’s also welcoming two new tenants. One is the All Family Project, which promotes awareness and understanding of same-sex couples and their families.

The group’s website is still pretty bare, but their Facebook page says their products include a coffee table book of photographic essays, billboards, and open forums featuring same-sex couples.

Another new tenant is Freedom From Tobacco, which works to raise awareness within the LGBT community of the link between homophobia and our high rate of smoking.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 17, 2011 @ 2:42 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Ma bill takes aim at HIV drug, other co-pays

Democratic Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (pictured at left) has introduced legislation to stop health insurers from dramatically increasing medication costs for many Californians, including people living with HIV.

Assembly Bill 310, introduced February 9, would eliminate specialty tier pricing for medication, place a cap on patient co-pays, and limit the annual out-of-pocket expenditures for California patients.

Ma, whose district includes San Francisco, said that for many years, patients have been charged co-pays based on three drug categories: generic, preferred, and non-preferred.

Then, in 2006, Medicare Part D plans started introducing a fourth level, known as a  specialty tier. The most expensive medications go into this category, and for the past four years, insurers have been “classifying certain drugs as specialty tier and trying to get patients to pay more” for drugs, said Ma.

The specialty tier covers about a dozen drugs, including medications used to treat HIV, multiple sclerosis, and breast cancer, according to Ma.

Rather than paying a flat rate for medication, Californians with medication on new specialty tiers can pay coinsurance of up to 35 percent of the total cost of the drugs.

Ma said, “We are finding some patients now have to pay up to $30,000 a year or more” out-of-pocket, for one drug. The co-pay had been $10, she said.

She said she hasn’t yet looked at co-pays in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which the state estimates will provide services for over 42,000 people in 2011-12. Many rely on the program for lifesaving medications.

In January, Governor Jerry Brown proposed, increasing the client share of cost in ADAP to the maximum percentages allowed under the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act. That maximum is 5 percent of gross income.

Since Brown announced his budget proposals, meant to cover an 18-month gap estimated at $25.4 billion, advocates for people with HIV/AIDS have been working on the ADAP co-pays.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 16, 2011 @ 3:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF Pride seeks partners; still lags on paying others

The group that run’s San Francisco LGBT Pride celebration is looking for partners for this year’s event.

Of course, there’s still the matter of paying last year’s partners. The Pride committee still owes a total of about $50,000 to them.

In response to e-mailed questions today (Friday, February 11), board President Nikki Calma (pictured at left) said, “None of the Community Partners have been paid. We will [be] arranging a meeting with them to discuss on how we plan to address this.” She’s been making similar remarks for months.

In December, the city controller’s office released a report showing that the Pride committee was $225,000 in debt.

Each year, community groups act as Pride’s partners to help out at the celebration – one of the world’s largest Pride events – in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. Pride has granted over $1.7 million dollars to beneficiaries since 1997.

After the June 2010 event, many partners complained their checks were thousands less than what they’d expected. Pride officials blamed the problem on a “miscommunication” between then-Executive Director Amy Andre and bookkeeper Jim Gong, and vowed to pay the partners back.

Both Andre and former board President Mikayla Connell announced their resignations in October. Connell left immediately, and Andre departed in November.

Community partner applications are due by March 16.

Candidates for interim executive director are also being sought.

To apply for either position, visit www.sfpride.org.

The theme of this year’s Pride, which runs June 25-26, is “In Pride We Trust.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 11, 2011 @ 1:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Fundraiser to help Castro fire victims

Supervisor Scott Wiener, center, and others view damage from a suspected arson fire in the Castro

Supervisor Scott Wiener and others are helping to organize a fundraiser for people displaced by an arson fire in the largely gay Castro neighborhood last week.

The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m., Tuesday, February 15, at The Lookout, 3600 16th Street. The bar is just a few doors down from the building where a suspected arsonist started a fire early Thursday, February 3 that left more than a dozen people homeless.

City arson inspectors are investigating at least one other nearby fire that occurred that morning, as well as a fire that was reported Friday, February 4 at 4222 18th Street. No arrests have been reported, but police have said they don’t yet believe the incidents were part of a hate crime.

Mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty, who represented the Castro before Wiener took over in January; and Bill Hemenger; Rebecca Prozan; and Rafael Mandelman, who ran against Wiener for the seat; are among others organizing the fundraiser.

A raffle with prizes from Beach Blanket Babylon and Café Flore, among others, will be included.

For more information, go to the fundraiser’s Facebook page.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 10, 2011 @ 11:05 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF police: Fire this morning accidental

San Francisco police say a fire discovered near the Castro neighborhood this morning (Monday, February 7) was accidental and unrelated to recent suspected arsons in the area.

Police discovered the fire at about 3 a.m. in the 1300 block of Clayton Street. The fire caused damage but there were no injuries.

Lieutenant Troy Dangerfield, a police spokesman, said the fire was accidental and unrelated to several suspected arson incidents reported last week. The building involved in the most recent fire was a residence, he said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 7, 2011 @ 11:09 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


President appointing out lesbian to faith, neighborhoods council

President Barack Obama today announced his intent to appoint an out lesbian to his Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives.

Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson (pictured at left in 2005, with former Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco senior pastor Penny Nixson) is the moderator for the Council of Elders of the Metropolitan Community Churchs, which has several LGBT-friendly congregations across the country.

The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships brings together religious and secular leaders as well as scholars and experts in fields related to the work of faith-based and neighborhood organizations in order to make recommendations to the government on how to improve partnerships.

Wilson declined to answer questions, telling the Bay Area Reporter, “They have told us we cannot speak to the press until we actually receive the appointment.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 4, 2011 @ 4:41 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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