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

First SF mayoral candidates’ forum announced for May

San Francisco voters will get their first chance to see the major candidates running to be mayor together on stage in May. The University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good is partnering with buildOn, a national non-profit organization, to host a Forum on Service with the candidates.

It is modeled after the 2008 Presidential Candidate Forum on Service and will be moderated by USF politics professor Corey Cook. Seven candidates, out of the 31 people who have pulled papers to seek Room 200 at City Hall, have been invited to take part.

Those already confirmed to appear are state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco); openly gay former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty; City Attorney Dennis Herrera; city Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting; Board of Supervisors President David Chiu; and venture capitalist Joanna Rees. Former District 2 Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier has yet to accept an invite.

The candidates will be asked about the future of service and engaged citizenship in San Francisco. Other topics expected to be addressed include how to restore trust in governmental institutions and social trust in communities, revitalizing local democracy, and ensuring that San Francisco becomes a ‘City of Service.’

The candidates will be seated together on stage. They will also be answering questions from local high school and college students, some likely via videotape.

The forum will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 5 in the McLaren Conference Center on USF’s main campus. Attendance is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 31, 2011 @ 4:50 pm PST
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Still no director for SF Pride

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee isn’t going to make its goal of having an interim executive director by tomorrow (Friday, April 1).

Board co-chair Alex Randolph said today, “The logistics of the selection took a little longer than expected” and the board wants to make sure “we have the highest quality candidate who’s a good fit for San Francisco and a good fit for San Francisco Pride.”

Randolph (pictured at right) said there hasn’t been a shortage of good candidates, though. “We’re just spending more time with the candidates individually.” He didn’t say how many candidates there are.

“Our priority and focus is to have someone selected within the next couple of weeks, definitely before the event,” said Randolph. The Pride celebration is June 25-26.

The top post at Pride has been empty since former Executive Director Amy Andre resigned in November, a little more than a year after she started the job.

Andre, who’s never fully explained her departure publicly, left shortly after several beverage partners, who work drink booths at the festival in exchange for a share of the proceeds, complained that they’d been shortchanged by thousands of dollars in 2010.

Pride’s pledged to pay back that money. Community partners are still owed about $44,000.

Randolph said, “We are planning on sending them another installment in April, and depending on our finances in that month, we can determine what that payment will be like.”

The former aide to ex-Mayor Gavin Newsom and out mayoral candidate Bevan Dufty joined Pride’s board recently and quickly became co-chair after former co-chair Nikki Calma quit on March 1.

Calma was the latest in a string of Pride officials to leave the organization since October.

In December, the city controller’s office revealed that the organization was $225,000 in debt. Randolph said earlier this month that $190,000 of that remained. He couldn’t immediately provide an updated figure today.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:28 pm PST
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Mirkarimi asking board for $150,000 to help save Lyon-Martin

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi plans to ask other board members for $150,000 to try to save Lyon-Martin Health Services.

Mirkarimi is introducing a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Public Health at the full Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday, March 29), according to aide Rick Galbreath.

The troubled clinic, which serves women and transgender people regardless of their ability to pay, has been struggling to stay open. In late January, the clinic’s board made the surprise announcement that they were more than $500,000 in debt and would have to close in a matter of days.

Since then, community fundraising efforts have generated about $350,000 in donations and pledges, but the clinic is still looking for hundreds of thousands more to survive for the foreseeable future.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 29, 2011 @ 4:47 pm PST
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SFPD gay forum member ‘at a loss’ over charge against patrol special

A member of San Francisco Police Department’s LGBT Community Forum wants the group to discuss a public safety official who got in trouble for hanging out at a transgender bar.

In an e-mail to interim Police Chief Jeff Godown and other forum members, Community on Patrol USA’s Ken Craig said, “I’m frankly at a loss to understand” how the allegation that Assistant Special Patrol Officer Roberto Ortega “frequents Divas nightclub on a regular basis on his free time has any relevance … .”

He added the fact that frequenting Divas “on his free time is somehow unbecoming or inappropriate for a police officer is of concern to me personally, and something that I believe we – as the LGBT forum – should address and seek additional information from Chief Godown and perhaps from Police Commissioner [Jim] Hammer if he has time to attend.” Craig forwarded his e-mail to the Bay Area Reporter.

Apparently troubled that charges were filed in the first place, San Francisco police commissioners decided last week to send Ortega’s case back to the police chief, who at most can verbally reprimand him. Only the commission could have taken away Ortega’s beat or suspended him.

In December, George Gascon, then the police chief but now the city’s district attorney, filed administrative charges that Ortega had picked up a prostitute, who is transgender, and was hanging out in an area known for prostitution. The police department had recommended that the commission revoke Ortega’s appointment.

The city doesn’t consider patrol special officers – who are approved by the police department but hired by private businesses and individuals to provide security – to be police officers.

In an interview the day after the March 16 commission hearing, Hammer referred to the charge involving Divas as “outrageous.” The charge “harkened back” to decades ago, “where people were targeted for being in places, like gay bars.”

He said the first count, about associating with a prostitute, “could raise questions,” but it was the type of thing “that needs to be dealt with by the chief.”

During last week’s commission hearing, Hammer wasn’t the only person among the seven commissioners who appeared dismayed by the Ortega case.

Commissioner Angela Chan said the case “didn’t sit well” with her. She said whether a person associates with someone who is transgender and might have a history of prostitution doesn’t mean no one should ever interact with that person.

Ortega hasn’t responded to interview requests made through Lou Silver, the attorney representing him, or through an associate.

Seth Steward, a spokesman for Gascon in his role as district attorney, hasn’t provided comment on the Ortega case.

The police department’s LGBT forum is meant to provide “LGBT community stakeholders” a chance to work with police “to build bridges, improve public safety and create positive change,” according to Officer Jennifer Thompson, police liaison to the LGBT community.

Gascon launched the citywide forum during his brief tenure as police chief.

There are also chief’s forums for the Hispanics, business leaders, and other communities. The forums are open to the public, but they don’t provide opportunities for public comment.

The next forum will be at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 12, at the Noe Valley Library, 451 Jersey Street (between Castro and Diamond streets).

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 25, 2011 @ 10:42 am PST
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Britney coming to Castro, in wax

Pop diva Britney Spears is coming to San Francisco’s Castro gayborhood after all.

In wax form, anyway.

The Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf has placed the wax Britney in the window of the non-profit Under One Roof, 518 Castro Street. She’ll  be there through Sunday, March 27.

The retail shop, which distributed a total of about $15,000 to 24 HIV/AIDS organizations last year, urges fans to bring a camera and get their picture taken with Wax Britney. A donation of $5 is suggested.

From 6 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 25, the shop will host a Britney look-alike contest, complete with celebrity judges.

Human Britney had been scheduled to perform in the Castro Sunday, but that show’s been moved to Bill Graham Civic Auditorium due to rain forecasts.

Though most of the money Under One Roof raises goes to pay overhead, the group pledges Britney-related funds will go directly to their agencies.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 24, 2011 @ 3:16 pm PST
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Brown signs $14 billion in cuts, warns of more pain

California Governor Jerry Brown (pictured at right) signed $14 billion in budget cuts today (Thursday, March 24), largely hitting social services. Brown still needs to find another $12.6 billion to close the budget gap through next year, however. He warned that if Republican lawmakers don’t allow his proposal on extending some taxes to go to the state’s voters, the cuts will be worse.

“These are painful cuts,” said Brown, but “we have a deficit. We have to do something.”

He said if more revenue isn’t found, the next round of cuts “will be much more painful, and much more destructive.”

It seems that Republicans aren’t the only people who aren’t looking favorably at the possibility of tax extensions.

The Public Policy Institute of California released poll results this week showing that public support for a June special election on the extensions has declined since he proposed it in January.

While 66 percent of likely voters said at the time that a special election was a good idea, 51 percent say so today, according to the poll, which was released Wednesday, March 23.

Support has also declined since January for the package that voters would be considering – a five-year extension of temporary increases in income and sales taxes and the vehicle license fee, PPIC said. Today, 46 percent of likely voters favor the governor’s proposal, a decline of eight points, poll results showed.

The poll’s findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,000 California adult residents from March 8–15. The margin of error for the 935 likely voters polled is plus or minus 4.2 percent.

There was more pain for anyone watching the webcast of the signing ceremony today. More speakers, including out Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) were set to share comments after Brown, but the video cut out, and a sign saying “The webcast will begin shortly” filled the screen.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:33 pm PST
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Rock of Ages cast to help AIDS rider raise cash

The cast of the touring show Rock of Ages, in San Francisco for a five-week run, will pitch in Monday night to help raise money for a participant in this year’s AIDS ride.

Daniel Conti, 28, a transplant to the city from New York, is calling on some friends in the hit musical to help him reach his fundraising goal as a rider in the 10th AIDS LifeCycle, which benefits the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.

Conti (pictured at left) is promising “a good, old-fashioned, piano bar sing-a-long” and expects upwards of 20 cast members to join him from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday night (March 28) at Martuni’s, 4 Valencia Street at the corner of Market Street.

The event is free to attend but Conti is asking people to either donate that night or sign up as one of his sponsors. There will also be a raffle drawing for a number of prizes, from tickets to the musical and backstage passes to services from Castro businesses.

“I lived in New York for 10 years and I have a couple friends in the touring company. I knew they would be here for five weeks and I know the owner of Martuni’s, so I asked them if they would help me out,” said Conti, who works for a travel company and moved to town a year and half ago.

This is the first time Conti has rode in an AIDS ride. While HIV negative himself, Conti said he has many friends who are HIV positive and has lost “quite a few” friends from New York to AIDS. He signed up for the fundraising event in order to assist the AIDS foundation with its work.

“With all the funding cuts by the government and everything else that has been happening, I know they need as much support and funding they can get to create a positive impact for the community here,” said Conti. “I also thought it would not only be a great way to meet new people and make great friends but something of a challenge for me.”

The 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles takes place June 5-11.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:08 pm PST
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Court denies motion to allow same-sex marriages

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has denied a motion that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry again in California.

In a brief summary this morning (Wednesday, March 23), a court panel said that after reviewing “all of the facts and circumstances surrounding Plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the stay pending appeal … we deny Plaintiffs’ motion at this time.”

The court has been reviewing the federal lawsuit involving Proposition 8, the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which voters passed in November 2008.

Last August, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, whose since retired, ruled the ban is unconstitutional, but marriages have been on hold since Prop 8’s backers appealed Walker’s ruling.

The case, Perry v. Brown, is expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 23, 2011 @ 11:36 am PST
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Out lawmakers in Stockton, Campbell confirm Assembly bid plans

Two more out candidates have made their Assembly bids official this month.

In Stockton, lesbian City Councilwoman Susan Talamantes Eggman has confirmed she will seek the state’s 17th Assembly District seat in 2012. The Bay Area Reporter had broke the news March 3 in its online Political Notes column.

At the time Eggman declined to discuss her plans in detail until she spoke with her hometown paper The Stockton Record. She broke her silence last week, telling the newspaper that she will run for the seat held by Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Livingston), who will be termed out next year.

Also expected to seek the seat is San Joaquin Delta College trustee and frequent political candidate Jennet Stebbins, according to the article.

Coincidentally, this week Galgiani (seated at left in the photo) picked Eggman to be her Woman of the Year for her Assembly district.

Eggman, 50, was just elected to her second four-year term on the Stockton council last November. A U.S. Army veteran who grew up in the East Bay’s Castro Valley, Eggman is a social work professor at Sacramento State and is in a long-term relationship with her partner, Renee Hall.

A social work professor at California State University, Sacramento, Eggman would be the first out woman of color to serve in the Legislature. She would also be the first state lawmaker from San Joaquin County since 2008, according to the Record.

While the 17th Assembly District currently encompasses portions of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, the local paper noted this year’s redistricting process is likely to redraw the boundary so that it is mostly made up of Stockton and falls entirely within San Joaquin County.

Also officially announcing his Assembly bid this month was openly gay Campbell City Councilman Evan Low. He made his announcement Thursday, March 10 that he would run for the 24th Assembly District, which will be vacated next year by Assemblyman Jim Beall (D-San Jose) due to term limits.

Low, 27, was just re-elected to his council seat last fall. Second from right in the photo to the right, Low is joined by his brother and Oakland Police Officer Ryan Low, father Dr. Arthur Low,  and his mother Stella.

He will likely face off against his mentor, openly gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, who is also eying a run for the South Bay Assembly seat.

The Assembly district includes Campbell and Saratoga as well as parts of San Jose, Santa Clara and Los Gatos. Redistricting will also have an impact on the race, as the number of Asian American voters is increasing due to population growth in Silicon Valley.

For that reason, it was no accident that joining Low at his announcement were local Asian American politicians San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong. The Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus also came out with an endorsement of Low in the race last week.

“At a time when California is facing significant challenges, we need leaders like Evan, who have experience at the local level, understand first-hand the challenges communities across the state face and have a record of finding innovative solutions and getting results.” stated caucus chair Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-South Los Angeles County). “Evan Low is an innovative, dynamic leader, who will bring fresh new ideas to the California State Assembly.”

As of now, there are at least five out non-incumbents expected to run for the state Assembly this year. In addition to Low, Yeager and Eggman are two out candidates seeking Los Angeles area seats.

Torie Osborn, a lesbian activist and former mayoral aide, is seeking the 41st Assembly District seat, while Luis Lopez, the founder of HONOR PAC, the first statewide Latina/o LGBT political action committee in the country, is running for the 45th Assemby District seat.

The seat had been held for years by Jackie Goldberg, one of the first out members of the state Legislature.

A number of local politicians are hosting a fundraiser for Low in San Francisco Thursday, April 21. The host committee includes Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom; state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco); Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco); openly gay San Francisco City Treasurer Jose Cisneros; gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos; and openly gay Community College Board member Lawrence Wong.

The event takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the 40th floor of the Transamerica Pyramid, 600 Montgomery Street. Tickets start at $100 per person.

Due to security at the building, RSVPs must be emailed by April 19 to

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 21, 2011 @ 6:02 pm PST
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Gay CA House candidate Mike Gin to debate opponents March 24, watch online

Out Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin will debate his opponents in the special election for a  southern California House seat this Thursday, March 24 and the forum will be screened live over the Internet.

The progressive and LGBT-friendly Courage Campaign is hosting the forum, the first held among the candidates seeking the state’s 36th Congressional District seat south of Los Angeles along the coast.

Along with Gin, a Republican (pictured at right), three of his Democratic opponents have agreed to take part: Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, and Marcy Winograd, a union leader.

Two other Republicans in the race, Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb and Hermosa Beach City Councilman Kit Bobko, declined to participate in the forum, which will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Pacific time Thursday night.

It will be streamed live at and will be moderated by Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs, with questions coming from the advocacy group’s more than 4,000 members within CA-36.

Questions for the candidates may also be submitted at, or by tweeting the question using the hashtag #Courage36.

Last week Governor Jerry Brown scheduled the special primary election for the seat, which was vacated by longtime House member Jane Harman, for Tuesday, May 17. If no one receives 50 percent plus one of the vote, then the top two vote-getters will face off in a special general election July 12.

Harman, a Democrat, left to lead up a Washington, D.C. think tank. Hahn has lined up considerable support among Democratic leaders throughout the state, while Bowen recently nabbed the endorsement of openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

While he appears to face an uphill climb due to the low GOP registration within the district, Gin announced last week he had already raised more than $100,000. He is on leave from his job as field director for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe.

Should he be elected, Gin would be the fifth out member of Congress and the only out GOP member to be currently serving.

The 36th Congressional District includes the cities and communities of Venice, Mar Vista, portions of Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Lennox, portions of Inglewood and Hawthorne, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Lomita, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Wilmington and San Pedro.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:40 pm PST
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