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

Police seek witnesses to Castro attack

San Francisco police are seeking witnesses to a recent attack on two men in the Castro neighborhood. The case is being investigated as a possible anti-gay hate crime.

Sergeant Michael Andraychak, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman, said the incident occurred at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday, November 27, at 18th and Castro streets.

He said the victims were crossing the road after leaving a bar in the 400 block of Castro Street. As they walked, a group of four men and two women suddenly approached them.

“The first victim was punched and kicked numerous times, and required transport to a hospital for treatment,” Andraychak said.

He said one of the suspects made “an anti-gay statement” during the attack on the man, a gay 26-year-old from Oakland, but Andraychak didn’t know exactly what was said. The first man didn’t hear the anti-gay statement, but the second victim did, Andraychak said.

The first man was robbed of his wallet and its contents, his watch, and clothing items, Andraychak said.

He said the second victim got punched as he tried to stop the assault on the first man. The second man is a 21-year-old Newark resident. Andraychak didn’t know that victim’s orientation.

Andraychak didn’t have many details to share about the attackers. He said they were all black, wearing black, hooded shirts and dark pants. They were on foot and fled south on the west side of Castro Street, he said. He said he wasn’t aware of police obtaining any video surveillance footage from nearby businesses.

The first victim was treated for trauma to the head and other parts of his body and released from the hospital, Andraychak said.

Inspector Eddie Hagan, who wasn’t available for comment, has “been getting some phone calls,” but the department’s special investigations division is “still hopeful” witnesses will come forward, Andraychak said.

He said police are just now asking for help because inspectors have “reached a point in their investigation where they need to ask the public for some assistance.” Andraychak said neither victim was willing to speak with the Bay Area Reporter. Their names aren’t being released due to the case’s status as a possible hate crime.

Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call the special investigations division at (415) 553-1133, the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The case number is 110 952 305.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 30, 2011 @ 12:48 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF DA, sheriff, and mayor plan low-key 2012 inauguration ceremonies next week

All three winners in San Francisco’s citywide elections this past November are planning low-key inaugurations next month.

The first ceremony will take place next Thursday, January 5 when interim District Attorney George Gascon (seen at right) is sworn in to a full four-year term.

Gascon, the city’s former police chief, assumed the office in early 2011 after former District Attorney Kamala Harris resigned to become the state’s attorney general. Former Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Gascon to fill out the remainder of her term.

Despite his dislike of having to campaign and fundraise, Gascon defeated two progressive opponents to become the city’s first Latino district attorney. He overcame intense criticism from various quarters for his refusal to disavow seeking the death penalty despite having personal objections to it.

He will take his oath of office at 5 p.m. at Mission High School, 3750 18th Street near the heart of the Castro District. Retired state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, a liberal jurist and backer of marriage equality, will be administering the oath of office.

The public is invited to attend and can RSVP by calling Marjan Philhour at (415) 692-3556 or by emailing her at marjan@calgroupinc.com.

A Facebook page for the event says all proceeds will benefit Urban Services YMCA.

Incoming Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who is stepping down as District 5 supervisor, is planning to hold his inauguration Sunday, January 8. He beat out two law enforcement officials to succeed longtime Sheriff Michael Hennessey.

“With limited time, there is much to do: Preparing the transition from the Board of Supervisors to the Office of Sheriff, retire some campaign debt and coordinate the January 8th Inaugural,” wrote Mirkarimi in a note on his campaign website.

Hennessey opted to retire after more than three decades in office. He endorsed Mirkarimi as his replacement and worked hard to see that he won the race.

In a brief interview today, Mirkarimi (at right) said he has spent much of his time in the past weeks being debriefed at the sheriff’s department to ensure a smooth transition.

His swearing in will take place at 2 p.m. in the Herbst Theater inside the War Memorial Performing Arts Center, 401 Van Ness Avenue. A reception will follow in the building’s upstairs Green Room.

Katherine Feinstein, the presiding judge of the San Francisco Superior Court, will administer the oath of office.

“The sheriff’s department works closely with the courts. Since she is the head of the courts, I think it is important to nurture what I believe is a very warm and creative relationship,” said Mirkarimi.

Across the street in City Hall that day Feinstein’s mother, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), will administer the oath of office to Interim Mayor Ed Lee, who beat back more than a dozen people angling for his job to become the city’s first Asian American elected mayor.

In a recent interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Lee said he asked the senator to participate because Feinstein was instrumental in convincing him to seek the job permanently. Until the two talked outside the White House during a trip east, Lee had insisted he would not seek a full four-year term. But Feinstein was influential in helping to change his mind.

“This way I get to continue pointing out that running into her on the steps of the White House was a key point in my decision-making process,” said Lee, who asked B.A.R. Publisher Tom Horn to serve on his inaugural committee.

Lee (seen at left) said he is opening up City Hall that day and will be sworn in under the building’s iconic Rotunda. He has also asked all of the city’s past mayors who are still living to join him as well as the public.

“I hope a lot of people come down,” he said.

The swearing in ceremony is slated to take place at 11 a.m. A number of performance groups have been asked to perform by World Arts West starting at 10 a.m., according to a posting on the website for Gamelan Sekar Jaya’s angklung ensemble.

Others expected to perform that day include Chinese dancers from Leung’s White Crane Lion and Dragon Dance Association; Ensambles Ballet Folklórico; Filipino dance company Parangal; Hawaiian dancers and music by Hālau O Keikiali’I; Indian dancers and music by Dholrhythms Dance Company of Non Stop Bhangra; and Peruvian marinera dance and music by El Tunante with a live banda.

The San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band is also set to perform, a member told the B.A.R. And the mayor’s office announced Wednesday, January 4 that the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus would also perform.

The event is free for the public and refreshments will be served.

“It is not my style to have big parties,” said Lee.

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 29, 2011 @ 5:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


San Jose LGBT Pride, Club Papi unite to raise money

Hoping to improve on a rough year, organizers of San Jose’s LGBT Pride festival have announced a partnership with Club Papi to hold several fundraisers leading up to the 2012 Pride event.

The first benefit starts at 9 p.m., Sunday, January 15 at the dance club Splash, 65 Post St., San Jose. There’s a cover charge of $5 before 10 p.m. Details on future benefits haven’t been announced.

Net revenue will be used for funding entertainment at the South Bay city’s 2012 festival, set for Saturday, August 18.

Attendance figures for last year’s party were disappointing, and the organization, formally known as the Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose Inc., continued to run a deficit of several thousand dollars despite a 2011 surplus. In September, the group’s board decided to cut the event from two days to one.

Club Papi

Jamie Awad, owner of Club Papi, the brand that started in San Jose and is known for bringing scantily clad go-go dancers (such as the men seen at left) to bars worldwide, opted not to participate in last year’s San Jose Pride.

Shortly after the event, he said, “We just needed to take a break this year,” but he added that he and his troupe looked forward to returning in 2012.

San Jose Pride board President Nathan Svoboda said in a statement this week, “Papi is part of the South Bay Latin culture and Pride wants to ensure that we offer a diverse fundraising lineup in support of the 2012 festival. We are excited about working with Jamie and a stronger partnership then in years past.”

San Jose Pride also hopes to bring back the parade, organizers said. As in 2010, there was no parade this past August.

The board is “passionate about re-inventing the 2012 festival and the return of the parade,” officials stated. They said they’ve also established working committees, an “aggressive” development plan, and a marketing strategy.

After the 2011 event, Pride board members complained of a lack of community involvement. Former board President Steve Bass noted earlier this year that board members are all volunteers, and said, “I’m not doing this for me. I’m not getting laid out of this thing. My dick didn’t get sucked out of it.” He added, “What does the community really want? If the community doesn’t want to support this, then why are we doing it?”

For the upcoming event, Pride organizers are encouraging people to participate in the process by joining a committee, or at least providing feedback.

“The Parade needs to come back, but we will need the support of our community, local corporations, and private donors to achieve this goal” Svoboda stated.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


[UPDATED]: San Francisco health director to meet with staff of troubled Tenderloin Health

San Francisco Public Health Director Barbara Garcia said today that she plans to meet with officials from  the financially troubled Tenderloin Health next week. However, she and others refuse to say exactly what’s happening as the agency appears to crumble. One agency staffer has reported that their board has voted to shut it down.

The nonprofit provides housing, medical, and other services to some of San Francisco’s poorest residents, including people with HIV and AIDS.

For years, the agency has had fiscal problems, and Executive Director David Fernandez recently said in an email to the Bay Area Reporter that the agency is set to make some “decisions” after “severe funding cuts” this fall. He wouldn’t be more specific.

Garcia said in an email Wednesday, December 28 that she wouldn’t be able to discuss Tenderloin Health’s situation until she meets with the agency next week.

“I can give you a more accurate update then,” Garcia said. The health department provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to the agency.

In a message posted on her Facebook page last week, Pamela Fitzgerald, Tenderloin Health’s development director, said that the board voted December 20 to shut down the organization.

“Unless there is a big miracle from someplace, it is looking very grim,” she said. Fitzgerald has declined to comment to the B.A.R. on what’s going on at her agency.

Fernandez didn’t provide comments for this story, despite numerous requests. Board Chair Andy Chen hasn’t responded to the B.A.R.’s most recent interview request.

Referring to the supposed vote to close the nonprofit, board member Troy Brunet told the B.A.R., “I don’t know what we’re doing as of yet. I can’t discuss that situation at this time.”

He said that the last board meeting was in November, but there have been several phone conversations between members since then.

Asked what they’ve talked about, Brunet said, “Just about stuff.”

He said “of course there’s a danger” of Tenderloin Health having to close, but the agency’s fate won’t be known until next week.

Tenderloin Health’s page on an online fundraising site says, “We have suffered some serious budget shortfalls due to government contracts not coming through and are in great danger of having to discontinue services to over 8,000 unduplicated clients.”

Tenderloin Health’s budget is about $7.1 million, according to the most recently available data.

As of July, the agency had used up $600,000 out of $700,000 of credit they had available to them from Wells Fargo and Bank of the West. They also had about $1.2 million in short-term debt.

Last Friday, December 23, there were no obvious signs of trouble at the agency’s main office building, or at their clinic at 187 Golden Gate. Signs told visitors that the nonprofit was closed Friday and Monday, December 26, the day after Christmas. Holiday decorations adorned the lobbies of both sites, and fliers spoke of upcoming support groups.

Despite the apparent crisis, nobody’s discussed Tenderloin Health’s situation with at least one client.

Theo, who wouldn’t share his last name, walked up to the agency’s offices Friday, not realizing they were closed. He said he hadn’t been told anything about problems at the agency, and said if they shut down for good,  “I wouldn’t like it at all.”

The 59-year-old, who has HIV and relies on Social Security income, goes to Tenderloin Health for medical checkups and other services. Sometimes, he even eats breakfast there.

He spoke highly of the staff who work with him, and questioned what he would do without them.

“It would be a tragic loss if they were to close,” Theo said.

[UPDATED]: Finally reached by phone today (Wednesday, December 28), Fernandez said the B.A.R. seems “more bent on doing damage than finding out what’s going on.”

However, he repeatedly refused to provide specific information about what is happening. He wouldn’t confirm whether the board voted last week to close his agency. He also wouldn’t say which contracts have been cut or how much money the agency needs to stay open.

“We’re trying to figure things out,” Fernandez told the B.A.R. He also said, “I guess you’re just looking for dirt, so I don’t have anything to tell you.”

The agency’s board isn’t having its regular meeting tonight, he said. He wouldn’t say why.

Fernandez confirmed that Tenderloin Health’s thousands of clients haven’t been told anything about what’s happening. He said he’d provide more information to the B.A.R. as soon as the agency shares its plans with clients, staff, and other “stakeholders.”

“There’s a lot of options we’re considering,” Fernandez said, while declining to say what the alternatives are. He said, “The most important thing” is ensuring the agency’s clients continue to get services despite “all the financial issues.”

“Write about that,” he said. “Write about how our clients are not missing anything throughout all this.”

Shortly thereafter, Fernandez hung up the phone.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 28, 2011 @ 3:20 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


San Jose LGBT center hosts Xmas meal

San Jose’s LGBT center will be closed for much of the rest of the year, but it is opening Sunday, December 25 to host a free Christmas Day dinner.

An annual tradition at the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center, the meal usually attracts up to 50 people, said organizers. Volunteer Diane Brown is hosting this year’s potluck.

“Not only will we have some great food, but there will be other entertainment to make this a happy holiday for all who stop by. We look forward to seeing you,” center officials wrote on the Facebook invite page for the potluck dinner.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to bring a pre-cooked dish to feed at least five people. The facility’s kitchen cannot be used for cooking, so items must be ready-to-serve.

The dinner will take place from noon until 2 p.m.

“The Board of Directors, employees, and volunteers of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center wish our entire Community a safe and spectacular holiday season and best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year,” wrote the center in its weekly email blast.

It also announced its 2012 membership and fundraising drive has been launched. The all-volunteer-run nonprofit has struggled financially in recent years and depends on membership fees and other individual giving to help keep the building open.

“We are financially stable and have weathered the worst of the economic downturn. Through your generous donations, we are saving our pennies for some capital improvements, including a much needed new roof,” wrote the center’s three-person board in its 2011 year-end report. “Contrary to popular belief, most of the Center’s income is from private donations and facility rentals. Grants are difficult to obtain.”

Due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays the South Bay facility is reducing its hours and has canceled its Wednesday Bingo night next week. It will be open from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. for HIV testing only Tuesday, December 27 through Friday, December 30.

Its LGBTQ Youth Space will be closed though January 2.

All regular center operations resume Tuesday, January 3.

For more information on the center and its membership drive, visit its website here.

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, December 22, 2011 @ 5:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


NYC again tops SF with LGBT tourists

Baghdad-by-the-Bay continues to be second banana to the Big Apple with LGBT travelers.

For the 16th year running New York City ranked as the top destination in 2011 for LGBT tourists, with San Francisco sharing second place with Sin City when it comes to vacationers domestically. The rankings are similar when business travel is added to the mix, though Chicago also shares in the second spot.

The findings are based on an annual study conducted by Castro-based Community Marketing, Inc.

“New York City has been the number one LGBT destination in the USA throughout CMI’s 16 years of LGBT travel sampling, and the city has slightly increased the distance over the traditional second and third place cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas,” states the firm in its recently released report.

But San Francisco can still claim to be gay mecca as more survey respondents named the city one of their top three “gay-friendly” destinations than any other metropolitan area. With 18 percent out of 18,000 participants, San Francisco ranked first, ahead of New York with 10 percent.

Officially titled “CMI’s 16th Annual LGBT Tourism Study,” the yearly survey also found that the Big Easy continues to make strides in attracting LGBT fun seekers. As with straight travelers, LGBT tourists had avoided New Orleans after several devastating hurricanes crashed into the country’s Gulf Coast area six years ago.

Not only has Louisiana experienced a bounce back, Florida’s beach resorts are also seeing a revival in LGBT stays. Orlando, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale all rank among the top 10 cities for gay and bisexual men to visit, with Orlando in the top 10 for lesbian and bisexual women.

“New Orleans continues to gain visitors and is approaching pre-Katrina rankings,” CMI found this year. “Miami has significantly increased its LGBT tourism and has jumped back into the top ten for USA destinations.”

Despite the lingering economic downturn, LGBT people are increasing their travel. It is a turnaround from two years ago, when LGBT vacationers began to drop.

“Overall, the LGBT community has increased their travel in the last year, compared to the year before. Most destinations surveyed increased LGBT travel by 1 to 3 percent in the past year,” the report found. “This is in contrast to the last two years, which saw a decrease in LGBT travel due to the global economic recession, the first time in over 16 years of sampling.”

LGBT events continue to be a major draw with travelers. And interestingly, boycotts of destinations due to anti-gay laws don’t appear to be a successful strategy with LGBT people.

While boycotts of antigay companies do work, CMI found with its focus groups that “destination boycotts are not effective because many LGBT people don’t penalize local communities / people because of national or state laws.”

The one thing that can turn LGBT people off of a certain place is reports of gay bashings or other antigay incidents.

The report found that “a destination’s reputation for anti‐gay violence is a closer predictor than anti‐gay laws in deterring LGBT travel. News stories about gay bashing in a destination may in fact be more damaging than anti-‐gay laws (although these two considerations are often related).”

The full report can be downloaded here.

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Tenderloin Health hurt by ‘severe’ cuts, facing decisions, director says

Tenderloin Health, a San Francisco nonprofit that provides housing and other services to some of the city’s poorest residents, including people with HIV and AIDS, appears to be in deep financial trouble.

In an email this week, David Fernandez, the agency’s  executive director, said, “We have not been doing very well.”

He said the agency had “some severe funding cuts” in September and October, and they’re “working with our funding partners to work through the situation.”

Tenderloin Health officials expressed confidence this summer that the agency’s finances were stabilizing after years of decline, and they said they were developing a strategic plan.

But Fernandez’s recent comments, which were in response to interview requests from the Bay Area Reporter, indicate whatever they’ve been trying isn’t working.

In his Monday, December 19 message, in which he declined to the interview requests, Fernandez said, “I am not in a position to share anything more with you until some actual decisions are made; decisions that will be made in the next couple weeks.”

It’s not clear what kind of decisions the nonprofit will be making, but the agency’s been troubled for years. Drops in donations and government contracts, along with financial mismanagement, have been among their problems.

Tenderloin Health’s budget is about $7.1 million, according to the most recently available data.

As of July, the agency had used up $600,000 out of $700,000 of credit they had available to them from Wells Fargo and Bank of the West. They also had about $1.2 million in short-term debt.

Despite the problems that Tenderloin Health was facing this summer, Fernandez said at the time that the agency was “pretty close” to breaking even.

He also said they were “on track to bring in a totally different donor base, in addition to what Tenderloin Health has had in the past. We’re going after private money,” because that allows more flexibility than government funds.

Tenderloin Health receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from city agencies, including the Department of Public Health.

In response to an emailed request this week to talk to Public Health Director Barbara Garcia, Eileen Shields, the agency’s spokeswoman, said, “We are not ready to discuss this as yet,” since the department is “still working with [Tenderloin Health] on the plan.”

In July, Garcia spoke highly of Fernandez, saying he’d “worked extremely hard at bringing the organization to structural strength.”

Reached by phone late last week, Tenderloin Health board Chair Andy Chen said the agency’s strategic plan hasn’t been completed, and he didn’t know when it would be done.

“We’re very busy with a number of things,” Chen said, before ending the call.

Years of problems

In July, Fernandez said that when he first joined the agency in November 2009, he was given the title interim executive director for 90 days.

“My job was to come back to [the board of directors] and tell them whether we should close the doors or not,” he said.

He said he ultimately found no reason to do that. For one reason, he said, “The population we serve can get these services nowhere else,” especially not all in one place.

Tenderloin Health was created in July 2006 when the Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center and Continuum HIV Day Services officially merged. The move was a response to the realities of reduced AIDS-related funding.

Around May 2009, a contract Tenderloin Health had with the city’s Human Services Agency was de-funded. That resulted in the shutdown of the nonprofit’s community drop-in resource center, which had served over 12,000 unduplicated clients every year.

Forms the agency filed with the IRS show its net assets declined from about $1.1 million for 2005 to negative $182,951 for 2009. More recent tax documents aren’t available.

An audit of the agency’s financial statements as of June 30, 2009 also pointed to problems. The B.A.R. obtained the document through a public records request to the health department after Fernandez declined to provide a copy. The audit, performed by PMB Helin Donovan and dated December 2010, is the most recent available for the agency.

The review indicated poor financial oversight was among the reasons for the agency’s troubles. Possible consequences included the risk that timely financial statements wouldn’t be available to funding sources and others when requested, according to the review.

“This might have adverse effects on the organization’s operations and financial condition,” the audit, which indicated that Tenderloin Health was working to address problems, said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 21, 2011 @ 7:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Medical pot group launches advocacy application for tech devices

Medical marijuana advocates launched an iPhone application today that’s designed to help users stay up-to-date on the latest pot-related policies.

The free tool, released by Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, is known as the ASA Advocate App. (To find the application in the iPhone App Store, search for “Americans for Safe Access.”)

The application provides immediate updates on rapidly changing local, state, and federal issues to keep users on top of the latest in medical marijuana politics, science, law and community actions.

Additionally, the ASA Advocate App connects users to a legal hotline and enables them to sign up for raid alerts and activist phone trees. The application is not designed to help people find dispensaries.

In California, some medical marijuana dispensaries have recently been shut down by the federal Department of Justice. The federal government’s stance flies in the face of California law. In 1996, voters passed Proposition 215, the California Compassionate Use Act, which regulates medical marijuana. The federal government does not recognize Prop 215 or similar laws in more than a dozen other states and Washington, D.C. Many people with HIV and AIDS and other diseases rely on medical marijuana for pain relief.

On Monday, December 19, Americans for Safe Access proposed an initiative to the state attorney general’s office. Among other provisions, the measure would create a state bureau and impose a sales tax on medical marijuana.

In recent months, Americans for Safe Access and other groups have also sued federal officials over their crackdown on pot clubs.

The ASA Advocacy App, which was developed with help from the application company iWeed, is currently only accessible from Apple devices. It will be expanded to Android and other application markets over the next few months.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Occupy events planned for weekend

At least two Bay Area Occupy movements are planning events for Satruday, December 17.

In San Francisco, Occupy the Castro will run from 12 to 2 p.m. at Harvey Milk Plaza, at Castro and Market streets.

Saturday marks the three-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street’s launch, and Castro organizers will mark the occasion with their first general assembly to formally discuss plans. A wall of paper for comments, artwork, and political demands will be available.

On their Facebook page, those planning the event expressed dissatisfaction with business groups and others representing the largely gay neighborhood in regards to housing and other issues.

“Those institutions need to understand they do not own our gayborhood and that we are tired of being left out of the decision-making process regarding public spaces and policies,” organizers said.

They added, “Bring your anger, creative ideas, political acumen, posters expressing your demands, a couple of friends and pitch in to make the Castro’s initial General Assembly fabulous.”

The event will also include a moment of silence for Pedro Villamor Jr., 44, a homeless man who died in a doorway near 532 Castro Street on Thursday, December 8. Police have said there were no signs of foul play in his death.

“There’s got to be an awareness in our community about economic justice,” Occupy organizer and longtime gay activist Tommi Avicoli Mecca said in an interview. Disparities between “the wealthy and the rest of us” affect LGBTs just like they do anyone else, he said.

“The death of this man in the Castro really, really hits it home,” Avicoli Mecca said. “The point is that we need to be taking care of each other the way we did in the 80s, in the AIDS crisis.”

Redwood City

In Redwood City, about half an hour south of San Francisco, another Occupy event is planned for Saturday.

Beginning at 10 a.m. at Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway Street, Occupy Redwood City  will lead a “Tour of Shame” march addressing the city’s largest banks. The tour aims to “hold banks accountable for their role in the financial crisis and to educate the public on banks’ crimes,” organizers said in a statement.

Paige Scott, an Occupy Redwood City participant, stated, “We want to empower people with information and let them know that there are viable alternatives to big banks, such as credit unions and small community banks.”

The group’s complaints about banks include “rampant” foreclosures and misuse of bailout funds, organizers said.

The event isn’t specifically LGBT-related, but Occupy Redwood City spokesman James Lee said there are connections, and they’re not just related to banks.

“For LGBT people in particular, we’ve seen with [the Obama] administration that no matter which of the two major parties you put into power in the White House, change doesn’t happen from the top down,” said Lee, who’s gay. “It’s becoming ever more apparent that it has to be from the bottom up.”

Lee’s grievances with the President include Obama’s refusal to support same-sex marriage and his lack of action in protecting LGBTs from employment discrimination.

But “Personally, I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed,” Lee said. “… I didn’t vote for him in the first place.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 16, 2011 @ 8:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Entertainment Commission could gain two new out members

San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission could soon see two new out members.

Mayor Ed Lee recommended Department of Youth, Children, and their Families staffer Bryant Tan. Castro bar owner Tim Eicher has applied for the entertainment industry spot vacated by Timothy Benetti, who resigned.

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee today opted to move both candidates forward to the full board.

Tan received the board committee’s full support. Supervisors Scott Wiener and Mike Farrell both voted in favor of Eicher, while Supervisor Jane Kim, the committee’s chair, voted against recommending him. (Wiener was sitting in for Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.)

Tan was the sole candidate that Lee recommended, while Eicher was up against Steven Lee, whom Kim seemed to favor, and two others.

At today’s hearing, Tan, who grew up in San Francisco, said, “Entertainment has been a huge part of my life.”

He said, “As a queer person and young adult,” the city’s nightlife venues, especially those in the Castro area, have given him opportunities to seek out community and find safe spaces.

In his job with the city, Tan works directly with young people. He told the committee that “opportunities to have safe and accessible places after dark” for the city’s youth are “few and far between.” He’d like to look at filling those gaps, he said.

Wiener said the city’s faced problems with venues providing live music, as well as electronic dance music, for young people. Tan expressed concern over issues such as drug overdoses at clubs, and said, “No one has fun when people are dying or getting hurt,” but it’s important to be fair to all involved.

Eicher, who moved to San Francisco in 1989, said that he joined what’s now known as the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association as soon as he got his first bar in the neighborhood. He’s now co-owner of The Edge, Midnight Sun, and QBar.

He told supervisors today that he’s known that his bars’ long-term success “depended on me understanding the neighborhood concerns and being able to proactively resolve issues before they get out of control.”

Eicher also helped form the nightspot coalition Castro After Dark, where “I’ve been taking the lead on safety and crime reduction issues,” he said. That’s been especially important as many neighborhood clubs have seen an increase in phone and purse thefts recently.

He also said the nightlife industry is a “vital” part of the city and he’d like to see the industry promoted more than it has been.

Kim asked Eicher for his thoughts on staggering bars’ closing hours.

As did the other hopefuls, Eicher said he supports the idea. When “everyone is pouring out of the bars at 2 o’clock,” there’s more “potential for conflict,” he said. “Having staggered exit times would be a great idea,” he said.

Eicher also said he’d like to see more restaurants stay open later, since they’re “a great place for people to go and sober up a little bit before going home.”

Wiener, who represents the Castro and other neighborhoods as the District 8 supervisor, talked about several reasons he was supporting Eicher for a seat on the commission. He said he’s seen club operators respond to neighbors’ concerns in “incredibly unproductive” ways, but Eicher has gone “above and beyond” what he needed to do.

Wiener also said he couldn’t think of anyone from the Castro who’s ever been on the entertainment panel.

“Given that the Castro is one of the major nightlife entertainment zones in the city …  having a venue operator from the Castro would be appropriate,” he said.

Tan’s term would end July 1, 2015. Eicher’s would end July 1, 2014, since he’d be filing out Benetti’s four-year term.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 15, 2011 @ 6:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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