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

Rings stolen, owner punched at Castro shop

ringSan Francisco police are investigating the theft of several expensive rings from a shop in the Castro district this week. A store owner was punched during the robbery.

According to a police summary, the incident started at 4 p.m. Wednesday, February 26 when a man who appeared to be 40 entered the shop, punched the owner in the face, grabbed a tray full of “high-value rings,” and fled the store.

Police didn’t provide further description of the suspect, and haven’t shared which business was involved, but said it’s in the 500 block of Castro Street. An employee of Maya Jewelry, 542A Castro Street, said hers was not the business involved.

The 64-year-old owner’s injuries were listed as bruising and pain to the cheek. He refused medical treatment, according to police.

Anyone with information about the case may call the anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 and type SFPD, then the message. The incident number is 140 168 635.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 28, 2014 @ 3:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


UC Berkeley student accused of attack, anti-gay remarks

joseph donner

Joseph Michael Donner (Photo: UCPD)

Police have accused a UC Berkeley student of beating up his roommate after he allegedly made homophobic remarks toward him.

Prosecutors are charging Joseph Michael Donner, 19, with felony battery in the February 18 incident. He’s expected to be arraigned and enter a plea Wednesday, March 5.

The alleged attack started at 11:50 p.m. as Donner and his roommate, also 19, were walking near the school’s Campbell Hall construction site on their way to Moffitt Library, according to a UC Berkeley Police Department summary.

The men had been having “some kid of disagreement” that “escalated,” Lieutenant Eric Tejada, a police spokesman, said in an interview.

Donner “made homophobic statements to the victim and demanded his cellphone,” police said, and when they got to Campbell Hall, Donner allegedly ordered his roommate “to go into the construction area.”

When the man refused, Donner started beating him, and “repeatedly punched, kicked, and choked” him, police said. Donner then ran away from the area, but police responded to his home and arrested him.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s office is charging Donner with battery with serious bodily injury, but the complaint doesn’t list any hate crime allegations.

Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the agency, hasn’t responded to questions about why the case isn’t being charged as a hate crime.

[Updated Thursday, February 27]: Drenick called and said since it’s an active case, “I can’t get into the evidence,” but her agency’s charging standard is that for any count or enhancement, “We have to believe there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury that that’s true.” [End update].

Assistant District Attorney Matt Foley, who said Thursday (February 27) that he’d just been assigned the case, didn’t know why it’s not being charged as a hate crime, and indicated he couldn’t comment on that even if he did know.

Tejada declined to share what exactly Donner had allegedly said, since “the investigation is ongoing.”

Elizabeth Grossman, Donner’s attorney, hasn’t responded to an interview request or to emailed questions. However, Grossman recently told the Oakland Tribune that Donner had “been having a ‘psychotic break'” and he would be hospitalized.

“It’s not remotely about a hate crime,” she told the paper.

The victim sustained injuries to his head and face, Tejada said. Donner beat up the other man “pretty good,” he said.

Tejada didn’t know what the original dispute had been about, or where the men had been coming from. The two are both UC Berkeley students and lived in Berkeley, off campus.

Tejada also didn’t know whether the victim is actually LGBT, but he noted someone can be accused of a hate crime regardless of the victim’s orientation.

There was at least one witness, Tejada said, and police still had other witnesses they wanted to talk to. There’s no video of the incident, he said.

Tejada called the alleged attack “kind of shocking,” and said hate crimes are “something we don’t normally see on our campus.”

Anyone with more information about the case may call the UC Berkley police at (510) 642-0472 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or (510) 642-6760 outside those hours. The police report number is 14-00508.

 

 

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 27, 2014 @ 3:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Chiu, Campos open Assembly campaign HQs, prepare for LGBT Dem club debate

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 1.47.07 PMSan Francisco Assembly candidates David Chiu (right in photo) and David Campos have leased storefronts for their campaign headquarters and are preparing for a policy forum next month hosted by an LGBT Democratic Club.

Chiu, who represents District 3 and is president of the Board of Supervisors, and Campos, a gay man who represents District 9, are seeking the Assembly seat currently held by gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who will be termed out of office in December.

With similar voting records at City Hall, the two candidates have been trying to find ways to differentiate themselves in the eyes of voters. One argument Campos’ camp has made is the need to ensure an LGBT person holds the Assembly seat, which covers the city’s eastern neighborhoods and has been held by an out lawmaker since 1996.

Chiu and his supporters have countered that he has long been a vocal supporter of LGBT issues and would continue to do so if elected to the state Legislature. He has already approached the chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus about becoming a member if elected, although the caucus’ rules say it is only for LGBT lawmakers.

To bring even more visibility to his campaign within the city’s LGBT community, Chiu has opted to open his campaign headquarters in the heart of the city’s gay business district. He has taken over the vacant storefront at 549 Castro Street. It was formerly the home of gay-owned De La Sole shoe store, which closed last year.

His supporters and volunteers will help Chiu officially open his campaign headquarters at noon this Saturday, March 1. Among those expected to join Chiu are gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro at City Hall, and lesbian Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker.

As for Campos’ campaign, it opted for a storefront at 3143 Mission Street, across the street from queer bars El Rio and Virgil. It moved in in early February and plans to have an official HQ opening party on March 29th.

In response to questions from the Bay Area Reporter, Campos Campaign Manager Nate Allbee said the campaign is “exploring the option of a satellite office with the Castro being our first choice.”

In the meantime, both candidates are preparing for a public debate that the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is hosting Wednesday, March 12. Melissa Griffin Caen, a legal and political analyst for local CBS affiliate KPIX5 and KGO radio will moderate.

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Rainbow Room at the LGBT Community Center, located at 1800 Market Street.

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:21 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Obama names gay SF treasurer to co-lead federal finance panel

SF City Treasurer Jose Cisneros (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

SF City Treasurer Jose Cisneros (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

President Barack Obama announced today that he was naming San Francisco’s gay city treasurer, Jose Cisneros, as the vice chair of a federal financial advisory group.

Late Wednesday (February 26) the White House released a statement about a number of key appointments to administration posts, including 15 seats on the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.

Created by Obama in 2013, the advisory body, according to its website, advises the president and the Secretary of the Treasury on how to promote financial capability among young Americans and encourage building the financial capability of young people at an early stage in schools, families, communities, and the workplace and through use of technology.

Obama named John W. Rogers, Jr., the chairman, CEO, and chief investment officer of Ariel Investments in Chicago, as chair of the advisory council. Rogers previously chaired the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability from 2010 to 2013.

Among the other members announced today for the panel were Kerry N. Doi, president and CEO of the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment since 1976,  who is a board member of the Los Angeles Housing Partnership and the California Community Economic Development Association, and Kilandigalu (Kay) M. Madati, the head of entertainment and media on Facebook’s global marketing solutions team.

Elected in November to a third, albeit truncated, term as treasurer, Cisneros is the only LGBT person elected to a citywide position at San Francisco’s City Hall. He is expected to seek re-election to a four-year term in 2015.

Cisneros served as deputy general manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.  Previously, he worked for IBM Corporation and Lotus Development Corporation as a senior international product manager. Prior to that, he was an assistant vice president at Bank of Boston.

He received a B.S. from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in San Francisco with his  longtime partner, Mark Kelleher.

 

 

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 26, 2014 @ 5:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Proposal to ban ‘gay,’ ‘trans’ panic defenses introduced

Susan Bonilla

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla

Criminal defendants in California would no longer be able to use “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense strategies if a new bill by Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) becomes law.

Bonilla introduced Assembly Bill 2501 Wednesday (February 26) to ban the panic tactic, which is used by murder defendants who want to mitigate their crimes by claiming their acts “were triggered by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” a news release from Equality California, which is sponsoring the bill, said.

“This is 2014!” Bonilla said in the EQCA release. “We as a society are moving rapidly away from the hate, bias and prejudice” against LGBTs.

“It is shocking to know that criminal defendants are encouraged by their counsel to employ this so-called ‘gay panic’ or ‘trans panic’ defense in order to receive a possible lesser sentence for murdering an individual just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Bonilla said.

EQCA Executive Director John O’Connor said, “It is an outrage to allow the use of panic defenses and in doing so blame the victims of horrific acts of violence. Homophobia and transphobia have no place in California’s justice system.”

AB 2501 would change the existing definition of “voluntary manslaughter” to ban defendants from “contending that they were provoked to murder by discovering the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to EQCA.

Over the past 10 years, there have been several high-profile cases where panic defenses were used, including the murders of LGBT teens Gwen Araujo and Larry King in California.

Former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) introduced legislation similar to AB 2501 several years ago, but it got watered down, ultimately only requiring courts to instruct juries that their verdicts shouldn’t be influenced by bias against a victim.

The bill is set for a policy committee hearing this spring.

 

 

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF officials urge Arizona governor to veto antigay bill, call for boycott of state if passed

Supervisor David Campos and Mayor Ed Lee. Photo courtesy of Campos' office.

Supervisor David Campos and Mayor Ed Lee. Photo courtesy of Campos’ office.

San Francisco officials this week joined in the chorus of voices urging Arizona’s governor to veto a bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution condemning the anti-gay law, SB 1062, passed by the Arizona Legislature this month, and urging Governor Jan Brewer not to sign it. The board passed it unanimously.

The resolution noted that due to the legislation’s broad language itprovides a ‘license to discriminate’ as it allows any individual, corporation, institution, or business owner the right to refuse service to an individual if the owner believes doing so would violate the practice and observance of his or her religion.”

The board also vowed to boycott Arizona if the law is enacted, and asked city departments to refrain from entering into any new or amended contracts to purchase goods or services from any company that is headquartered in Arizona. They also asked department heads to avoid sending city officials or employees to conferences in Arizona.

In a statement issued today (Wednesday, February 26), Mayor Ed Lee said he agreed with the supervisors’ stance.

“I stand with the Board of Supervisors to urge Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the State of Arizona’s SB 1062, the ‘Right to Discriminate’ bill, currently on her desk,” stated Lee. “If Governor Brewer ignores basic human rights, common sense, and many members of her own Republican Party and signs the bill, I will immediately direct all City staff to refrain from travel and lodging in the State of Arizona until further notice.”

San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano (right) speaks out against an anti-gay Arizona law during a rally at the state Capitol.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano (right) speaks out against an anti-gay Arizona law during a rally at the state Capitol.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano, the former mayor of Tempe, Arizona, has also been vocal in speaking out against the bill. He took part in protests at the Arizona state Capitol Friday, February 21 and has been tracking the issue on his Facebook page.

“Great to be with friends yesterday as we spoke out against religious-based discrimination in the form of legislation. Hoping for a veto from Gov Brewer this week,” wrote Giuliano in a February 22 post.

The bill has generated widespread media attention and been denounced by a wide array of politicians and business groups.

The National Football League, which plans to bring the Superbowl to Phoenix in 2015, has spoken out against the law, as have the Arizona Cardinals football team.

Both of the state’s GOP U.S. Senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, are against the bill, having joined with bisexual House member Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) in urging Brewer to veto it. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was the latest high-profile politician to speak out against the anti-gay law.

Joining other national companies such as Apple, American Airlines and Yelp in criticizing the bill, the InterContinental Hotels Group, with chains like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn under its umbrella, spoke out today against it.

“IHG has regularly voiced support for equal treatment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. As a result, we are concerned by proposed legislation in a number of states that would allow businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender guests and customers,” the company said in a statement it issued this morning. “The negative effects of these proposals, if passed into law, would be wide-reaching and significant for both businesses and individuals. IHG opposes these proposals and adds its voice to those urging state officials to reject them.”

Brewer’s administration has indicated that she intends to veto the law. She has until Saturday to either sign it or veto it; inaction by the governor by then will mean it will automatically become law.

UPDATE: Brewer announced her veto of the bill during a press conference late Wednesday.

“The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences,” Brewer told reporters at a press conference. “After weighing all of the arguments I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.”

It prompted swift responses of praise from LGBT and legal groups.

“Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else,” stated Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We’re grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:08 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Ammiano proposes allowing Ellis Act moratoriums

Tom Ammiano. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Tom Ammiano. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Friday (February 21) that would allow local jurisdictions to protect affordable housing stock from the Ellis Act by placing moratoriums on the controversial state law.

“San Francisco is seeing a terrible crisis,” Ammiano said in a news release announcing Assembly Bill 2405. “The people who have made our city the diverse and creative place that it is are finding it harder and harder to stay in San Francisco. The rash of Ellis Act evictions has only made it worse.”

The Ellis Act is a 1986 state law that allows landlords to evict tenants in order to get out of the rental business. The landlord must remove all units from the rental market. Many have blamed the law for people losing their homes as well-paid employees of tech companies like Twitter and Google move to the city.

AB 2405 would, by means of a Board of Supervisors or public vote, allow local jurisdictions to place a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions when the local housing element isn’t met, among other provisions.

Ammiano’s office stated that “some owners have been abusing [Ellis Act] provisions and improperly evicting tenants from rent-controlled units. The problem is not restricted to San Francisco, although the city is going through a particularly critical loss of affordable housing.”

Ammiano said, “Experience shows you can’t build your way out of an affordable housing crisis.”

Longtime Ellis Act critic and gay activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who works for San Francisco’s Housing Rights Committee, agreed.

“We can’t build our way out of this housing crisis,” Mecca said in an email. “We have to do everything we can to preserve the affordable housing we have. And rent-controlled units are a form of affordable housing. They keep rents stabilized while the tenants live there. It’s vital the city keep long-term tenants in their apartment so that these tenants aren’t forced out of the city or onto the streets. If this bill passes, our city can put a moratorium on Ellis evictions, something we desperately need to do.”

Brian Basinger, who’s another longtime Ellis critic and director of AIDS Housing Alliance-San Francisco, also cheered the bill.

“Once again, Tom Ammiano is exercising visionary leadership in effectively using government to meet the needs of everyday Californians,” Basinger said in an email. “We can no longer tolerate elected officials who are the servants of the 1 percent, real estate speculators, and other vulture capitalists.”

Meanwhile, gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) announced Friday that he, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and others would announce legislation Monday, February 24 that would “close the loophole in the Ellis Act that allows speculators in San Francisco to buy rent-controlled buildings and immediately begin the process of evicting long-term renters,” according to a news release from Leno’s office.

 

 

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 21, 2014 @ 6:40 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Online voting begins for Castro rainbow crosswalk designs

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 11.39.59 AMOnline voting has gone live for the public to weigh in on several designs for rainbow crosswalks, as well as other color schemes, set to be installed in San Francisco’s gay Castro district sometime this summer.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog a week ago, the Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District has agreed to pay for the special crosswalk treatments along with colored lighting and historical facts in the sidewalk on Castro Street between 19th and Market Streets.

The cost for the decorative improvements in the heart of San Francisco’s gay business district totals nearly $122,000. The CBD board voted to allot $37,500 toward the cost of painting four decorative crosswalks on the roadway.

The proposal is to either install all four at the intersection of Castro and 18th Streets or place two there and two at the intersection of Castro and 19th Streets.

Residents are being asked to weigh in on four various options for the crosswalk design: two different rainbow versions and two non-rainbow options. The link to the online survey can be found here and will remain up through March 5.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 11.40.37 AMAccording to the survey, Option A is rainbow stripes inspired by a modern art design and Option C is a rainbow paisley design inspired by colored bandanas.

Option B is a brick design inspired by the Castro Theatre foyer paving and Option D is an abstract pattern inspired by the overhead Muni wires seen along Castro Street.

The survey includes questions on several pattern options and various placement scenarios for where the four crosswalks would be installed. The results are slated to be posted to the website for updates on the project by March 10, 2014.

CBD officials and city planners plan to be at Jane Warner Plaza, at the corner of Market, Castro and 17th streets, with mock-ups of the crosswalk designs from 1 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, February 23. Passersby will be able to vote for their favorites that day.

Work on the streetscape improvement project is expected to commence next week, when crews from Marin County-based Ghilotti Brothers will begin readying Castro Street to widen the sidewalks, upgrade Jane Warner Plaza, plant new street trees, and install other pedestrian-friendly elements.

Construction on the sidewalk project is slated to be done in time for the Castro Street Fair, annually held the first Sunday of October.

For more information about the project, and to sign up for emailed alerts, visit http://www.castrostreet.org/.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Tenants of 1049 Market announce eviction reprieve

Chandra Reddick, a 1049 Market Street resident, spoke at a recent tenants convention. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Chandra Reddick, a 1049 Market Street resident, spoke at a recent tenants convention. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Tenants of a San Francisco building that includes live-work lofts popular with low-income LGBT artists have announced they’ve won another reprieve as they work to avoid eviction.

John Gall, one of the owners of 1049 Market Street, has withdrawn his appeal of the city’s suspension of his demolition permit, according to a news release from the tenants. The renters and their supporters are holding a news conference at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday (February 19) on the Polk Street steps of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. The Board of Appeals had been set to hear the appeal of the suspension Wednesday.

Tenants received eviction notices last September, but the Housing Rights Committee, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, and Supervisor Jane Kim have helped them stay in their homes. Kim’s District 6 includes the mid-Market district, where the building is located.

“It’s a clear victory for us tenants,” 1049 Market resident Marcele Wilson stated. “This is about evicting working-class tenants and artists so that they can convert our apartments into offices and cash in on the mid-Market tech boom. But these are our homes, we’re not leaving.”

Gall, who needs the demolition permit in order to proceed with his plans, hasn’t responded to previous interview requests.

Evictions in San Francisco have been drawing increased attention in recent months. Many in the city blame technology companies like Twitter, which has its headquarters just a few blocks from 1049 Market, for driving up rents in the area as the social media company and others like it grab office space and draw in well-paid workers seeking homes.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 19, 2014 @ 4:29 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Castro group votes to pay for street improvements in the heart of San Francisco’s gay business district

Photo courtesy of the Castro CBD.

Photo courtesy of the Castro CBD.

A Castro group will pay nearly $122,000 for decorative improvements in the heart of San Francisco’s gay business district as part of a sidewalk widening project expected to break ground in late February.

At its meeting last night (Thursday, February 13) the Castro Upper Market Community Benefit District board voted to allocate the money toward paying for special crosswalk treatments, colored lighting and historical facts in the sidewalk.

The streetscape elements will be added to the work the city is paying for along Castro Street between 19th and Market Streets. As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a January 30 article, sometime on or after Monday, February 24 crews will begin readying Castro Street to widen the sidewalks, upgrade Jane Warner Plaza, plant new street trees, and install other pedestrian-friendly elements.

The construction costs total $6,738,800, which includes relocating Muni’s overhead wires and installing a new water main. The bid from Marin County-based Ghilotti Brothers for the streetscape work did not come in low enough to include the decorative elements the CBD is footing the bill for.

It agreed to cover up to $74,360 for 48 LED down wash decorative lights, with two lights each for the 24 light poles to be installed along Castro Street. The lights will be programmable to display various color schemes, from rainbow to all red.

The CBD is also covering the $37,500 cost to paint four decorative crosswalks on the roadway. It will be seeking the public’s input on where to place the crosswalks and what they should look like.

The proposal is to either install all four at the intersection of Castro and 18th Streets or place two there and two at the intersection of Castro and 19th Streets.

Residents will be asked to weigh in on six various options for the crosswalk design: four different rainbow versions and two non-rainbow options.

The CBD is also paying $10,000 to etch 20 historical facts about the neighborhood into the sidewalk at 10 different sites along Castro Street near where new trees will be planted. There will be two facts at each site.

City planners are working with community leaders to cull a list of proposed facts to include. The CBD plans to then seek the public’s advice on which to install through an online survey it will launch later this month. The survey will include questions about the various crosswalk designs.

CBD officials and city planners plan to be at Jane Warner Plaza, at the corner of Market, Castro and 17th streets, with mock-ups of the six crosswalk designs from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, February 23. Passersby will be able to vote for their favorites that day.

The decorative elements are expected to be installed later this summer. Construction on the sidewalk project is slated to be done in time for the Castro Street Fair, annually held the first Sunday of October.

For more information about the project, and to sign up for emailed alerts, visit http://www.castrostreet.org/.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 14, 2014 @ 6:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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