Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Gay UC Berkeley graduate named superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park

National Park Service official Dave Smith

National Park Service official Dave Smith

A gay UC Berkeley graduate and former Bay Area National Park Service official has been selected as the new superintendent for Joshua Tree National Park east of Palm Springs in southern California.

David Smith, currently the superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, will begin his new position in mid-September, replacing former superintendent Mark Butler, who retired earlier this year.

“David’s experience and proven leadership will be a great asset for the park,” stated Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz in a news release. “His background working in diverse parks with many different types of resources and his proven success in building collaborative relationships both inside and outside government makes him a great fit.”

According to the statement, Smith considers Joshua Tree to be “his dream park,” as it was where he signed on as a park volunteer, and in 1998, got his first permanent position with the National Park Service as a Joshua Tree park ranger.

“I grew up climbing and camping in what is one of America’s hidden jewels: Joshua Tree National Park,” stated Smith. “Helping to lead Joshua Tree in the coming years is an honor. The staff at Joshua Tree are committed to caring for the park and its visitors. They are leaders in environmental education, scientific research, as well as search and rescue, resource protection, and facilities management. I am looking forward to the privilege of working with such an amazing cadre of individuals.”

Smith, who grew up in northern San Diego County, earned a BS in Forestry/Developmental Studies from UC Berkeley.

During 22 years with the National Park Service, Smith has served as a law enforcement ranger, a park interpreter, and a biological technician in a host of western parks. Before being sent to Kansas, he served in Washington, D.C. as legislative staffer on the House Natural Resources Committee as part of the NPS Bevinetto Fellowship program.

Smith arrived in Washington having worked as district naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park, interpretive specialist at the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and as a law enforcement ranger at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego and Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

He married his husband, John Evans, in a ceremony in California in 1996. They lived in the Bay Area when Smith worked for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. While in Oakland the couple adopted their son, Dante, and daughter, Jakiah.

Smith will be joined by his spouse and their two children when he begins his tour of duty at Joshua Tree this fall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 17, 2014 @ 4:18 pm PST
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Out CA appeals court justice nominees sail through confirmation hearings

CA appeal court presiding Justice Jim Humes. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

CA appeal court presiding Justice Jim Humes. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Two out California appeals court justice nominees sailed through their confirmation hearings this morning, marking two historic LGBT milestones for the state’s appellate courts.

San Francisco resident James M. Humes, 54, took his oath of office to become the presiding justice of the First District Court of Appeal’s Division One immediately after being unanimously confirmed by the state’s Commission on Judicial Appointments. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice James J. Marchiano.

His swearing-in marks the first time an out justice has presided over an appellate court division in the Golden State. The gay longtime aide to Governor Jerry Brown was first named to the appellate court in 2012 by his former boss.

“I know I am new to the bench and I know I have a lot more to learn,” said Humes. “I will work hard to make sure Division One continues on its current course to provide justice fairly and in a timely manner.”

Therese Stewart is the first out lesbian appointed to a CA appellate court. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Therese Stewart is the first out lesbian appointed to a CA appellate court. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Two hours later the judicial appointments commission confirmed Therese M. Stewart to a seat on Division Two of the First District Court of Appeal. It marks the first time an out lesbian has been named to the appellate bench.

Over Pride weekend in late June Brown nominated Stewart to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice James R. Lambden. Stewart, 57, of San Francisco, will take her oath of office in mid August.

She has served as chief deputy city attorney at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office since 2002 and is best known for litigating the state’s marriage equality lawsuits that secured marriage rights for same-sex couples, first at the state level in 2008 and then in 2013 as part of the federal litigation.

“I am grateful, honored, excited,” Stewart said. “I am also daunted by the governor’s decision to appoint me to the Court of Appeals.”

Her stepmother Hope Stewart, who lives in Petaluma, attended the July 17 hearing and told the Bay Area Reporter it was a “proud” day for her.

“Such a well deserved appointment,” she said. “I am delighted the world recognizes Terry’s talents.”

Stewart’s wife, Carole Scagnetti, told the B.A.R. she was also “very proud of Terry.” Her becoming a judge, she added, “I think it is the logical next step. She is a brilliant constitutional attorney, a good listener, and has good judgment.”

The State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation rated Humes and Stewart as both “exceptionally well qualified,” its highest rating, when they reviewed their nominations. The outstanding recommendations were echoed by the members of the appointments commission.

Noting Humes had spent time in Colorado prior to moving to California, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said the state “is a much better place having you come here.”

J. Anthony Kline, who has long been friends with Stewart, is the acting presiding justice for Division Two. He admitted in court that he had questioned Stewart if she was prepared to go from being an advocate before the court to having to decide cases as a judge.

“When you told me you were interested in an appointment, I tried to talk you out of it,” he said.

He also divulged that he had a chance to speak with her opponent in the federal marriage lawsuit, Charles Cooper, a month ago and mentioned Stewart’s being up for a judgeship.

“You were a fierce advocate he told me,” recounted Kline. “I almost suggested you call him to serve as a witness today on your behalf.”

Acknowledging that she lacks criminal experience in her legal career, Stewart nonetheless said she was up for the challenge and ready to learn from judges on the trial courts or with criminal expertise.

“I am eager to do it. I know it will be a challenge but something I will eagerly embrace,” she said. “At the city attorney’s office there was no dearth of breadth of the many things that came before us.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:14 pm PST
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Folsom Street Fair director fails to gain support for entertainment seat

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis. (Photo: Rich Stadtmiller)

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis. (Photo: Rich Stadtmiller)

The executive director of the Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco’s yearly fetish event, failed to gain support for an entertainment commission seat at a City Hall hearing today.

Demetri Moshoyannis had sought appointment to the industry seat on the oversight panel for the city’s nightlife and entertainment sector. Yet the Board of Supervisors’ rules committee gave its support to reappointing nightclub owner Steven Lee to the seat.

It was the second time Lee had prevailed against an out gay applicant for the seat, as two years ago he faced competition for the appointment from Castro bar owner Tim Eicher. In that instance, Eicher had won backing from the rules committee but saw the full board vote 6-5 to instead appoint Lee.

At the hearing this afternoon (Thursday, July 10) rules committee members Norman Yee, Jane Kim, and David Campos all spoke highly of Moshoyannis’s credentials but saw no reason not to reappoint Lee to the entertainment commission.

“It is hard to think of a more impressive candidate than we have seen for this seat and this role in a while,” said Campos of Moshoyannis, adding that as a gay man he wants to see LGBT representation on city panels.

Nonetheless, Campos said that “when it comes to re-appointments, the question is always, Has the incumbent done what you expect him to do?” Seeing that the answer is “yes” in terms of Lee, Campos said, “I am happy to support him today.”

Yee also praised Moshoyannis’ credentials but said he saw no reason not to vote for Lee.

“Demetri, I found him to be a very qualified person and has very passion for wanting to be on the commission and a clear vision for what he wanted to do,” said Yee. “If it weren’t for the fact that this position is already filled by Steven, and he is coming to us to be reappointed, I would seriously consider Demetri.”

Moshoyannis was traveling in London to promote Folsom Street Events and could not attend the hearing. In a statement read on his behalf, he argued that his working to produce not only street fairs but dance club events affiliated with the outdoor festivals qualified him to serve on the commission.

“Given the importance of outdoor events to the city,” he argued that his being nominated was “important” to ensure street fair organizers have a voice at the table.

In his remarks to the supervisors, Lee argued he had served nightlife interests well in addition to working with neighborhood groups and police officials.

“Two and a half years wasn’t enough for me,” said Lee, noting he has only missed one meeting during that time due to it falling on his birthday.

To which Yee asked if he had instead gone clubbing. “Yes,” replied a smiling Lee.

It is likely that Lee’s reappointment will be upheld by the full board, though Supervisor Scott Wiener attended today’s hearing to speak in favor of seeing Moshoyannis be appointed to the seat.

Saying he has “a lot of respect” for Lee, Wiener went on to say that he attended the hearing in order “to express my long and very positive experience with Demetri. I think he would be a superb member of the entertainment commission.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 10, 2014 @ 3:34 pm PST
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SF planning commission backs LGBT housing rule

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 1.43.40 PMSan Francisco’s planning commission is backing a proposed rule that would require national developers wishing to build residential projects with 10 or more units in the city to disclose if they prohibit LGBT discrimination.

The commission voted 5-0 at its meeting this afternoon (Thursday, July 10) to support the proposal, known as the LGBTQ Equal Housing Ordinance. It was introduced earlier this year by gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos at the suggestion of LGBT housing rights activists.

“It is a no brainer,” said commissioner Gwyneth Borden. “As a former board member of Equality California I can’t more enthusiastically support this measure.”

As the Bay Area Reporter first reported in March, the new rule was crafted with an eye toward providing nationwide protections for LGBT tenants. Currently 21 states in the U.S. prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 16 states also ban gender identity based housing discrimination.

“This gives us an opportunity again to share San Francisco’s commitment to end LGBT discrimination across the nation,” testified Tom Temprano, co-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, at today’s hearing. “I encourage you all to take this opportunity to let San Francisco continue to take its national stand on LGBT issues.”

AIDS Housing Alliance founder Brian Basinger, who worked with Campos’ office in writing the ordinance, implied its passage would help LGBT advocates push for anti-discrimination measures at the federal level.

“We will get all these companies, from places in the country like my home state of Texas, out in front saying protecting LGBT people from discrimination is the right thing to do. Then we can go to Congress and say to all these congressmen look, these companies in your jurisdictions are already with us.”

Thus, suggested Basinger, “it will give them cover to get behind” national laws banning discrimination in housing based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Yet commissioner Hisashi Sugaya pointed out that if a developer says it does not ban LGBT-based discrimination they would still be allowed to seek permits for their proposed projects in San Francisco.

“Just so people don’t get the wrong idea” about the proposal’s impact, said Sugaya, who voted to support the ordinance.

If adopted by the city as expected, the policy would only require the planning department to inquire, as part of its routine application process, whether developers of larger projects have a national policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the sale, lease or financing of any dwelling unit.

The planning department would be prohibited from using that information as part of its evaluation of a project. Although it would be able to tell developers their application is not complete until the LGBT housing protection questions are answered.

Advocates, on the other hand, could use an applicant’s answer to the question to rally opposition to a project if the company doesn’t protect LGBT tenants. They could also use the information as leverage in extracting concessions from developers, such as seeking more affordable units be set aside than required by the city’s rules.

As the B.A.R.‘s Political Notebook noted in a story in today’s issue, the planning department had urged the commission to approve the proposal. The city’s Human Rights Commission also is backing it and could use the information from developers to compile yearly reports for the Board of Supervisors to review.

The supervisors will now take up the proposal and are expected to approve it at their July 15 meeting. The legislation is co-sponsored by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, John Avalos, and Eric Mar.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:11 pm PST
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Second phase of Castro sidewalk work to begin Monday, July 14

A couple walks down the new portion of the sidewalks on Castro Street, which were completed in June. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

A couple walks down the new portion of the sidewalks on Castro Street, which were completed in June. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Crews will be back at it in the Castro next week replacing the sidewalk section adjacent to buildings as work on the second phase of the streetscape project ramps up.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted last month, fencing around the newly poured sidewalk extensions along the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street came down in early June to provide pedestrian access to the widened pathways.

But due to a late start this winter, crews ran out of time to replace the entire sidewalks by a self-imposed deadline to wrap up work by June 17 so as not to interfere with the Frameline LGBT film festival and Pride activities in the city’s gayborhood.

According to a posting today on a website tracking the project, demolition of the remaining older sections of sidewalk will begin Monday, July 14 on the east side of the 400 block of Castro Street, between 18th and Market streets. This portion of the sidewalk work will be done at night in order to allow for customer access during daytime business hours.

The contractor, Ghilotti Brothers of Marin, plans to tackle each block separately. It expects to work on the east side of the 500 block of Castro Street, between 18th and 19th streets, from July 17 to August 1.

Next up will be the west side of the 500 block of Castro Street, between 18th and 19th Streets, from July 28 to August 8. And the final segment, on the west side of the 400 block of Castro Street, between 18th and Market streets, is set to be completed between July 30 and August 13.

The work on each block will also entail adjusting utility boxes for PG&E, Comcast, and AT&T, grading adjustments, and the final pouring of the new sidewalk. Also to be installed are the Rainbow Honor Walk’s first 20 plaques.

The walk honors LGBT people who have made significant contributions to society. The plaques are set to be officially unveiled toward the end of the project in late September or early October.

Once the sidewalk work is finished, then crews will  begin installing new street lights and pedestrian scale lights, rewire the overhead Muni lines, plant street trees, etch historic facts about the area into the sidewalks, install bike racks and leaning rails. One of the last steps will be to repave the roadway and install rainbow crosswalks at the 18th Street intersection.

Work at Jane Warner Plaza and the Market Street intersection are scheduled to be part of the final phase of the project.

City officials said this week that the project “is still on track to be substantially complete” by the Castro Street Fair,  which will be held this year on Sunday, October 5.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:26 pm PST
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Judge strikes down Colorado marriage ban

Judge C. Scott Crabtree (Photo: State of Colorado)

Judge C. Scott Crabtree (Photo: State of Colorado)

A judge in Colorado struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban Wednesday (July 9).

According to the national Human Rights Campaign, Adams County District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree said in his ruling in Brinkman v. Long, “The court holds that the marriage bans violate plaintiffs’ due process and equal protection guarantees under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The existence of civil unions is further evidence of discrimination against same-sex couples and does not ameliorate the discriminatory effect of marriage bans.” Crabtree stayed the ruling, which is likely to be appealed.

Marriage bans have also been struck down in several other states since last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and also killed California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban on a technicality.

In a statement Wednesday, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “It is fitting that today, the 146th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that a Colorado court has struck down the state’s discriminatory marriage ban relying on the equal protection clause. These marriage bans will continue to fall because the Constitution does not allow for such blatant discrimination.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 9, 2014 @ 4:52 pm PST
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SOMA murder suspect arraigned, held on $50 million bail

Michael Sione Green. Photo: Courtesy Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Dept.

Michael Sione Green. Photo: Courtesy Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Dept.

As the man accused of fatally shooting a woman outside a gay San Francisco club in November 2013 was arraigned this week, a judge let his bail stand at $50 million after a prosecutor called him an “enormous danger to public safety.”

Michael Sione Green, 24, of San Mateo, is charged with murder in the death of Melquiesha “Mel” Warren, 23, in a parking lot near Club OMG, 43 Sixth Street, where  Warren and her female partner had gone to celebrate the partner’s birthday.

According to police accounts, Green shot Warren after a minor accident in a parking lot at Sixth and Jessie streets at about 2:10 a.m. November 17. Warren was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:40 a.m. A friend of Warren’s was also shot and hospitalized, but she was eventually released.

The San Francisco Police Department quickly announced Green as the suspect, but he evaded arrest until May, when police announced they’d arrested him in Miami. Green fought extradition but was brought back to San Francisco this week.

He made his first appearance in San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday, July 8. Wearing an orange jumpsuit, with his hands cuffed in front of him, Green looked toward the floor as he entered the courtroom.

After Schulman said another judge, who’d dealt with Green’s search warrant, had set bail at $50 million, Kwixuan Maloof, managing attorney for the Public Defender’s Felony Unit, laughed, then apologized.

Maloof said he’d never heard of bail being set so high, and said $1 million to $5 million was customary.

But Assistant District Attorney John Ullom said, “I would dispute what is customary,” and the circumstances of the case “justify the amount” that had been set.

Ullom recounted how Warren had gotten into a dispute with another person after the parking lot collision and Green had intervened, allegedly shooting her in the face. He then “emptied his gun” into the car in which Warren had been riding, said Ullom. He noted that Green had fled and remained a fugitive for months.

Green presents “an enormous danger to public safety” and is “a significant flight risk,” he said.

Maloof said Green couldn’t afford to secure his release even if his bail was set at the comparatively low figure of $1 million, and asked Schulman to be “reasonable.”

During Tuesday’s exchange, Schulman said he didn’t know “whether I have the power to revisit” the other judge’s determination, and he said the search warrant affidavit had been sealed and wasn’t included in Green’s docket, so he couldn’t review it to help him make any decisions on bail.

But Maloof said, “Any time someone is being arraigned,” the judge does “have the authority to adjust bail and set bail.”

Schulman ultimately kept the bail set at $50 million “without prejudice,” leaving it open for further argument.

Green didn’t enter a plea and spoke only briefly to confirm he understood his right to have a preliminary hearing by September 8, at the latest.

Schulman appointed the Public Defender’s office to represent Green, who is expected to enter a plea Thursday, July 10, which is also when authorities plan to identify an attorney for him.

Green faces other charges and allegations related to using a semi-automatic handgun in Warren’s death. Maloof waived the reading of the remaining charges, so Schulman didn’t say what they were.

Schulman said Green is also known as Thomas Bola, but the spelling of that name wasn’t clear and a copy of the complaint against him wasn’t immediately available Tuesday.

Shortly after Warren was killed, police said they were searching for a woman who was over 6 feet tall and described as Pacific Islander who’d allegedly been involved in the parking altercation. Police have declined to say whether they’re still seeking other people in connection with the case.

Green’s criminal history includes assault and domestic violence charges, records show. A call to the San Mateo address listed in court documents for him wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday (July 9).

People who knew Warren have described her as ambitious and kind. She was originally from Oakland and graduated in 2012 from California State University, Sacramento with a criminal justice degree.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:19 pm PST
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Folsom Street announces entertainment line-up

Austra (Photo: Austra Facebook page)

Austra (Photo: Austra Facebook page)

Organizers of the 2014 Folsom Street Fair have announced the entertainers for the September 21 festival, which takes place on Folsom Street between Eighth and 13th streets.

“This year’s line up is arguably one of our very best,” Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis said in a news release Tuesday, July 8. “We have been able to attract some of the best talent in the indie rock world – and many of them are queer to boot. It’s a diverse, sexy, and exciting offering. I hope people discover some new music and go out to support these incredible talents.”

Austra, MNDR, and Monarchy are this year’s main stage headliners. Bay Area acts including Zbörnak and The Younger Lovers will also appear on the main stage.

The nonprofit, which last year distributed $358,779 from the festival and related events to other charities, aims to present a broad range of music “from power punk to hip-hop and electronic to indie,” organizers said. “Folsom Street Fair presents a tour de force of live acts that will appeal to its queer audience, pairing alternative music with alternative sexualities.”

The fair will also include the Magnitude and Deviants dance areas. Circuit legends Tony Moran and Tracy Young will be the headliners at Magnitude, while The Cucarachas will be among the main entertainment at Deviants.

Full line-ups and schedules are available on the Folsom Street Events website.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:36 am PST
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