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

UPDATED: Chiu wins SF Assembly race as Campos concedes after updated tally released

David Campos, left, makes a point during an October 2 debate with David Chiu at UCSF Mission Bay. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

David Campos, left, makes a point during an October 2 debate with David Chiu at UCSF Mission Bay. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

After San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu’s lead expanded for a second day in a row over gay Supervisor David Campos in their heated contest for a state Assembly seat, Campos conceded Thursday night.

According to the most recent vote count, posted shortly after 4 p.m yesterday (November 6), Chiu’s margin of victory stood at 3,771 votes ahead of Campos. His lead in the race had already grown by 652 votes late Wednesday.

The latest tally now gives Chiu 51,878 votes, or 51.89 percent, compared to Campos’ 48,107 votes, or 48.11 percent.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in its story on the race in yesterday’s paper, because numerous ballots remain to be counted by elections officials, both candidates were waiting to see additional vote tallies before they declared victory or conceded.

Even though the Department of Elections said it had 42,000 vote-by-mail ballots that were dropped off at polling places and an approximately 11,000 provisional ballots cast Tuesday still to count, Campos’s campaign determined there was little chance of seeing the vote count reverse.

In a message he posted to Facebook last night after 9 p.m., Campos said he had called Chiu to congratulate him on his victory in the race.

“As I write this my thoughts are with Supervisor Harvey Milk. Forty-two years ago Harvey made a similar call when he lost his own race for the 17th Assembly district by fewer then 4,000 votes,” wrote Campos, referring to the city’s first gay elected official due to his winning a supervisor seat in 1977. “It was one of many races that Harvey lost, in fact he was only a supervisor for 11 months before his murder. And yet the message that is most associated with him is that of hope. Right now my heart is filled with hope.”

Campos added that the city is experiencing “a time of great change,” and that through his campaign, “we have sent a powerful message that the people of San Francisco are alive, spirited, and ready to fight for our values and way of life. We made clear that we love this city, refuse to be pushed out and are a force to be reckoned with.”

In his own Facebook message last night, Chiu wrote that he and Campos “had a positive conversation and agreed to work together in the future for the good of San Francisco. While the race was often challenging, I applaud Supervisor Campos and all of his supporters on the passion and hard work that they put into the campaign.”

With Chiu victorious, it means San Francisco for the first time in nearly two decades does not have a gay or lesbian lawmaker representing the city in the state Assembly. Lesbian former lawmaker Carole Migden became the first to do so when she won her race for a legislative seat in 1996.

Gay lawmaker Mark Leno, currently serving in the state Senate, succeeded Migden in the Assembly in 2002. And since 2008 gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has held the seat, now numbered the 17th Assembly District, covering the city’s eastern neighborhoods.

Whether the seat should remain in LGBT hands was one of the dominant themes in this year’s race. Among those who argued it should was Ammiano, who endorsed Campos to succeed him.

The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, statewide LGBT group Equality California, and numerous LGBT officials and leaders shared that view with Ammiano and vigorously backed Campos in the race.

But Chiu, who pledged to be a stalwart supporter of LGBT issues in the statehouse, also garnered significant LGBT support for his bid. He picked up backing, for example, from gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the B.A.R., and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.

If elected, Chiu has said he will petition to become a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, even though it currently does not allow straight members of the Legislature to join it.

“I believe that as San Franciscans there is more that unites than divides us,” wrote Chiu in his Facebook message. “I look forward to continue working for each and every one of you to make sure that San Francisco remains the wonderful, special place that we all love. Thank you San Francisco!”

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 6, 2014 @ 5:14 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Umpqua Bank, Philz plans for Castro locations add to debate over gayborhood’s business climate

umpquaUmpqua Bank is proposing to open a Castro branch in the space that now houses Magnet, the gay men’s health clinic, but faces opposition from those who question the need for another financial institution in the heart of the city’s gayborhood.

In early 2015 Magnet is expected to relocate around the corner from its current home at 4122 18th Street into an expanded health center that the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, of which the clinic is a part, is building on the 400 block of Castro Street.

As seen in the artist’s rendering at right, the bank intends to reskin the 18th Street building, which is adjacent to a city parking lot, and upgrade the facade and entrance way. It also is proposing to work with the community to install a mural on the side of the structure fronting the parking lot entrance and possibly install a new structure for local organizations to post their posters.

“It would be a total remodel of the building,” said Lani Hayward, the executive vice president of creative strategies at Umpqua Bank.

The bank, which has a branch in Noe Valley on 24th Street next door to the Whole Foods, is looking to partner with Castro community groups that need office space to utilize two rooms it will not need in the second floor of the 18th Street building.

In order to activate the space as Magnet has done, by hosting forums and art gallery openings, Umpqua is proposing to do the same once it moves in and is planning to have a lobby area that can easily be rearranged to host meetings or events.

“You are not entering a branch but into a store,” Hayward told members of the Castro Merchants group at its meeting this morning (Thursday, November 6). “It feels like a cafe not a bank. Our doors are open for you to use.”

The company, which is 60 years old, is just beginning to meet with neighborhood groups about its plans. It does not expect to go before the city’s planning commission to seek approval to open in the Castro space until sometime this spring.

It likely will face resistance from those in the neighborhood who are opposed to seeing another bank move in rather than a retailer. Many merchants are concerned that the Castro is losing its retail stores to other uses, whether it be financial or restaurant, that do not attract the same amount of foot traffic as more traditional shops do.

“We are becoming like Polk Street in the 1980s with nothing to offer people a reason to come shop during the day,” longtime Castro business owner and leader Patrick Batt said earlier in the meeting while speaking out against seeing Philz Coffee relocate its 18th Street coffee shop into a space on the 500 block of Castro Street that once housed a shoe store. “With seven banks and nine coffee shops in the Castro, people are just walking through the neighborhood. They are going to other places to shop.”

Philz Coffee wants to relocate its 18th Street location in this space on Castro Street where David Chiu had his Assembly race headquarters.

Philz Coffee wants to relocate its 18th Street location into this space on Castro Street where David Chiu had his Assembly race headquarters.

Philz will go before the city’s planning commission on Thursday, December 4 to seek approval for its relocation plans, the same day Castro gay bar owner Les Natali will be asking for sign off on his plan to open a Hamburger Mary’s in the long vacant Patio Cafe space a few doors down from where Philz wants to open at 549 Castro Street.

Owner Phil Jaber, in asking for the Castro Merchants group’s support, which it agreed to do in a 20-15 vote, argued his coffeehouse will attract people to the Castro and benefit other businesses.

“When Philz comes to the community we put the building on the map. We create more business,” said Jaber, who a decade ago opened the Castro location, his second one in what is now a company with 15 stores in the Bay Area and one in Los Angeles.

The debate over the direction of the Castro’s business environment comes as several neighborhood groups have banded together to create a retail strategy for attracting new businesses to the gayborhood to fill up vacant storefronts.

Volunteers will be out in the Castro this Saturday, November 8, and again Wednesday, November 12, asking patrons to fill out a short survey to help gather input for the project. The retail plan is expected to be presented to the public sometime next summer.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:44 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Elton John’s foundation grants money to Oakland-based trans group

Elton John (Photo: Elton John AIDS Foundation)

Elton John (Photo: Elton John AIDS Foundation)

The Oakland-based Transgender Law Center will receive $200,000 in grant funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation for Positively Trans, a program to address HIV in the trans community, the foundation announced today (Thursday, November 6).

Through the program, known as T+, the transgender group will form a national advisory board of eight to 10 diverse trans leaders who are living with HIV and undertake a national healthcare needs assessment and “identify shortfalls in HIV services,” and make recommendations, among other tasks, according to John’s foundation and the Transgender Law Center. There will be a special focus on trans women of color.

Cecilia Chung, the transgender group’s senior strategist, will lead the effort.

“With the support of the advisory board, Transgender Law Center will engage the community meaningfully in the examination of how systemic barriers and social conditions  (such as discrimination, transphobia, criminalization and violence) drive the HIV epidemic and negatively impact health outcomes,” Chung, who sits on San Francisco’s Health Commission and is a transgender woman living with HIV, said in a statement. “This will also give us an opportunity to support and strengthen the leadership of some of the most vulnerable members in the transgender community.”

John’s foundation is releasing almost $1.5 million through its current round of grants. Other grantees include the Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo Park, California, and the national Human Rights Campaign.

“We recognize that the health needs and rights of LGBTQ people, and particularly transgender people, are critical components to ending HIV in the United States,” Elton John, the legendary singer, said in a statement. “The foundation also recognizes the lack of funding and leadership in this area and is rising to the challenge to meet this need.”


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

AIDS group calls on OSHA for better porn protections

AIDS Healthcare Foundation is holding a protest in Oakland today (Thursday, November 6) calling on the state Occupational Health and Safety Administration to better protect porn actors from AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections.

The action, planned for noon to 2 p.m. at 1515 Clay Street, will feature four porn actors who became HIV-positive while working in the industry since 20014. The Clay Street site is the Oakland headquarters for California’s Department of Industrial Relations, Division of OSHA.

Among other things, the foundation wants condom use to be required in porn films. The nonprofit has sponsored legislation in the California Assembly that would make that state law, but the bill has failed to gain traction.

According to the foundation, a petition calling on tighter regulations, including requiring condoms, was delivered to Cal/OSHA in 2009, but and the agency’s Standards Board “unanimously accepted” the petition, but “since then, OSHA has delayed hearings or actions—most recently, until March 2015.”

In response to emailed questions, Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said, “The current regulation (the Bloodborne Pathogen standard) absolutely requires barrier protection where any employee will be reasonably anticipated to be exposed to potentially infectious material. Meaning the current law does require condom use in adult films and Cal/OSHA has successfully litigated that.”

In a news release Thursday, Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s president, indicated that’s not enough.

“The regularity of on-set exposure to infectious disease – including a multitude of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, and herpes – is alarming, given that the adult film industry is a legal California industry,” Weinstein said. “Negating any ambiguity in OSHA regulations will have a real effect on the health of this particular group of California workers. We are fed up with OSHA’s bureaucratic delays and inaction over the past five years and are taking to the streets in Los Angeles and Oakland to demand accountability and action on this issue.” (The foundation staged a similar protest Wednesday in Los Angeles.)

In a letter to Cal/OSHA Monday,Whitney Engeran-Cordova, AHF’s senior director of public health, wrote, “Although workers in adult films should enjoy protections under the current phrasing of the regulation, the adult film industry has steadfastly refused to take any steps to protect its workers from diseases spread by bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material. This is an issue of last resort. It is time for the Standards Board to finish what was started five years ago.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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