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

San Mateo man enters plea in domestic violence, dog killing case

Josiah Fowler. Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.

Josiah Fowler. Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department.

A San Mateo man pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor domestic violence and felony animal cruelty after he allegedly hit his male partner and killed a dog.

Josiah Fowler, 25, had been dating the other man since January and the two lived together, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office.

On September 14, the victim checked himself into a hospital because he was afraid of Fowler “due to domestic violence incidents months earlier and ongoing fear,” prosecutors said in a summary of the case.

The victim said that Fowler had hit him in February and that in August, Fowler had been angry at him and “beat their dog,” hit the dog against a dresser, “and then threw it down stairs, killing the dog.”

Later, the man said, he and Fowler had “buried the dog in a cemetery” next to the victims’ parents grave, prosecutors said.

Fowler said the dog had been “a source of great tension” in the relationship and things were “much better” with the dog gone, according to prosecutors.

The DA’s office said the dog was a small terrier that Fowler had brought when he moved from Los Angeles.

At the September 25 hearing, Superior Court Judge Leland granted prosecutors’ motion to reduce the domestic violence charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Fowler could be sentenced to 16 months in county prison at his next appearance, which is set for November 10. Prosecutors had sought two years. Fowler is in custody on $75,000 bail.

Defense attorney Randy Hey didn’t respond to an interview request.

The victim didn’t respond to a Facebook message from the Bay Area Reporter.

Deputy District Attorney Sean P. Dabel is prosecuting the case.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 30, 2015 @ 5:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Report: Homeless man died of meth overdose

01_07_Milk_Movie_52_lrgThe homeless man found dead in San Francisco’s Castro district this summer died of an accidental meth overdose, the medical examiner’s office has found.

James Welch, 38, who had “no fixed address,” was found July 28 on the sidewalk in front of a residential building at 3976 18th Street, the medical examiner’s report, which was released Wednesday, September 23, says.

At about 5 a.m., Welch “was seen sleeping on the sidewalk, atop a sleeping bag and blanket,” the report says.

A few hours later, at 11:25, a neighbor heard Welch, who was still lying down, “moaning,” and bystanders soon found him “unresponsive,” according to the city.

Paramedics arrived a minute later, and “CPR was initiated but to no avail.” Welch was pronounced dead at 11:30, the report says.

Welch had a history of “schizoaffective disorder, methamphetamine, enlarged kidneys, tobacco, alcohol, and hepatitis C virus,” the medical examiner’s office says in its filing, which cites information from police, paramedics, medical records, and others.

Investigators at the scene at 1:28 p.m. found Welch covered with a yellow emergency blanket.

“[N]o evidence of external trauma was found,” according to the report, and “No evidence of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drug use, or medications was found at the scene.”

However, the agency determined Welch had died from “acute methamphetamine intoxication.” Hepatitis C was listed by “other conditions.”

Welch was cremated and his ashes were sent to his mother, the report indicates.

For several months, the city has had a homeless death review committee to examine deaths such as Welch’s to see if there are ways service providers can be more helpful.

Sam Dodge, deputy director of the city’s Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement office, said in an email exchange today (Wednesday, September 30) with the Bay Area Reporter that the committee looked at Welch’s case at its last meeting.

“Even though the [medical examiner’s] report was not finalized we had a lot to go over for him,” Dodge said. The panel reviewed Welch’s shelter use and contacts with the city’s Homeless Outreach Team and medical personnel, “and they seem to point to an absence from the City for a period of years.”

Dodge had indicated the information he can share on cases is limited.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Former Shanghai Restaurant space in the Castro could become home to medical pot club

Apothecarium co-owner Ryan Hudson

Apothecarium co-owner Ryan Hudson

The co-owner of the Apothecarium, the Castro area medical pot club that opened in 2011, has been given the green light to move into the nearby vacant Shanghai Restaurant space if they choose to move forward with the location.

According to a letter dated September 18 from San Francisco Zoning Administrator Scott F. Sanchez, the ground floor space that housed the former eatery at 2029 Market Street can house a medical cannabis dispensary.

Based on planning staff research, “it does not appear that any schools, community facilities or recreation centers primarily serving persons under 18 years of age are located within 1,000 feet” of the site in question.

Depending on approval from the city’s planning commission, Sanchez added that a medical cannabis dispensary could operate there between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

An attorney for Apothecarium co-owner Ryan Hudson requested the review of the site in August to ensure it could house a dispensary.

The Apothecarium currently operates a block away at 2095 Market Street in the building at the corner of Market and Church streets. The property owner reportedly has not been renewing leases for businesses housed there on a long-term basis, with several now on month-to-month leases.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter released early this evening by a spokesman for the Apothecarium, Hudson said that “due to growing patient demand, we have been actively pursuing a larger space. We anticipate making an announcement shortly.”

The dispensary’s current space is 1,000 square feet. Often, customers are lined up outside waiting to be let inside. The Shanghai space is five times the size at 5,000 square feet.

The restaurant closed in January of 2013, five months after opening. As restaurant blog Eater SF noted at the time, it was the fourth eatery to shutter in the space within a three year time span.

It has sat empty for the last two and a half years.

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 28, 2015 @ 4:42 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Lesbian author Lillian Faderman to appear in SF

(Author Lillian Faderman)

(Author Lillian Faderman)

Award-winning author and scholar Lillian Faderman will read and discuss her new book, The Gay Revolution Wednesday, September 30 at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.

The event, which is open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. The Hormel center is on the third floor of the main library.

Faderman, 75, is a lesbian whose work has been recognized by Lambda Literary and other organizations.

Her new book looks at the evolution of LGBT rights and profiles some community leaders such as the late Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny, along with some unsung heroes.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 3:01 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Milk club, on second vote, endorses SF sheriff re-election bid

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (Courtesy sheriff department)

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (Courtesy sheriff department)

After months of intense internal debate among its members, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club last night endorsed the re-election bid of embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

When the club held its initial endorsement vote for the November elections in July, Mirkarimi reportedly fell short of the threshold needed to secure the progressive political group’s backing by a few votes. With his two opponents in the race – former chief deputy sheriff Vicki Hennessy and retired sheriff’s deputy John C. Robinson – lacking support within the club, the outcome was a No Endorsement in the race.

With 40 percent of the Milk club’s members voting last night (Wednesday, September 23) for a second time on an endorsement in the race, Mirkarimi secured its endorsement.

“Thank you to the staying power of progressive politics – last night we received the endorsement of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club,” wrote Mirkarimi in a Facebook post Thursday morning on his sheriff’s page, adding that “it is an honor …”

As the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook reported two weeks ago, Mirkarimi’s supporters within the Milk club had forced through the endorsement re-vote at a special meeting the club’s leaders held September 2 aimed at mending fences after a number of longtime Milk club leaders lashed out against newer members of the group for not backing Mirkarimi this summer.

Mirkarimi is in a tough re-election fight against Hennessy, who served as the interim chief when Mirkarimi was suspended during his first year in office as he fought domestic abuse charges stemming from an incident with his wife.

He ended up pleading guilty to a false imprisonment charge, won his job back, and, this spring, secured having his conviction expunged from his record. Nonetheless, he continues to be dogged by the scandal and has faced a series of controversies during his first term.

During the Milk club’s special meeting, an attempt was made to suspend the club’s bylaws and immediately re-vote on endorsing Mirkarimi, as called for by former city ethics commissioner Paul Melbostad. After that motion was rejected, a second motion to suspend the bylaws and schedule the re-vote for the club’s monthly general membership meeting Tuesday, September 15 then passed.

But the Friday prior to the meeting, the Milk club board announced it had axed the new endorsement vote from taking place. Its reason was that the vote taken to force a revote went against its by-laws.

Thus, at the September 15 general membership meeting, Milk club members supporting the sheriff again called for a revote on the endorsement in his race. It passed with overwhelming support.

The Milk club now joins with a number of other Democratic clubs and progressive groups supporting Mirkarimi’s bid for another 4-year term as sheriff. Among them are the San Francisco Women’s Political Caucus, San Francisco Tenant’s Union, and the Districts 3, 8 and 11 Democratic Clubs.

A number of labor groups, such as SEIU 1021, National Union of Healthcare Workers, and UNITE HERE Local 2, have also endorsed Mirkarimi’s re-election effort.

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 24, 2015 @ 11:56 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two booked in Castro phone store robbery

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Two San Francisco residents have been booked into custody after allegedly robbing a Castro phone store Tuesday night.

According to Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, the September 15 incident started at 7:40 p.m. when Dante Roper, 29, and Jasmine Ann Davis, 27, entered the shop, which is in the 2100 block of Market Street.

Davis distracted a salesman, 26, while Roper tried to pull a phone from a security wire, Esparza said in an incident summary.

An alarm sounded, and the salesman told Roper “to stop, which he did,” Esparza said.

But Davis allegedly distracted the salesman again, and Roper allegedly took phones from the security wire and tried to leave the store.

When the salesman and another man, 22, attempted to stop Roper, he tried to punch the salesman, Esparza said, while the other victim grabbed the phones from Roper.

Roper and Davis allegedly fled on Market but were detained and booked into custody on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy.

No injuries were reported.

Esparza didn’t specify which phone store had been targeted, but it appears to be the Verizon store at 2199 Market Street.

Someone who answered the phone at the shop today (Wednesday, September 16) said staff weren’t allowed to comment on the incident.

In another incident earlier Tuesday, a transgender woman stole make-up from a Market Street pharmacy.

Esparza, who identified the suspect as trans, said the robbery occurred at 8:30 a.m. in the 500 block of Market.

The woman walked into the shop and began concealing make-up products in her purse. When the victim, 30, approached her, she pointed pepper spray at him, Esparza said. The victim called police, and the woman fled.

No detailed description of the suspect was available, but she appeared to be 25 to 30 years old, Esparza said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 16, 2015 @ 5:26 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SFAF names center Strut, looks for money

Strut, SFAF's new health center at 470 Castro Street. Photo: GCI Contractors

Strut, SFAF’s new health center at 470 Castro Street. Photo: GCI General Contractors

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation announced Tuesday that it’s naming its men’s health center in the Castro Strut.

At the same time, SFAF, the city’s largest AIDS-related nonprofit, launched The Campaign for Health and Wellness to raise $2.8 million for the facility. The organization has been working to raise $15 million for programmatic expansion and renovation costs for the center, which is at 470 Castro Street and is expected to open in October. The agency has so far raised $12.2 million.

Strut is launching years later than expected. The nonprofit announced in October 2012 that it would combine many of its free services including sexual health, substance use and mental health, and community engagement at the space, which had housed a video store and offices. At the time, SFAF said it hoped to move into the space in October 2013

Over the years, officials have declined to say much about fundraising or other details.

Tom Perrault, who chairs the fundraising campaign and used to chair SFAF’s board, highlighted the work to find money and the nonprofit’s desire to stop the spread of HIV in the city in the group’s September 15 news release.

“We’re grateful for the campaign’s tremendous early momentum – a clear testament to the hunger that exists in our community to make San Francisco the first city to end HIV transmission,” Perrault said.

“Major donors and institutional partners really stepped up during the quiet phase, and we’re excited to invite the community to join us, help forge a groundbreaking new model and ensure the programs are fully funded for years to come,” he added.

AIDS foundation CEO Neil Giuliano, who recently announced that he’s leaving the agency, which has a budget of about $29 million, explained the center’s unusual name.

Community space at Strut. Photo: GCI General Contractors

Community space at Strut. Photo: GCI General Contractors

“We knew we had tremendous responsibility to develop a new name as exciting as the innovative model it represents, especially considering the affection that exists in the community for our three program brands that will come together to form Strut,” Giuliano stated, referring to programs like Magnet, popular for its sexually-transmitted disease testing services, and Stonewall, known for providing mental health and substance abuse assistance, being combined at the center.

“Strut is celebratory, unique, a little quirky and memorable, just like San Francisco. That’s why it works – but at the end of the day, it’s not about the name, it’s about coming together to build a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community,” Giuliano said.

SFAF said that the new center will allow it to expand case management and mental health counseling by 25 percent each. Harm reduction counseling services will increase by 50 percent, and HIV and STD screening will go up as much as 40 percent.

Along with Magnet and Stonewall, the community-building and support programs Bridgemen and Positive Force will also be located at Strut.

Additionally, two of SFAF’s newest programs designed to help young, gay, and bisexual African American men – the DREAAM Project (Determined to Respect and Encourage African American Men), and men over 50 – the 50-Plus Network – will be housed at Strut.

Tim Patriarca, Strut’s executive director, said the center “is a revolutionary new model for San Francisco and one that addresses a clear need – I expect that we will get between a third and half of gay and bisexual men in San Francisco coming through the doors of Strut in the very first year. Co-locating our services in a beautiful, larger, central community space will help us serve even more people with the sexual health, substance use, mental health and community programs we are known for. With the opening of Strut, we absolutely have the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of so many people in our community.”

There are naming opportunities for major donors both inside the building and in program names.

For example, the 50-Plus Network is being renamed the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network after Taylor’s AIDS foundation made a five-year pledge to support and secure naming rights to seniors group.


Giuliano recently said his biggest disappointment during his tenure at the nonprofit involves the health center.

“I wish the center would have opened a year and a half ago,” he said in an August interview, and he and others “share the frustration” people have with it not being open yet.

The main cause for delay has been the center’s classification under Title 24 for California licensed health facilities.

Needed changes included making baseboards in rooms with a water supply six inches tall instead of four inches, Giuliano said.

Despite the delays, he expressed optimism for 470 Castro.

“It really is going to be a place for holistic health and wellness for the community,” he said. “I realize it’s taking longer than we wanted it to take, but it’s going to be worth the wait.”

Giuliano is becoming president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, a business organization focused on civic improvement initiatives. The Phoenix Business Journal has reported that he expects to start his new job in November.

More about the Strut name

In its news release, SFAF went to great lengths to explain the center’s name.

“It is both a verb meaning ‘to walk with pride and confidence,’ and also a noun referring to a beam that provides structural support,” the nonprofit said.

Heat, a creative agency based in San Francisco, developed the name for free. SFAF said the firm was guided by research, talking to community leaders, workshops with the nonprofit’s staff, and focus groups with clients and others.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, September 17 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 15, 2015 @ 12:01 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay entertainment commission president headed for supes’ vote

Bryant Tan

Bryant Tan

The gay president of San Francisco’s entertainment commission won approval this week from a trio of city supervisors in his bid to remain on the oversight panel.

The reappointment of Bryant Tan, 35, will now head to the full Board of Supervisors Tuesday, September 15.

“I really enjoy being on the entertainment commission,” Tan said in an interview Thursday, September 10 shortly after the supervisors’ rules committee voted to recommend him to the full board.

“We’ve made some pretty significant strides in terms of policy and also just general credibility within the entertainment industry and really helping to safeguard the industry so we can continue to have fun things going on in San Francisco,” Tan said.

Tan, an appointee of Mayor Ed Lee who joined the commission in 2012, is running unopposed. If approved Tuesday, his term would expire July 1, 2019.

A senior planner and policy analyst for the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Families, Tan “is an avid supporter of live music, theater, music festivals, street fairs, and San Francisco’s creative economy,” his biography says. “He joined the entertainment commission to promote entertainment within neighborhood and economic development in San Francisco, and to expand safe and accessible nighttime entertainment activities for youth and young adults.”

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis, a fellow entertainment commissioner, said, “Bryant is a forward-thinking leader and a true team builder on the entertainment commission. … He and I have met several times to talk about how to move various projects forward. With so much work to do, I think Bryant will do well to continue.”

Tan, who holds the urban planning seat on the commission, began serving his third one-year term as president in August. That’s when “we realized I have to be reappointed,” he said.

He said his biggest achievement involves the plan to address affordable housing, entertainment, and other issues in the South of Market neighborhood. For decades, the area has been known for attracting the leather community but in recent years, it’s seen an influx of large, pricey condominiums.

“One of the things that I’ve accomplished was providing options and eventual results for the Western SOMA plan and preserving the nightlife that exists on Eleventh Street,” he said. “Various options were thrown around, and [while] the community process showed a little less favor for maintaining the businesses and nightlife on that street, through many meetings and advocacy I was able to really help land on the right plan.”

He said in coming years, “I think that I can help steer the ship a little further toward getting entertainment more and more recognized and protected in this city.”

Tan gave some idea of his hopes for the future.

“I’ve wanted our city and our planning department to come up with an entertainment zoning plan where we look at where does entertainment currently exist, and where can it expand? The places where we’re able to have entertainment permits are really limited, and I think as our city grows, we really have to think about can we continue to have them where we’ve had them for the last 50 years?”

He added, “We do planning in this city on a very neighborhood and community level, which is great,” but with the regional and international draw San Francisco has, people need to consider “where do we put new businesses and new nightlife” where they haven’t previously existed.

One issue coming before Tan and other commissioners next week is a seven-story building with 136 residential units and almost 1,500 square feet of commercial space planned for 1532 Harrison Street. The project is directly across the street from the SF Eagle, at 398 12th Street, a popular leather bar. A space dubbed “Eagle Plaza” has been proposed for the spot between the Eagle and the mixed-use property.

Tan said he couldn’t comment on the Harrison Street proposal, but he referred to legislation introduced this year by Supervisor London Breed, the board’s president. Among other provisions, Breed’s proposal would ensure that all new residents of units near nightlife venues are told about the venues before moving in.

Breed’s legislation is meant “to try to support nightlife businesses and be sure that housing is designed in a way and future residents are notified in a way that they understand nightlife is a neighbor, and they need to be neighborly with each other.”

The Harrison development will be discussed Tuesday, September 15 at the commission’s Residential Development Review Committee, which is from 3 to 5 p.m. in Room 370, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

The city’s planning commission is also set to consider the Harrison project at its meeting Thursday, September 17. That meeting, which starts at 3 p.m. will be held in Room 400, City Hall.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 11, 2015 @ 6:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Milk club board axes endorsement re-vote in SF sheriff race

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (Courtesy sheriff department)

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (Courtesy sheriff department)

In a message to club members late Friday, the co-presidents of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club announced that a re-vote on having the club endorse San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, set to take place next week, has been axed.

The news came a day after the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook reported that supporters of the embattled sheriff  had forced through the re-vote at a special meeting the club’s leaders held last week aimed at mending fences after a number of longtime Milk club leaders lashed out against newer members of the group for not backing Mirkarimi this summer.

The longtime progressive political leader reportedly fell short by two votes of the threshold needed to secure the Milk club’s backing at the July endorsement meeting. Mirkarimi is in a tough re-election fight against former chief deputy sheriff Vicki Hennessy, who served as the interim chief when Mirkarimi was suspended during his first year in office as he fought domestic abuse charges stemming from an incident with his wife.

He ended up pleading guilty to a false imprisonment charge, won his job back, and, this spring, secured having his conviction expunged from his record. Nonetheless, he continues to be dogged by the scandal and has faced a series of controversies during his first term.

During the special meeting held last week, an attempt was made to suspend the club’s bylaws and immediately re-vote on endorsing Mirkarimi, as called for by former city ethics commissioner Paul Melbostad. After that motion was rejected, a second motion to suspend the bylaws and schedule the re-vote for the club’s monthly general membership meeting Tuesday, September 15 then passed.

Other Milk club members accused the sheriff’s supporters of flouting the club’s bylaws and Roberts Rules of Order in order to ram through the new endorsement vote for Mirkarimi. They contend that the proper forum for the Mirkarimi supporters to ask for an endorsement re-vote would be at the September general membership meeting, with the actual vote taking place at the club’s meeting in October.

Neither of the club’s current co-presidents, Laura Thomas and Peter Gallotta, responded to requests for comment prior to the B.A.R.‘s press time Wednesday.

In their emailed message this afternoon, the co-presidents wrote that the club’s executive board, “after careful analysis of the bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order,” had determined by a majority vote that the actions taken to force the endorsement re-vote “were not in compliance with applicable governing rules.”

They also wrote that, even though the club’s bylaws have been suspended in the past, the current rules do not allow for them to be suspended.

“This analysis leaves the club’s Executive Board with only one possible conclusion: we cannot honor the recent vote to suspend the bylaws and proceed with a re-vote in the sheriff’s race without violating our own bylaws,” wrote the co-presidents. “The club’s endorsement process – which was duly noticed and attended by a majority of the club’s eligible voting members, and which followed the procedures set forth in our bylaws – is the expression of the club’s democratic majority and stands, legally and procedurally, as the outcome.”

They concluded by announcing, “We will not be holding a re-vote at the next general membership meeting.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man held in SF after arson attempt aimed at ‘demons’

A 25-year-old man who allegedly told police that he was “getting rid of demons” as he lit a fire near San Francisco’s Dolores Park Thursday has been held for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation, according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman.

The suspect “was lighting paper on fire on the public stairway” at 3:30 p.m. 19th and Sanchez streets, Esparza said in a summary today (Friday, September 11). After the man told police about the demons, he was detained under the state’s 5150 code, which is where someone is held involuntarily for up to three days while they’re assessed for possible psychiatric disorders.

Esparza declined to release the suspect’s name and city of residence, saying since it was “a 5150 detention” those details are “not public record.”

No injuries or damages were reported.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 10:32 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Next Page »

Follow The Bay Area Reporter
Newsletter logo
twitter logo
facebook logo