Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

CA Governor Brown signs LGBT data collection bill into law

California Governor Jerry Brown (Courtesy governor's office)

California Governor Jerry Brown (Courtesy governor’s office)

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that requires a number of state agencies to begin collecting LGBT demographic data.

Assembly Bill 959, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), is known as the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act.

“I am thrilled by our Governor’s actions today and overjoyed that because of AB 959 our LGBT communities will now be counted by the state for vital health and well-being services,” stated Chiu. “The governor has restored California’s status as a leader of LGBT civil rights. After years of being left out of statewide demographic data, LGBT individuals will now be able to share their experiences to provide much-needed data to understand and ultimately reduce long standing health disparities that have disproportionately impacted these communities.”

As the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notes column pointed out Monday, LGBT advocates made passage of Chiu’s bill this year a main priority. Chiu last week delivered more than 5,000 postcards in support of the bill to the governor’s office.

The reason for the pressure on the governor was due to his vetoing similar legislation in 2013, partly due to the cost of having the various agencies update their forms and computer systems. It is estimated to cost the state at least $600,000 to implement Chiu’s bill.

The legislation was the centerpiece of the Equality for All initiative from Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, aimed at securing more funding from the state for a host of needs within the LGBT community.

Without having precise data on the issues confronting LGBT Californians, EQCA and others argued it is hard for them to advocate for increased funding or more services from public entities. To sway Brown this year into backing the bill, EQCA launched an online petition in support of his signing it and asked its supporters to sign on to it.

“When you can get 5,000 people to send in a postcard on something called data collection, it showed the governor how important it was to our community,” EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur told the B.A.R. in a phone interview.

Chiu’s legislation requires four state agencies overseeing health and social services programs to begin collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity and provides for protections to ensure the information remains private.

The quartet that needs to collect the “voluntary self-identification information” pertaining to LGBT people is the departments of health care services, public health, social services, and aging. They have until July 1, 2018 to comply, and advocates are expected to push for more agencies to follow suit.

“This bill was a first step,” said Zbur. “It didn’t cover all of California government but included health-related areas.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 7, 2015 @ 2:48 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Castro Mexican eatery Zapata, landlord working on 1-year lease extension

Local favorite Zapata Mexican Grill has reached a tentative agreement with its landlord to remain open a year. (Courtesy Zapata's Facebook page)

Local favorite Zapata Mexican Grill has reached a tentative agreement with its landlord to remain open a year. (Courtesy Zapata’s Facebook page)

It is looking likely that Castro eatery Zapata Mexican Grill will receive a one-year reprieve from having to close its doors.

Located at 4150 18th Street at Collingwood, Zapata opened in the corner storefront in 1993 and is a favorite with local residents for its inexpensive, quick-service burritos, tacos, and other entrees.

It had announced that it would close next Friday, October 16.

But owner Jorge Perez and his landlord, Les Natali, have verbally agreed to a lease extension for the popular restaurant, allowing it to remain open until October 31, 2016.

In an email Wednesday morning, Natali wrote that “now it’s just   a matter of the attorneys agreeing on the extension agreement.”

In a brief phone interview, Perez said, “We have agreed but haven’t signed papers yet. We are still waiting to see the actual document.”

But Perez noted that it still falls short of the five-year lease extension he had been seeking, meaning he has 12 months to find a new space in the city’s gay neighborhood to move into otherwise he may have to close the restaurant for good.

“We are happy that we have some more time to save some more capital and to find a new location,” said Perez. “It is not what we really wanted – we wanted a long-term lease – but he is not willing to do it.”

The tentative lease agreement follows the intervention of the Castro Merchants, the business association for the gayborhood. As the Bay Area Reporter reported last week, the likelihood of losing Zapata prompted the board of the merchants group to send Natali a letter last week imploring him to work “in an expedient manner to secure a mutually-beneficial long-term lease” for the “much loved local business …”

It also expressed its “grave concerns regarding recent and continuing issues with properties” Natali controls in the Castro.

Three storefronts owned by Natali are currently vacant, with the old Patio Cafe space, at 531 Castro, dark since 2002. A lawyer for Natali, in response to the Castro Merchants, stated in a letter shared with the B.A.R. that efforts continue to open a branch of the Hamburger Mary’s chain in the space.

The adjacent storefront at 541 Castro Street is for lease, and Natali expects it “will rent quickly,” according to the letter. As for the small space at 4144 18th Street, next door to Natali’s Toad Hall gay bar, signage on the windows say lease applications from pop-up tenants are being sought.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 12:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay ex-cop being charged with grand theft, embezzlement

Mike Evans. Photo: SFPD.

Mike Evans. Photo: SFPD.

A gay ex-San Francisco police officer is being charged with felony grand theft and embezzlement, according to the district attorney’s office.

Mike Evans, 34, was extradited from Texas and booked at about 1:20 a.m. today (Thursday, October 1). Evans, who allegedly stole about $16,000 while treasurer of the LGBT police officers Pride Alliance but repaid much of the money, was released on $15,000 bail. He’s set to be arraigned Tuesday, October 6. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Retired gay police Lieutenant Chuck Limbert allegedly tried to block complaints about Evans when Limbert was the alliance’s president. There’s no word yet on whether Limbert, who denied the allegations, will also face charges. Limbert hasn’t respond to phone or text messages.

[Update]: In a text exchange, Limbert said, “I have not been in contact with Mr. Evans at all.” However, he added, “Since I hear another interview has been made and again wrong information is being reported I will be preparing a response.”

It’s not clear what interview or “wrong information” Limbert was referring to.

In response to questions including whether he’s being investigated, Limbert said, “I have no comment at this time. Thank you.” [End update]

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, October 8 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 1, 2015 @ 12:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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