Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Oakland mayor on board with travel bans

Ending weeks of silence, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Thursday joined a newly formed Mayors Against Discrimination coalition that is barring official travel to states with anti-bias laws such as those enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi.

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

The coalition will also work to examine prohibitions on contracting and purchasing from companies in these states, develop model resolutions that can be adopted by city councils and other legislative bodies, and other measures that mayors and cities can take individually and collectively.

After North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory in late March signed into law a bill that overturns LGBT protections enacted by cities and other local jurisdictions in the Tar Heel State, several big city mayors quickly announced bans on city-funded travel, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

But Schaaf’s office did not respond to the Bay Area Reporter‘s request for comment last week on whether Oakland would do the same. Last year, Schaaf did institute a travel ban to Indiana after that state’s governor signed an anti-LGBT bill that was later amended after the backlash it received. After the changes, Schaaf ended the ban.

Thursday, Schaaf said in a statement that Oakland has a “moral and a legal obligation to root out discrimination of every kind. Bigotry and bias have no place in government or civil society.”

Schaaf added, in the statement released by Lee’s office, “We must stand up for justice and the civil rights or our fellow Americans. Allowing our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to be treated differently under the law undermines the very essence of our democracy and harms all of us.”

As mayor of Oakland, one of the most diverse cities in the country, Schaaf said her administration has been at the forefront of “promoting equitable treatment under the law and fostering an atmosphere that promotes inclusion and the protection of our fundamental civil rights.”

“We will continue to uphold this tradition,” she added.

In addition to Lee and Schaaf, other mayors who have joined the coalition include Ed Murray, a gay man who leads Seattle; Bill de Blasio of New York City; Jim Kenney of Philadelphia; Charlie Hales of Portland; Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu; Javier Gonzales of Sante Fe, New Mexico; Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C.; and Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Florida.

“We as mayors must stand up together and call out discrimination when we see it, and I believe working together we can create change to ensure the rights of all Americans,” Lee said.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant this week signed what advocacy groups are calling the most extreme “religious liberty” bill in the country. The law, HB 1523, allows private businesses, individuals, and medical and social service agencies to discriminate against anyone in the state based on religious beliefs about marriage, premarital sex, and conformity with gender identity stereotypes.

Lee’s office said that it expects more mayors to join the coalition. The group will also work with private sector leaders and companies, like Marc Benioff from Salesforce, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, “and hundreds of others to apply direct political and economic pressure to repeal or stop the alarming spread of discriminatory laws in the United States,” according to the statement.

— Cynthia Laird, April 7, 2016 @ 1:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay SF man charged with voter fraud

Donald Dewsnup. Photo: Facebook.

Donald Dewsnup. Photo: Facebook.

A gay San Francisco man has been charged with multiple counts of voter fraud after he allegedly used a fake address to vote in a supervisorial district where he didn’t live, the district attorney’s said today (Wednesday, April 6).

Donald Dewsnup, 49, a local Realtor, was arraigned today.

In a news release, District Attorney George Gascón said, “San Francisco’s supervisorial races can be decided by a small number of voters. A healthy democracy benefits from zealous debate, but can be undermined by fraud and deceit.”

Dewsnup, who was arrested Tuesday by DA investigators, is out of custody on his own recognizance. He didn’t respond to interview requests, and information about his attorney wasn’t immediately available.

He faces three counts of filing a false document with a government agency, two counts of perjury, and two counts of false voter registration, according to prosecutors.

Citing court documents, DA spokesman Max Szabo said, “Dewsnup used these false addresses in order to infiltrate a neighborhood association on Telegraph Hill, where he did not reside, with the purpose of advancing his personal political agenda.”

According to prosecutors, Dewsnup also allegedly provided a false address to the California Bureau of Real Estate.

The San Francisco Examiner said Dewsnup belongs to the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation and described him as a “pro-development activist who took part in a failed attempt last year to stack the local chapter of the Sierra Club with similarly minded people.”

BARF’s website says it works to “reduce displacement in the Bay Area by increasing the stock of available housing.”

The state Bureau of Real Estate says that Dewsnup works for Intero Real Estate Services.

Court records show that last year, another man tried unsuccessfully to get a restraining order against Dewsnup, saying, “He’s sent me an email threatening to come to my home. He showed up at an organization I’ve worked for last week. I am in fear of my safety!”

Dewsnup’s set to appear in court April 19 for a prehearing conference.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 6, 2016 @ 4:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gender neutral bathroom bills advance in Sacto, SF

Assemblyman Phil Ting

Assemblyman Phil Ting

A state bill that would make single-stall restrooms throughout California gender neutral advanced out of committee Tuesday morning.

The Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a bipartisan, unanimous 14-0 vote sent AB 1732, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it must be heard by late May.

If enacted by the Legislature and signed by the governor, then all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or state or local government agency would need to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities beginning March 1, 2017. Such bathrooms would be for only one occupant at a time unless used by parents or guardians with small children and people with disabilities who require assistance.

“This bill deals with a very simple but necessary issue: our ability to access bathrooms in public,” said Ting. “They should be accessed in a fair and safe way.”

A similar gender-neutral bathroom law was unanimously passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Testifying on behalf of the state bill before the Assembly committee, transgender San Francisco resident Jordan Gwendolyn Davis said she wished it included the same provision as San Francisco’s law that calls for all new or renovated public buildings to include gender neutral bathrooms.

“As a transgender woman I often have to fear using gender-based restrooms,” she said. “It is especially true for transgender women of color. We are frequently murdered for being ourselves.”

The only person speaking in opposition to Ting’s bill was Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families. The antigay activist said the bill would force women to share bathrooms with men, who have “messier habits” in the bathroom.

“This bill would cause unforeseen problems and unforeseen consequences. It is uncaring for women and it is unnecessary,” he said.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) countered that it is a “common sense bill” about bathroom rules “a lot of us have been questioning for years.”

“We don’t have separate bathrooms in our homes,” he noted.

There is no reason why an establishment should designate single-stall bathrooms as just for women or men, Gomez added, as it sows confusion on if a person of the opposite gender could use the bathroom if it is vacant.

“Why can’t I go in that one if no one is in there?” asked Gomez. “It is a bill that’s time has come.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 5, 2016 @ 3:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man carjacked in Duboce Triangle

Photo: David Troup/Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association

Photo: David Troup/Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association

A man was carjacked in San Francisco’s Duboce Triangle neighborhood Thursday afternoon, according to police.

The March 31 incident in the 400 block of Duboce Street started when the victim, 58, dropped off a passenger. He left his key in the ignition, and the suspect jumped in and started the vehicle. When the victim tried to stop the suspect, the man punched him in the chest “several times,” Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The suspect started driving as the victim held on to the driver’s side door, then “slammed on the brakes,” knocking the victim to the ground, Esparza said.

The thief fled with the car westbound on Duboce toward Market Street. He is described only as a black male between the ages of 30 to 40. The car that was stolen is white.

The victim sustained abrasions to his hands and knees and refused an ambulance. His cellphone was also taken in the incident.

Anyone with information related to 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 160 266 350.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 1, 2016 @ 3:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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