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

Redwood City man pleads no contest to orally copulating teen boy

Gustabo Rodriguez (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's office)

Gustabo Rodriguez (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s office)

A Redwood City man has pleaded no contest to charges that he orally copulated a teenage boy.

Gustabo Rodriguez, 22, of Redwood City, was working at Sequoia High School as a part-time teacher’s aid when he initiated a relationship with the victim, a 15-year-old student at the school, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a summary.

On four occasions, Wagstaffe said, Rodriguez orally copulated the boy in Rodriguez’s bedroom.

“The defendant also videotaped himself shaving the victim’s pubic hair and did this without the victim’s knowledge or consent,” Wagstaffe said.

Rodriguez knew the boy was only 15, the DA said.

Someone anonymously emailed the video to the school’s vice principal, who on July 29 notified Redwood City police. After an investigation, police arrested Rodriguez, who’s being held in Redwood City’s Maquire Correctional Facility on $300,000 bail.

Rodriguez, who was charged with our felony counts of oral copulation of someone under 16, pleaded no contest to two counts Thursday, October 27 on the condition that he receive a maximum of two years in prison.

Steve Chase, Rodriguez’s attorney, said in an email that Rodriguez could get probation, “and I will be pushing strongly for that.”

Rodriguez “is a lovely young man,” Chase said, “and there was nothing predatory about the circumstances of this crime. Regardless of what his sentence will be, having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life will be a huge punishment that will prevent him from working as he has in the past, and greatly restrict where he can live. It’s a shame.”

The sentencing is set for January 4, 2017, when San Mateo County Superior Court Judge will also get a sex offender risk assessment report. A no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea, but it generally can’t be used against the defendant in a civil lawsuit.

Chase has previously said, “The young man who is the complaining witness in this case was like a younger brother to Gustabo, and the boy’s mother, like a mother to Gustabo as well. This case demonstrates how our justice system’s approach to punishment in ‘sex’ cases is Draconian and not tailored to deal with individuals.”

He also said that Rodriguez is “intelligent and caring, and has been very cooperative with law enforcement in this case. There isn’t even a touch of evil in his soul.”

Putting Rodriguez in prison could place him at risk, Chase said.

“Gustabo is small in stature, and could be subject to abuse by the bigger inmates,” Chase said. “He doesn’t deserve that”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 28, 2016 @ 1:57 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay SF GOP leader elected chair of state Log Cabin chapter

The members of Log Cabin Republicans of California have welcomed a gay San Francisco resident as their new chairman.

Earlier this month John Musella announced his decision to resign from the chairmanship position. And last week the gay Republican political group elected Jason Clark to succeed him.

Clark this past June was elected the chairman of the San Francisco Republican County Central Committee. He is the first openly LGBT chair of the local GOP and only the second gay Republican to lead a county Republican party in the state.

Having been re-elected to his seat on the central committee in the June primary, and his term as chair expiring December 31 of this year, Clark will need to seek re-election in early 2017 at the committee’s organizational meeting in January.

GOP leader Jason Clark

GOP leader Jason Clark

In his position leading the statewide Log Cabin chapter, Clark will be overseeing the effort to make sure it retains its official recognition from the California Republican Party.

“Log Cabin California was chartered two years ago by the California Republican Party, and every two years, chartered organization must apply for a re-charter. I am leading the charge to have LCR-CA rechartered and I am excited to work with so many dedicated Republicans from throughout the state,” Clark, a project manager at San Francisco-based Consilio, LLC, told the Bay Area Reporter in an email this afternoon.

Clark, 35, is a southern California native who moved to the Bay Area in 1999 to attend UC Berkeley, where he earned a B.A. in political science. He earned his law degree from the University of San Francisco’s law school and at one time had a solo practice.

Since 2011 he has been a member of the local GOP central committee, at one point serving as the local party’s volunteer general counsel. Prior to becoming the local party chair, Clark had served as the first vice-chair of the local Republican Party’s executive committee.

A longtime Log Cabin member, Clark in 2012 he ran against openly gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) for his legislative seat.

In recent months Clark had also been serving as president of the Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco chapter. But due to his being named chairman of the statewide chapter, he stepped down as leader of the local chapter this week.

At its meeting last night (Wednesday, October 26) the local chapter elected Troy Bodnar, 50, a registered nurse, as its new president. In June he also won a seat on the local Republican County Central Committee.

“Troy has been involved with chapters all over the country, and we are excited to see him lead our club this year,” said Clark.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 27, 2016 @ 4:30 pm PST
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Dem club plays up Wiener’s nerdiness in ad with B-list celebs

His opponent gets raves for her fashion sense and high-heeled shoes, not to mention her martial arts skills, all of which have been played up in videos plugging Supervisor Jane Kim’s campaign for the city’s state Senate District 11 seat.

(Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana stars in an ad for Scott Wiener. Photo: Courtesy Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club)

(Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana stars in an ad for Scott Wiener. Photo: Courtesy Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club)

Now a new video for Supervisor Scott Wiener is taking a different tact, highlighting his geek factor. And to drill the point home, it repurposes the Huey Lewis and The News song “Hip to Be Square.”

A bevy of B-list celebrities are also featured in the video, including singer MC Hammer; Jaleel White, who played geeky next-door neighbor Steve Urkel on the TV show Family Matters; and former 49ers players Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott, who also played for the Oakland Raiders and is fighting to keep the team from moving to Las Vegas.

Also in the video is gay former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who was in town last week to help fundraise for Wiener’s bid to succeed gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and maintain LGBT representation from San Francisco in the state Legislature.

The more than 2-minute long video spoofs the TV show Full House, which was set in San Francisco, and features two dads eating breakfast with their son and daughter. When one of the fathers says he is going to vote for Wiener, his daughter asks, “Isn’t he a nerd?”

In enters White, who tells the family that Wiener may be a nerd, “but you know what? It’s hip to be square.” The video takes off from there, using rewritten song lyrics that highlight Wiener’s nerd credentials, from having a Harvard law degree to “hearting” Muni.

There is also footage of random people dancing badly, a guy playing a saxophone solo in the Marin headlands for no apparent reason, and various cameos from the celebs.

The video is the work of Portal A, the same company that created the “2 Legit 2 Quit” video for Mayor Ed Lee’s 2011 re-election campaign that featured Hammer. The Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club paid for the Wiener video, which was not coordinated with Wiener’s Senate campaign.

And unlike the pro-Wiener video featuring three local drag queens singing redone lyrics to Katy Perry’s song “Firework,” which prompted Sony to request it be taken down due to a copyright violation, this new one should not face a similar response.

According to the Dem club, Chrysalis Records granted it permission to use Lewis’ hit song from the 1986 album Fore!, which featured Montana and Lott singing backup vocals.

To watch the ad, go to

– reported by Matthew S. Bajko

— Cynthia Laird, @ 7:26 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ex-Bay Area basketball coach accused of orally copulating boy headed to trial

A case involving a former Bay Area elementary school basketball coach accused of orally copulating a 14-year-old boy and victimizing others was in court this week.

Julio Edgardo Ortiz, 36, of Menlo Park, faces numerous felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child and child endangerment, misdemeanor drunk driving, and driving on a suspended license, among other charges. A pretrial conference had been set for Monday, October 24, but it was continued to November 15. The case is set for trial January 9, 2017.

Ortiz, a former Redwood City elementary school basketball coach, was arrested after a California Highway Patrol officer spotted his parked car with the engine running at 11:15 p.m. September 18, 2015 at Vista Point #3 off Highway 280. When the officer checked the car, he allegedly saw Ortiz orally copulating the boy, whom Ortiz had met while coaching him two years earlier, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a summary of the case. Ortiz allegedly was under the influence at the time of his arrest.

Since Ortiz’s arrest, two more victims have come forward, Wagstaffe said. He didn’t provide details about the additional victims, but he indicated that in addition to the September incident, Ortiz had also been involved with victims from January 2013 to March 2014.

Ortiz remains in custody at Redwood City’s Maguire Correctional Facility on $1.5 million bail.

Monica Toole, who’s listed as Ortiz’s attorney, didn’t respond to an interview request.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 26, 2016 @ 2:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Kim receives high-profile LGBT endorsement

(Cecilia Chung, a longtime transgender activist, has endorsed Jane Kim.)

(Cecilia Chung, a longtime transgender activist, has endorsed Jane Kim.)

San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim, locked in a tight race for state Senate with gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, on Thursday received a high-profile endorsement from a longtime LGBT leader.

Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman and member of the San Francisco Health Commission, announced that she is backing Kim in the November 8 election.

“Over the course of this campaign, I have closely watched both candidates,” Chung said in an October 20 news release issued by Kim’s campaign. “And after watching their actions and listening to their words, I have made the decision to endorse Jane Kim.”

(State Senate candidate Jane Kim. Photo: Steven Underhill)

(State Senate candidate Jane Kim. Photo: Steven Underhill)

Chung said that Kim “continues to be our number one champion for affordable housing, safe schools, and criminal justice reform.”

Chung, who is also HIV-positive, becomes the latest high-profile LGBT leader to back Kim’s state Senate bid. Others, including activist Cleve Jones and former state Senator Carole Migden, are also backing her.

— Cynthia Laird, October 20, 2016 @ 3:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Trump won’t say if he’ll accept election result

The news coming out of Wednesday’s third and final presidential debate was that Republican nominee Donald Trump refused to say he would honor the results of the election.

(Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton met in Las Vegas Wednesday for the final presidential debate. Photo: AP)

(Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton met in Las Vegas Wednesday for the final presidential debate. Photo: AP)

His comments, coming near the end of the 90-minute forum at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, led virtually all coverage Thursday, October 20, and critics said his possible reluctance to concede – should he lose – would be harmful to democracy.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who served as moderator, pointedly asked Trump about statements he has been making during the past two weeks, claiming the election is “rigged” against him.

“I want to ask you here on this stage tonight,” said Wallace, “… will you absolutely accept the result of this election?”

Trump balked.

“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time,” he said.

Wallace pressed again.

“Sir, there is a tradition in this country … the peaceful transition of power. And that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner,” said Wallace, “… but the loser concedes to the winner and the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?”

“What I’m saying is I’ll tell you at the time,” said Trump. “I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”

Former Log Cabin president Rich Tafel said he thought Trump’s comment that he may not accept the results of the election is “a threat to our democracy.”

“I’m hoping Trump loses badly,” said Tafel.

Supreme Court

In the first few minutes of the debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton reiterated she would appoint justices that would preserve marriage equality. Trump reiterated his promise to nominate conservative justices, but he did not specify, as he has in the past, that his nominees would be in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The issue of the U.S. Supreme Court was the first of several questions raised by Wallace at the nationally televised debate. Among the other topics that came up, sometimes by the candidates themselves, were the attack on the LGBT nightclub in Orlando and the acceptance of donations by the Clinton Foundation from countries where gays are executed.

Gay Democratic activist Richard Socarides said the contrast between the two candidates on the Supreme Court is paramount.

“Now we know, we must elect Hillary Clinton to protect a Supreme Court majority for civil rights, but also to protect our very democracy,” said Socarides. “The choice could not be more clear.”

Log Cabin Republicans national President Gregory Angelo said the most powerful moment was when Trump challenged Clinton to return donations to the foundation that have come from countries that persecute gays.

“Trump directly confronted Hillary Clinton on her hypocrisy in being in favor of LGBT equality but accepting money from countries with horrendous records on LGBT equality,” said Angelo. “Hillary Clinton never answered that question. She never said whether she would return those monies.”

The foundation issue came up when Wallace asked Clinton whether, as secretary of state, she gave “special access” to foundation donors. Clinton said “everything I did as secretary of state was in furtherance of our country’s interests and our values.” She praised the Clinton Foundation for making it possible “for 11 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS to afford treatment.”

Trump called the Clinton Foundation a “criminal enterprise” and said it had taken money from donors in countries “that push gays off buildings.”

“These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money,” said Trump. “So I’d like to ask you right now: Why don’t you give back the money that you have taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money?”

Clinton responded that she would be “happy to compare what we do with the Trump Foundation, which took money from other people and bought a six-foot portrait of Donald.” She noted that 90 percent of the foundation’s money was spent on providing HIV treatments around the world.

Socarides called Trump’s challenge a “ludicrous idea.”

“Would he like to try to get the HIV drugs back?” asked Socarides.

On the first question of the evening, about the Supreme Court, both Clinton and Trump responded with positions they have already fairly well established.

Clinton said, “We need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in the country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.”

“I have major disagreements with my opponent about these issues and others that will be before the Supreme Court,” said Clinton, “but I feel that, at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace, that we stand up and basically say the Supreme Court should represent all of us.

“That’s how I see the court,” said Clinton. “And the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans, and I look forward to having that opportunity. I would hope that the senate would do its job and confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them. That’s the way the constitution fundamentally should operate. The president nominates and then the Senate advises and consents or not. But they go forward with the process.”

President Barack Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland several weeks after Scalia’s death in February but the Senate has not taken any action.

Trump said it is “so imperative that we have the right justices.”

“Something happened recently where Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg made some very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent, and she was forced to apologize, and apologize she did. But these were statements that should never ever have been made,” said Trump.

Ginsburg (an appointee of President Bill Clinton) said in an interview in July that she “can’t imagine” what the court or the country would be like under a President Trump. She speculated that, if her late husband were alive, he would want to move to New Zealand if Trump became president. She later expressed regret for making those remarks, adding, “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”

Trump added that the country needs a Supreme Court that “is going to uphold the Second Amendment and all amendments, but the Second Amendment, which is under absolute siege.”

“I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint – and I’ve named 20 of them – the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life, they will have a conservative bent, they will be protecting the Second Amendment, they are great scholars in all cases, and they’re people of tremendous respect,” said Trump. “They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that’s very, very important. I don’t think we should have justices appointed that decide what they want to hear. It’s all about the Constitution of – and so important, the Constitution the way it was meant to be and those are the people that I will appoint.”

In answering a question to defend her idea for a no-fly zone in Syria, Clinton said she thinks the plan would save lives of Syrians. She then referred to Trump’s earlier remarks that stopping Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. would “stop radical Islamic terrorism in this country.” Clinton said, “The killer of the dozens of people at the nightclub in Orlando, the Pulse nightclub, was born in Queens, the same place Donald was born.”

A CNN instant poll following the debate settled some suspense Wednesday night: 52 percent said Clinton “won” the debate, 39 percent said Trump did.

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

4-alarm fire in the Castro displaces 7

A four-alarm fire swept through a building in the Castro early Thursday, displacing seven people.

(San Francisco firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze in the Castro early Thursday. Photo: SFFD via Twitter)

(San Francisco firefighters battled a four-alarm blaze in the Castro early Thursday. Photo: SFFD via Twitter)

According to media reports, the fire broke out at about 12:17 a.m. San Francisco Fire Department Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter said the fire affected 25, 27, 29, and 31 Hattie Street. It quickly went to four alarms, and was under control by about 2 a.m. Three buildings were affected as one shares an address, Baxter said.

Baxter said that during the fire there were 38 fire department apparatuses and 120 firefighters on the scene.

Baxter said that four firefighters suffered injures; one suffered a possible fractured wrist and was transported to a hospital; the other three were treated at the scene.

The Red Cross was offering assistance to those displaced.

Baxter said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The San Francisco Examiner reported – and Baxter confirmed – that a female tabby cat is missing from one of the affected buildings.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro, said in a news release Thursday that he had visited the site.

“The fire … displaced six adults and one child,” Wiener said, adding that the blaze may have involved a gas line break.

“My thoughts are with the residents who were burned out of their homes, and with the brave firefighters who responded to the fire, especially those who were injured,” Wiener stated.

He said that his office will work with city departments and local organizations to aid residents who need assistance.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 10:59 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Meeting set for Milk library branch next week

(The Eureka Valley Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library in the Castro. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(The Eureka Valley Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library in the Castro. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

The San Francisco Public Library has announced that a meeting will be held next week at the Eureka Valley Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library to discuss a landscaping project.

According to library officials, representatives from San Francisco Public Works will be on hand to present proposed plans for the branch’s landscaping project.

The meeting takes place Wednesday, October 26 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the branch library, 1 Jose Sarria Court (16th Street near Market). Interested people are welcome to attend.

— Cynthia Laird, October 19, 2016 @ 10:40 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

UPDATED: Apparent mystery ED hired at Maitri

Two months after the board of directors of the Maitri Compassionate Care announced that it had begun searching for a new executive director, the organization has apparently hired someone to replace Michael Smithwick, who is retiring.

(Maitri hospice has apparently hired a new executive director, but won't say who it is.)

(Maitri hospice has apparently hired a new executive director, but won’t say who it is.)

On October 17, Maitri, a 15-bed hospice at Church and Duboce streets, announced on its website and on the community site Nextdoor that the organization would introduce its new executive director at its annual holiday open house December 17.

But just who that person is remains a mystery.

Emails to Smithwick and to consultant Michael Colbruno, seeking information on the new executive director, were not answered.

Updated: 11:40 a.m.:Maitri development director Toni Newman said in an email that the agency has not yet hired an executive director.

“Maitri is still interviewing ED candidates and no ED has been selected by Maitri,” Newman stated. “I posted on Nextdoor website about our annual holiday open house event and we hope to have a final selection for the ED job to announce Saturday, December 17, at the open house.” End of update

In August, when Maitri announced Smithwick’s retirement, Colbruno, who heads the Milo Group consulting firm, said that negotiations to rent the agency’s 4,000 square foot ground floor space were “this close” to being complete. But no further details have been released.

Maitri’s ground floor space has been mired in controversy since Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates a chain of Out of the Closet thrift shops, settled an eviction lawsuit with Maitri over its rejection of a rent increase in 2015.

Maitri then endured harsh criticism earlier this year when it announced plans to lease the space to a sex offender rehab company, without giving nearby residents a heads up. That deal fell apart after a neighborhood uproar, and the space has remained vacant.

– reported by Sari Staver

— Cynthia Laird, @ 10:06 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

No injuries in Castro fire

Nobody was injured or displaced after a fire that occurred Wednesday (October 12) at an apartment building in San Francisco’s Castro district.

Fire Department spokesman Johnathan Baxter said that the fire, which occurred at 37 State Street, was an outside fire that “under a porch-style vestibule.” The blaze was reported at 12:11 p.m. and was extinguished within 15 minutes, Baxter said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 12, 2016 @ 1:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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