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

Trans-related SF groups receive Elton John grants

St. James Infirmary Executive Director Stephany Ashley. Photo: Rick Gerharter

St. James Infirmary Executive Director Stephany Ashley. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Three San Francisco nonprofits that work with transgender people have been awarded grants from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the foundation announced today (Thursday, January 12).

St. James Infirmary and Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, which share office space and help sex workers, prisoners, and others, have together been granted $50,000 for their wrap-around reentry program.

El/La Para TransLatinas, which focuses on helping transgender Latina women around San Francisco’s Mission district, has been awarded $40,000 for capacity building.

St. James and TGIJP will use its funding, which is a renewal of a previous Elton John grant, to continue a program it launched in 2016.

“Just six months into existence, the collaboration has already supported six transgender people in immediate direct re-entry, as well as 24 transgender and gender-non-conforming individuals who were incarcerated within the past three years with services such as housing, clothing, transportation, mental health and peer support, access to hormone replacement therapy, and navigation of benefits systems and HIV care services,” the foundation said in a news release.

The program also advocates for people who are facing trial and for people who lack access to employment, among other services.

El/La will use its funding for its Próximos Pasos, or “Next Steps,” initiative to create a multi-year plan and assess services, increase staffing and salaries, and assist with professional development.

“After 20 years of providing direct services and 10 years of expanding into advocacy and community-building, El/La is a trusted entity in this community,” the foundation said. “El/La has laid the foundation for taking next steps and is ready to evolve as an organization and plan for the next 20 years.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 12, 2017 @ 5:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

AIDS Healthcare Foundation fined for campaign violation

Proposition 61 on the November ballot dealt with prescription drug pricing.

Proposition 61 on the November ballot dealt with prescription drug pricing.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation has paid a $2,500 fine to the state for violating campaign finance rules during its failed 2016 effort to pass a measure to lower prescription drug prices.

The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission found that AHF, which almost solely backed the Proposition 61 campaign, had failed to disclose a $50,000 contribution made by the California Nurses Association PAC in July.

In May and June, the Prop 61 campaign published two YouTube ads: “Take No Axion” and “Greed is Not Good.”

Each video contained a disclosure statement that read, “Paid for by Californians for Lower Drug Prices, with major funding by AIDS Healthcare Foundation,” but the committee didn’t update the statement to reflect the nurses’ contribution within five days, as regulations require.

After being contacted by state officials in October, the Prop 61 committee amended the statement. The FPPC says in its summary of the case that the AIDS nonprofit, which in 2014 had a budget of almost $225,000,000, has submitted its check, made payable to the state’s general fund.

Prop 61 failed to pass in November, with 53.2 percent of voters opposing the measure.

An AHF spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:58 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sheehy hires first staffer; lands on budget, public safety, and new federal issues committees

SF District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy. Photo: Gary McCoy

SF District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy. Photo: Gary McCoy

Gay San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy has hired his first staff member and will be serving on the budget and public safety committees as well as a new committee focused on federal issues.

Mayor Ed Lee appointed Sheehy last week to the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors, which became vacant due to gay state Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) election in November. Sheehy, a gay married father who lives in Glen Park, is the first person living with HIV to serve on the board.

On Wednesday (January 11) Sheehy hired Andres Power, a fellow gay father, as his first supervisorial aide. Power had worked for Wiener as his chief of staff at City Hall and had been hired to be Wiener’s policy director in Sacramento. But Power and his partner, Rod Hipskin, welcomed the birth of their daughter last year, and he opted to return to working in San Francisco so he could be closer to his family.

Sheehy has two more City Hall aides to hire and reportedly has been flooded with applicants for the positions.

Late yesterday afternoon Board President London Breed, elected Monday to a second two-year term, announced her committee assignments for the new and returning members of the Board of Supervisors.

She named Sheehy vice chair of the new Budget and Finance Federal Select Committee that will investigate the potential funding impacts and other repercussions of national policy decisions made by President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. Breed said she had instructed the committee, which will be chaired by District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, to work with city departments and other leaders in planning “San Francisco’s defense of our values, diverse communities, and funding priorities.”

Also named to the committee was freshman District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, whom Breed noted in a press release was “a powerful advocate for our immigrant and minority communities.”

“Following my re-election as board president on Monday, I spoke about San Francisco’s role under a Trump administration and how critical it will be for us to be a national leader on all the values the new president threatens,” stated Breed. “That work officially begins today.”

Cohen will also chair the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, on which Sheehy will also serve as a temporary member during the negotiations over the city’s budget. With Sheehy being the board’s sole LGBT supervisor and “a longtime fighter for full HIV funding and better healthcare for all,” Breed said, “it was equally important to me to secure a spot for” him on the powerful committee.

Sheehy, who on Tuesday called for a hearing to address the car break-ins and home burglaries that are on the rise in the city and especially in his District 8, will also be the vice chair for the board’s Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Committee.

With women comprising a six-member majority on the board – the first time in a number of decades that there have been more female than male supervisors – Breed opted to name a majority of female committee chairs this year. In addition to Cohen’s two chair positions, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who lost to Wiener in the state Senate race, will head the Government Audit and Oversight Committee, while freshman District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen will chair the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.

District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell, who had been the budget committee chair, will now lead the Land Use and Transportation Committee. And freshman District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai will lead the Rules Committee, which oversees appointments to city boards and commissions.

The 2017 committee assignments will become effective Tuesday, January 24.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 2:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay Assemblyman Low new chair of CA LGBT Legislative Caucus

California Assemblyman Evan Low

California Assemblyman Evan Low

The California LGBT Legislative Caucus will have new leadership for the 2017-2018 legislative session.

At its meeting yesterday, (Wednesday, January 11), the eight members of the caucus opted to elect gay Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), whose district covers much of Silicon Valley, to serve as its chair this year.

He is succeeding lesbian Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), who was the first lawmaker not from a coastal district to lead the affinity group since its creation 15 years ago. She served the last two years as chair.

The election of Low as chair returns the leadership position back to a Bay Area lawmaker, and particularly one from the South Bay. Gay former Assemblyman Rick Gordon (D-Menlo Park), who was termed out of office last year, held the caucus chairmanship for a record three one-year terms. And at 33, Low is the youngest lawmaker to chair the LGBT caucus.

In a statement, Low said he was “honored” that his colleagues had put their trust in him to lead the LGBT caucus and thanked Eggman for her leadership of the group, which for the second time in its history numbers eight members.

“We have a historically high number of eight members and over the past decades, we have made incredible advances in the fight for equality – from securing same-sex marriage, to increasing advocacy for and visibility of transgender rights, to strengthening our laws and protections in the areas of health care, education, and poverty alleviation,” stated Low, who is already fundraising for his 2018 re-election campaign. “However, this past election serves as a reminder that much more work remains to be done.”

Low pledged that the LGBT caucus members would do “everything in our power to ensure California remains a leader in advancing LGBT civil rights protections throughout our state and the nation.”

Gay state Senator Ricardo Lara (D- Bell Gardens), who was elected vice chair of the caucus, noted that Low is the first Asian and Pacific Islander legislator to lead the affinity group, which is only open to LGBT legislators.

“I look forward to supporting his leadership during the upcoming session. Our LGBT community is at a crossroads and stakes cannot be higher,” stated Lara. “More than ever, we must unite to protect our accomplishments and remain resolute in our fight for equality, inclusion, and respect.”

Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur also praised Low’s stepping into the leadership role. EQCA and Low worked together last year to enact a ban on state taxpayer-funded travel to other states that have adopted anti-LGBT legislation since June 26, 2015.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported last week, four states landed on the list: Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas.

“Assemblymember Low has been at the forefront of groundbreaking legislation that advances equality and social justice and improves the lives of LGBT people,” stated Zbur. “We are delighted to work with him in this new role to continue to advance equality for the LGBT community.”

Zbur added that EQCA is “equally delighted to continue working with” Lara as vice chair and thanked Eggman “for her leadership of the LGBT caucus and hard work on behalf of our community.”

The LGBT caucus’ formation in 2002 made California the first state in the country to recognize an official caucus of openly-LGBT state legislators.

The other current caucus members include lesbian state Senators Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), and gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Also part of the caucus are lesbian Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) and gay Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego).


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

One man robbed, shot; another hit with bottle in Dolores Park incidents

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

One man who was being robbed near San Francisco’s Dolores Park was shot as he struggled with a suspect over a handgun, and another man in the park was hit on the head with a bottle in separate incidents Thursday night, January 5.

The shooting occurred at 9 p.m. at 18th and Dolores streets when two men who appeared to be 25 approached the victim, who’s 29, and asked him for a cigarette. He told one of the men “he doesn’t smoke,” police said.

Then, after the suspect asked for a lighter and the victim pulled one out, the suspect “pulled out a handgun.”

The victim grabbed onto the gun, and “a struggle ensued,” police said.

While a second suspect took the victim’s wallet from the pocket of his pants, the gun discharged. The victim was hit. Police said he was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The suspects, who stole the victim’s wallet, cash, a debit card, and cellphone, fled on foot toward Diamond Heights Boulevard.

Police said one of the suspects is Hispanic and the other is black, but no other descriptive details were released.

Earlier Thursday, at 4:30 p.m., someone told the 22-year-old victim that a man had robbed them. When the victim approached the suspect to confront him, the suspect hit the victim “on the head with a bottle,” police said.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

No arrests have been made in either case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 6, 2017 @ 5:23 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF mayor names gay AIDS advocate to vacant District 8 supervisor seat

Jeff Sheehy. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Jeff Sheehy. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Ending weeks of speculation, Mayor Ed Lee has named gay AIDS advocate Jeff Sheehy to the vacant District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors. His selection ensures there is LGBT representation at City Hall, as no LGBT candidates had won election to the board this fall.

He will also become the first person living with HIV to serve on the city’s Board of Supervisors.

“Jeff Sheehy has spent his entire life fighting for his community and for what he believes is right, and I know that as supervisor, Jeff will be a proven fighter for the residents of his district, and for our entire city, too,” Lee said in a statement released Friday morning.

The Bay Area Reporter had disclosed in early December that Sheehy had emerged as a strong candidate for the vacancy, which resulted from gay former Supervisor Scott Wiener’s election to the state Senate in November.

Sheehy, who had served as former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s adviser on AIDS issues, lives with his husband, Bill Berry, and their daughter Michelle in Glen Park. He is well known among LGBT Democratic Party activists, having served as a leader of the progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club in the mid-1990s.

In his statement, the mayor pointed to Sheehy’s being and activist, advocate, and dad with a daughter in public school.

“Jeff is tested, mature, passionate, and pragmatic,” Lee stated.

Wiener praised the election.

“I fully support Mayor Lee’s decision to appoint Jeff Sheehy to represent District 8 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” he said in a statement Friday morning. “Jeff has my total support and confidence, and I will do whatever I can to support his work for the residents of District 8 and for San Francisco.

“Jeff is an extraordinary leader and exactly what we need right now – a strong, decisive, and passionate voice for our shared progressive values, and someone who deeply understands the needs of our neighborhoods,” Wiener added.

Sheehy currently serves on the governing board of the state’s stem cell research agency, known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and is director for communications at the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. Sheehy was also a founding member of the steering committee of San Francisco’s Getting to Zero Consortium.

He will be sworn in at 10 a.m. Monday, January 9 at City Hall with the winners of the odd-numbered supervisor races on the November ballot. Now considered a moderate, Sheehy is expected to side with the board’s six-member moderate majority on the 11-person board.

He won’t have to run for election to a full four-year term in the District 8 seat until 2018, as there are no municipal elections next year. And because of the timing of his swearing-in to serve out the remainder of Wiener’s term, Sheehy will be eligible to run for a second four-year term in 2022 should he be elected in two years.

Losing out for the supervisor seat covering the city’s gay Castro district, as well as the neighborhoods of Noe Valley, Diamond Heights and Glen Park, was gay City College of San Francisco Trustee Alex Randolph, who was another leading contender for the vacancy, as was James Loduca, who is also gay and in October resigned as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s senior vice president.

Others whose names had been mentioned over the last two months for the seat included Conor Johnston, a gay man who is chief of staff to board President London Breed; and Rebecca Prozan, Google’s chief of public policy and government affairs who lives with her wife, Julia Adams, in the Castro and had lost to Wiener in the 2010 supervisor race.

The names of two gay mayoral aides, Francis Tsang and Paul Henderson, had also been floated. Early on Dan Bernal, a gay man who is HIV positive and chief of staff in Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office, had withdrawn his name from consideration, as had lesbian library commissioner Zoe Dunning.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on the new District 8 supervisor in its January 12 issue.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 5, 2017 @ 11:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Pacifica man may face more rape charges

Joseph Paul Courtney (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's Department)

Joseph Paul Courtney (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department)

A Pacifica man already accused of raping seven men is facing allegations from two additional victims, according to his attorney.

Joseph Paul Courtney, 32, of Pacifica, was arrested July 28 and is being held in Redwood City’s Maguire Correctional Facility on $10 million bail.

In an email Thursday (January 5), Courtney’s attorney, Steven Chase, said, “I am expecting new discovery” from the prosecutor “on some more complainants.”

Asked in a phone interview how many more complainants there are, Chase said, “Two is what I’ve been told, and I don’t know anything about them.” He said he hasn’t received the police reports, and he has “no idea” when the alleged incidents took place.

Chase said, “I would imagine” the latest complainants are men.

“I don’t think Mr. Courtney has any interest in women,” he said.

Courtney’s so far pleaded not guilty to numerous charges including sodomy by use of force, sodomy by anesthesia or use of a controlled substance, sodomy of an unconscious victim, possession of child pornography, and second-degree robbery. He’s also denied allegations that he tied or bound his victims. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

The criminal complaint against Courtney also includes an allegation that he committed the alleged offenses knowing that he has AIDS.

Chase previously said charges in the case may have stemmed from “consensual sex.”

“It’s not like people were dragged off the street and given drugs that they did not ingest voluntarily to have an enhanced sexual experience,” he said.

In a case summary he provided in the case when there were only three alleged victims, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, “On three separate occasions involving three separate male victims, [Courtney] met with the victim for consensual sex twice at his residence and once at a Comfort Suites Motel. On each occasion, [the] defendant drugged the victims with GHB (date rape drug) and other drugs, knocking them unconscious.”

Additionally, the DA said, Courtney “and unidentified male associates proceeded to have sex with the unconscious victims and on one occasion showed the victim the video recording of the unconscious sex by multiple men.”

Captain Joseph Spanheimer, a Pacifica police spokesman, said in a news release this summer that, “Investigators found that Courtney often used websites and smartphone ‘apps’ to contact his victims,” and that he’d “also had contact with minor males for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse.”

Spanheimer has also said that the incidents started in 2007, and police had been investigating Courtney “for almost a year” before his arrest.

Several of the charges would require Courtney to register as a sex offender if he’s convicted.

His next court date is January 17 to set a date for a preliminary hearing, when a judge will determine if there’s enough evidence to hold him for trial.

Courtney has declined an interview request.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 5:24 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Former SF Examiner publisher Anschutz comes out for LGBT rights

AEG CEO Philip F. Anschutz

AEG CEO Philip F. Anschutz. Photo: AP

In a surprising statement released this afternoon, the owner of the entertainment behemoth AEG came out publicly in support of LGBT rights.

Philip F. Anschutz, the owner of AEG, which stands for Anschutz Entertainment Group, also stated for the first time that he and the foundation his family controls no longer donate to organizations that support anti-LGBT discrimination.

The former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, which his company Clarity Media sold in 2011 seven years after buying it, Anschutz also owns the company that produces the southern California music festival Coachella as well as the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team, which plays at AEG’s StubHub Center in Los Angeles and employs gay soccer star Robbie Rogers.

In the past two days media reports have focused on past giving by Anschutz and his foundation to organizations that espouse anti-LGBT views and oppose abortion, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the National Christian Foundation. The reports also highlighted the oil and gas billionaire’s denial of  climate change.

The timing of the media reports, such as in UPROXX and TeenVogue, came after the announcement that Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead are the headliners for Coachella 2017. It led to San Francisco-based magazine 7X7 polling its readers today if they would boycott the music fest.

The reports apparently infuriated Anschutz, according to an AEG source, and prompted the intensely private businessman to issue this statement:

“Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.

“Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes.  Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 4:17 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Alleged San Mateo burglar accused of grabbing men’s genitals

A San Mateo man accused of burglarizing several homes, grabbing men’s genitals, and making victims “spank or hug him” has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Thursday (January 5).

Ismael Espinoza-Vazquez, 24, allegedly broke into five homes and stole victims’ property, Wagstaffe said in a summary.

“In two of the burglaries, the victims were home,” and Espinoza-Vazquez grabbed their genitals and made them spank him or give him a hug, according to Wagstaffe. He indicated the incidents occurred Sunday, January 2.

In June, Wagstaffe said, Espinoza-Vazquez entered a 24-Hour Fitness gym in San Mateo, grabbed a man who was drying off after showering, “held his genitals,” and left. (The DA confirmed in an email that all the victims are men.)

Additionally, in July 2015, Espinoza-Vazquez burglarized a car and stole $2,200 worth of property, Wagstaffe said.

At his arraignment Wednesday, January 4, Espinoza-Vazquez pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree burglary, attempted first-degree burglary, sexual battery, and battery of a peace officer. He’s currently in custody on $300,000 bail at Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Hugo Borja appointed the county’s Private Defender Program to represent him, but an attorney hasn’t been assigned.

A preliminary hearing, where a judge will decide whether there’s enough evidence to hold Espinoza-Vazquez for trial, is set for January 17.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:11 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man attacked in Castro robbery

18th and Collingwood streets (Photo: Google)

18th and Collingwood streets (Photo: Google)

A man who’d been on his way home was attacked and robbed in San Francisco’s Castro district early Saturday morning, police said.

The December 31 incident, which was reported at 12:15 a.m., started when the 39-year-old victim, who was holding his phone, was walking home on Collingwood Street near 18th Street. A man shoved him to the ground and punched him once, then stole his phone and fled on foot.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. There was no suspect description. No arrests have been made.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 4, 2017 @ 4:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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