Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 48 / 1 December 2016

CA attorney general, schools chief address safety after Trump victory

Kamala Harris. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Kamala Harris. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

California Attorney General and U.S. Senator-elect Kamala Harris and schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson Thursday released statements about hate crimes and safety.

People across the country are expressing concerns about violence against LGBTs, immigrants, people of color, and others since Republican Donald Trump won the presidency this week. Several attacks have been reported, including in the Bay Area, where a San Jose State University student reported that someone grabbed her by her hijab and pulled her backward Wednesday.

Harris issued a bulletin to California’s law enforcement agencies outlining the state’s hate crime laws.

“Local California law enforcement agencies have reported an uptick in threats of hate crimes and other violent extremism,” Harris’ office said. “As a result, the bulletin encourages state and local law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant and respond appropriately to suspected or actual hate crime activity.”

The bulletin includes statistics from the state’s 2015 hate crimes report showing hate crime events increased from 758 in 2014 to 837 in 2015. Most of the increase is attributable to incidents involving religious bias.

“We must protect all Californians from acts of hate and bigotry and when an individual is victimized because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, we must act swiftly to ensure justice and accountability,” Harris stated. “Hate crimes are serious crimes that may result in imprisonment or jail time for offenders.”

Torlakson, the schools chief, issued a statement to reassure public school students that they’re safe. In San Francisco Thursday, about 1,000 schoolchildren marched to protest Trump.

“I know that the outcome of the recent presidential election has caused deep concern among many students and their families,” Torlakson said. “The nation maintains a strong tradition for the peaceful transition of power. And I want to let all of California’s 6.2 million public school students know that keeping them safe from discrimination and bullying at our great state’s 11,000 public schools is a top priority. … California already has, and will always maintain, strong legal and state Constitutional protections against any and all kinds of discrimination, regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 11, 2016 @ 11:50 am PST
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San Francisco mayor, LGBTs react to Trump victory ahead of protests

President-elect Donald Trump (Photo: The Atlantic)

President-elect Donald Trump (Photo: The Atlantic)

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and several LGBT community leaders are reacting to Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race with disappointment as many in the city prepare to march Wednesday to protest Trump’s success.

Protestors will be gathering from 5 to 5:30 p.m. at Castro and Market and at Powell and Market.

“The groups will merge and march,” longtime gay activist Cleve Jones said in a Facebook post. “Be there. #NotMyPresident

Lee acknowledged in a statement that people “are feeling anxious and nervous,” but he said, “San Francisco will remain San Francisco. And the values that bind us together as San Franciscans – inclusiveness, tolerance and compassion for one another – will carry us forward despite this election season.”

He added, “San Francisco will continue to be a beacon of light, a city dedicated to progress, and a leader on issues that have changed the landscape of our country for the better.”

Rebecca Rolfe, executive director of the city’s LGBT community center, stated,

“My heart is heavy today as I struggle to comprehend the election of Donald Trump … We cannot know what was in the hearts of those who voted for Trump. But the election of a man who blatantly lied, twisted the truth, boasted xenophobia and misogyny, and manipulated the public’s fears and insecurities to his own advantage, is heartbreaking. Many of us, particularly women, people of color, queer and trans folks, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, will be directly impacted by the vitriolic and hateful rhetoric that Trump’s campaign normalized.”

Rolfe said that people “fortunate enough to live in California – and especially the Bay Area – will still be deeply impacted.”

The community is obligated “to rally the majority of voters in the country and see that progressive values continue to advance locally and nationwide,” she said.

People need to continue to fight for “the right to equal education and jobs and healthcare and housing,” Rolfe said. “For the right for every one of us to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of who we love, where we were born, how we worship, our gender, race, culture, or ethnicity.”

Roger Doughty, president of the gay, San Francisco-based Horizons Foundation, recalled the moment in 1980 when he heard “with utter disbelief” that anti-gay Republican Ronald Reagan had been elected president.

“This morning I’m reeling once more from horrified incredulity,” Doughty said. “We’ve just witnessed the election of a raging narcissist not only manifestly unqualified but who won largely by calling upon the very worst of America. A man who preaches division rather than unity; who unapologetically appealed to racism and crass nativism; who has built a bitter bridge to the White House on the backs of immigrants, people of color, women, and the poor. A man who plays on fear, while offering no real vision of a greater, better, more just society.”

Trump’s election is “an unambiguous reminder that the road to justice, equality, peace, and simple decency is both long and tortuous,” he said. “We’re still on that road to justice, though the passage ahead right now looks dark. … May you find strength and ways to turn grief and anger into hope and resolve.”

Kate Kendell, executive director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, stated, “By a slim margin, this nation has elected a demagogue who trafficked in bigotry, stoked racist hatred and normalized misogyny.”

Kendell added, “We are about to be tested as never before, and speaking for myself, and NCLR, we will not stand down, sit idle or be silent in the face of oppression, bullying or threat. … Together, we fight on and we fight back. We must harness our grief, fear and outrage and serve justice.”


— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 9, 2016 @ 5:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Latest zany SF political ad features board prez gay chief of staff

Conor Johnston, chief of staff to SF Board President London Breed, plays a starring role in a campaign ad for his boss.

Conor Johnston, chief of staff to SF Board President London Breed, plays a starring role in a campaign ad for his boss.

Amidst the vitriol and personal attacks this election season, there have been less acrimonious aspects, at least in San Francisco.

State Senate opponents Jane Kim and Scott Wiener had a “Pokémon Go” face off this summer. (Kim won but both candidates ended up donating $500 each to a local charity.)

Gay District 7 supervisor candidate Joel Engardio, a journalist who pens a column for the San Francisco Examiner, released an online ad spoofing old Film Noir movies from the 1940s and 1950s. Dressed in a trench coat and fedora, Engardio is seen lurking around City Hall in the dark. He is trying to unseat the incumbent, Supervisor Norman Yee.

Drag queens have given Kim, who represents District 6 on the board, a full drag makeover, while other drag queens reworked a Katy Perry song on behalf of Wiener, a gay man who holds the District 8 board seat, and were slapped with a trademark violation by Sony.

Last week saw the release of a parody ad spoofing Wiener’s nerdiness. Featuring a bevy of B-list celebrities such as singer MC Hammer and Jaleel White, who played geeky next-door neighbor Steve Urkel on the TV show Family Matter, the twist on the TV show Full House was dubbed “cringe-worthy” by one critic.

Today the campaign of Board President London Breed, running for re-election to her District 5 seat, dropped its own zany ad titled “Styrofoam Monster.” It focuses on her passing legislation this summer to ban all forms of Styrofoam packaging in the city. It followed the 2007 ban on the city’s restaurants using polystyrene to-go food containers.

Portraying the video’s monster is Conor Johnston, Breed’s gay chief of staff. Dressed in an all white outfit mimicking Styrofoam, Johnston terrorizes (?) residents of Breed’s district until he runs into the supervisor, who is eating at the Fillmore’s Black Bark BBQ and steps outside to vanquish the monster.

“SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed just released the funniest campaign ad of the year (though perhaps I’m biased),” wrote Johnston in an email this morning releasing the video spot.

He told the Bay Area Reporter that he “is taking a couple days of vacation time for the last push before Election Day.” Breed is facing a strong challenge this year from tenants’ rights lawyer Dean Preston for her seat.

Breed’s video was filmed and edited by Cameron Washington of Russian Hill Projects.

— Matthew S. Bajko, November 4, 2016 @ 12:47 pm PST
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Man convicted of murder; said victims tried to rape him

Kenneth Wayne Hill. Photo: Sacramento Police Department

Kenneth Wayne Hill. Photo: Sacramento Police Department

A jury in Sacramento Thursday convicted a man of murdering one man and trying to murder another. The defendant, Kenneth Wayne Hill, 36, claimed the victims had tried to rape him.

Hill was homeless August 16, 2015 “when he sliced the neck of Hwan Chong, who was also homeless and mentally ill,” prosecutors said in a November 3 news release announcing the verdict. Hill claimed that Chong had tried to rape him and he was defending himself. Chong got stitches for his wound.

About a month after the first attack, on October 19, Hill fatally stabbed another homeless man, Luis Cortez, again claiming that the victim had tried to rape him, according to prosecutors.

Hill, who was arrested about a week after killing Cortez, initially pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. However, jurors convicted him of first-degree murder and attempted murder causing great bodily injury. They also found that Hill was sane at the time of both attacks.

Keith Staten, Hill’s attorney, said in an email to the Bay Area Reporter, “I am disappointed with the decision of the jury in this case. Mr. Hill was clearly suffering from his mental illness at the time of the incidents. His delusions had no other source than his illness. This case illustrates the failure in our ability as a society to care for and assist the mentally ill who end up homeless and living on our streets. We are using the criminal justice system to determine their fate and solve the problem of those who suffer from mental illness.”

Hill faces a maximum sentence of 39 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for December 2.

Deputy District Attorney Caroline Park prosecuted the case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 3, 2016 @ 2:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF Human Rights Commission announces new director

Mayor Ed Lee swears in Sheryl Evans Davis. Photo: San Francisco Human Rights Commission

Mayor Ed Lee swears in Sheryl Evans Davis. Photo: San Francisco Human Rights Commission

San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission on Wednesday announced that Sheryl Evans Davis is its new executive director.

Davis, who identifies as a straight woman of color, replaces Theresa Sparks, the transgender woman who is now serving as Mayor Ed Lee’s senior adviser on trans initiatives.

“I am honored by this appointment and thankful to Mayor Lee and the commission for the opportunity to do the work that I love and in the city where I live and have raised my family,” Davis, who’s been on the commission since 2012 and most recently served as its vice president, said in a news release. “I look forward to continuing to work with community stakeholders, building on relationships established over the years. I am excited to create new civic partnerships focused on supporting disenfranchised communities to thrive, be seen and be heard. I consider this an opportunity to continue my work in public service and one that allows me to advocate for at risk communities by creating pathways and access toward achieving socio-economic sustainability.”

The HRC, established in 1964, works to increase equality, eliminate discrimination, and protect people’s human rights. Among other responsibilities, it oversees the enforcement of the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances. The commission includes an LGBT Advisory Committee, which in recent years has addressed economic wellness and other issues.

Davis previously founded the MO’ Magic Collaborative, which works on creating opportunities and improving outcomes for marginalized youth in San Francisco. Among other achievements, she also developed out-of- school programs for youth in the Western Addition neighborhood and served as a legislative aide for former District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who went on to serve a term as the city’s sheriff.

As HRC’s executive director, Davis plans to continue working with the “Black to the Future” initiative, a city-supported effort to improve quality of life for underserved communities and youth. She’ll also lead the city’s Engineering for Equity work, which is meant to address issues of fairness.

Lee swore in Davis September 8. HRC spokesman David Miree said in response to an emailed question that her salary would be the same as Sparks’, which was about $180,000.

HRC Chair Susan Christian stated, “Sheryl Davis has an exemplary background as a leader and facilitator of change. Ms. Davis’ long-term work ensuring that the historically underserved have a voice is commendable and serves as a testament to the wisdom of her appointment first as a commissioner and now executive director. … I and the rest of her colleagues on the commission are thrilled and tremendously excited to work with Ms. Davis on these endeavors.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 2, 2016 @ 4:20 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

State releases Getting to Zero plan to eliminate HIV

Dr. Karen Smith. Photo: California Department of Public Health

Dr. Karen Smith. Photo: California Department of Public Health

California health officials released their plan Wednesday for eliminating new HIV transmissions in the state by 2021.

The Getting to Zero campaign, similar to a San Francisco initiative that’s been in place for years, is meant to serve as a model for health departments and community organizations across the state that are trying to improve coordination in their response to HIV.

“Thanks to better treatment and prevention options, new testing technology and better access to health care, California has reached a point where we can begin to envision the possibility of zero new HIV infections,” said California Department of Public Health Director State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith in a November 2 news release. “In a state as large as ours, it will take an incredible amount of coordination, innovation and work to make this vision a reality. This report lays the foundation for achieving our goals.”

The Getting to Zero plan includes four goals officials want to reach in the next five years: Reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care, reduce disparities in underserved communities, and reach a more coordinated statewide response to the epidemic.

In order to reach the goals, the plan includes strategies such as improving PrEP utilization and HIV testing and enhancing the availability of HIV care.

“This comprehensive plan reinforces the state’s ongoing commitment to address the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Karen Mark, Chief of the state Office of AIDS. “This commitment includes supporting people living with HIV, reducing the rate of new infections, and recognizing that not all communities have been equally impacted by this epidemic, and making those most at risk a high priority.”

The Getting to Zero plan was developed by the state health department, along with medical providers, HIV-related community groups, and others.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:49 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man robbed in Castro while inside his car

Photo: Rick Gerharter

Photo: Rick Gerharter

A man was robbed in San Francisco’s Castro district early Sunday while he was inside his car.

The October 30 incident occurred at 5:11 a.m. at Sanchez and 17th streets when a man smashed the victim’s car window. The suspect grabbled the victim’s bag, and the two struggled over it until the suspect  got the bag and fled on his “dark colored mountain bike,” Officer Carlos Manfredi, a police spokesman, said in a summary.

The victim, who’s 20, wasn’t injured, but the suspect got his backpack, cellphone, tablet, keys, and driver’s license.

Manfredi said the suspect is white and age 40-50.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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
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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
Filed under: Uncategorized

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

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