Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 21 / 26 May 2016
 

Man robbed, injured in Castro ride share fight

01_07_Milk_Movie_52_lrgA man who fought with two others in a ride share car early Saturday morning in San Francisco’s Castro district was robbed and suffered a “mild concussion,” according to Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman.

The incident occurred at Castro and Market streets at 2:30 a.m. May 14 when the victim “got into an argument” with two other men while he was entering the car, Esparza said in a summary.

One of the suspects “slammed [the victim’s] head into the car,” and the victim had his phone “smashed,” Esparza said. The victim’s money was also taken.

The ride share driver took the victim, who’s 22, to a hospital.

No arrests had been made as of Monday. The suspects were described only as two men in their 20s. One is black and the other’s race is unknown.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 18, 2016 @ 1:52 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man beaten, robbed near Dolores Park

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

Dolores Park (Photo: Pete Thoshinsky)

A man was beaten, robbed, and left with “a shoe print” on his head Thursday night near San Francisco’s Dolores Park after arguing with several other men, according to police.

Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said in a summary that the victim was walking near 18th and Dolores streets at about 6 p.m. May 12 when he and six other men “got into a verbal altercation.”

The suspects, described only as 17-year-old black males, “punched and kicked” the victim, who fell, Esparza said. The other men took his phone and fled south on Oakwood Street.

The victim, who’s 28, was left with non-life threatening “cuts, head swelling,” and the shoe print. No arrests have been made.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 13, 2016 @ 11:26 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


EQCA defends its financial support of Wiener’s state Senate bid

Equality California is defending its financial support of Scott Wiener’s state Senate bid after it came under attack today by the campaign of Jane Kim.

The two San Francisco Democratic supervisors are running for the 11th Senate District seat, which covers all of San Francisco and portions of northern San Mateo County. Gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is termed out of office this year and has endorsed Wiener, who is also gay, to succeed him. (The Bay Area Reporter also endorsed Wiener in the race today.)

The statewide LGBT advocacy group’s political action committee has made electing Wiener to the state Legislature its top priority this election year. Its aim is to replenish the ranks of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus, as two of its current seven members will be termed out of office come December.

EQCA’s PAC also wants to ensure San Francisco retains LGBT representation in Sacramento. With the city’s two Assembly seats currently held by straight men, San Francisco would be without any out lawmakers in its state delegation since 1996 should Kim win the Senate seat.

“The reason why we are focused on and made Scott’s race a priority is because of the terming out of Senator Leno and other members of the Legislature. Maintaining a strong LGBT caucus is our top priority,” said EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur. “We know Mark Leno has been a champion in the Senate since 2008, and the Senate seat has been held by an LGBT person since 2004. Scott has been endorsed by Leno and the LGBT caucus.”

Nonetheless, EQCA’s financial backing of Wiener’s Senate bid came under fire today by Kim’s campaign, which accused it of using money from gas giant Chevron that had been funneled through the independent expenditure group known as Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy.

Kim’s campaign claimed that Chevron’s $300,000 donation to the committee April 11 was used later that day to transfer $70,000 to the Equality California PAC. It then noted that on May 2 the Equality California PAC disclosed two independent expenditures on behalf of Wiener: a $113,203 television ad buy and another $8,937.50 expenditure for polling.

“While the money gets passed from committee to committee, the source remains the same – oil giant Chevron,” stated a media release from Kim’s campaign.

Zbur said the EQCA PAC receives financial support from a variety of business interests and political leaders. It began airing its ad in support of Wiener on television last week, added Zbur, in order to boost his name recognition in certain areas of the Senate district.

“None of our contributors have control over where we spend our money,” he said. “We ask them to support our allied candidates. We make the decisions on where we are spending our money based on our priorities.”

An online ad Scott Wiener's campaign posted Monday features his encounter with a Fox News reporter in City Hall.

An online ad Scott Wiener’s campaign posted Monday features his encounter with a Fox News reporter in City Hall.

Wiener was also criticized by Kim for benefiting from “thousands of dollars” home-sharing site Airbnb has spent to support his Senate campaign. And her campaign mocked Wiener for claiming in an online ad that he “doesn’t talk to Fox News” but is “perfectly happy” accepting financial help from its parent company, Fox Entertainment Group, which has given upwards of $20,000 to the Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy committee.

“This committee in turn has donated heavily to Equality California PAC which will be running television advertisements in support of Wiener (possibly on Fox News itself!),” noted Kim’s campaign.

“Scott Wiener has rejected sensible limits on donations and has been the beneficiary of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Chevron, Airbnb and other major corporate interests,” stated Gustavo Arroyo, Kim’s campaign manager. “In this election Scott Wiener is standing with the big corporations while Jane Kim fights for the working families of this District.”

Zbur was critical of Kim’s campaign for focusing on it’s spending in the race rather than issues important to the voters.

“When you can’t talk about the issues, you start focusing on side red herring sort of issues,” he said.

Wiener’s campaign manager, Maggie Muir, told the B.A.R the attack from Kim is another sign that Wiener is the clear front runner in the race.

“As Supervisor Kim’s campaign fails to gain traction, it’s not surprising that she is desperately trying to conjure a false conspiracy theory to attack Scott Wiener for an independent expenditure over which he has no control. Indeed, Wiener is legally prohibited from coordinating with outside groups,” she wrote in an emailed reply.

Muir added that it “is surprising” to see Kim “attack and impugn” one of the largest state-based LGBT rights groups in the country, adding that “Scott Wiener is proud, as a gay man, to have EQCA’s support.”

According to Muir, Wiener’s campaign is refusing to “take a penny from the oil industry.” She also noted that Wiener is the sole recipient of the California League of Conservation Voters endorsement.

“The League of Conservation Voters refused to endorse Supervisor Kim, even though the League frequently makes dual endorsements. That decision was based on Scott Wiener’s unparalleled environmental record at the Board of Supervisors, including his groundbreaking legislation requiring solar panels and water recycling in new developments,” she wrote. “Scott is proud to run on his environmental record because, unlike Supervisor Kim, he actually has an environmental record.”

EQCA PAC is supporting several candidates

EQCA’s Zbur also took issue with Kim’s campaign focusing on the group’s PAC only making independent expenditures to Wiener this year.

According to its filings with the secretary of state’s office, the EQCA PAC has directly donated thousands of dollars to more than a dozen straight and gay or lesbian candidates throughout the state, as well as the San Diego Democratic County Party.

The PAC raised $247,000 during the first quarter of the year and spent $181,112. As of April 23 it reported having $81,016.91 in its account.

“No, we haven’t just spent money on Scott,” said Zbur. “We maxed out to almost all the LGBT candidates.”

There are 14 out California statehouse candidates this year, and as noted in the B.A.R.‘s Monday, May 9 Political Notes column, eight of the gay and lesbian candidates have outraised their opponents in their respective races.

Wiener has been one of the most prolific fundraisers. Since announcing his bid last year, Wiener’s total fundraising haul is more than $1.3 million. Kim has raised more than $514,000.

This is not the first time Kim has attacked Wiener’s fundraising, as she was critical of his accepting money from real estate interests during their first debate co-hosted by the B.A.R. in April.

Nor has Wiener shied from attacking Kim on her financial backers in the race. During that same debate he criticized Kim for accepting donations from out of state real estate money.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 12, 2016 @ 2:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Breaking: SF’s Tea Room Theatre to close

The Tea Room Theatre. Photo: Google.

The Tea Room Theatre. Photo: Google.

The Tea Room Theatre, one of the last sex clubs in San Francisco and one of the last gay businesses in the Tenderloin district, is closing, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

The theater, which has been open for decades at 145 Eddy Street, offers male strippers, porn movies, and spaces where customers engage in sex acts.

The business’s last day will be Sunday, May 15, according to one source who didn’t want to be named. The Tea Room’s owner couldn’t be directly reached for comment. An employee confirmed the closing but declined to be interviewed.

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in the Thursday, May 12 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 9, 2016 @ 11:32 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Input sought from people with HIV for presidential forum

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at a CNN debate. (Screenshot courtesy of Common Dreams/CNN)

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at a CNN debate. (Screenshot courtesy of Common Dreams/CNN)

A survey has been launched to gather input from people living with HIV ahead of a forum with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

The nonprofit Q Foundation, formerly known as AIDS Housing Alliance, today (Friday, May 6) released 2016 HIV + Community Member’s Survey of Attitudes & Priorities for people to share their needs.

Clinton and Sanders are set to meet with a small group of representatives from HIV/AIDS organizations to discuss how they “can make ending the AIDS epidemic a priority in their first year in office,” a news release from Q Foundation said.

“Feedback is important in shaping a national dialogue regarding the path forward in the struggle for people living with HIV/AIDS,” the group said.

Brian Basinger, the nonprofit’s executive director, stated that the survey “seeks to add to that effort by ensuring the democratic inclusion of the authentic voices of people with HIV/AIDS to drive awareness of their lived experiences and to enhance support for the variety of programs required to both live and thrive. … We thought the candidates should hear from people living with HIV/AIDS on the full scope of needs and priorities that impact our lives, communities and our nation at large.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 6, 2016 @ 8:36 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


‘When We Rise’ to film in the Castro

Filming for the ABC TV miniseries When We Rise will take place in San Francisco’s Castro district Saturday, May 7.

The film, which is based on the upcoming memoir of Harvey Milk confidante Cleve Jones, covers the lives of Jones and others who helped lead the LGBT rights movement from the 1970s through today.

The scene shot Saturday will be “of a man riding a bike up a hill,” location manager Heather MacLean said in a bulletin posted in the Castro this week. Filmmakers have requested a street closure from 7 a.m. to noon for 20th Street between Collingwood and Eureka streets, and Diamond Street between 19th and 21st streets.

“Residents will be allowed through our closure, but please identify yourself as a resident” to police, MacLean said in her announcement.

“No parking” signs will be posted in the area to make room for cars from the 1970s and to make sure no modern cars show up in the scene.

“We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this temporary filming activity may cause. … We are here to answer any concerns that you may have and will work to treat your neighborhood with respect,” said MacLean, who provided the email address (film@sfgov.org) and phone number (415-554-6241) for the city’s Film Commission, among other contact information.

Recent filming has included a recreation of the White Night Riots at City Hall. The 1979 riots involved fiery battles between police and residents that erupted after a jury convicted Milk assassin Dan White only of manslaughter, rather than murder.

Milk became the first out LGBT elected official in California when he won a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977. White, a former supervisor, assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone in City Hall in November 1978.

After Milk’s death, Jones, who lives in the Castro, went on to become a well-known AIDS and labor activist, founding the AIDS quilt. His book is set to be released on his 62nd birthday, October 11.

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the 2008 Milk biopic, also wrote the screenplay for When We Rise.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, May 5, 2016 @ 2:57 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


CA woman walks for peace

Alexis Ryon-Melcher

Alexis Ryon-Melcher

A California woman is walking through the state for peace, working to meet strangers and looking for volunteer work along the way.

Alexis Ryon-Melcher, 53, a lesbian who works as a life coach, left Nevada City, her home of about 25 years, March 21 on her “Walk for Peace.” She’s been walking ever since.

Ryon-Melcher was in South San Francisco Thursday and was headed to San Mateo Friday. She’s not sure of her ultimate destination, or whether she’ll go back to Nevada City.

“I have no idea where I will end up,” she said. “I have sold off pretty much everything I own. I’m relying on the spirit to tell me when and where I’m supposed to stop.”

The idea for her trip came from a dream she had more than 20 years ago.

“It’s something I’ve thought about on and off,” Ryon-Melcher said. “I wasn’t sure what exactly it was supposed to looked like … It scared me. It felt like a big commitment and a big shift in a settled life, but I feel called to have these conversations about peace and create some energy at the grassroots level about what it’s going to take to be peaceful in ourselves and with other people, and ultimately in the world.”

She acknowledged that even to her, “there’s a part of it that seems really outrageous,” but “I just feel really fortunate to be doing this. I consider this my work, and I just feel really fortunate.”

She recalled one conversation she had with a homeless man a couple weeks ago.

Ryon-Melcher carries her possessions in “a little buggy.” The man had all his things with him, too, and “we had a really lovely conversation.”

After they were done talking, “he turned around and ran back and offered me a couple bucks. I was really moved by how little each of us has, but his absolute willingness to give me part of what he had.”

The biggest challenge has been finding a place to stay each night. She’s used Couchsurfing.com and has stayed in a couple motels, but she also has a sleeping bag and a tent, and she’s spent some time sleeping outside.

So far, only one person’s told her she has to be nuts.

“I actually only had one person say that to me,” Ryon-Melcher said. “It was a very, very good friend of mine, several months after I told her I was doing it, when she realized there were nights I was going to be camping.”

She welcomes people to walk with her, and she can be reached through her website – www.stepintoyes.com.

 

 

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 30, 2016 @ 11:23 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


White Night Riots filming set for City Hall

A scene from the 1979 White Night Riots. Photo: Dan Nicoletta.

A scene from the 1979 White Night Riots. Photo: Dan Nicoletta.

The famous White Night Riots will be recreated tonight (Friday, April 29) at San Francisco’s City Hall for filming of the ABC TV miniseries When We Rise.

The film, which is based on the upcoming memoir of Harvey Milk confidante Cleve Jones, covers the lives of Jones and others who helped lead the LGBT rights movement from the 1970s through today.

According to a news release from the city’s Film Commission, “The production will have large billowing smoke effects, lighting that will mimic flames in the basement windows of City Hall, and a clash between actors dressed as police and rioters. Please do not be alarmed.”

The May 21, 1979 riots involved fiery battles between police and residents that erupted after a jury convicted Milk assassin Dan White only of manslaughter, rather than murder.

Street closures will be in effect Friday on Polk between Golden Gate and Hayes, most of McAllister between Larkin and Van Ness, and Grove between Van Ness and Larkin. A start time wasn’t provided.

Police will be on hand “to assist with the production and public safety,” officials said.

In an email to reporters, Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, said filming would take place from Friday “to May 1 at City Hall, UN Plaza and Castro neighborhoods. This is about gay rights and will be recreating the White Night Riot scene tonight.”

He suggested that reporters should let others in their newsrooms know that they shouldn’t mistake the “flames and smoke effects” for an actual riot.

Milk became the first out LGBT elected official in California when he won a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977. White, a former supervisor, assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone in City Hall in November 1978.

After Milk’s death, Jones, who lives in the Castro, went on to become a well-known AIDS and labor activist, founding the AIDS quilt. His book is set to be released on his 62nd birthday, October 11.

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for the 2008 Milk biopic, also wrote the screenplay for When We Rise.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 29, 2016 @ 4:13 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Anti-LGBT law leads AC Transit, SFMTA to boycott national conference in North Carolina

Courtesy AC Transit

Courtesy AC Transit

AC Transit and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will both boycott a national transportation conference set to take place next month in North Carolina due to the state’s enactment of an anti-LGBT law.

The Bay Area agencies join the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which announced in early April it would not pay for the travel costs of its employees to attend the event. A Capital District Transportation Authority bus driving team in Albany, New York, also canceled its plans to participate due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order barring non-essential travel by public employees to the state.

In an announcement released this morning (Friday, April 29), the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District said the East Bay public transit agency’s Board of Directors had voted unanimously Wednesday evening to affirm General Manager Michael Hursh’s decision to prohibit district employees from traveling to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) International Bus Roadeo  – slated to begin May 13 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The statement noted that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s decision last month to sign the controversial legislation known as HB 2, which both blocked transgender individuals from using restrooms of their choosing and restricted cities within the state from passing nondiscrimination laws, is in direct conflict with AC Transit’s “longstanding commitment of access and inclusion to all members of our community without regard to race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

AC Transit employees have been past Grand Champions of APTA’s Bus Roadeo: a competition that recognizes superior skills of operators and maintenance teams nationwide. And the agency’s award winning team members were planning to again compete this year.

In explaining his decision to cancel the trip, Hursh stated, “AC Transit cannot support any government action that effectively reverses civil rights protections for all citizens.”

The statement stressed that his decision “was not made capriciously,” and came after consultations with his executive staff, union leadership, and the employees who had been set to compete.

“I am empathetic to our valued staff but remain resolute to the commitments I made when I assumed this position less than one-year ago,” stated Hursh. “That AC Transit will continue to maintain zero-tolerance of any discriminatory acts and foster the rich diversity of our riders and employees alike.”

San Francisco’s public transit agency is also boycotting the APTA conference. San Francisco cable car operator Kevin Grady, who won APTA’s 40-foot bus Roadeo last year, had been planning to attend and defend San Francisco’s first place international title at the conference, the San Francisco Examiner reported earlier this month.

At the time SFMTA Director of of Transportation Ed Reiskin had told the paper that he was urging the APTA to postpone or relocate its conference this year before pulling the plug on Grady’s trip. Should it not do so, then Reiskin said he would abide by Mayor Ed Lee’s executive order that bans publicly-funded travel to North Carolina.

This afteroon Tom Nolan, a gay man who chairs its board of directors, told the B.A.R. that the agency had decided not to pay for Grady’s trip and is now reviewing if it has any contracts with businesses located in North Carolina.

Nolan will be attending an APTA conference this weekend in San Antonio, Texas for board members of transit agencies. He said he plans to push the APTA to adopt a policy that would ban it from having its meetings in so-called hate states with anti-LGBT laws.

“These people have shown the only thing they respond to is money,” said Nolan, who is one of dozens of people on APTA’s board of directors.

Nolan and Reisken sent APTA Chair Valarie McCall and President Michael Melaniphy a letter dated April 7 explaining the SFMTA’s position.

“While we would like to applaud cities like Charlotte and its mayor, Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who have taken steps at the local level to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination, we recognize that other states, like Mississippi, have joined in passing more discriminatory laws,” wrote Nolan and Reisken. “To that end, we call on APTA to cancel or move any meetings currently planned and not schedule future meetings in any state that supports discrimination against any lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.”

APTA did release a statement in early April denouncing McCrory’s signing the anti-LGBT legislation into law and stood by Charlotte leaders’ enactment of a local measure banning LGBT discrimination, which prompted state lawmakers to rescind it with HB 2.

But it also noted that it had signed the contracts to hold its Bus & Paratransit Conference and Roadeo in North Carolina more than four years ago, and, “Unfortunately, we are legally bound to adhere to those contracts.”

It added that, “We want to ensure attendees that at the conference we will shine the light on the importance of treating all people with respect. We will spotlight the impact and strength that diversity brings to our industry.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 11:37 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Businesses prepare to open in small Castro retail spaces

A real estate firm is set to move into the storefront at 2324 Market Street.

A real estate firm is set to move into the storefront at 2324 Market Street.

Two businesses are preparing to open their doors in a pair of small retail spaces in the Castro that have sat vacant for years.

Two years ago Drysdale Properties, a local affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, first announced it planned to move into the roughly 280 square foot space at 2324 Market Street. The company hopes to begin using the storefront in May.

By next week it will begin posting fliers about homes for sale in the windows, said real estate agent John Oldfield.

The city’s planning commission approved the company’s conditional use permit for the space at its April 21 meeting. Drysdale is now just waiting for city officials to complete the paperwork it needs to seek a business license for that address, as well as for Comcast to wire the space for Internet access.

“The place is usable as is,” said Oldfield, and just requires furniture and other office equipment to be moved in before agents can start using the satellite office. “Otherwise there is no construction work aside from cleanup that needs to be done for us to open. We’ll probably start putting up posters and flyers in the windows in the next few days.”

Drysdale, which is owned by Gretchen Pearson, plans to have people working out of the upper Market Street location weekdays and on weekends as needed.

Summer opening for skin care salon

A medical spa company plans to open this summer at 410 Castro Street.

A medical spa company plans to open this summer at 410 Castro Street.

LaserAway Skin Care Spa, which was founded in West Hollywood, is looking to open later this summer at 410 Castro Street, a small storefront in an old bank building that now houses a SoulCycle location. The building at the corner of Castro and Market fronts Harvey Milk Plaza above the Castro Muni Station and had been the site of a Diesel jeans store.

The smaller space, which totals 1,302 gross square feet, once was leased to cellelular phone company US Sprint, which officially vacated it in 2013 though it had closed its store there years prior. The planning commission approved LaserAway’s permit request to move in at its April 14 meeting.

Unlike with Drysdale’s storefront, the site of LaserAway’s second location in San Francisco will require more extensive work before the company can open. Lucian R. Blazej, who owns local architecture and planning firm Strategic Solutions and helped the spa company secure the necessary city approvals, said it will be several months before it welcomes its first customers to the Castro location.

“Hopefully LaserAway will open by August 15th, maybe sooner,” he told the Bay Area Reporter this week.

LaserAway plans to be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and expects to see upwards of 300 clients per week. Its services include hair removal, tattoo removal, and other skin and body care spa treatments, including the sale of skin care related lotions and cosmetics.

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 28, 2016 @ 12:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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