Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 38 / 18 September 2014

Court records reveal details in toilet recording case

Former SF State professor Mark Landis. Photo: Courtesy SF Examiner via SF State

Former SF State professor Mark Landis. Photo: Courtesy SF Examiner via SF State

The former San Francisco accounting professor who was recently arrested for allegedly taking video of people using the bathroom in his Castro district home made at least 180 videos, and his recordings date back to March 2013, according to superior court records.

San Francisco police Sergeant Chahmal Kerow wrote in a probable cause statement that 180 videos were found on a memory card taken from the camera that Mark Landis, 38, is accused of using to make the recordings.

“At least” 23 of the videos showed “identifiable victims,” Kerow said. Many of the images show men’s penises as they urinated, according to the police sergeant.

Landis, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday, July 29 to 15 misdemeanor invasion of privacy counts, is out of custody on $100,000 bail.

Kerow’s statement is among the documents the Bay Area Reporter reviewed after Landis’s arraignment this week. The records say Kerow seized four laptops, seven flash drives, two memory cards, a digital camera, a passport, a travel confirmation page, and other items from Landis’s home. In addition, Kerow wrote that he retrieved a “last will and testament – suicide note.”

Only the victims’ first names and last initials are listed in the complaint. At least one of the victims was a female, the document indicates. Eight of the victims were filmed in November, while four were recorded in May 2013, two were recorded in April 2013, and one was recorded in March 2013.

In his statement, Kerow said that a man and his friends went to Landis’s apartment in the 4000 block of 17th Street the night of Saturday, November 16 “because it was a celebration” for one of them. The records don’t say what was being celebrated, but note Landis was then a professor at San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, and his victims were all former or current students at the schools.

The man, who Kerow identified only as “Victim #1,” told the police sergeant “that at least seven people showed up for the party.” All of them became victims in the case. “We did the usual, we sat, we chatted, we had a couple of drinks,” the man said, according to Kerow’s statement.

At about 11 p.m., the man was using the bathroom and reached for a tissue from the box on top of the toilet. He noticed the box was “shallow,” picked it up, and found that it was “heavy on the bottom.” He turned the box upside down and noticed a blinking light. The man took off the clear cover from the top of the container and saw a memory card, an on/off switch, and a charging plug.

“Victim #1 then realized that the box was a hidden camera and NOT a tissue box,” Kerow wrote. “Victim #1 freaked out and thought if the camera was turned on, he will be caught and Landis will find out.”

The man turned off the camera and tried unsuccessfully to break the box. He took the card, went downstairs, and told two of his friends about the camera. They “agreed that they should not jump to any conclusions because they did not know who owned the camera,” decided to look at the memory card in the morning, and left the apartment.

The next morning the victims met at Dolores Park, then some of them went to Landis’s and told him they’d found the hidden camera “and that they were not going to come to his house again.” They also told him they would “inform anyone that goes to his house” about the bathroom camera.

“Landis responded that he was sorry and that he did not keep any of the videos,” according to Kerow.

The first man – “Victim #1″ – said that the memory card contained 180 videos. They were created from October 25 to November 17. He watched three videos that had images of three females he couldn’t identify using the bathroom. One of the recordings “showed their private body parts including their genitals and buttocks.” He also watched four videos that showed four males that he couldn’t positively identify. The recordings showed the males “urinating in Landis’s bathroom with full view of their genitals.”

The man watched seven videos and was able to positively identify the victims depicted.

One brief video, recorded October 25, shows Landis setting up the camera. The other recordings ranged in length from 23 seconds to just over a minute. Most of the images were taken from about 12 to 2 a.m. All showed victims’ penises as they urinated.

While the first video shows half of the first victim’s face, most of the others don’t appear to reveal faces.

Four of the victims went to the police station in the Mission neighborhood, filed a police report, and gave the memory card to an officer. Landis was arrested July 23. His next court date is September 9. The B.A.R. hasn’t been able to reach him for comment.

Landis’s landlord filed an unlawful detainer lawsuit against him almost four months ago for failing to pay rent, and he was evicted in June, according to court records and documents posted at his former apartment.

Spokeswomen for SFSU and USF have said he no longer works for the schools.

Anyone with information in the Landis case may contact the district attorney’s office at (415) 553-1487.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, August 1, 2014 @ 7:05 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

‘Notorious bully’ pleads not guilty in hate crime case

Arturo Pleitez (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Arturo Pleitez (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

A San Francisco man with a long criminal history pleaded not guilty this week to accusations that he threatened a lesbian couple and their daughter at a Mission district bakery.

At the arraignment for Arturo Pleitez, 54, in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday, July 31, Assistant District Attorney Karen Catalona called him “an extreme public safety threat” and “a notorious bully.”

Through Deputy Public Defender Michelle Tong, Pleitez pleaded not guilty to three felony charges of making criminal threats. Two of the counts are being charged as hate crimes.

Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said in an interview that the incident occurred Monday, July 28, at Arizmendi Bakery, 1268 Valencia Street. Pleitez allegedly “ran up on” the family, threatened them, and “made disparaging remarks about the victims’ sexual orientation.” Bastian declined to specify what comments Pleitez allegedly made, and he didn’t know the victims’ ages.

Catalona said in court Thursday that Pleitez “targeted two woman because of their sexual orientation and terrorized them in front of their 2-year-old child,” and if someone else hadn’t intervened, the case could have been even more serious.

Catalona said Pleitez is “such a notorious bully” that the San Francisco Examiner wrote about him almost four years ago.

She said he’s had 71 felony contacts and 174 misdemeanor contacts. (There may be multiple contacts for a single arrest.)

While discussing Tong’s request that Pleitez be released on his own recognizance, Judge Tracie Brown said that his rap sheet was “too big for transmission” and she was only able to view his previous cases up through 2007. She also expressed concern about the “nature of the allegations” in the current case.

Tong said that Pleitez had “many, many arrests” with “no convictions.”

She said he also has a probation case from about a month and a half ago for misdemeanor driving under the influence, and another probation case for misdemeanor disturbing the peace.

She acknowledged the nature of the current charges but said, “Nevertheless, they’re words,” and she said although “some of the words” are “offensive,” they don’t amount to criminal threats. Tong also said it had been clear that Pleitez “was probably under the influence” during the incident, saying that his speech had not been clear. She said her client didn’t appear to have any outstanding bench warrants.

Brown grew irritated, saying, “I saw numerous bench warrants,” plus “at least” four felony convictions and three misdemeanor batteries.

“That is of concern to me,” Brown said.

Catalona said Pleitez  is “well known on 24th Street,” and many in the neighborhood “are afraid of him.” Catalona said he’d recently followed a 92-year-old woman.

Court records show problems that other people say they’ve had with Pleitez.

In a request for a restraining order filed in October, a 42-year-old man who lived with his family on the 1300 block of South Van Ness Street wrote that in July, Pleitez “showed up in front of my house, on top of the stars where there was no light. He scared my family and I because he was hiding and once he saw me he told me what he always tells my family and I. that we should leave the neighborhood because we’re Indians and that he is going to kill us.” The man wrote his 3-year-old son “is beginning to get scared.”

A judge eventually granted the order, which is set to expire in December 2016.

“I’m not afraid he’s going to go anywhere,” because he never leaves 24th Street, Catalona said in court Thursday.

“My concern is he’s an extreme public safety threat,” she said, adding that he has two prior state prison sentences.

Pleitez appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs. Brown denied the request for his release and set his bail at $150,000. His next court dates are for a pre-hearing conference August 6 and a preliminary hearing August 11.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 31, 2014 @ 3:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay activist Dan Choi files paperwork to run for SF college board

Gay activist Dan Choi has signaled he intends to run for a seat on San Francisco’s community college board this fall.

According to the city’s Ethics Commission, Choi, 33, filed his candidate intention paperwork Monday, July 28. The deadline for candidates to submit their nomination papers with the city’s Elections Department is August 8.

Choi did not immediately respond to the Bay Area Reporter‘s requests for comment Thursday morning.

Based on the Ethics Commission’s current list, Choi is one of eight people who intend to run for three seats on the Community College Board of Trustees. Two incumbents are among the list, the board’s president, John Rizzo, and its vice president, Anita Grier.

Gay board member Lawrence Wong, who is also up for re-election this year, has yet to file to seek re-election. The other current gay board member, attorney Rafael Mandelman, is not up for re-election until 2016.

Since last summer City College of San Francisco has been fighting the termination of its accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The commission also stripped authority from the college’s elected board of trustees and now all power rests with a special trustee, Bob Agrella.

Photo: Steven Underhill

Photo: Steven Underhill

As the B.A.R. noted this week, Choi is now living in San Francisco and has been spotted at several community events. He  ran in this year’s San Francisco Marathon, attended last Sunday’s Up Your Alley fetish fair, and as seen in the photo at right, shared a smile with Sandy Stier, one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, at GLAAD’s VIP kick-off party held Saturday, July 26.

Choi, according to his Facebook profile, studied at City College of San Francisco. He made national headlines in 2009 when, while serving in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer and Arabic language specialist, he publicly came out and challenged the military’s anti-gay policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

That June he served as a grand marshal of San Francisco’s annual Pride parade, marking the first time he had attended such an event.

He was then discharged and lost his effort to appeal the decision. He publicly called on President Barack Obama and Congress to repeal DADT, and his advocacy on the issue led him to, in March of 2010, handcuff himself to the fence in front of the White House.

It was one of several protests where he chained himself to the fence. In 2013 he was convicted on a misdemeanor charge and ordered to pay a $100 fine by a federal court for one of the incidents.

DADT was officially repealed on September 20, 2011.

On his Facebook page earlier today Choi wrote, “A place that was always my home, now my official residence,” referring to San Francisco.

On his Lt. Dan Choi Facebook page, in a July 23 post, Choi wrote that he moved to San Francisco due to one of his “dearest friends,” District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim.

She is the main reason why I came here and it saved my life,” wrote Choi. “Many of you know how rotten my life was during the past years. I trusted few people at times. Jane helped me realize my worth and currency more than anyone.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 11:52 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Prozan leaving SF DA’s office

(Rebecca Prozan. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

(Rebecca Prozan. Photo: Rick Gerharter)

San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan told the Bay Area Reporter Friday that she is leaving the DA’s office and going to Google.

At the tech giant, Prozan will be doing public policy and government relations work, she said.

Prozan, who is a lesbian, has been with the DA’s office for several years; she was brought on board by former DA Kamala Harris and remained in the office with current DA George Gascon took over in January 2011.

Prior to that, Prozan worked in City Hall, serving as a top aide to former Mayor Willie Brown. She also served for a short time as a legislative aide to former Supervisor Bevan Dufty.

At the DA’s office, Prozan had been working with the neighborhood court program and on other matters.

She and her wife, attorney Julia Adams, live in the Castro.

— Cynthia Laird, July 25, 2014 @ 2:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Out SF oversight panel appointees win recommendation from supervisors committee

Dennis Richards (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Dennis Richards (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

An African American lesbian and a gay man up for seats on two powerful oversight bodies won recommendations from a San Francisco supervisors committee this afternoon. They will now be up for confirmation to their seats at next week’s board hearing on Tuesday, July 29.

If approved, Bobbie J. Wilson will join the board of appeals as its second LGBT member, while Dennis Richards will join the planning commission as its sole LGBT member.

The rules committee, comprised of Supervisors Norman Yee, its chair, Katy Tang, and David Campos, unanimously voted to “positively recommend” both Wilson and Richards. The trio also unanimously voted to recommend that planning commissioner Kathrin Moore be re-appointed to a four-year term.

“I am very excited today not only about the reappointment of Kathrin Moore, but the two other appointments that have been made by President Chiu,” said Campos, one of two gay men on the board.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog last week, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu nominated both Wilson and Richards for the board appointed seats on their respective bodies. Because both are direct nominations made by the board president, others cannot apply for the seats.

The planning commission has not had an out LGBT member on it since Christina Olague, a bisexual woman, served several years ago. Olague stepped down from the commission after Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the District 5 supervisor seat in 2012. She served for the rest of that year, but stepped down after losing her race for a full term.

If confirmed, Richards’ term would expire in July 2018. He will replace planning commissioner Hisashi “Bill” Sugaya, whom Chiu opted not to re-appoint.

“This is the second most important day of my life. The first being my marriage to my husband,” said Richards during his testimony. He pledged to be the board’s “rational, independent, thoughtful voice on the planning commission and am asking for your support today.”

Wilson would be the second lesbian board member on the board of appeals, as Arcelia Hurtado serves as its current vice president. If confirmed, Wilson’s term would expire in July 2018.

“I can guarantee not everybody will like my decisions,” said Wilson. “But I will always be prepared. I will be knowledgeable about the law. I will be compassionate. I will be impartial. I will be intellectually curious so that if someone is having a difficult time telling their story, I can help them bring out that story.”

Of his nominees, Chiu told the rules committee that Richards has “impeccable neighborhood credentials” and that Wilson is “a professional who has had many firsts in her life.” Of Moore, Chiu said she is someone with “tremendous experience in planning and urban design.”

(Bobbie Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

(Bobbie Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

Wilson, who lives in Bernal Heights, previously lived in the Castro and Mission neighborhoods. She moved to the city in 1990 after growing up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Queens, New York.

She is a litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP, where she has worked since 2010, according to her resume, which was provided by Chiu’s office. Previously, she was litigation director at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin and was the first African American lesbian partner at the firm.

It was while she was at Howard Rice that she was selected as lead pro bono counsel by the city attorney’s office to represent the city, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, and other officials in the marriage equality litigation.

“I can’t say enough in terms of how impressed I am with her and what an honor it is for us to have someone like her representing us and working with us in partnership,” said Paul Henderson, a gay aide to Mayor Ed Lee who first met Wilson when he worked at the city’s district attorney office.

Gay Perkins Coie attorney and city resident David Tsai, who worked with Wilson, added, “Her type of acumen you need on the board of appeals to understand complex issues in the city and county of San Francisco.”

Richards, the longtime former president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, has long been active in land use issues. He is currently a board member of DTNA, and a member of the Market Octavia Community Advisory Committee.

Richards currently works at Salesforce. He has been a resident of San Francisco for the past 19 years. During his time as president of the Friends of 1800 Market Street, the group led the fight to save the historic Fallon Building, now part of the LGBT Community Center at 1800 Market Street, and secured city landmark status for Harvey Milk’s former camera shop on Castro Street.

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, a gay man who lives in Duboce Triangle, spoke highly of Richards, whom he has worked closely with while in office and when Wiener headed the Castro’s residential association.

“He brings not just values but the knowledge base and skill sets I think to be a fantastic planning commissioner,” said Wiener.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 24, 2014 @ 4:03 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay rapper Cazwell, dance divas Kristine W and Deepa Soul to headline San Jose Pride

Gay rapper Cazwell

Gay rapper Cazwell

Gay rapper Cazwell, whose 2010 “Ice Cream Truck” music video went viral, will headline the South Bay’s 2014 Pride festival along with dance divas Kristine W and Deepa Soul.

Born Luke Caswell, the performer has made a name for himself with his sexy videos sporting scantily clad men cavorting around him.

Kristine W, born Kristine Weitz, has long been a top talent on the gay party circuit. She broke onto the dance charts in 1997 with “Land of the Living” and recently released a greatest hits album featuring remixes of her top songs.

Deepa Soul’s career was sparked when she met mega DJ and producer Junior Vasquez at the NYC record store where she worked. Born Diedra Meredith, the artist rose to fame with her “Nowhere Love” debut track mixed by Vazquez. Her latest single is “Feva.”

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a May article, San Jose Pride changed its name to Silicon Valley Pride this year and has taken on a more South Bay-wide focus to attract a larger crowd and increased LGBT community interest. Over the last five years attendance at the event has waned as oversight issues have hampered the local Pride committee’s ability to raise sponsorships.

In 2009 organizers scrapped having a parade as part of the Pride festivities. They later cut the number of days for the festival down to one from two.

This year marks the 39th anniversary of the celebration. It’s theme is “Honoring Our Past + Securing Our Future.”

Silicon Valley Pride takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, August 17 at Discovery Meadows, 180 Woz Way in downtown San Jose.

Tickets cost $10 in advance  and can be purchased online, otherwise the cost is $15 at the gate.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 23, 2014 @ 1:32 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Bayview residents, including LGBTs, to meet with police, other officials over violence

Residents of San Francisco’s Bayview and nearby areas are meeting with police and other city officials Saturday, July 19, to call for a “Zero Shootings goal” after a rash of recent shootings in the Bayview and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods that have included homicides.

The scene near a 2011 stabbing (Photo: Earl Thomas/BRITE)

The scene near a 2011 stabbing (Photo: Earl Thomas/BRITE)

The Bayview, which has a reputation for high levels of criminal activity, has also been drawing more LGBT residents who come for the relatively affordable housing prices.

The meeting is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Bayview branch of the San Francisco Public Library, 5075 Third Street.

Several incidents have shaken the neighborhood, including the July 8 shooting death of a 30-year-old man at La Salle Avenue and Las Villas Court.

In a letter to Bayview station police Captain Robert O’Sullivan, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, District Attorney George Gascón, and others, members of the residents group said they’re “extremely concerned,” that the San Francisco Police Department “uses the homicide rate as an unofficial barometer of success in eradicating violence. We propose that the actual number of shootings – whether the target is a person, a building or a vehicle – be used to judge the level of success and that the city adopt a goal of zero tolerance towards shootings citywide.”

The organization proposes an inter-departmental program that would treat “every gunshot and every incident involving an illegal firearm with the highest level of seriousness.”

Components could include putting cameras on city-controlled property, more Shot Spotter gunfire locator units, and a “Commitment to investigate every report of gunfire and Shot Spotter activation as an emergency (even if it’s a gunfight over water balloons),” the letter said.

Tanja Beck, 44, lives in the neighborhood with her partner, Karoline Hochstrat, 50,  and two daughters. Beck owns three homes in the district – she rents out two – and is one of the people who wants to see more enforcement against shooters regardless of whether their victims died.

“I would rather have the police count all incidents in terms of where people were put in danger or hurt, instead of just saying the number of homicides went down,” Beck said in an interview. “That is just a lucky number, I think, because probably some of the shooters didn’t find their targets.”

Acting Bayview Captain Valerie Matthews, agreed with the meeting organizers’ primary goal of having zero shootings.

“Every district in this city should have that same goal,” said Matthews. “You don’t want anyone getting shot.”

She added, “We have redeployed a lot of resources from other districts into the Bayview. We’ve increased our staffing by 25 percent, and they’re here specifically to address all the locations where these shootings and/or homicides have been occurring.”

Matthews said the fact that there hasn’t been a shooting in the neighborhood since July 8 shows that her station’s efforts are working.

However, she said, “Overall, our numbers are lower than they’ve been in many, many years,” but “there’s still work to do.”

So far this year, said Matthews, plainclothes officers in the district “have confiscated over 135 guns.” But she said, “there are probably another 300 in my district that need to be taken off the streets.”

Matthews said police need more anti-violence programs and community participation.

“It’s not all about just putting people in jail. You can’t incarcerate the whole district.”

Barbara Gratta, 53, who has a small winery – Gratta Wines – in her garage, moved to the Bayview from the Castro in 1999 with her partner, Cathy Hansen, 55.

Gratta said violence in the district “goes in waves,” and it’s not as if there’s “a constant warzone out here.”

While the Bayview is home to more African Americans than most other neighborhoods in the city, Gratta, who’s of Italian descent, said it’s always been “mixed,” and when she first moved to the area 15 years ago, “it reminded me very much of the neighborhood where I grew up,” which was a mix of black and Italian.

Beck called the Bayview “one of the last affordable neighborhoods in San Francisco” and also said it has “the best weather in the city,” and when she moved in two and a half years ago from the Bernal Heights district, “all the neighbors came and said hello.”

Some have complained over the years that African Americans are being forced out of the neighborhood.

But Beck, who’s white, said, “I’m in the business of selling homes. Whenever I list a property here, it has nothing to do with pushing out a person. It has something to do with the older generation needing to move on to their next or last destination, and it’s a wonderful time for them to do so and profit from their sale.” She added, “We also have a decent amount of properties” that become available because “the occupant died and the children want to take advantage of their inheritance … The majority of the transactions happening in this neighborhood are people want to leave the neighborhood for their own reasons, and young families want to come in because they can actually afford it here and make this a home.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 18, 2014 @ 3:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Obama to sign orders banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers

President Barack Obama (Photo: Courtesy the White House)

President Barack Obama
(Photo: Courtesy the White House)

In a call with reporters Friday, July 18, White House officials announced that President Barack Obama will sign executive orders Monday, July 21 making it illegal for federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT workers, the Washington Blade has reported.

In a statement, national Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, “With the strokes of a pen, the President will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of LGBT people across the country. Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are – like their sexual orientation or gender identity.” The action helps “send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-LGBT discrimination must not be tolerated.”

Griffin also called on Congress “to immediately pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would ban employers across the country from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many states still allow companies to fire people based on those factors. LGBT organizations that once supported the non-discrimination legislation have turned against it since an exemption was added that would allow employers to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBT employees.

The Blade reported Obama’s action Monday “won’t repeal President George W. Bush’s amendment” to Executive Order 11246, “which allows religious-affiliated federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of religion. … Still, no further exemption for religious entities will be included in the executive order.”

In a news release from the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell, the group’s executive director, said, “We are elated at the announcement by the White House that on Monday the President will sign an Executive Order barring discrimination in employment by federal contractors. For far too long, LGBT employees have been subject to open bigotry and negative job actions based on factors that have nothing to do with our ability to do the job. We are confident the President’s leadership on this issue will soon lead us to a day where all LGBT employees are protected from rank discrimination on the job.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Chiu nominates two gays for SF oversight posts

[This post has been updated.]

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu on Friday nominated an African American lesbian and a gay man for seats on two powerful oversight bodies.

(Bobbie J. Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

(Bobbie J. Wilson. Photo: courtesy Perkins Coie LLP)

Bobbie J. Wilson was nominated for a seat on the board of appeals, while Dennis Richards was nominated for a seat on the planning commission.

The nominations are expected to be heard by the supervisors’ rules committee July 24 and go to the full board for approval July 29. They are both direct nominations by the board president, meaning that others cannot apply.

Chiu praised both nominees, noting that Richards would be the only out person on the planning commission and that Wilson became the first African American and first lesbian partner at law firms where she has worked.

Wilson is a litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP, where she has worked since 2010, according to her resume, which was provided by Chiu’s office. Previously, she was litigation director at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin. It was while she was at Howard Rice that she was selected as lead pro bono counsel by the city attorney’s office to represent the city, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, and other officials in the marriage equality litigation.

Wilson, who lives in Bernal Heights, previously lived in the Castro and Mission neighborhoods. She moved to the city in 1990 after growing up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Queens, New York.

In a phone call Monday, Wilson said that her background would be a good fit for the appeals board.

“The panel deals with all sorts of complex issues,” Wilson said, adding that her legal background is in complex civil litigation.

She also said that she works well with others and has a high work ethic.

“I have, among others, represented the indigent, workers, people of color, LGBT people, and some of the most vulnerable amongst us,” she wrote in her commission application, which was provided by Chiu’s office.

She has been recognized as a “Top 100 Leading Women Lawyer” in California, a “Super Lawyer,” and “IP Star” by various publications.

The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body that provides the public with a final administrative review process for appeals relating to a wide range of city determinations. Wilson will join lesbian board member Arcelia Hurtado, who serves as vice president.

If confirmed, Wilson’s term would expire in July 2018.

Wilson said that after being involved with the marriage cases, she found that she wanted to give back to the community in a different way.

“You should always give back if you can,” she added. “I spent four years on the marriage cases and I wanted to do something different.”

Richards, the longtime former president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, has long been active in land use issues. He is currently a board member of DTNA, and a member of the Market Octavia Community Advisory Committee.

His past community involvement also includes a stint as president of the Friends of 1800 Market Street (1996-2002). The group formed for the historic preservation, landmarking, and rehabilitation of the historic Fallon Building at 1800 Market Street as a part of the LGBT Community Center. According to Richards’s resume, also provided by Chiu’s office, the Friends of 1800 during this time also secured city landmark status for Harvey Milk’s former camera shop on Castro Street.

Richards currently works at Salesforce. He has been a resident of San Francisco for the past 19 years.

In a brief phone call Monday, Richards said he looked forward to serving, should his nomination be approved.

“I’m humbled and incredibly excited and honored,” he said.

Chiu noted that the planning commission has not had an out LGBT member on it since Christina Olague, a bisexual woman, served several years ago. Olague stepped down from the commission after Mayor Ed Lee appointed her to the District 5 supervisor seat in 2012. She served for the rest of that year, but stepped down after losing her race for a full term.

If confirmed, Richards’s term would expire in July 2018.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 1:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay UC Berkeley graduate named superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park

National Park Service official Dave Smith

National Park Service official Dave Smith

A gay UC Berkeley graduate and former Bay Area National Park Service official has been selected as the new superintendent for Joshua Tree National Park east of Palm Springs in southern California.

David Smith, currently the superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, will begin his new position in mid-September, replacing former superintendent Mark Butler, who retired earlier this year.

“David’s experience and proven leadership will be a great asset for the park,” stated Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz in a news release. “His background working in diverse parks with many different types of resources and his proven success in building collaborative relationships both inside and outside government makes him a great fit.”

According to the statement, Smith considers Joshua Tree to be “his dream park,” as it was where he signed on as a park volunteer, and in 1998, got his first permanent position with the National Park Service as a Joshua Tree park ranger.

“I grew up climbing and camping in what is one of America’s hidden jewels: Joshua Tree National Park,” stated Smith. “Helping to lead Joshua Tree in the coming years is an honor. The staff at Joshua Tree are committed to caring for the park and its visitors. They are leaders in environmental education, scientific research, as well as search and rescue, resource protection, and facilities management. I am looking forward to the privilege of working with such an amazing cadre of individuals.”

Smith, who grew up in northern San Diego County, earned a BS in Forestry/Developmental Studies from UC Berkeley.

During 22 years with the National Park Service, Smith has served as a law enforcement ranger, a park interpreter, and a biological technician in a host of western parks. Before being sent to Kansas, he served in Washington, D.C. as legislative staffer on the House Natural Resources Committee as part of the NPS Bevinetto Fellowship program.

Smith arrived in Washington having worked as district naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park, interpretive specialist at the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and as a law enforcement ranger at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego and Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

He married his husband, John Evans, in a ceremony in California in 1996. They lived in the Bay Area when Smith worked for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. While in Oakland the couple adopted their son, Dante, and daughter, Jakiah.

Smith will be joined by his spouse and their two children when he begins his tour of duty at Joshua Tree this fall.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 17, 2014 @ 4:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow The Bay Area Reporter
Newsletter logo
twitter logo
facebook logo