Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 48 / 27 November 2014
 

Hearing set for proposed Castro Hamburger Mary’s

The site of the defunct Patio Cafe in the Castro.

The site of the defunct Patio Cafe in the Castro.

A proposed Hamburger Mary’s franchise in the Castro will go before San Francisco’s planning commission in early December, according to the project sponsor.

In response to a question from the Bay Area Reporter, Les Natali, who is seeking permits to open a location of the fast casual chain at 531 Castro Street, said over the weekend that he was informed Friday the hearing date would be Thursday, December 4.

As the B.A.R. reported on its blog back in February, nearly a year ago Natali sought the city zoning administrator’s opinion on whether Hamburger Mary’s falls under the city’s formula retail rules that require any chain with 11 or more locations nation-wide to seek a conditional use permit to open a new location in San Francisco.

Natali, who also owns the Castro gay bars Badlands and Toad Hall, had argued he didn’t need to seek a conditional use permit because his version of Hamburger Mary’s would differ from the others. But in January Zoning Administrator Scott F. Sanchez ruled that Natali would need to seek permit approval from the Planning Commission as his planned Hamburger Mary’s qualifies as a formula retail business.

According to the company’s website, there are 11 locations of the business across the U.S. While it still lists a twelfth in Palm Springs, that location announced in September it would not reopen this fall, according to a message on both its answering machine and Facebook page.

Hamburger Mary’s was launched in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood in 1972 and quickly gained a loyal LGBT following. The local restaurant shut down in 2001.

A year later the long-running Patio Café, a popular weekend brunch spot in the Castro, closed down. Having taken over the business back in the 1990s, Natali expected to reopen the eatery within a short time frame after a remodel.

Instead, he has spent the last 12 years fighting with city planners over various aspects of the build out to the space, which included his acquiring the building next door and redesigning its ground floor retail spaces.

By May 2012 Natali had planned to reopen the Patio a decade after it last welcomed patrons. But a routine health department inquiry related to his request for an occupancy permit led to a determination that his planning permits were not in order.

That zoning fight, which primarily involved how many seats Natali was allowed to have at the site, was resolved in August of 2013. At the time it was expected that Natali would reopen the Patio as he had said he was in talks with a restaurant operator to take on the business.

The plan changed last fall when Natali decided to team up with the owners of Hamburger Mary’s. According to the company’s website, in 2007 the franchise system was sold to Dale Warner in West Hollywood and brothers Ashley and Brandon Wright in Chicago.

According to Natali’s email over the weekend, he is “now looking for a working-chef-partner. If you know or hear of anyone who may be interested, please ask them to contact me.”

It remains unclear if Natali will be allowed to open a Hamburger Mary’s in the Castro location. The proposal has been met with mixed reactions, with some welcome to seeing anything reactivate the long dormant space.

But others have objected to seeing a chain restaurant be given permission to open. Should the planning commissioners decide to allow Natali to move forward, their decision can be appealed by those opposed to the restaurant.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 20, 2014 @ 1:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


‘Notorious bully’ expected to be released soon in SF

Arturo Pleitez (Photo: SFPD)

Arturo Pleitez (Photo: SFPD)

A San Francisco man who’s been called a “notorious bully” is expected to be released from custody soon, after he agreed to a plea deal this week in a hate crime case.

Arturo Salvador Pleitez, 54,who has an extensive criminal history, has been in jail since July after he was accused of threatening a lesbian couple and their daughter at Arizmendi Bakery, at 1268 Valencia Street in the Mission district. At Pleitez’s arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Karen Catalona called him “an extreme public safety threat” and “a notorious bully.”

Tuesday, October 14, Pleitez pleaded guilty to a charge of making criminal threats, which will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor at his sentencing November 4. Superior Court Judge Philip Moscone dropped another criminal threats charge and a hate crime allegation.

Pleitez, who’s in custody on $150,000 bail, is expected to receive credit for time served and be released with three years of informal court probation, Deputy Public Defender Michelle Tong said Friday.

He’s also been ordered to stay away from the bakery where the incident occurred and the neighborhood nearby, and Tong said there’s also “a request that he refrain from drinking any alcohol.”

In the July incident, Pleitez said “offensive things,” but there’d been “nothing to suggest he was going to be violent at all.”

Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said the plea deal “was done over our strenuous objection, and we are disappointed by the judge’s ruling.”

Pleitez had originally been charged with three felony counts of making criminal threats and two hate crime enhancements, but in August, Assistant District Attorney Charles Bisesto dismissed one of the charges and one of the enhancements due to a lack of evidence. At that time, Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval held Pleitez for trial on the remaining two charges and the enhancement.

‘Serious threat’

Captain Dan Perea, who oversees the Mission police station, has said he’s “had to deal with” Pleitez himself, and “The guy is a real serious threat to public safety in the Mission district.”

At Pleitez’s arraignment, Catalona said Pleitez has had 71 felony contacts and 174 misdemeanor contacts. (There may be multiple contacts for a single arrest.)

Some people in the Mission have obtained restraining orders against Pleitez, according to court records, with at least three of those coming since 2012.

Connie Ramirez Weber, 93, obtained a restraining order against Pleitez in June that expires in 2019. Weber got the order after her son-in-law reported to police that Pleitez had driven into a garage Weber owns.

Pleitez “shouted obscenities” at her, and threatened her and her son-in-law, she said in court documents.

In an August interview, Weber said, “He’s going to hurt someone one of these days, and then it’s too late,” and she added, “He should be locked up for a long time. I don’t know why they keep letting him out.”

Told Friday of Pleitez’s expected release, Weber said, “I just hope he doesn’t bother me anymore, because I’m really afraid of him. I hope they make him stay in his own area. … Please have him so that he doesn’t bother me at all, doesn’t talk to me, or call me or anything.”

Mission residents shouldn’t be worried about Pleitez, Tong suggested.

She said he’s lived in the Mission “his entire life,” and “to me, it’s no different than the neighbor who lives in Pacific Heights who’s lived in his house for his whole life and is maybe known as the neighborhood curmudgeon.”

Tong compared Pleitez to “the neighborhood grouch” actor Clint Eastwood played in 2008′s Gran Torino.

“It’s not like my client is walking around all over San Francisco hurting people, hurting strangers,” she said. “He historically has had a drinking problem, and he gets kind of loud. I don’t think he’s dangerous. I think if he was dangerous, he would have convictions to support that, and that’s not the case.”

‘I will fuck you up’

Tong also pointed to a victim from the bakery incident telling police that’d she’d taken the scene “as another day” in her neighborhood.

During the preliminary hearing in August, the woman testified that she’d noticed Pleitez “standing next to a woman” who kept “stepping away” from him and “was clearly uncomfortable,” according to a transcript.

Pleitez screamed, “You can’t look at her. Don’t fucking look at her” and he “started yelling about how I need to read the Bible, and how that I can’t look at her … and that it was a sin,” the woman testified. Pleitez “kept yelling, and then he said, ‘I will come over there and I will fuck you up,” she said. He also told her she “was going to hell,” she said.

The woman said she was “scared,” but Pleitez left after about two minutes.

At the end of the hearing, Sandoval, the judge who oversaw the hearing, said using the standard of finding someone guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt … I think that there is something to be said for the defense’s argument that the reason that the defendant threatened [the victim] was because she was staring at the defendant.”

He also said there was “no evidence” that Pleitez had “singled out” the woman “because of her sexual orientation.”

Sandoval also said, “the immediacy of the threat” alleged “may not be sufficient” to get a conviction at trial, and he hoped the matter would settle.

However, he told Pleitez, “You cannot go around scaring people. You cannot go around scaring a family. And I guarantee you this family feels very differently about going out to their local bakery today than they did before this event.”

The woman who testified against Pleitez in August couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 17, 2014 @ 7:46 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


UC Berkeley frat member reports sexual assault

 

Theta Delta Chi (Photo Courtesy Theta Delta Chi's website)

Theta Delta Chi (Photo Courtesy Theta Delta Chi’s website)

A UC Berkeley fraternity member has reported he was sexually assaulted by a fellow member, according to Berkeley police.

“A leadership member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity contacted a UC Berkeley Campus Security Authority,” a Berkeley Police Department news release issued Friday, October 17 said. The leadership member said that a Theta Delta Chi member had contacted him and reported that another current member had sexually assaulted him. “The reporting member stated that there may be other victims,” police said.

UC police provided the information to the Berkeley Police Department, “who advised that no reported activity of this nature has been reported” to them, Berkeley police said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5900.

Fraternity leaders didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. The fraternity couldn’t immediately be reached by phone Friday.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:01 pm PST
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Folsom Street Fair director gains support for entertainment seat

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis. (Photo: Rich Stadtmiller)

Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis. (Photo: Rich Stadtmiller)

The executive director of the Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco’s yearly fetish event, has gained support for a seat on the city’s entertainment commission.

Demetri Moshoyannis won the recommendation of the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee Thursday, October 16.

Moshoyannis, who was out of town and couldn’t be at Thursday’s meeting, announced the “great news” in a Facebook post after gay Supervisor David Campos and Supervisors Katy Tang and Norman Yee voted unanimously in favor of him joining the oversight panel for the city’s nightlife and entertainment sector.

“Still have some work to do, but huge thanks to those who came out to support my nomination,” Moshoyannis, 43, said, expressing his gratitude to gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, former Entertainment Commission President Terrance Alan, and others.

Moshoyannis, whose application must still go before the full Board of Supervisors October 28, would fill the rest of the term of outgoing Commissioner Naomi Akers, who’s resigned. Akers, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday, had held the public health representative seat. The term for the seat ends July 1, 2017.

He had sought appointment to the commission’s industry seat in July, but the rules committee gave its support to reappointing nightclub owner Steven Lee to the seat.

In his application to the commission filed in September, Moshoyannis said, “As a gay man living with HIV since 1993, I have committed most of my career to addressing public health issues affecting the LGBT communities. These issues have included HIV/AIDS as well as substance abuse, mental health, sexual health, [and] homelessness. … Much of my work in public health has focused on dis-empowered demographics, especially teens and young adults.”

He added he’s been especially interested in the Castro district, where he lives, and the South of Market neighborhood, where he works.

“Both neighborhoods serve as hubs for nightlife and entertainment for thousands of residents as well as visitors and tourists,” Moshoyannis said. “It is particularly important to me that our venues continue to thrive and compete on a global scale. These businesses must meet the needs and address the challenges of the communities in which they exist, and I’d like to offer those perspectives on the Entertainment Commission.”

Wiener said Friday that Moshoyannis “absolutely” has a lock on the seat.

“I have ben pushing to get Demetri appointed to the entertainment commission for some time now,” Wiener said. “He will be a stellar addition the commission.”

He pointed to Moshoyannis’s “strong” backgrounds in public health, nightlife, and street fairs and festivals for his support.

“Street fairs are a key part of entertainment in San Francisco,” Wiener said. “They are important to our culture and economy, yet the city has not done a good job in helping them thrive.”

He added, “The entertainment commission has a key role to play in helping keep our street fairs alive and strong. It is overdue to have an entertainment commissioner who has significant street festival experience.”

Moshoyannis beat out Charles Stephanski, a licensed vocational nurse, for the recommendation.

In a brief call Friday, Stephanski, 52, who’s bisexual, said he was “disappointed,” but “it sounds like the guy’s imminently more qualified than I am.”

Matthew S. Bajko contributed to this report.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 10:37 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Alleged fake cop held for trial on sex charges

Jeffrey Bugai, a.k.a. Jeffrey Thomas. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

Jeffrey Bugai, a.k.a. Jeffrey Thomas. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

A judge has ordered a San Francisco man to stand trial on charges that he pretended to be a police officer and forced other men to engage in sexual acts with him, among other counts.

Judge Gerardo Sandoval ruled Thursday (October 16) that there was “sufficient, credible evidence” to sustain most of the 39 charges against Jeffrey Bugai, 35.

The orders followed several days of testimony from six of the seven alleged victims.

Among other counts, Sandoval held Bugai to answer accusations of sodomy by anesthesia or a controlled substance, forcible oral copulation, and impersonating a public officer.

Sandoval dismissed some counts, including those alleging he’d committed the crimes “under the color of authority,” essentially threatening some men that if they didn’t have sex with him, they’d be arrested, incarcerated, or deported.

The men who testified said they believed Bugai was a cop, and some said after he took them to his apartment, he made them drink something they suspect was drugged.

Police Sergeant Sean Perdomo testified Thursday that a former roommate of Bugai’s has said he saw Bugai putting pills in people’s drinks.

One alleged victim, identified in court as Miguel M., 26, testified last week that he met Bugai at El Trebol bar, 3149 22nd Street, in the Mission district, around December 31, 2007. He got into a cab with Bugai, thinking he was getting a ride home.

Miguel said when they got to the apartment, Bugai gave him a glass of what looked and tasted like water, but after that, he testified, “I did not know anything anymore until I had him on top of me without any clothes.”

Bugai was performing oral sex on him, Miguel told the court, and Bugai soon took Miguel’s penis and penetrated himself with it, he said.

He said he unsuccessfully tried to push him away and told him “No” during the incident, but “I had no strength.”

Bugai, who’s pleaded not guilty to the charges, has been in custody since his July arrest and is set to be arraigned October 30. His bail is $3 million.

According to court documents and testimony, Bugai often dressed like a police officer and drove a vehicle that resembled a police patrol car. All of the men, who appeared to be in their late 20s to early 30s, spoke through Spanish interpreters.

Police have said Bugai targeted Central American immigrants with “limited English speaking” skills who had recently arrived in the United States.

The alleged incidents occurred from January 2008 through March 2014, according to the complaint prosecutors filed against Bugai in September.

According to court records, Bugai changed his name to Jeffrey Thomas in 2011.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 16, 2014 @ 6:43 pm PST
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Plea deal reached in skirt burning case

An Oakland boy who’d been accused of  setting fire to the skirt of a gender non-conforming teen on a bus last November pleaded no contest in the case Thursday (October 16).

Richard Thomas, 17, could serve up to seven years in state prison after entering a plea deal in Alameda County Superior Court in which he admitted to a charge of felony assault assault with an enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury, according to Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. An aggravated mayhem charge and hate crime enhancements for each of the charges were dropped.

Sasha Fleischman in an undated photo

Sasha Fleischman in an undated photo

Sasha Fleischman, who was 18 at the time of the incident, suffered severe burns and was hospitalized for several weeks after Thomas set fire to Fleischman’s skirt.

Thomas, who’s been in custody since shortly after the incident, is set to be sentenced November 14.

At his sentencing, Thomas will be sentenced to seven years in state prison, Drenick said in an email. After 90 days, the judge will review an evaluation of his conduct.

“If he is fully engaging in the programs and services offered,” and his conduct’s “good,” there’ll be another evaluation in July 2015, just before his 18th birthday, Drenick said. If he again shows good progress, he’ll be re-sentenced to five years in state prison, “with the addition that he waive four months custody credit.”

At that point, the juvenile justice department would have “have discretion to house [Thomas] for his entire sentence if they believe he is amenable to their services.”

The deal had been in the works for months.

“The victim in this case, as well as the victim’s family, has been kept apprised of the negotiations at every step of the way,” Drenick said.

William Du Bois, Thomas’s attorney, said in a phone interview, “the juvenile justice system doesn’t understand … how time in custody weighs much heavier on a young person” than it does on “an older person.”

Debra Crandall, Fleischman’s mother, has said she’s “sad” about Thomas being charged as an adult. “We’re kind of torn … to put a 16-year-old kid away for life seems really harsh.”

However, she’s said, “I feel like perhaps the DA’s office must have information they can’t give us completely.”

Fleischman’s family couldn’t immediately be reached by phone Thursday. Thomas’s family has repeatedly declined interview requests.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:42 pm PST
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Peninsula man accused of offering boy $50 for oral sex

Mark Anthony McNeil (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's office)

Mark Anthony McNeil (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s office)

A Peninsula area man is facing a charge that he offered to pay a 15-year-old boy $50 to perform oral sex on the teen.

Mark Anthony McNeil, 52, of Hillsborough, is charged with annoying or molesting a child and is set to face a preliminary hearing Thursday, October 23 in San Mateo County Superior Court.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the incident occurred September 22 at the Geneva Motel in Daly City, where the child was staying with his family.

The teen was sitting on some outside steps when McNiel allegedly “called out to him to ‘come here,’ and waved him over,” Wagstaffe said in a summary of the case.

The boy went to McNeil, “who asked him if he wanted to make some money,” the DA said.

After the child asked how much, McNeil allegedly told him $50 and said, “I want to suck some dick.”

“Hell no, that’s so gay,” Wagstaffe said the boy responded.

McNeil went back to his room, and the teen immediately told his mother about the incident. She called the police, then waited in her car with her son until police came. Police contacted McNeil, who the boy identified.

Wagstaffe said McNeil, who’s in custody on $50,000 bail, has a prior conviction in a similar case in 2005, making the new charge a felony.

Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Baum is the prosecutor in current case. Brandon Douglass from the Private Defender Program is the defense attorney. An emailed request for comment to the defender program hasn’t been returned.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 10, 2014 @ 5:09 pm PST
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SF cop from ’95 AIDS benefit raid charged with illegal use of records, retires

A longtime former San Francisco police sergeant who took part in a violent raid on a 1995 AIDS benefit has retired after being accused of illegally checking someone’s California Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Superior court documents show that in January, John Albert Haggett, 56, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misuse of confidential information. His next court date is October 20 for a pretrial conference.

Sergeant Monica MacDonald said in an email exchange that Haggett retired in February. She declined an interview request, saying, “The police department does not discuss open criminal or employee investigations.”

Haggett was one of several policemen involved in the 1995 New Years Day raid on a benefit at 938 Harrison Street, in the South of Market neighborhood, according to the the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a 2006 story, the paper reported, “Police said they conducted the raid because the party did not have the proper permits. … When partygoers sued, their lawyer, Nanci Clarence said, ‘Haggett was involved in some of the most brutal attacks against the benefit guests, including choking a man from behind until he almost passed out.’”

The story also said Haggett had “joined the department in 1982 and in his first seven years was the subject of 56 citizen complaints.”

According to the Chronicle, in 1996, “the Police Commission found Haggett had committed four offenses that could warrant dismissal — using unnecessary force on one person and falsely arresting three people. … It suspended Haggett for six months and told him he would be fired if he committed further violations during a three-year probationary period.”

Almost a year after the AIDS raid, Haggett “killed an unarmed man,” the paper said.

Reached by phone recently, Haggett would only say that he’s now retired, and handed the phone over to a woman who identified herself as “a babysitter” and hung up the phone.

When a reporter called back, she said, “Nobody wants to talk to you.”

Peter Furst, Haggett’s attorney, didn’t respond to an interview request.

Current case

In a January 2014 affidavit attached to the current case against Haggett, San Francisco police Sergeant John McMahon wrote a woman said that in June 2013 she’d filed two police reports “regarding an ongoing landlord tenant dispute,” and that she’d reported the landlord “had threatened her by stating ‘my boyfriend is a police officer and will take care of you.’” According to the victim, Haggett was the landlord’s boyfriend.

The filing includes an email that “appears to be” from the landlord that said if she has to “check someone’s background for criminal records I forward it to John … .”

When the woman told her landlord “that she was not afraid” of Haggett, the landlord “told her that she should be,” according to the document.

McMahon wrote that the victim told him “that she was afraid for her life that Sgt. Haggett might hurt her.” McMahon advised her to get a restraining order. Court records indicating that she took his advice couldn’t be found.

The woman eventually told McMahon “that she did not want to be associated with this case and she does not want to testify in court. She said she is afraid that Sgt. Haggett might assault her. However, it should be noted” that the victim “never met Sgt. Haggett,” according to the filing.

McMahon found that in June 2013, while Haggett was working, someone using his unique police ID had checked California Department of Motor Vehicle, FBI, and local criminal records for information on the victim.

The woman stated that the landlord had “never directly told her that Sgt. Haggett ran a criminal record check on her,” and she’d never given permission to Haggett or the landlord to do a criminal background check, the affidavit says.

McMahon concluced that Haggett had “unlawfully” accessed the first victim’s confidential information in June 2013.

He also found that Haggett had performed illegal records checks on two other people, but he said those cases couldn’t be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations in one case and a lack of evidence that Haggett had “furnished that information to someone else” in the other. The victims’ names had been redacted from the file reviewed by the Bay Area Reporter.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Man charged with attempted murder of LGBT woman

A San Francisco man has been accused of trying to kill an LGBT woman with a bottle during an apparent dispute over money.

Tanrence Joe Owens, 30, pleaded not guilty Monday, September 30 to charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and battery with serious bodily injury, according to Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s office.

According the police report, at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, September 26, Owens approached the victim, whose first name is Earina but is also known as “Ray Ray,” while she was asleep and started asking for money she owed him.

He allegedly poured water on her and told her he’d count to seven. She eventually pushed him, and he struck her once with a Tanqueray gin bottle, which broke and cut Earina.

When police arrived, the report says, they found Owens in a closet. The incident occurred in the unit block of Dakota Street, in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.

Earina, 25, is in San Francisco General Hospital, and she’s able to talk, but she hadn’t spoken to police as of Wednesday, October 1, because she was scared, according to her mother, Sandra Bacon, 50.

“She is my soldier,” Bacon said outside the courtroom where Owens made a brief appearance Friday, October 3. She said her daughter’s “doing much better,” and “they’re taking the sutures out today.”

Just before Friday’s hearing, Bacon shared photos of Earina in the hospital. There were several cuts on her face and what appeared to be a large gash along her neck.

Deputy Public Defender Alex Lilien said after Friday’s hearing that it was “conceivable” the injuries had resulted from a single strike with a bottle, as a witness stated. Lilien said he hasn’t yet seen the photos of Earina or medical records.

Owens seems “very alarmed about the extent of the injuries and very concerned about [Earina's] well-being,” he said.

Lilien said Owens has a criminal history that includes drug-related charges, but it doesn’t appear he has been charged in violent incidents.

He also said Owens and Earina had been “on decent terms. They were friendly.”

Earina had once been the girlfriend of the mother of Owens’s two-year-old son, according to Earina’s ex-girlfriend’s mother, who asked that her name only be published as Kay. Bacon said she had “no idea” how Earina identified, but she said, “I guess” as a lesbian.

In a phone interview, Bacon said her daughter “can have her mood swings, but she has a big heart, and she’s a very outgoing, loving person.”

Earina asked through Bacon that her last name not be published.

Owens, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit Friday and didn’t speak, is in custody on $350,000 bail.

His next court date is October 22 to set a date for a preliminary hearing, which is when a judge determines whether there’s enough evidence to hold the defendant for trial.

Bastian said that “the underlying motive does not appear to be” related to a hate crime, “however, the case remains under investigation.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 3, 2014 @ 1:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Oakland mayor, Emeryville city council candidates fail to secure LGBT club’s endorsement

(Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Oakland mayor, Emeryville city council candidates came up short last night at the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club’s final endorsement vote ahead of the November 4 election.

In July lesbian Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan, the city’s at-large city councilwoman, fell short of the 60 percent threshold needed to secure an early endorsement from Stonewall. It meant any Democrat in the race was eligible to be endorsed by the club last night.

With Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s considerable support within the club for her re-election bid, and Oakland City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf also attracting a number of LGBT supporters, it was expected the club would be divided over the race and unable to coalesce around one candidate.

Those predictions proved true, as the club took a no endorsement position in the race. And its by-laws do not allow for a ranked-choice endorsement despite the fact Oakland instituted instant runoff voting for mayoral and city council races where voters can select up to three candidates and rank them in order of their preferred choice.

“The reality is our club is really torn right down the middle between two candidates,” said Joseph Greaves, chair of Stonewall’s political action committee, referring to Kaplan and Quan.”Had we had a process where we could make multiple endorsements, I think we would have seen a different outcome last night.”

John Bauters, a gay man and affordable housing advocate, was also unable to reach the 60 percent threshold to secure Stonewall’s backing of his Emeryville City Council bid. He is one of four candidates seeking two open seats on the council in this fall’s election.

Two of his opponents – teacher Scott Donahue and television producer Dianne Martinez who are running as a slate – also sought Stonewall’s endorsement last night and fell short.

Bauters “was the highest vote getter,” said Greaves, but “he fell short of the 60 percent threshold. He was close.”

A number of candidates did secure the LGBT club’s endorsement, including Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, who in 2010 became the first African American to be elected to the post and is seeking re-election this year, and Alameda City Council candidate Jim Oddie, who works as state Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s (D-Oakland) district director.

The club also endorsed Lena Tam in the race for the BART board’s District 4 seat and Anne Campbell Washington, who is running for Schaaf’s District 4 seat on the Oakland City Council.

Other races where the club made no endorsement include Washington’s District 4 school board seat, the Oakland School Board District 6 seat, and Oakland auditor.

As for local ballot measures, Stonewall members voted to endorse Alameda County Measure BB, a half-cent increase to a countywide transportation sales tax. They also endorsed Oakland’s Measure Z, which would beef up policing in the city, and Oakland’s Measure FF, which would raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.25 per hour.

To learn more about the Stonewall club, and its full list of endorsements in fall races, visit its website here.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 2, 2014 @ 3:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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