SF Supervisor Wiener
kicks off re-election bid
by Matthew S. Bajko
Roughly 40 entertainment officials were on hand at new Castro gay club Beaux Monday night to help gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener kick off his re-election campaign.
Wiener, 43, has been a champion of nightlife issues and pushed city officials to conduct an economic impact report on the entertainment industry shortly after being sworn into office in 2011. It has earned him support from club and bar owners who have felt public officials devalued their contributions to tourism, employment and city coffers.
"He understands the intricacies of how policy should be done," said Terrance Alan, a gay former entertainment commissioner who co-hosted the event with a number of owners of gay Castro bars. "We thought it would be great for Castro nightlife leaders to show their support."
Outside the Market Street venue four protesters greeted attendees with handmade cardboard signs, which misspelled the candidate's last name, attacking Wiener for "killing SF street culture" and declaring, "We need Queer Invasion not a Weiner CR8TN."
"I want to thank all of my good friends for coming tonight, even those standing on the sidewalk," Wiener told the crowd. "Everyone has a right to their own opinion. I welcome that."
Elected in 2010 to represent the Castro, Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, and Glen Park neighborhoods at City Hall, Wiener is gearing up to seek re-election to another four-year term next November. In a brief interview at the October 21 fundraiser, expected to net $10,000 for his campaign, Wiener sounded confident about his candidacy.
"I hope to be re-elected," said Wiener, a moderate and former local Democratic Party chair.
So far no prominent progressive has declared their intent to run against Wiener, despite his critics' repeated pleas over the last two years for someone to challenge him for the seat. Nonetheless, Wiener said this week that he expects to be opposed.
One person contemplating doing so is David Waggoner , 38, a gay attorney who assisted Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi last year as he fought to keep his job after his suspension due to domestic violence charges, for which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Waggoner, a former co-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, told the B.A.R. this week that he has been mulling whether to jump into the race.
"I have been considering it but I haven't decided yet," said Waggoner, one of the more vocal critics against the city's Pride board for its handling of an honor for Army Private Chelsea Manning , the convicted leaker of classified material to WikiLeaks.
Wiener has been a lightning rod for criticism from progressives over the last three years for his ban on public nudity; recent push to enforce park closure hours; and what his critics contend is a lack of attention on affordable housing needs. They pointed to the casino theme for the fundraiser this week as symbolic of his attitude toward those struggling to remain in San Francisco.
"The message is clear, 'If you don't have money, get out and stay out,'" wrote nudity activist Mitch Hightower on Facebook. "It's the same message the supervisor has been sending to the community since he took office. And with no one interested in seriously challenging him, we're going to get another four years of this before he dumps SF and moves on to higher office."
Wiener counters that he has secured funding to expand housing for homeless LGBT youth and has tried to modernize the city's housing rules to meet today's needs. This week he announced legislation to allow for garages and storage units to be turned into in-law units. [See story, page 1.]
"We are experiencing a crisis in housing affordability in the city," Wiener told attendees of the event. "There are plenty of people who are couch surfing or they have to leave the city. I've tried to do my part to rationalize our housing policy."
Political pundits consider Wiener the frontrunner at this point, as he proved to be a relentless campaigner in 2010. It is also exceedingly difficult to unseat an incumbent supervisor.
Privately, some progressives express a reluctance at seeing Wiener be challenged, fearing it would take financial resources and volunteer efforts away from gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos 's bid next year for a state Assembly seat against his more moderate opponent, board President David Chiu .
It is widely expected that Wiener will also seek a state legislative seat in 2016 when gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is termed out of office. Asked about the speculation surrounding his plans for higher office, Wiener told the B.A.R. that people often ask him about running for various elected offices.
"I always tell them I am running for re-election to the board," he said.
Pressed on if he would pledge to serve out a full second term as supervisor, Wiener responded, "The only thing I am running for is re-election to the Board of Supervisors."
LGBT alley project receives funds
An effort to beautify Ringold Alley in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood and resurrect its ties to LGBT history won full funding this week.
The alley, located between 8th and 9th streets near Harrison Street, was the scene of nightly cruising by men looking to have sex with other men back in SOMA's gay heyday of the 1960s and 1970s. The street was also home to the first Up Your Alley daytime leather fair in 1985.
LGBT SOMA leaders have fought to turn Ringold into a pedestrian-friendly corridor and install public art recognizing the alley's historical and cultural significance to the LGBT community as part of a project to underground utility lines along the roadway.
Their plans were put in jeopardy when an advisory body voted in September to award "at least" $1 million in development impact fees from an adjacent multi-unit housing project to the alley proposal. As the B.A.R. noted on its blog last week, neighborhood activists protested that decision and demanded that the Eastern Neighborhoods Community Advisory Committee fully fund the project, estimated to cost roughly $2 million.
At its meeting Monday, October 21 where a dozen people, including gay Entertainment Commissioner Glendon Hyde and Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis, urged it to reconsider its decision, the CAC voted 10-3 to allocate $1.8 million after the San Francisco County Transportation Authority guaranteed it would be able to provide the remaining $200,000.
"I am really thrilled," said Jim Meko , a gay SOMA resident who championed the alley project and expects work to begin in March.
It is expected that District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim 's office will convene a community meeting to discuss the LGBT place-making features for the alley.
Bay Area LGBT youth group changes leaders
With an eye to fostering a smooth leadership transition, the co-founder of a Bay Area LGBT youth group that hosts biennial summits stepped down this week.
Stanford University junior Jason Galisatus , 21, resigned Monday, October 21 as executive director of the Bay Area Youth Summit, which he helped launch as an all-youth-led nonprofit in 2011. Under BAYS rules for membership, Galisatus could have remained in his position until June 2015 when he is expected to graduate with a BA in political science.
But he told the B.A.R. last week that he was "leaving early to foster new talent" and intends to assist his successor, Stanford sophomore Charles Stotz, over the next year.
In a statement, Stotz, 19 and a Palo Alto native, said he wants to strengthen the infrastructure of the BAYS board.
"As a collective whole, we aim to refocus and enhance our existing programs so that we can better serve our constituents," stated Stotz. "By doing so, I believe we can build stronger and more effective communities of LGBT and allied youth."
As for Galisatus, he plans to remain engaged with "the community and continue my advocacy through the political and philanthropic realm."
Postscript: Last Thursday night the Peninsula Stonewall Democrats, the LGBT political group featured in last week's Political Notebook, won chartership by the San Mateo County Democratic Party. With official recognition the club can now send a r class=null>epresentative to the pre-endorsement process for state races in the next election cycle.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on gay SF Supervisor David Campos' first Assembly bid fundraiser.
Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes.
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.