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    In the News

    By Dennis McMillan

     

    SF AIDS Foundation to Open New Health & Wellness Center

    The San Francisco Bay Times was privileged to attend a sneak peek inside the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s new Center for Health & Wellness at 474 Castro Street where remarks by CEO Neil Giuliano, Executive Director Tim Patriarca, and others were made regarding the goal of getting to zero HIV transmissions in the Bay Area. Currently 16,000 people are living with AIDS in the City, which has the highest concentration of infections than anywhere in the United States. They expect to open their doors “around Summerish,” when the entire front will be a glass wall allowing total visibility. They also took pride in the new mobile HIV testing unit parked outside. sfaf.org

     

    Equality California Launches Grassroots Campaign for Clinton for President

    Equality California became the nation’s first major LGBTQ organization to endorse Hillary Clinton. With 800,000 members, Equality California is America’s second largest LGBTQ civil rights organization and has launched “EQCA for Hillary,” a grassroots campaign to mobilize its members to support her candidacy and help her win. Throughout her career, Secretary Clinton has been a champion for the queer community. Among her many accomplishments for queers, she made LGBTQ rights a priority in U.S. foreign policy and directed the State Department to champion a comprehensive human rights agenda that included protection of LGBTQ human rights. Not only is the Supreme Court at stake, but also her election is crucial to backstop the potential targeting of the LGBTQ community by the current anti-equality Congress. eqca.org

     

    GLSEN Encourages International Day of Silence for LGBTQ Students

    On April 17, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is sponsoring an international Day of Silence. What started as a class project is now an international movement. Each year students from around the globe come together in solidarity to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in school. They take a vow of silence to highlight the negative experiences some LGBTQ students face in their school communities and the silencing effects of bullying and harassment. Their motto is: “Strength in numbers. Solidarity in silence.” Students from more than 8,000 middle and high schools, colleges and universities in every state and 70 countries around the world have participated in the past. Students are also urged to use social networking taking selfies with signs and posting them. dayofsilence.org

     

    Castro Cares Programs Making a Difference for Homeless

    Castro Cares, the pilot program aimed at addressing neighborhood quality-of-life issues and homeless outreach, has just completed its first month of intensive, dedicated services in the Castro & Upper Market district helping people at risk, living on the street. Homeless outreach services continue as currently 392 outreach contacts have been made throughout the district. 67% (264) of these contacts resulted in positive engagements, and 33% (128) refused all offers of services. Of these 264 – 134 people were referred to services including: Mental Health, Substance Use, Medical, Navigation Center, Food, and Project Homeless Connect. Castro Cares is holding a fundraiser this evening, from 5-8pm, at 555 Castro Street. castrocbd.org

     

    Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation Broadens Community Giving Focus

    The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation is expanding its giving parameters for the community and will now be known as The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation. While REAF will continue to focus on supporting the fight against AIDS until there is cure, it will expand to include community programs targeting hunger and disenfranchised youth. Capitalizing on their 20-year history of successful fundraising through quality events, REAF’s board members feel they can also make a difference by supporting programs that provide food for the needy and support homeless, disadvantaged young people. richmondermet.org

     

    newsFormer Richmond Cop Sues Chief, Claiming Sexual Harassment

    The city of Richmond and its police chief, Chris Magnus, have been sued by a former police officer who says the chief made sexual advances toward him and then retaliated when the overtures were rebuffed. Thomas Hauschild, 44, a former officer who spent eight years with the Richmond Police Department before being fired by the agency in December 2013, said that Magnus, who is gay and married, inappropriately touched him while the officer was assigned to work surveillance and protection detail outside the chief’s home. The lawsuit, filed recently in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges the chief then retaliated against the officer by launching a biased internal affairs investigation that led to his firing. contracostatimes.com

    Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill Clears Senate Judiciary Committee

    The California Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the End of Life Option Act (SB 128). This is the second legislative victory for the bill, which would allow terminally ill Californians the option to request a prescription from their doctor to painlessly and peacefully shorten their dying process. The passage of the California bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee comes just two weeks after the Senate Health Committee approved SB 128 by a 6-2 vote. The next vote on the bill will take place before the Senate Appropriations Committee prior to consideration by the full Senate. National and state polls consistently show the vast majority of Americans across the demographic and political spectrum want full options for their medical treatment at the end of life. California voters support the medical option of aid in dying by more than a 2-1 margin (64 percent vs. 24 percent). compassionandchoices.org

    Bill Gives Homeless Youth Access to High School Equivalency Exams

    Homeless youth across California would have greater access to the high school proficiency and equivalency exams under new legislation introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Senate Bill 252 would prohibit the Department of Education or testing companies from charging an exam fee to young people who are homeless – many being LGBTQ. Exam fees, which cost up to $200, can create an impossible obstacle for homeless youth who wish to further their education and enhance their job prospects. SB 252 gives disadvantaged young people a better chance to earn higher wages so they can lead productive lives as adults. SB 252 is co-sponsored by the California Coalition for Youth, Housing California and National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. It is also co-authored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting, both of San Francisco, and Assemblymember Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon.

    New Poll Shows Ammiano Leading Wiener in SF State Senate Race

    A new poll conducted by David Binder Associates and paid for by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club indicates former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is leading in popularity for the State Senate 11th District seat over Supervisor Scott Wiener, both of whom are rumored to be eying candidacy in the upcoming race. Ammiano filed a campaign account for the 2016 State Senate 11th District race, a seat now held by Mark Leno, though Ammiano has indicated he is still unsure if he is running. Wiener has gone on record as saying he’s eying the seat, and insiders say Supervisor Jane Kim is rumored to be looking to run as well.

    Tenants Together Say Yes to Rent Control

    With rents rising astronomically in the Bay Area and beyond, “rent control” is no longer a dirty word; it’s a necessity, says Tenants Together, California’s Statewide Organization for Renters’ Rights. Only a handful of cities in the region have a rent control ordinance, which protects tenants from rent gouging and ensures landlords receive a fair return on their investment. While policy wonks dispute the “efficiency” of such measures, protections like this are wildly popular with residents and effective on the ground in stabilizing neighborhoods. Grassroots groups all over the Bay Area have been organizing recently to make their voices heard. Californians overwhelmingly support rent control. The last referendum on rent control – Proposition 98 in 2008 – was decided against landlords by a 22-point margin statewide. Support continues to grow as people see landlords imposing massive rent increases during an affordable housing crisis. rentsandrants.blogspot.com

    Bay Area Mayors and Others Lift Travel Ban

    San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee was joined by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in lifting their cities’ respective bans on City-funded travel to Indiana following Indiana’s adoption of an amended Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While not perfect, the changes made to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act represent a step in the right direction, says Mayor Lee. He says he believes strongly that Indiana, like many states around the country, must still add more protections to prevent discrimination against its LGBT communities, and has decided to lift San Francisco’s restrictions on publicly-funded City employee travel to the State of Indiana with the hope and expectation that progress on civil rights for all Americans will continue. He also applauds cities like Indianapolis, which have taken these steps at the local level, and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who has been a consistent champion for equality during this whole debate. sfgov.org

    Supervisor Wiener to Introduce Ordinance Mandating Water Reuse Systems

    Addressing the ongoing drought, Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce legislation to require onsite water reuse systems – for example, gray water and storm water recapture systems – in new developments and to push city departments to use non-potable water for all cleaning and irrigation of public spaces within the next five years. Increasing the use of non-potable water will decrease the use of Hetch Hetchy drinking water for irrigation and toilet flushing. The ordinance will require onsite water reuse systems in large developments in certain areas of the City and require all developments throughout the City to go through a water reuse analysis with the Public Utilities Commission. The ordinance also will set city policy that all irrigation and cleaning of public spaces should be done with non-drinking water within the next five years. sfgov.org

    New Bay Area Bike Share Proposal Expands Across Bay Area

    San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Emeryville Mayor Ruth Atkin have announced a proposal working together with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to expand the Bay Area Bike Share program, increasing the number of bikes in Bay Area Bike Share from 700 to 7,000, and growing the program from a successful pilot to a robust transportation option for Bay Area residents, at no cost to taxpayers. Under the proposal, bike share station locations would be developed in consultation with residents and local businesses, through a series of open forums and outreach events. Twenty percent of stations would be placed in MTC-designated Communities of Concern, putting equity at the core of the program’s design as it expands throughout the region. Discounted passes would also be made available to customers enrolled in Bay Area utility lifeline programs. sfgov.org