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    In the News: 6.13.19

    California Poised to Be First State to Provide Healthcare to Undocumented Immigrants

    California Democrats in the state legislature, during the afternoon of Sunday, June 9, agreed on a proposed budget that would allow some undocumented immigrants to receive healthcare via the Medi-Cal program. While the full legislature still has to pass the budget that contains this provision, Governor Newsom has already expressed his support for it. The new plan would permit adults aged 19–25 who are undocumented to access Medi-Cal coverage. Lawmakers are looking at taxing residents who do not have health insurance—a penalty similar to the former Obamacare individual mandate—to help pay for the groundbreaking plan. The budget, assuming passage, will apply to the fiscal year beginning July 1.

    Transgender Law Center Mourns Death of Johana Medina and Continues Fight for Trans Migrant Justice

    Johana Medina, a transgender woman from El Salvador, was just 25-years-old when she died earlier this month at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. Medina had been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for over six weeks. Following the news of her death, Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center (TLC), said, in part: “We are still learning details about Johana and her passing on the first day of Pride month. But we pledge to continue our work with Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement and the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project towards justice for all LGBTQ migrants—with a focus on the Black, trans, and HIV positive migrants who are most intensely targeted. Black trans women in particular are frequently punished in detention with solitary confinement, a form of torture.” TLC has filed suit against both ICE and the Department of Homeland Security for what Hayashi and colleagues say was illegal withholding of information about the death of another transgender woman, Roxsana Hernandez from Honduras. Hayashi said, “Justice for Roxsana means justice for Johana. Justice for Johana and Roxsana means an end to the conditions that killed them, conditions that transgender people in migrant prisons across the country continue to endure.”

    Debate Continues Over Harvey Milk Plaza Redesign

    For three years a campaign has been underway for redesigning Harvey Milk Plaza and the entrance to the San Francisco Muni Metro station at Castro and Market streets. On June 6, Terry Beswick, Executive Director of the GLBT Historical Society, issued a statement mentioning that his organization “favors preservation and restoration of the existing historic plaza with limited adaptation of the original design to ensure ADA compliance, to allow for appropriate arts and history installations and to address other functional considerations.” He concluded the statement with: “We strongly encourage the City to refocus funding and to organize efforts to restore, refresh and make accessible the original design of Harvey Milk Plaza and the surrounding area with the utmost respect for the spirit of Harvey Milk and the history of the Castro neighborhood.” The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza then posted this statement via social media: “We view these projects as working together to draw people to the Castro where they can do a deeper dive into our rich LGBT history. We continue to support the important work done by the GLBT Historical Society, and look forward to working with them to develop the narrative aspects of this important historic effort to honor Harvey Milk.”

    New Affordable Housing Slated for Mission Site

    Mayor London Breed and community members on Tuesday, June 11, announced that the city is in contract negotiations to buy 1515 South Van Ness Avenue. The planned city purchase, estimated at around $18.5 million, is expected to result in 150 affordable housing units. The site, once home to McMillan Electric Company, was going to be developed for market-rate housing by Lennar Multifamily until that developer pulled out. Mayor Breed and her team continue to eye the Mission District for possible other affordable housing prospects, given that the historic neighborhood as well as the adjacent Castro have been heavily impacted by gentrification in recent years.

    AIDS LifeCycle Raises Record-Breaking Amount

    During the Opening Ceremony for AIDS LifeCycle on Sunday, June 2, it was announced that the organization has raised a record-breaking $16,755,967 that will go to benefit services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Among the riders this year was Olympian Gus Kenworthy, who topped the list of fundraisers with $245,118.12. Three Bay Area residents made the Top 10 Fundraisers list, too: Max Mason of Oakland ($70,116.50), Sean Ray of San Francisco ($52,353.13), and Robert Quon, also of San Francisco ($47,295.10). See page 8 of this issue for more about the 2019 AIDS Life/Cycle.

    Mayor Breed Files for Re-Election

    Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, Mayor Breed on June 4 officially filed to run for re-election on November 5 of this year. She is widely expected to win. As of this writing, only one other individual will be on the ballot, social worker Ellen Lee Zhou, and she lost the general special election on June 5, 2018. After filing, Breed said: “Since taking office less than a year ago, I have been working to make a difference on the most challenging issues facing our city, from housing affordability, to keeping our streets cleaner and safer, to helping our most vulnerable residents get the care and housing they so desperately need. I am committed to building on what we have already accomplished so far to make San Francisco a more just and equitable city. We have a lot of work left to do, but together there is nothing we can’t accomplish.” The November 5 election is the regularly scheduled election for the four-year term running 2020–2024.

    San Francisco’s Conservatorship Laws to Be Strengthened

    The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on June 4 approved conservatorship legislation, SB 1045, introduced by Supervisor and former San Francisco Bay Times columnist Rafael Mandelman and Mayor Breed, following work on the state level by Senator Scott Wiener. The legislation will allow the city to petition a court for a short-term conservatorship in cases where individuals are dual-diagnosed with a serious mental illness and with a substance use disorder, and have been brought to the psychiatric emergency

    room at least eight times in a 12-month period under an involuntary “5150” emergency hold. (A 5150 hold is issued to individuals who present an immediate danger to themselves or others, or are gravely disabled and unable to provide for their basic needs.) At the end of the conservatorship process, these individuals would be guaranteed permanent housing. Supervisor Mandelman said, “San Franciscans have made it clear that they are unwilling to continue to allow severely mentally ill and addicted people to languish on our streets. SB 1045 is a small but important step to bring the sickest, most vulnerable, and hardest-to-reach individuals into care. Perhaps even more importantly, SB 1045 has spurred a long overdue conversation about radically transforming our response to untreated mental illness and drug addiction. I thank my colleagues for their support of this legislation, and look forward to continuing the conversation.”

    SFPD Raises Funds for Larkin Street Youth Services

    San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers are celebrating Pride by raising funds for Larkin Street Youth Services. Throughout this month, SFPD officers are sporting rainbow-patterned versions of the department’s signature blue and gold patch. Donations for the patches will benefit the organization, which supports homeless San Francisco youth, many of whom are LGBTQ. In addition to the patches, San Franciscans and visitors during Pride month are also asked to keep an eye out for SFPD’s special Pride SUV on city streets. The Police Officers’ Pride Alliance paid for the cost of wrapping the SUV, which will be used for recruitment and community engagement events.

    City of Dublin Reverses Decision on Raising Rainbow Flag for Pride

    The rainbow flag is flying over Dublin City Hall for Pride after the East Bay city’s council reversed its widely criticized decision of last month to nix the idea. The reversal followed a petition signed by over 800 people demanding that the flag be flown. As Allison Tebbe who started the petition wrote, in part: “I was extremely disturbed by the insensitive comments made at the Dublin City Council meeting regarding the debate on whether to fly the rainbow flag.” Dublin Mayor David Haubert said that the controversy stemmed, not from the city leaders’ lack of support for the LGBTQ community, but because the council had not agreed upon an overarching policy for flying “commemorative” flags like the rainbow one. The councilmembers on June 4 decided to take the matter up on a case-by-case basis, giving the go ahead for the rainbow flag raising.