SF Chron Snaps Bathroom Photo, Where's Wiener's Outrage?
Last Sunday's San Francisco featured an article on the Library Commission's recent tightening of rules of conduct at library branches. Included in the piece were two pictures by staff photographer Lea Suzuki of a library cleaning worker and two patrons.

As visitors to this blog will recall, last year activist and blogger Michael Petrelis was taken to court, at a significant cost to city taxpayers, for taking a photograph of Supervisor Scott Wiener inside a City Hall bathroom. Despite a number of less expensive ways to obtain resolution, Supervisor Wiener used his considerable influence for what was clearly a politically motivated, selective prosecution in order to silence one of his most vocal and strident critics.

According to the following letter from the City Librarian's spokesperson, the Chronicle's photographer did not obtain permission which would not have been granted as such photos are in violation of not only library policy but Section 647(j) sub-section (1) of the California Penal Code which prohibits the photographing or taping of individuals in spaces where privacy is expect, specifically restrooms for members of the public.

While we are not suggesting that the photographer be taken to court, we have to ask the question of why is so important to embroil Michael Petrelis in wasteful court proceedings when a major metropolitan news agency can engage in the same behavior without legal repercussions?

We will keep you updated on further developments of this pressing matter. In the meantime, here's the libraries response to Petrelis' inquiry:

From: Jeffers, Michelle
Sent: Tue, Mar 11, 2014 9:38 am
Subject: FW: SF Chronicle photos of main branch women's restroom
Dear Mr. Petrelis,
Thank you for your email.
I can tell you unequivocally that the San Francisco Chronicle and its photographer Lea Suzuki did not have San Francisco Public Library’s permission to take photographs in the bathrooms at the Main Library.
Nor would we have granted this request if they had asked. While we do occasionally allow media photography in the Library, we always require the photographers to be escorted around the building and we never allow them to photograph inside the bathrooms when the public is using them.
Ironically, our Code of Conduct rules and proposed new penalties for those rules, which was the focus of the Chronicle article, specifically prohibits media filming and photography in the San Francisco Public Library without prior permission of the City Librarian.
The full list of these rules is here: http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=2000004201
It appears that Ms. Suzuki violated these rules, snuck in with a camera and surreptitiously took the photographs that appeared in the newspaper.
Please let me know if you have additional questions.
Thank you,
Michelle Jeffers
Chief, Community Programs & Partnerships
San Francisco Public Library


Our Final Post: Resistance to Assimilation of the Gay Status Quo
With the legal matter between veteran activist Michael Petrelis and controversial Supervisor Scott Wiener now settled, we are pleased to bring you We Like Mike’s final post.

Though this blog was created to call attention to Supervisor Wiener’s squandering of public prosecution funds to silence activist criticism of his policies, the last four months has increasingly shown collusion and manipulation, which remains the calling card for sellout members of the queer community.

Supervisor Wiener has made a career catering to big business and developers to detriment of the poor and disabled, increasingly unable to survive the city’s skyrocketing rents and lack of services. Last April, we saw activists not only take to the streets in protest of Wiener’s agenda of rapid gentrification but also bring the demonstration to his own doorstep.

The ongoing battle about merchant control of public space boiled over in the ongoing dispute about access to the Rainbow Flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza. Castro merchants (MUMC) have, for years, shut out community input on the matter. A battalion of SFPD officers were dispatched to last November’s merchants’ meeting as a heavy handed tactic to intimidate dissent.

Gay cop Chuck Limbert was at that meeting. When questioned by community members, Limbert stated he was not on-duty but merely attending as a gay resident of the Castro. Thanks to Michael’s complaint filed with the Human Rights Commission (HRC), we subsequently learned that Limbert was lying, as he was billing the city for his participation at the MUMC meeting.

How did the SFPD react? Limbert has since been promoted to Lieutenant.

Speaking of the HRC and the Rainbow Flag, let’s take a look back at that controversy.

Soon after the November MUMC meeting, Michael and photographer Bill Wilson filed a complaint with the HRC in hopes that a public mediation would occur in the form of a town hall meeting in the Castro. Public minutes from the HRC testimony reveal that Commission Director Teresa Sparks was bullied into submission by Supervisor Wiener, who threatened to cut the HRC’s budget if they don’t “stay out” of “his territory,” despite strong support for a resolution from Commissioners.

While Limbert & Wiener further the agenda of the gay status quo, the issues of representation and accountability within the queer community pressed on with increasing distress. Sadly, we have seen an increase in suicide amongst older gay men who have survived AIDS but are unable to cope with a culture dominated by greed and austerity.

It’s clear that the queer community is in desperate need of voices that challenge the big business mentality that's dominating the city. While it's good to see residents oppose corporate franchises from dominating the neighcorhood, nothing can stop $1.5 million condos from taking over the Castro. Yes, developers must pay millions into a fund for below marker rate housing but residents are still waiting to see where and when these apartments will be built.

In the meantime, let’s take a moment at the start of Queer Pride Week to salute whistleblowers and stand in resistance with US Army Officer and fabulous queer Chelsey Manning. Though denied Grand Marshall status by the corporate funded SF Pride Parade Committee, Bradley’s courageous sacrifice of his freedom for a greater truth remind us what it really means when someone is called a gay hero.



Media Round Up From Petrelis vs. Wiener Court Case
Now that the court case between activist & blogger Michael Petrelis and Supervisor Scott Wiener has been settled, let's take a look at local media reports about the case.

The San Francisco Appeal has an good overview of the case penned by Dan McMenamin of Bay City News, detailing this history of the case as well as the outcome. In lieu of an expensive court case, Michael accepted a plea that includes three year probation in addition to a stay away order which allows him to return to city hall.

Over at the Castro Biscuit, Waiyde Palmer thankfully raises the issue of Supervisor Wiener wasting city funds when viable alternatives for resolution were available:

"Estimated court case cost to the taxpayer? $26,000. Three years of personal space from Mr. Petrelis for Sup. Wiener? I would guess he finds that priceless. I venture to think a structured and supervised conflict resolution between the two parties might have cost a lot less cheddar and a great deal less stress for all involved. Regardless this battle is done. Perhaps they can try the conflict resolution avenue after the next one I’m sure is already brewing."

Never failing to disappoint when it comes to hack journalism, San Francisco Weekly's Joe Eskenazi penned this piece lamenting that Michael has yet to learn his lesson. What exactly that lesson is, I would like to know. Instead we are asked to feel sympathy for invasion of Supervisor Wiener's privacy. This isn't surprising given the Wiener fluff piece that was a cover story last February.

We Like Mike will return for our final post that will look at the lessons we've learned from this case. Stay tuned!

Wiener Case Settled: No Contest Plea Means Petrelis Returns to City Hall
After eight months and an estimated cost of $26,000 in city funds, the court case between activist & blogger Michael Petrelis and Supervisor Scott Wiener concluded last Thursday when Michael entered a no-contest please for the charge of snapping a photo of the Supervisor in a City Hall men's room.

The terms of the order, issued by Judge Sam Feng, allow Michael to resume his attendance at commissions and hearings at City Hall, as long as he remains 150 feet from the Supervisor. The order becomes more protective on the second floor where the permitted distance is reduced to 30 feet, along with preventing Michael from using the bathrooms on that floor.

Michael read a prepared statement before the court which is posted in full on his blog, "Had I taken a photo of an ordinary gay citizen in a public men's room, and he complained to the legal authorities about it, I seriously doubt the complaint would have resulted in the investigation and prosecution I have faced."

Clearly this resolution could have been achieved without the disgraceful waste of time and resources had the Supervisor been willing to mediate the matter through the Human Rights Commission. But then again, Supervisor Wiener has shown he'd much rather intimidate the HRC from doing its job than be treated the same as other citizens.

Over the next couple days, We Like Mike will wind down with a few more posts by taking a look at media reports of the settlement. Also there will be some thoughts not only on this case, but the large case against Supervisor Scott Wiener's agenda of gentrification and big business. Stay tuned!

Israeli Supermodel Bar Refaeli Uses Public Men's Room for Queer Liberation
Apparently the political potential of using a public men's room to further the fight for queer liberation is catching on around the globe.

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, participating in her native country's LGBT Pride festivities, posted a photo of herself in a public men's room, in a subdued pose at a urinal, with the caption, “Gay, lesbians, bisexual, transgender ALL EQUAL TLV #gayweek.”

We Like Mike certainly supports the symbolic use public men's room as a tool of political provocation Let's hope others take to restrooms across the land revealing themselves as advocates for queer power, especially if they are in heels!


Bar Refaeli stands at a urinal in a photo she posted to support gay and transgender rights. (photo credit: Facebook)

The Latest Court Update: Petrelis Quiet at Hearing
Don't let the lag in updates to WeLikeMike fool you into thinking sanity had prevailed in the ongoing court case brought by Supervisor Wiener against Michael which is unfortunately still clogging the court's time.

Last week's Bay Area Reporter carried a report by James Patterson on Michael's latest court appearance under the heading "Petrelis Quiet at Hearing", a line you'll not often find in the gay press.

Here's an excerpt: "Petrelis, usually grandiloquent in the extreme, declined all questions from the Bay Area Reporter on the case and refrained from making any comments about Wiener, who was not present. Petrelis, who wore a "Silence=Death" button on his shirt, as he did in December, stood quietly as his attorney did all the talking.

'The $100,000 question,' St. Pierre said in response to a B.A.R. question, 'is if Petrelis has a First Amendment right to photograph Supervisor Wiener in a restroom and post it to his blog.' He said it was the question 'at the heart of the case' and declined to comment further."

ONLINE_Petrelis_20_13 2nd version

(Derek St. Pierre, center, and Michael Petrelis, right, at a December 2012 hearing in Superior Court. Credit: Rick Gerharter, BAR.)

Supervisor Wiener's insistence of using the D.A.'s office to settle this dispute, instead of mediating through the Human Rights Commission, may soon make this a $100,000 question after all the resources of the city's criminal justice system spent on this trial have been added up.

Michael's next court date is June 7 at 1:45 p.m. If the attorneys are unable to reach resolution by then, the matter will proceed to trial.

Scott Wiener on City Hall's Historic Toilets
Supervisor Scott Wiener's Twitter post and photo from January 9th was just brought to my attention:

Scott_Wiener Scott Wiener 9 Jan
"I thought I'd seen pretty much every form of historic preservation. I didn't realize there are historic toilets. pic.twitter.com/dlAOVCKz"

One has to wonder if one day there could be a historic designation of Michael's bathroom photo of Wiener which has resulted in an ongoing criminal case that continues to drain money and resources from the City's justice system. It's nice to see the Supervisor has a sense of humor about the closed restroom, I only wish he'd agree to a less wasteful resolution to his complaint against Michael. Here's the photo:


Photo posted on Supervisor Wiener's twitter account.

Scott Wiener's Ongoing Relationship with Petrelis
Given Supervisor Scott Wiener's refusal to accept any alternative to an expensive and wasteful jury trial in his criminal complaint against Michael Petrelis, it is surprising that he continues to send his monthly online newsletter to Michael.

As you can see by the attached screenshots, for the last five months Supervisor Wiener has sent Petrelis his monthly newsletter which details the many events and functions the Supervisor attended.

In fact you can read in the second line of text where it clearly states "You're receiving this email because of your relationship with Scott Wiener."

According to a recent SF Weekly profile, "Wiener's staffers note he's an insomniac who has been known to send out cogent and grammatically correct policy-related text messages at midnight, 3, and 6 a.m." Surely then the Supervisor, or one of his staffers,  should have no problem deleting Petrelis' email address from his list.

Let's hope that the recent reality checks by presiding Judge Feng who called the 150 foot distance of the stay away order "ridiculous" and has pressured the District Attorney's office to find a speedy resolution to this matter, will have some positive effect in Michael's court appearance tomorrow.





Home Demo at Wiener's Apartment, ACT UP SF Protests Evictions of PWAs
I'll admit that I was skeptical when I heard a group of young queers had resurrected the name ACT UP San Francisco. While there is still a great deal of work to be done on behalf of people with AIDS, I loathed to see another AIDS activist group focused on tax dollars for drugs without any accountability from these corporations who dominate our lack of health care in America, or demanding increases in AIDS money without holding service organizations accountable for the lack of services versus high salaries.

Taking it to the streets this weekend, members of the queer community under the revived banner of ACT UP San Francisco expressed their outrage over rising rental prices and evictions of people with AIDS, both a direct result of Supervisor Wiener's policies. Over 50 people protested on the front steps of Supervisor Wiener's apartment building, in front of a battalion of pedal pushing police officers, without incident. Wiener was served a mock eviction and then "funds" were raised to buy the Supervisor's influence via an "auction" of sex toys dubbed Wieners for Wiener.

There is a broad consensus amongst the queer community that Supervisor Wiener is more interested in powerful money interests than protecting the disabled and those vulnerable to the city's rapid gentrification. It's important to note that Michael Petrelis is not the only person challenging Supervisor Wiener. Yet his criminal case is still working its way through the clogged court system, despite Judge Feng demanding a resolution and calling the 150 stay away order "ridiculous." It's time to drop the charge against Petrelis (and the nudists while we're at it) so District Attorney Gascon can spend more time disclosing his travel gifts.

Photos from the demonstration, a few which are featured below, by Steve Rhodes can be found here and here.


Queers protest Wells Fargo at 16th & Mission for evicting people with AIDS.


Protester in front of Supervisor Wiener's home.


ACT UP protesters in front of Supervisor Wiener's home.


SFPD officers watch as protesters unfurl a banner in front of Supervisor Wiener's home.

Judge Calls Restraining Order "Ridiculous", Demands Resolution by April 29th
Michael's court appearance last Thursday, April 11th was a turning point in steering this unwarranted case away from an expensive jury trial and to another form of resolution.

According to supporters present in court, Judge Sam Feng stated that the
restraining order's stay-away distance of 150 feet, which is the equivalent of a football field and half, is ridiculous. In fact, he used the word ridiculous, on record, twice when referring to the protective order.

Furthermore, Judge Feng made it clear that the only way he will consider keeping the restraining order in place is if it is amended to a few feet, so that Michael may return to City Hall and resume his right to petition city government.

In closing, he requested that both the DA's office and defense attorney Derek St. Pierre engage in serious negotiations which will resolve this matter before the next court appearance on April 29th.

How refreshing it is that Judge Feng has placed a reality check on the unwarranted criminal prosecution at the behest of Supervisor Wiener. Not only is a 150 feet stay-away order ridiculous, but prosecuting a community activist over taking an innocuous photograph is equally ridiculous.

Let's hope the DA's office got the message loud and clear, so that it's resources can be used for more urgent matters and that Michael can resume his rights as a citizen.

You are viewing welikemike