When San Francisco’s HIV/AIDS historical
narrative is compiled, the final week of November 2001 will be
remembered as one of its crucial junctures. The week’s concentrated
fallout from two decades of local HIV prevention policies roared in with
ominous high winds: First, Dr. Tom Coates, director of UCSF’s Center for
Aids Prevention, startled the gay community with the blunt suggestion
that prevention programs possibly should be discarded since HIV
infection rates are increasing. Two days later ACT UP activists Michael
Petrelis and David Pasquarelli were arrested for stalking and making
terrorist threats against reporters and city health officials who
earlier in the month had revealed the rise in syphilis rates in the
city. The duo’s long-standing abrasive tactics and contention that AIDS
is not caused by HIV has scant appeal among most gays, but their
criticism of a self-perpetuating and increasingly irrelevant AIDS
industry is in keeping with Coates’ own “AIDS Inc.” characterization of
the myriad of ineffective prevention programs.
The Bay Area Reporter
editorialized that a community debate on the future of HIV prevention
was indeed needed to determine the efficacy and appropriateness of
various programs and how funding should be allocated. But it also
pointedly evoked the specter of a Fifth Column within the community,
detailing the recent efforts of Petrelis and Pasquarelli to persuade
anti-gay members of Congress to initiate investigations of federally
funded HIV-prevention programs.
In the Examiner’s December 5 issue, ACT UP ran a full-page public
statement ad from Petrelis and Pasquarelli. Apparently it is the first
in a planned series of position papers. The pair denied the charges
lodged against them, calling them a distortion fomented and coordinated
by “powerful AIDS and media industries.” They accused this alleged cabal
of attempting to “exploit the World Trade Center calamity” in order to
create a perception of dissident AIDS activists as terrorists. Reports
of surging syphilis rates, they asserted, are false, and the ad
concluded with a plea to the public to resist any future legislative
efforts to quarantine gay men with AIDS.
Hey, got a network for us? For the past year that has been KRON’s
plea since being sundered from NBC. And while there’s speculation that
its former patron will bring it back into the flock at some point, KRON
would be well advised to reaffiliate with a more contiguous neighbor.
Just across Van Ness, in the Tenderloin, the station no longer has
many friends. This month’s Street Sheet royally shreds KRON’s four-part
October series on homelessness as a welter of misrepresentation and
scapegoating. Written in a quasi–“open letter” format with 20 homeless
organizations as signatories, the letter requests an apology to the
homeless community and a retraction of the series’ inaccuracies. More
than just a hint of possible litigation is conveyed.
One segment highlight is illustrative: KRON speculated that a yearly
income of $70,000 could be made panhandling. This figure came about from
one man’s statement that he made $200 on one particular day. Yes, you
guessed it: KRON sat right down and multiplied by 365. One can only
wonder if Pete Wilson helped with the tabulation, or if he had already
gone elsewhere to explain the world to the world.
Litigation could also be in the offing if the city’s parking garages
fail to provide bicycle racks. More than 30 months after the law went
into effect, a recent survey shows 70 percent of garages are not yet in
compliance, reports Tube Times, the newsletter of the San Francisco
The Department of Parking and Traffic plans to meet with garage
owners to advise them on the best ways to comply with the law. A refusal
to implement DPT advice allows the Bicycle Coalition to file a complaint
of noncompliance with the Planning Department. If the situation is not
remedied there, the City Attorney initiates a lawsuit.
SFBC estimates that full compliance with the law could solve most of
the employee parking problems in downtown San Francisco. The city’s bike
info hotline is 585-BIKE.
would be difficult to find a more united urban community than Bernal
Heights. And proven, abiding institutions — the sort you find in
neighborhoods that fight to preserve spatial sanity and eschew
chain-store colonialism — are the fulcrum for such communities. In
Bernal, the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center has fulfilled that role
In 2001 BHNC received more than $48,000 from its 677 members and
supporters, the Center discloses in a statement in the current New
Bernal Journal. That sum is up 13 percent from 2000.
The Center brags that it affects the lives of everyone on the hill.
More important, reciprocated community support over the years has made
believers of foundations, as well as government and corporate funders.
Solidarity — a word many in Bernal use with its original connotations,
and without flinching — is money in the bank.
The latest example of this dynamic is the acquisition of HUD funding
by co-developers BHNC and Mission Housing Development Corporation (MHDC)
to construct 37 apartments in the Crocker Amazon for seniors over 62
with incomes less than 50 percent of the San Francisco median.
HUD will also subsidize the building’s operating expenses. Seniors
will pay only 30 percent of their actual income for rent. The residents
will live independently, but BHNC and MHDC will provide supportive
services for them as they age.
Just another year on the hill, it could be said.
odds & ends
The Independent Press Association emails an announcement of El Andar
Prize for Literary Excellence, for works that depict Latino life and
experience. The deadline for applications is December 31, 2001. For more
information, call Julie Reynolds at 831.457.8353 or email her at
guidelines appear online at
Doug Loranger offers a reminder that the supes’ Housing,
Transportation, and Land Use Committee will meet on December 13 to
discuss board president Tom Ammiano’s proposed six-month moratorium on
wireless antennas. Ammiano’s office has been working with
representatives of the industry, city attorney’s office, Planning
Department, and public to revise the city’s current antenna-siting