News Briefs: Breed wants panel to study safe injection sites
compiled by Cynthia Laird
San Francisco is expected to convene a task force to study safe injection services, following an announcement by Board of Supervisors President London Breed.
Breed last week said she will be introducing legislation – likely in March – to establish the panel, which will be comprised of community leaders and public health and addiction experts.
The news follows signals from lesbian city Health Director Barbara Garcia that she's open to safe injection sites, in which homeless people and others who use drugs would do so in a supervised environment under a harm reduction model.
Additionally, Mayor Ed Lee said at a conference in Seattle last month that he is "open to the idea" of safe injection services if data show they save lives.
Gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy co-sponsored the legislation, according to a news release from Breed's office.
"You can walk outside the doors of City Hall and see people shooting up on the sidewalk or the steps of the main library," Breed said in the statement. "Orange plastic syringe caps and used needles litter our sidewalks, particularly downtown.
"It's unsafe. It's unhealthy. And we have an obligation to do better for those in need," Breed added.
The health department estimates that the city is home to some 22,000 IV drug users. The city has long had syringe access, or needle exchange programs, that have been remarkably successful in reducing the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C. Breed said that more must be done.
But Breed said that she isn't sure that safe injection sites, also known as supervised injection facilities, are the answer.
"To be honest, I have serious reservations about them," she said. "I don't want to make it easier for people to use drugs. I don't want to see neighborhoods divided as some residents worry safe injection will draw illegal activity into their community."
Breed said she knows the pain of drug abuse all too well, having lost a sister to an overdose.
"I know addiction can impact anyone," she said. "And I know how painfully difficult it is to get better."
Nevertheless, Breed said the city should study safe injection sites.
"We have to research. We have to work. We have to be more humane," she said.
Breed has requested the city attorney's office draft the legislation. Once approved, the task force would eventually report to the board and mayor on the potential downsides, obstacles, and opportunities associated with safe injection.
Our Family Coalition to hold rights workshop
Our Family Coalition will hold a "know your rights" workshop for activists and advocates Friday, February 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia Street in San Francisco.
The workshop will feature a legal expert who will discuss religious exemptions; a foster care and adoption expert; and a community organizer. People can ask questions and receive community resources on immigration, police safety, writing to elected officials, and family activist safety planning.
There is no cost to attend, but donations to OFC are appreciated. To sign up, visit https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/ourfamily/eventRegistration.jsp?event=58829.
LGBTQ cultural heritage strategy task force meeting
The San Francisco Planning Department and other city agencies will hold a meeting of the LGBTQ Cultural Heritage Strategy Task Force Wednesday, February 22 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 278.
According to a news release, interested people are welcome to attend the meeting.
The planning department is in the process of assembling members for the panel. It is working with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the entertainment commission to develop a citywide LGBTQ cultural heritage strategy. As previously reported, the task force's goal is to safeguard LGBTQ cultural heritage through a series of identified projects, procedures, programs, or techniques.
For more information, visit http://sf-planning.org/LGBTQStrategy.
Black History Month film screening
The Bay Area Freedom Socialist Party will have a screening of Ava DuVernay's acclaimed documentary "13th" Saturday, February 25 at 2 p.m. at New Valencia Hall, 747 Polk Street in San Francisco.
The film resonates with the Black Lives Matter protests demanding accountability for the racial profiling and killing of black and brown people by police in the U.S., organizers said, and argues that the "anti-slavery" 13th Amendment to the Constitution is actually used to criminalize and incarcerate blacks. It's been nominated for best documentary feature at the upcoming Academy Awards.
There will be a discussion following the film showing.
A door donation of $3-$5 is requested. Snacks will be available for a small donation. The venue is wheelchair accessible.
For more information, or to arrange child care, contact (415) 864-1278 or email@example.com.
BALIF gala coming up
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom will hold its 37th annual gala Friday, March 3 at the Bently Reserve, 301 Battery Street in San Francisco.
The evening, themed "We will Rise," is expected to draw over 600 judges, lawyers, lawmakers, legal professionals, students, and in-house counsel.
This year, BALIF will honor the Center for Immigration Protection with its Legal Services Award. The Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project will receive the Community Services Award.
Individual tickets are $150 and can be purchased at http://www.balif.org.
Tyler Clementi Foundation to hold SF event
The Tyler Clementi Foundation board and founder Jane Clementi will be in San Francisco next month for a planning conversation with new and current supporters to help the organization build a road map for bullying prevention in the new political environment.
The foundation was formed after the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi, 18, a gay student at Rutgers University who was the victim of cyber harassment after his dorm mate, Dharun Ravi, secretly pointed his computer's webcam at Clementi's bed during a date and then left. Ravi then invited other students to view it online. Although the activation of the camera failed, Clementi discovered what had happened via Twitter and jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
After a previous conviction was overturned, Ravi last year pleaded guilty to attempted invasion of privacy. He had already served time in jail, probation, and 300 hours of community service when he entered his plea.
The local gathering will take place Saturday, March 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street. In addition to the discussion, guests will enjoy light refreshments and hear baritone John Kelley sing songs from "Tyler's Suite."
Clementi foundation Executive Director Sean Kosofsky said that interested people should RSVP by February 24 as space is limited. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the foundation, visit http://www.tylerclementi.org.
Napa wine train ready for Pride ride
The Napa Valley Wine Train has announced its annual Pride Ride, an LGBT wine expert event, will take place Saturday, March 18.
Beginning with a sparkling wine reception at 5 p.m., this special event will feature some of the Bay Area's well-known LGBT winemakers and experts, each on-hand to assist guests in selecting wines to pair with their multi-course gourmet meal prepared by the wine trains executive chef, Donald Young.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Richmond-Ermet Aid Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that raises funds for AIDS services, hunger programs, and programs for underserved youth in the Bay Area.
Tickets are $252 per person for the Gourmet Express package and $352 per person for the Vista Dome experience. Both include train fare, the multi-course meal, one glass of sparkling wine, and three glasses of additional wine. For reservations and more information, visit http://www.winetrain.com/package/gay-pride.
For anyone in San Francisco, round-trip transportation is available for $50 on a luxury bus that will pick passengers up at the Cafe, 2369 Market Street, at 3:30 p.m. and depart from the Napa Valley Wine Train station at midnight.