By Tom Temprano

This week SF Weekly ran a cover story on now defunct sex-worker serving organization Solace SF. The gist of the story is that a well-intentioned woman used cupcakes and free makeup to outreach to sex workers and loop them in with services that her non-profit provided. Problem was, said non-profit wasn’t even a real non-profit and the services that they were purported to provide didn’t extend too far beyond the cupcakes.

48hillstomstownWhile a sad story, an even sadder story was the missed opportunity for the Weekly, which to its credit ran a sex-worker positive piece, to expose the great work real non-profits are doing in the sex worker community. The only mention of St. James Infirmary was to allude to the fact that they were somehow unequipped to fill the void left by the shuttering of Solace.

St. James Infirmary has been serving sex workers for more than 15 years, and though I can’t speak to the baking prowess of the executive director and good friend of mine, Stephany Ashley, I do know that they provide high-quality healthcare and support services to their clients. I’m as big a fan of cupcakes as the next person, but I’d rather have a clinician than a confectioner any day.

PS – show the fine folks at St. James a little love and donate a few dollars today.

In what is sure to be the year’s biggest shocker, the War on Drugs is an abject failure – at least that’s what a group of panelists including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, DA George Gascon and worlds coolest billionaire Richard Branson declared on Tuesday night. Prior to this revelation I had been convinced that Sir Branson’s greatest contribution to society was an airline that allowed me to order multiple bags of Chex Mix from the comfort of my own seat. His strong calls for drug policy reform, including this op-ed in the Chronicle, have shown me there’s much more to the man his snack purveying skills and his friendship with Mariah Carey.

Fortunately for Branson and all of California, really, it’s looking like 2014 could be a big year for shaking up our archaic criminalization system and the prison industrial complex that feeds it.

The first major change could come through the state legislature thanks to Senator Holly Mitchell, who has introduced SB1010 a bill that would equalize the sentences for possession and sale of crack cocaine with those of powder cocaine. Reasonable people have long-argued that this sentencing disparity was nothing short of racist as the higher crack-cocaine sentences were disproportionately doled out to African-Americans.

An even bigger opportunity for change could come before the voters this November when they get a chance to weigh in on the California’s Safe Neighborhoods And Schools Act, a ballot initiative that would change many common nonviolent felonies into misdemeanors.  This initiative, which is supported by DA Gascon, would make nearly 20,000 people currently incarcerated eligible for release and would spare thousands of Californian’s a prison sentence every year. Doing this will save the state billions, money that can go into building things like schools instead of more prisons because that’s what enlightened societies do.

I have no real commentary to add about the terrible allegations of corruptions being leveled against Senator Leland Yee. All I have is the shared sense of shock that many folks across our city are feeling. The people most on my mind at the moment are the hard-working and dedicated staffs who have worked for Senator Yee in his legislative offices and on his campaigns. Some of the most honest and intelligent people I know have dutifully served the public through his office and they don’t deserve to be caught up in the dark cloud that this has cast.

 

TOM’S TOP TWO THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND

1)     An Evening With Janet Mock. Friday at the SF LGBT Center from 5pm-8pm.

Janet Mock is a fucking hero. Seriously. She’s been an outspoken advocate for trans visibility and equality who has been unafraid to speak about her past as a sex worker to spur a real conversation about economic issues facing our community. This event is sold out but you can get in by volunteering, which I strongly suggest you do.

2)     Work MORE! #6. Opening night Friday at Somarts from 7-10pm.

Drag queens meet artists, artists, drag queens. Lines will be blurred for the sixth time as Work MORE pairs drag performers with non-drag artists to blow all of our minds. The list of collaborators and curators is a who’s who of San Francisco’s queer cultural scene which kind of makes this Friday’s opening our version of the Met Ball. DRESS ACCORDINGLY!