Author: Alfredo Casuso


Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications,

The public safety initiative will focus on Union Square and other key tourist areas to support the City’s economic recovery, building on the recent expansion of community ambassadors. 

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed joined Police Chief William Scott, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, and business and community leaders to kick off the 2022 Safe Shopper initiative in and around Union Square for the holiday season. The City will again deploy additional police and community ambassadors to the area for enhanced public safety to maintain a safe shopping experience for visitors, workers and residents.

“The safety of our residents, workers, and visitors is the City’s top priority, and I want to thank our public safety partners for taking every precautionary measure to ensure a successful holiday season,” said Mayor London Breed. “We are taking lessons learned from last year to inform this year’s safety strategy in Union Square and the surrounding areas. As we continue to work on our economic recovery, our public safety staff and community partners are focused on making sure everyone has a welcoming and positive experience supporting our local businesses.”

Following the 2021 mass organized retail theft incident in Union Square that brought felony charges to multiple people, Mayor Breed announced a new safety initiative in tandem with the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) rollout of the Community Ambassador program, which is comprised of civilian retired police officers hired for their training and experience in community engagement. After the launch of this effort last year, SFPD reported a significant decrease in crime from November 20 through December 6 compared to the preceding 16-day period:

67% decrease in assault
91% decrease in burglary
82% decrease in larceny/theft
100% decrease in motor vehicle theft
Compared to last year the City has not seen the same elevation in crime going into this holiday season, largely attributed to a scaled-up presence in the Union Square area which has helped deter criminal activity. The goal of the Safe Shopper initiative is to continue these efforts.

“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to public safety. We want everyone in our city to have a safe and happy holiday season,” said Police Chief Bill Scott. “Our department is committed to working collaboratively with our elected officials, city agencies, the business community, SF travel, and residents of our community to ensure the safety of everyone living in and visiting San Francisco. Whether you’re coming here to shop, to dine, or visit one of our many historical landmarks, we are committed to keeping everyone in San Francisco safe.”

“I am proud to join Mayor Breed, the San Francisco Police Department and our many community and business partners to ensure a safe holiday experience for our residents, workers and visitors,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “I look forward to visiting Union Square every year with my family during the holidays, for the great shopping, amazing lights, ice skating and so much more. Keeping each other safe is important all the time, everywhere, but especially important during the holidays. Addressing crimes against retailers and businesses is essential to restoring public safety. While the goal is to prevent crime, we stand ready to prosecute criminal behavior.”

Similar to last year, the City will work with SFPD to limit points of entry on Union Square with some street closures to automobile traffic as added safety measures. In addition to a ramped-up police presence in and around Union Square, the City plans to increase patrol in Union Square parking garages by SFPD, the Park Rangers, and security personnel. More SFPD Community Ambassadors will be deployed to Union Square as part of the Safe Shopper initiative.

Last month, Mayor Breed announced the expansion of the City’s community ambassador program throughout downtown BART/MUNI stations and key tourist areas, to include hiring more SFPD Community Ambassadors as part of ongoing work to address public safety incidents and revive San Francisco’s economic core. The expansion will also include an increase to Ambassador presence throughout Union Square with an emphasis on adding posts to Market Street between 4th and 5th streets by Thanksgiving.

“San Francisco has planned an exciting, innovative, and welcoming holiday shopping season with special events and activities lined up for the entire family. As we kick our holidays into gear, we want to make this special time of the year is easy and fun for the thousands of visitors that will visit Union Square and spend local this season,” said Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We proud of the collective efforts of our public safety agencies and community ambassadors working in collaboration to create a festive environment for guests and businesses alike and I am grateful for their commitment to the Safe Shopper Initiative which is essential to our economic recovery.”

“San Francisco’s Union Square is synonymous with the holidays for San Franciscans, Bay Area residents, and visitors alike,” said Marisa Rodriguez, Executive Director of Union Square Alliance. “As such, safety continues to be a top priority this holiday season. We want to thank our Mayor London Breed, Police Chief Scott, new District Attorney Brook Jenkins, and our City leaders for ensuring a safe and welcoming holiday experience for all to enjoy.”

Union Square is a worldwide destination for tourists offering over 3 million square feet of retail space to include 37 hotels, which is essential to the City’s economic recovery and core to retail and tourism sectors. The area will transform into the epicenter of San Francisco’s holiday programming.

Earlier this month, Mayor Breed joined Macy’s for the official Holiday Tree lighting signaling the official start of the season. The newly opened Safeway Ice Skating Rink will complement the Holiday Market at Hallidie Plaza, designed to offer a festive environment featuring handmade gifts, food and beverages, and live entertainment by local vendors. The seasonal programming will help culminate the “Winter Wanderland” Campaign led by the Union Square Alliance.

The City will also offer free viewing parties for the upcoming World Cup games in Union Square on November, 25, 26, and 27th. For more information, please visit


BuildOUT CA and L.A. Metro to Host Event at L.A. Union Station to Discuss LGBTQ+ Contractors Participation in Metro Contract Opportunities

Media Contact:

David Perry & Associates, Inc. / (415) 676-7007 /

Jose Ubaldo, Metro Media Relations (213) 922-3087 

BuildOUT CA and L.A. Metro to Host Event at L.A. Union Station to Discuss LGBTQ+ Contractors Participation in Metro Contract Opportunities

3 November 2022 –  Los Angeles, CA: BuildOUT CA and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will convene an event – today, Thursday, November 3, 2022 –  at Los Angeles Union Station to discuss a historic invitation for LGBTQ+ contractors to do business with Metro. 

BuildOUT CA, the nation’s premier LGBTQ+ construction industry association and Metro, one the nation’s largest transportation agencies, will collaborate for the first time to increase the pool of qualified LGBTQ+ contractors, consultants, and material suppliers bidding on design, construction and maintenance contract opportunities issued by the agency.

“This collaboration is historic on a number of levels,” stated Paul Pendergast, President of BuildOUT California. “In addition to safely moving over 800,000 passengers a day, Metro is one of California’s largest economic engines with an annual budget of over $8 billion, which generates thousands of jobs within the design and construction industry,” he stated.  “Until recently, the contributions of LGBTQ+ businesses and workers within the construction industry have been invisible. This collaboration is going to be a ‘game-changer’ on the statewide, national, and international level.”

The event to launch this landmark collaboration will take place on Thursday, November 3, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Union Station’s Ticket Concourse Room. Interested parties wishing to attend this event must register at

“At Metro, we are always looking to establish new partnerships with small, disadvantaged and veteran business enterprises,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “BuildOUT CA provides us with another opportunity for us to partner with qualified firms, especially women seeking Metro contract opportunities.”   

Metro will invite BuildOUT California’s LGBTQ+ & Allied Associates to participate in technical assistance training programs, small business support services and events focused on building relationships with new, and future, prime contractors who are building competitive teams to pursue contracts in the competitive bidding process at Metro. Metro and BuildOUT California will also distribute materials related to contract opportunities in planning, design, engineering, construction and program management, cost controls, construction services, material supplies, and maintenance.  

“One of the ways we’re focused on inclusion and belonging is by ensuring our contractors are reflective of the communities we serve, and that includes LGBTQ+, minority, women-owned and other small business enterprises. Metro is working with BuildOUT California to ensure that all communities have access to the multitude of opportunities available through contracting with Metro,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins.

“My construction and project management firm has grown substantially as a result of Metro’s SBE Prime programs and their commitment to small and disadvantaged firms,” stated Marcy Szarama, President of Los Angeles-based corporation Destination Enterprises. “As a woman, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, we have been able to break through some of the concrete ceilings found within the construction industry, but we have a long way to go,” she added.  “Metro has so much construction work coming up as we prepare for the 2028 Olympics that we need to continue building the pool of qualified firms bidding on these projects and LGBTQ+ firms bring great talent, innovation and cost-effective services to the construction industry.”

Metro serves as transportation planner and coordinator, designer, builder, and operator for Los Angeles County and BuildOUT California ( is the world’s largest industry association dedicated to the sustainable development of LGBTQ+ & Allied businesses in Architecture, Engineering, Construction-services, and Real Estate Development.

Metro’s Diversity & Economic Opportunity Department (DEOD) is a unit of Vendor/Contract Management. DEOD is responsible for all of Metro’s small business programs, including MetroConnect.  Its role is to champion ingenuity, commitment and can-do spirit within Metro and to the larger community. It does this by notifying about contract opportunities, promoting transparency in our procurement processes, advocating for a level-playing field and fostering improved communications. For more information about DEOD, visit:

Interviews Scheduled Upon Request:

Paul Pendergast, President, BuildOUT California  

Marcy Szarama, President, Destination Enterprises & Co-Chair, BuildOUT California Transportation Working Group (TWG)

About Metro

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is building the most ambitious transportation infrastructure program in the United States and is working to greatly improve mobility through its Vision 2028 Plan. Metro is the lead transportation planning and funding agency for L.A. County and carries about 800,000 boardings daily on a fleet of 2,200 low-emission buses and six rail lines.

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at,, and and

About BuildOUT California

BuildOUT California is the world’s first LGBTQ+ Industry Association dedicated to the sustainable growth of LGBTQ+-owned & certified businesses, and our allies, in the fields of Architecture, Engineering, Construction Services, Real Estate Development, and Related Industries.

“Queer the Vote” Ads Aim to Increase Voting Among LGBTQ+ Community Members Younger than 30

Media Contact: David Perry / (415) 676-7007 /
Frank Rodriguez: (213) 793-1244 /

“Queer the Vote” Ads Aim to Increase Voting Among LGBTQ+ Community Members Younger than 30

31 October 2022 — San Francisco, CA: Queer the Vote is a series of 8 online ads aimed at getting under-30 LGBTQ+ to vote on November 8th.

With a conservative wave threatening our rights, photographer Blake Little, graphic artist Sean Adams and copywriters Jeffrey Hilbert and Frank Rodriguez felt compelled to do something.

Blake Little explains, “If every single young LGBTQ+ American voted, this could make the crucial difference in tight elections around the country. I want queer youth to know they have a powerful voice in our political arena.” 

The group is hoping people will repost and retweet the ads to get the message out before the election. The diverse group of individuals pictured in the ads were happy to approve the use o their images for our little grassroots campaign.

Why is this effort important? Many midterm races are going to be close and we need every vote to safe LGBTQ+ rights and our Democracy.

According to a 2022 HRC study, in the 2022 Midterm election, “LGBTQ+ identified people account for one-in ten (11.3%) people in the voting eligible population (adults age 18+) in the United States. Younger generations are much more likely to identify as LGBTQ+, including 27% of Generation Z (born 1997-2003) 15.6% of Millennials (born 1981 – 1996)”

Ken Borelli of “Italifornians” Raves About “Upon This Rock”

I want to share this book from an author who lives in San Francisco and Palm Springs. It’s called Upon This Rock, by first-time novelist David Eugene Perry.

Upon This Rock won a Silver Medal Ben Franklin Independent Book Publishers Award for 2020 and first prize for Best Gay Novel of the Year (2021) from the San Francisco Book Festival. Now, the book is in development as a screenplay and the author is at work on the sequel with three of the same characters, inspired by Grazalema, a small town in southern Spain.

I am just finishing a  second reading of the book. I think The Italifornian membership would enjoy hearing about the novel. To sum up a key theme, and to paraphrase an old Mexican dicho: “Poor Mexico so far from God, so close to the United States.” One could say the very same thing about Italy: “Poor Italy so far from God so close to the Vatican.” The novel certainly reinforces that observation! Likewise, the new research in recently released archives around the world and especially the Vatican is drawing a lot of attention.

Personally, I was curious about the book because it takes place in a favorite location in Italy, Orvieto in the Province of Umbria. and set among the amazing frescos of Luca Signorelli at the  Duomo. Once into the book I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of tourist stereotypes about Italy as the novel unfolded.

For those who have visited the Cathedral, it really leaves a lasting impression and, of course, enhances the backdrop of the storylines.  The tale also includes a leitmotif of Pope Clement’s refuge in Orvieto during the sack of Rome in 1527 and weaves this theme into the current refugee crisis in Europe today.

It’s also a very well-crafted story that goes beyond a married couple, Lee and his partner Andrea, who intended to spend a sabbatical in Orvieto and then off to Ireland to lay to rest the ashes of a friend and mentor, who was a Gay Episcopal Bishop from San Francisco. Lee and Adriano soon learn of a tragic event a year prior to their visit that still resonated with the community – the death of a well-liked novitiate who was denied entry into the priesthood for mysterious reasons and under direct orders from Rome. He became so distraught he committed suicide.  The tragic event held special significance for Lee who lost his family in the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  

As the story unfolds, the couple finds themselves in a very complex conspiracy that reflects many layers of modern Italy and its relationship to Citta Vaticano, including the role of women in the church, Gay clergy, and the intrigue of both liberal and conservative dissidents. There are some Gay-themed romances afoot and conspiratorial mayhem. culminating in a conversation with Pope Francis. By the time you are at the Duomo in Orvieto you are skillfully hooked into the whole whodunit and the preverbal “why”.

The promo for Upon This Rock was written by Armistead Maupin and Ericka Atkinson, among others. (The novel itself has as many memorable characters as a Maupin novel.)  Mr. Perry, the author, was also the host and producer of 10% TV, an LGBTQ-themed TV show.

Upon This Rock is also now very timely as new elections in Italy are predicting a move to a consolidated nationalist government, formed by the Fratelli D’Italia coalition led by Giorgia Meloni. It is extreme rightist, and concern has been raised about what this means for human rights in Italy among other issues. Upon This Rock helps to appreciate some of the complexities of modern Italy along with telling a timely and well-honed tale.  It is also an engaging way to understand the many levels and complexities of post-World War II Italy.  I could easily envision the book as a mini-film series

Ken Borelli / Executive Editor, The Italifornian

Click here to purchase your copy of “Upon This Rock”

The 75th Anniversary of Saving the Cable Cars

Media Contact:  DP&A, Inc. / David Perry (415) 676-7007 / 



Market Street Railway in partnership with
the Union Square Alliance, Fisherman’s Wharf CBD,
and San Francisco Beautiful present
“Empowering Women who Empowered San Francisco,”
The 75th Anniversary of Saving the Cable Cars.


The 75th Anniversary of Saving the Cable Cars


Wednesday, October 26: 11am – 1pm 

11am: Remarks at Powell & Market Cable Car Turnaround and display of newly restored 1947 Muni bus that was supposed to replace the Powell cable cars


  • Emcee, Marisa Rodriguez, Union Square Alliance
  • Mayor London N. Breed
  • Gwyneth Borden, SFMTA
  • Tilly Chang, SFCTA

11:25am: Cable Car Ride to Friedel Klussmann Memorial Turnaround in Aquatic Park 

11:50am: Remarks, Rededication of the Klussmann turnaround, and official launching of San Francisco’s newest Cable Car # 8. Speakers:

  • Emcee: Carmen Clark, Market Street Railway 
  • Darcy Brown, San Francisco Beautiful
  • Sina von Reitzenstein, Fisherman’s Wharf CBD
  • Melita Issa, Ghirardelli Square



Friedel Klussmann was a pioneering civic activist, a woman taking on a male-dominated government and business community to save what we now understand to be our most precious civic asset, the SF Cable Car. In 1947, Klussmann led the way in establishing the cable cars as the rumbling heart of San Francisco. Years later, this resulted in her founding of the esteemed San Francisco nonprofit San Francisco Beautiful.

Klussmann’s campaign took off, gaining international publicity and swelling support for the Cable Cars, now the first National Historic Monument that moves and carries passengers. The measure they got on the November 1947 ballot to save the Powell cables passed better than 3-1, a stunning result. The momentum from this led to the City buying the California and Hyde lines when the private company that owned them went broke in 1951. By 1957, the system was consolidated into what we enjoy today. Just a few years after her campaign, the iconic ballad “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was written that talked of “little Cable Cars that climb halfway to the stars.”

In recent years, SFMTA has significantly improved the appearance and maintenance of the Cable Car fleet and machinery. Cable Car 8 (behind Cable Car 1 in the setup) is their latest triumph, rebuilt from the frame up and painted in Muni’s 1947 cable car colors. Had Friedel Klussmann’s campaign not succeeded, Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf would likely not be the vital areas they are today. The Cable Cars continue to play a critical role in connecting key destinations in San Francisco, for All to enjoy.

Today’s event serves to remind San Franciscans of the importance of continuing to make excellent operation and maintenance of this priceless civic asset a top priority. On the same 1947 ballot as the Save the Cable Cars measure was a bond issue to rebuild Muni, which heavy use during World War II had left worn out. That measure passed and created the zero-emission trolley bus network Muni enjoys today, with many other benefits. Voter support for transit funded projects is critical to San Francisco’s recovery, starting with renewal of the half-cent transportation sales tax, Prop. L, on the ballot this coming November 8. Please vote “yes” on Prop L.

About Market Street Railway
Market Street Railway is a nonprofit advocate for preserving historic transit in San Francisco. In its 45-year history, it was the driving force behind the return of vintage streetcars to Market Street and their extension to Fisherman’s Wharf: the F-line, which is today America’s most popular traditional streetcar line. It has helped Muni acquire more than two dozen vintage streetcars, cable cars, and buses for the City’s heritage transit fleet and undertaken many collaborative projects with SFMTA, which it serves as nonprofit preservation partner. Named for a series of past transit companies that served generations of San Franciscans, today’s Market Street Railway also operates the free San Francisco Railway Museum at 77 Steuart Street, across from the Ferry Building, and offers access to hundreds of stories and thousands of photographs about transit history in San Francisco on its website,

About the Union Square Alliance:
The Union Square Alliance serves members and creates a high-quality visitor experience by managing and activating public spaces, attracting new investment, and advocating for the district’s future success. Union Square is the vibrant heart of San Francisco and an international destination where visitors come to enjoy exceptional retail experiences, luxury hotels, world-class cultural institutions, and great public spaces found only in the City by the Bay. A lively 27-block community surrounding Union Square Park in the heart of San Francisco makes up the Union Square Alliance. It is bordered on the north by Bush Street, on the east by Kearny Street, on the south by Market Street and on the west Taylor Street. For more information on the Alliance, go to