Wiener charges blogger with taking potty photo

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I don’t even know what to do with this except report it and tell you some background. Because it’s just strange, all around.

Short story: Sup. Scott Wiener’s pressing criminal charges against a blogger who tried to take a photo of him peeing in the City Hall men’s room.

Michael Petrelis, the mad-man blogger who once called me for several days straight in the middle of the night to scream “your wife has syphillis!” into the phone, was at City Hall Oct. 26 with gay Honduran activist Erick Martinez. At some point, he decided to go into the public restroom on the second floor -- and noticed that Sup. Scott Wiener was in there, using the urinal.

Petrelis has been fighting with Wiener over a lot of issues, including the nudity ban and Wiener’s efforts to remove benches from the plaza at 18th and Castro, and on the issues, he’s been right. He has a history of demanding accountability from the LGBT power structure, sometimes in ways that are not exactly polite -- but he’s still a valuable gadfly, and I’ve gotten over the insanity of the late-night calls (more on that below).

But in this case, Wiener was just trying to take a piss -- and Petrelis lifted his phone and tried to take a picture. Wiener’s wiener, I guess. Supervisor taking a leak. I don’t know exactly what he was going after, but the phone didn’t work right and he couldn’t get the photo until Wiener had buttoned up his pants and moved over to the sink, where he was going to brush his teeth.

Instead, he saw Petrelis and picked up the brush and toothpaste and left -- but not before the intrepid blogger snapped a pic, which wound up on the Petrelis Files blog. It’s not a terribly attractive or terribly scandalous photo; guy with a toothbrush. Whatever.
But Wiener was, well, pissed -- and I don’t blame him. We were always taught that you can take journalistic photos without the subject’s permission in a place where people have no expectation of privacy; if there’s any place in the world where a reasonable person would expect privacy, the bathroom would seem to quality.

Wiener called the cops -- or in this case, the Sheriff’s Office, since that’s who patrols City Hall.

Wiener’s been complaining (for no reason, really) about the way the deputy sheriffs have responded to the protests over his nudity ban (come on -- the nudists really aren’t a threat to anyone). But he asked for an investigation, filed a statement, and got the department to take it seriously enough to bring the matter to the district attorney for possible prosecution.

And the DA has filed charges.

Petrelis surrendered and was booked Nov. 29 on suspicion of violating Penal Code Section 647 (j) 1, which is typically used to prosecute peeping Toms: “Any person who looks through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, camcorder, or mobile phone, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside.”

Bail was initially set at $25,000, which is astonishingly high for this level of crime, but Petrelis and his lawyer, Derek St. Pierre, got it reduced and Petrelis was cited and released on his own recognizance.

Wiener’s not talking; his office sent over a statement detailing the facts of the case and stating that Petrelis ... has political disagreements with me, has a history of inappropriate and harassing behavior.” Both of those facts are undeniably true.

St. Pierre, though, thinks this is a huge waste of criminal justice resources. “I’m surprised that the D.A.’s Office decided to charge this case,” he told me. “I don’t see this as illegal conduct.”

In fact, he said, “the most concerning part of the case is that Wiener references that face that they have political disagreements. That suggests to me that political differences are driving the supervisor’s concerns.”

Maybe -- or maybe he thinks his privacy really was invaded, and that Petrelis needs to be held accountable, too. As I said, I can’t blame him; Petrelis was acting like a total asshole. You can fight with Wiener, as I often do, and you can make speeches and denounce and interrupt meetings at City Hall and do all manner of impolite protests, but Jesus -- the guy deserves the right to take a pee in peace.

That said, I have to wonder: Is this really worth turning into a criminal case? Did Wiener really have to take it that far? Petrelis, who loves attention, isn’t going to back down. “We will be fighting this case,” St. Pierre told me, starting with an arraignment hearing Dec. 5, at which I can pretty much guarantee the plea will be “not guilty.”

So we might have a full-blown trial here, and (as a fan of restorative justice) I’m not so sure that the criminal courts are the best way to resolve this. You’d think they could go to Community Boards. Wiener could agree to personally lower the rainbow flag to half-staff every now and then and Petrelis could agree to clean pigeon shit off some newsracks. Or something.

Because I don’t imagine that even Wiener wants to take the stand in a public trial and face cross-examination by Petrelis. The only winners at that spectacle would be the reporters.

PS: I don’t even remember exactly why Petrelis started the late-night calls to my home phone; it was around the same time he was calling lots of other people. I think he was mad that the Guardian ran (or didn’t run) some kind of ad around the doctor who was in charge of STD control at the Department of Public Health. I think there was some report about syphillis among gay men in SF that Petrelis didn’t like. I just remember that my son was two years old and sick and we were having a hell of time getting him to sleep and just when he would finally nod off the phone would ring and Petrelis would yell at me about syphillis. I’d hang up and he’d call back ten seconds later and yell again. I finally paid the phone company $2 a month to block his calls.

I was not among those who sought a restraining order or went to the police; that’s not my style. I was furious, but I knew it would pass, and eventually it did.

So will this, Scott.

Comments

Super Sensitive Scott Wiener!!

Sounds like he needs to be ribbed for pleasure.

Posted by Patrick Connors on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

At the urinal, in the stall, sure, one has an expectation of privacy. In the two private, lockable bathrooms around the corner near room 263, one has absolute privacy.

One former straight Supervisor liked to continue conversations as he was pissing into the urinal while others were washing up.

The bar on expectation of privacy for public figures has always been lower than for civilians.

This is evocative of a good dose of equal parts Pontius Pilate and Lady MacBeth.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

I've had those conversations with that straight supervisor. It was rather constructive.

Posted by common sense SF on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

At the urinal, in the stall, sure, one has an expectation of privacy. In the two private, lockable bathrooms around the corner near room 263, one has absolute privacy.

One former straight Supervisor liked to continue conversations as he was pissing into the urinal while others were washing up.

The bar on expectation of privacy for public figures has always been lower than for civilians.

This is evocative of a good dose of equal parts Pontius Pilate and Lady MacBeth.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

What a shock: Mike Petrelis acts like a jerk-off, and now finally someone calls bullshit on him. Life's rough - when you break the law and take pictures of people taking a piss, you can get in trouble. Looks like Mikey poo will get the lesson taught that clearly his mother, father, and community never bothered to teach - you fuck with people, you can get in trouble and you face consequences.

Posted by Pike Metrelis on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

Petrelis: Another asswipe super-charged political blogger invading people's privacy. Good on Weiner for calling him out.

But he'll love all the publicity.

In contrast withTim, who apparently doesn't mind getting calls at midnight from nutjobs.

Petrelis is a Progressive NutJob, you see. He's one of our nutjobs. So no harm done.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 7:37 am

I think it'll be fun to see Weinie cross-examined by Petrelis.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:23 am

that joke was a real weaner, Greg ;)

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

Jason Grant Garza here .... wow, Mr. Wiener has every right to express NOT only his displeasure and to go to seek charges pressed; however, my question would be WHY does he get his actions taken seriously and prosecuted by the DA; however, when I went to the DA to press charges and arrest the Department of Public Health for DENIAL of MEDICAL CARE, ACCESS and ACCOMMODATION and CRIMINAL FRAUD etc ... I CAN get no ACTION ? See youtube video San Francisco Department of Public Health (CRIMINAL FRAUD ) ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo

Don't believe me ... go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eN41g_veF8&feature=plcp (youtube) or type in San Francisco DA Investigations Part 1 to see. Then look at part two ...

While on the subject of hurt feelings, law breaking activity or better yet a SENSE of MORALS or ETHICS ... what happened to case # 11048 where Mr. Wiener WAS FOUND GUILTY of OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT by the MINISTRY of SUNSHINE (sunshine task force) for conduct BEFORE ROSS's witch hunt? DID he recuse himself before the vote to have clean hands, no conflict of interest, etc? So he is upset over a possible violation ... what about his (Official Misconduct, the voting on Ross) ???

Let us NOT forget Mr. Wiener involvement in the SUNSHINE FIASCO ... where has he been during the 5 to 6 months that the MINISTRY of SUNSHINE was in a "NUCLEAR WINTER" and not CONVENED? Were the VICTIMS NOT entitled to JUSTICE? Did he in all his excellence ... state, question, demand ... HOW CAN THIS BE ... ARE THESE INDIVIDUALS NOT DUE PUBLIC RECORDS and the ASSURANCE? Type my name into google or seek more article here regarding sunshine, mr. wiener, dph, etc. Now, that the "NUCLEAR WINTER" has been lifted ... expect the SF Bay Guardian to write articles again; however, during the FAILURE (NUCLEAR WINTER) where were the articles? Please remember the "PRINCIPLE EVIDENT INTENT" ... and watch its example.

So go to youtube or type in http:///www.myownprivateguantanamo.com to see JUST HOW THE CITY handles its lawbreaking activity or youtube to see more RECENT law breaking activity; however, WHERE is my help, advocacy or even the DA prosecuting ... what a FARCE.

So while you are at youtube ... WATCH my other videos regarding the DISTRICT ATTORNEY ... run, hide, gather your children ... however, RIGGED PROCESS, EMPTY SPEECH, RISK MANAGEMENT, INHUMANITY and NO HOPE is what you will find at the DA UNLESS you are Wiener ... let us ALL cheer and believe. What a CROCK ...

Shall I tell you WHAT I HAVE received from the CITY ATTORNEY, DIRECTOR of PUBLIC HEALTH or the SHERIFF ... go to youtube. See Ministry cases # 08034, 11071, 11081, 11099, etc ... remember ... RIGGED is as RIGGED does.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:13 am

An invasion of privacy and harassment. Send Petrelis to Jail for six months where he will be using a public potty for all criminals do admire his doo dooings.

Posted by StevenTorrey on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:21 am

When you're a member in good standing of The City Family like Supervisor Wiener, then there are no limits to what crimes and transgressions are excused and ignored/

While if you're viewed as an impurity, there are no limits to how the City Family cracks down on the slightest of possible transgressions.

Stalinism lives in San Francisco politics and big brother is Willie Brown.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 9:03 am

Another creep who will be portrayed by the media as a leader of Progressive behavior.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 9:08 am

and this is the first time I've heard it creditably suggested that the photo was of such.

If that is what Petrelis did, I do not support it.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 9:22 am

I don't see what see what he was so pissed about. I'm sure there was nothing to see and less photograph with such an eensy, teensy weanie on a big Wiener.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

The Guardian has now sunk to the point where they're defending peeping Toms. I guess this was the next logical step after they spent so much time and effort defending the right of a law enforcement officer to smack their spouse around.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

no one is defending Petrelis or peeping Toms

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

Only in the penumbra of the main argument. The usual "do we REALLY need to involve the law here?" argument the Guardian enjoys making when those it sympathizes with are the target of the law.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

I'm no fan of Wiener's politics but Petrelis has gone too far on this caper. Where is his sense of propriety?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

...is counterrevolutionary, Guest. Get with the times!

Posted by Hortencia on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 9:25 am

Weiner is opposed to people running around with their penis out, so it makes perfect sense to Petrelis to take a picture of Weiner's penis?

I'm missing the connection. Having an abortion to show up people who are for abortion? Buying a handgun to teach people for gun rights a lesson handguns?

Posted by matlock on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

Marcos you are an idiot. At least I can take solace that people with your ideals have marginalized themselves to the point where excusing people who take pictures of others when they're peeing is a rallying point. So Weiner files charges against someone who tries to snap a pick of him peeing and "the city family" is conspiring with their Stalin-tactics once again huh? LOL

You have no idea how politics really works and everything is a conspiracy to you. What a loser. Or as Tim calls it, a "useful gadfly" for the "Progressives" who don't do shit except complain about conspiracies and backroom deals. What a fantasy world you've created Marcos, you moron haha.

Posted by ProgressivesHaveLostTheirWay on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

Since the whole component of the progressive coalition that was comprised of San Franciscans who have real jobs and don't get paid to do advocacy work abandoned the coalition, its fortunes have foundered.

After I quit giving away hours of my life to progressives who were throwing them away or using them against me, things fell apart for the progressives.

Correlation isn't always causality, but it was not just me who got tired of being used by operators.

What's left is a zombie coalition that has as little time for me as I do for them.

Yes, Petrelis is batshit crazy, but Wiener is over reacting by making a criminal case out of a photograph being taken of a public figure at a sink in a public restroom.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

in a public restroom, regardless of whether one is a public figure or not Marcos. Petrelis was way out of line on this - his actions are totally indefensible.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

The photo taken at the sink is on the line, anything more would be over.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

Jason Grant Garza here ... Marcos ... YOU ARE CORRECT ... IT IS A PHOTO of Weiner at a sink with a toothbrush. Where is the ILL INTENT??? From what I have read on the blogs ... not in a restroom as an EXCUSE? HOW many LOCKER/RESTROOM photos of sport players? I would not be surprised to hear that Anne Libeotwitz (sp???) didn't do a photo shoot of a sport player in a bathroom/restroom/locker room.

I feel that HOWEVER the important fact over looked is WHY for Weiner over a photo HOWEVER not for me in attempting to hold DPH accountable for the CRIMINAL FRAUD, denial of medical services, access and accommodation, etc? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo

Is it the same principle at ETHICS ??? with WHY with ROSS over OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT and NOT Weiner over his for case # 11048 http://www.sfbos.org/index.aspx?page=11889 in sunshine. Afterwards, ETHICS can explain to other VICTIMS who have sunshine findings of OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT WHEN they will proceed with as much VIGOR, FALSE CLAIMS of INTEGRITY and ETHICS. Don;t hold your breathe ... EXCEPT for MORE SPIN and LIES.

As far as what I got from the DA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zot6w6eVntU or what I got from the HELPFUL ??? DA Victim SERVICE UNIT ??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tZXh4PQwDE and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHeXNe-HKp4 or Sheriff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYC-syG0D7Y over the CRIMINAL FRAUD is on youtube. Please note the ADVOCACY ??? So where do I go to PRESS charges, have the perps ARRESTED for CRIMINAL FRAUD and DENIALS?

Apparently we have PHOTO LAW that can be ENFORCED and people arrested; HOWEVER, NOT with MEDICAL LAW or ADA / Disability Rights? You JUDGE.

Yes, Virginia ... there are TWO TYPES of JUSTICE ...

What Weiner got and JUST THIS for US. What a CROCK.

Don't believe that the CITY pulls this kind of TRICKS ... go to http://myownprivateguantanamo.com ...

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 9:13 am

Ugh...

Wiener? Naked Guys? Urinal? Penal Code? I'm going to resist my baser instincts to capitalize on this smorgasbord of comedic potential and just make a serious comment. I won't bother condemning Petrelis for trying to take a pervy picture without permission in a public men's room. That this is over-the-line should be clear to any sane person. But, Tim, in my opinion, this guy calling your house and harassing you and your family is inexcusable. I also think that it points to a very disturbed mind at work and, sometimes, these borderline-types just go over the edge one day... to tragic results. I might not agree with your opinions very often, Tim, but I do respect you and your life's work and would never want to see a man or his family harmed.

To Progressives - I might not agree with your ideas most of the time either, but I do enjoy having you in San Francisco. Partly because, sometimes, you guys are right on target with your politics (though more often you are not), but also because I admire people who stand up for their convictions, even if I don't agree. And, let's face it, you all make this city a helluva lot more interesting to live in :) Having said that, I really think you should consider cutting loose some of the more ridiculously unstable members in your movement. There are plenty of Progressive gadflies around town that aren't certifiable, and these crazy fuckers are doing more harm than good to your cause IMO.

Take that for whatever you think it's worth (I'm sure a few of you will think that it's not worth shit).

Posted by Snoozers on Dec. 01, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

Are you suggesting that there is some sort of official progressive committee which has granted Petrelis a license to practice and that this committee should meet to rescind the grant?

Or would you prefer that the progressives all meet at Market and Van Ness and publicly shun Petrelis in a Two Minute Hate?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 8:24 am

It is emblematic of reactionary ant-like thought that their opposition must be quite as regimented as themselves.

These critters starkly wonder why we don't build bridges from the bodies of our fallen comrades and why we don't simply snap the heads off of them who won't follow the queen.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 11:14 am

you would naturally jump to the defense of an otherwise indefensible invasion of privacy and decency.

What's the message here? If you cannot win a debate than act out?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

Dressing up in a chicken suit to hold an evasive, smarmy and slimy mayor accountable at a public event has what again to do with an invasion of privacy?

http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/10/02/64/2108703/5/628x471.jpg

Posted by marcos on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 8:04 am

and both served to discredit the perpetrator and diminish their credibility as a serious and viable political commentator.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 9:46 am

I think he is suggesting that we could start by having the official progressive news organ of this town not cover Petrelis' antics and make semi-excuses for his behavior, and as a progressive I would agree.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 11:08 am

Okay. Stipulated for the time being.

Now: provide a quote from the above story which seems to you to "make semi-excuses" for Petrelis.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 11:17 am

unreasonable for pursuing this. 99% of observors would surely have unambiguosly criticized Petrelis for such an outrageous act.

It's what SFBG didn't say that exhibits their fundamental bias

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

Thank you, Guest. I'm glad someone understood.

To the Progressives - Do as you like. It's your funeral.

Posted by Snoozers on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

Nudity in public is a health issue. There is a reason people cover their a-hole in public and even in their homes. Fecal material gets on furniture inside and outside when not covered. Wait for an outbreak of Hep A or pinworms before you realize public nudity is not healthy. Keeping the legal option for demonstrations, parades and fairs seems appropriate. But the more you allow lounging around by naked people in public the increasing chance you have of any number of diseases being spread.
Plus a number of the 'nudists' have been shown to be sexual predators who simply enjoy their exhibitionism. Many San Franciscans simply yawn when they see a naked person on the street. I personally would not eat a meal in a restaurant that tolerated that behavior, even if only in their outdoor tables.
Concerned, not prudish RN

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 1:19 am

Wiener has already "covered" the public health aspects of nudity via mandated butt towels and prohibitions on nudity in restaurants.

Nothing to see here, move on.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 8:25 am

I don't like Wiener at all. I think is nudity ban was unnecessary and his proposal to gut processes regarding development is just another indication that he is pro-1%.

But if Petrelis had done this to me, I would have punched him in the nose. He is a disgrace to bloggers, journalists and activists, and he probably helped Wiener with this stupid move.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 10:30 am

It's clear that nothing short of that is effective.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

As I understand it, there is no legal expectation of privacy in public restrooms.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

There certainly is a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public restroom. And if there isn't then creeps like Petrelis will get off, in more ways than one.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

troll

Posted by Sybil's mom on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

I don't think that a reasonable expectation of privacy as relates to 4th amendment search and seizure the same thing as whether a law can ban photography of a public official at a sink in a public restroom.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

Not me.

Anyway - if you're right then the court can overturn the law prohibiting it and issue a strong endorsement of the right to take pictures of public officials in public bathrooms - as long as they're at the sink.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

I was responding to "Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 6:18 pm" There is no reasonable expectation of privacy for an individual in a public rest room when it comes to 4th amendment unreasonable search and seizure. That is the context where the language "reasonable expectation of privacy" that is shielded from state intrusion. The question here is whether the state can create a zone of privacy where photos cannot be taken and whether that extends into a public restroom and whether that applies at the sink as it would in a stall or at a urinal.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

if it is reasonable for some bozo with an axe to grind to try and snap your todger in the loo.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

It is not against the law to try anything, it is against the law to perfect an action that is illegal. Trying to snap a photo of Scott's Wiener is not the same thing as snapping a photo of him washing his hands.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 8:17 am

Conspiracy to commit a crime excepted, but there are no conspiracies except in my paranoid mind, right?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 9:45 am

What's the idea here? If you cannot win a debate then act like a child?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 9:45 am

It is not against the law to try anything, it is against the law to perfect an action that is illegal?

Mmmkay, so if I shoot a bullet at you with intent to kill you, but I miss , I wouldn't be charged with attempted murder? I didn't perfect the action, right.

Just because this moron was incompetent and didn't get the picture that he wanted doesn't excuse him from his actions.

he's clearly unhinged, and frankly, I'm glad the Supervisor is pushing back. For all we know, next time he'll do something more dangerous. But then again, a lot of folks around here would make excuses for that, as well.

Posted by guest on Dec. 03, 2012 @ 10:14 am