Does there remain any shred of doubt that blogger Mike South has teamed up with AHF and Cal/OSHA to attack porn?
On October 9, 2013, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Michael Weinstein fired another volley in his personal crusade against sexual liberty, announcing via press release that Cal/OSHA had fined San Francisco gay porn producers Factory Video for shooting without condoms. The press release’s title, AHF: Cal/OSHA Cites and Fines Gay Porn’s Factory Video $60K for No Condoms, and the lack of quotes from Cal/OSHA personnel made it clear that AHF, not Cal/OSHA, was behind the announcement.
AHF’s press release went out over Business Wire after business hours, and gossip blogger Mike South ran the PR verbatim on his site a couple of hours later.
We at TRPWL found these events to be fascinating for three reasons: first, the number of Citations issued by Cal/OSHA, the dollar amount of the fines, and what they were for, were not a matter of public record. Since Cal/OSHA had made no public announcement, someone at the agency must have fed this information to AHF — a third party who is widely reputed to be closely allied with Cal/OSHA executives and, according to leaked AHF emails, has received records from the agency in the past.
Such a leak is odd behavior for officials who took issue with a report that its personnel were seen ”practically canoodling” with AHF employees earlier this year. Affecting total outrage, a Cal/OSHA attorney even made a point of denying the canoodling charge – in an unintentionally comical fashion – on the court record at the administrative trial of Treasure Island Media this past April, in Oakland.
Second, only last month Mike South refused to run an email from 30-year adult business veteran and Free Speech Coalition board member Christian Mann, likening it to a press release by the pro-porn trade association, FSC. “[W]hy should I allow them to get a press release run,” wrote South. “They could send that to AVN and XBiz and they will run it.”
Of course, when it comes to anti-porn press releases, South has no problem at all with posting them on his site.
And third, contrary to the press release’s hyperbolic title, only some portion of the Citations against Factory Video were related to sex and condoms. This was clear because, later in its own press release, AHF admitted that there had been other reasons for the Citations, five of which were “Serious”, according to AHF, and three resulting in $9,000 fines apiece.
Knowing something was fishy, TRPWL held off on running the story until we could get a statement from Factory Video, which we did the following day. But eventually, TRPWL got more than that — we also obtained a actual copy of the Cal/OSHA Citations filed against Factory Video.
And here’s where the story gets really interesting.
Cal/OSHA issued a total of six Citations to Factory on September 18, 2013, however documentation in the possession of TRPWL indicates that the fines totaled less than $45,000 – not $60,000 — and substantiate Factory Video’s assertion, made in the wake of AHF’s press statement, that most of the citations were “general in nature: extension cord violations, guard rail violations and minor ramp violations…. Contrary to some press reports, there were only a few citations related to the blood-borne pathogen plan.”
AHF also confused and conflated the terms ‘Citations’ and ‘items’ in its press announcement – a Citation can be broken down into several items. In the case of Factory Video, there were a total of 30 items spread out over six Citations. Indeed, five ‘items’ were noted by Cal/OSHA as “Serious”, however, the vast majority of items (25 out of 30) listed were “General” or “Regulatory” code violations, such as there being no side-rail above the landing at the roof of Factory Video’s building (which was built before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake); an improper number of ladder rungs at the 2nd floor landing; the space in front of the circuit breaker panel having garbage cans and suitcases placed there, and a power tap being fed by an extension cord.
Citations 2 and 3 were each comprised of a single item marked “Serious”: the AC receptacle in the bathroom did not have a ground-fault circuit-interruption protector…
…and the building’s skylight was considered a fall risk.
Those two violations alone accounted for $10,800 of the fines.
Only the final three Citations were related to so-called “blood-borne pathogen” and “other potentially infectious materials” (BBPP/OPIM) regulations: one for failure to maintain an “exposure control plan; a second, for failure to observe and practice “universal precautions” for possible contact with or exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials; and a third for failing to use engineering and work practice controls to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to “… minimize splashing, spraying, spattering, and generation of droplets of… blood or other potentially infectious materials.”
As the descriptions of these purported violations suggest, these regulations were written for medical clinics and mortuaries, not film sets. The fine for each claimed violation was set at $9,000 by Cal/OSHA. A total of $27,000, not $60,000.
AHF’s press statement ended with a kicker by Michael Weinstein: “I am very pleased to see that Cal/OSHA is really starting to step up its enforcement of existing California health and safety statutes that have long required the use of condoms in adult films produced anywhere in California.” Except, the current Cal/OSHA regulations never mention the word “condoms.” Weinstein and AHF are well aware of this, and a May 2011 email from AHF’s then-counsel Brian Chase to Weinstein acknowledges the fact:
I spoke with [Cal/OSHA's] Deb Gold and Amy Martin today…. They confirmed that the new Chief is onboard with adding a specific regulation requiring condoms in the production of adult films.
What it appears we have here is an ongoing campaign of disinformation and intimidation by AHF, with the cooperation and complicity of well-placed persons at Cal/OSHA, designed to strike the fear of $60,000 fines into the hearts of adult producers.
Cal/OSHA leaders feed confidential information to their ideological comrades at AHF, who compose a press release saluting Cal/OSHA’s good work. Then, anti-porn blogger Mike South disseminates it without investigation, analysis or critical commentary.
Are you getting angry yet?
Analysis by Michael Whiteacre