San Francisco blogger in bathroom flap ordered to stay away from Wiener

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerWrongs and rights: The attorney for Michael Petrelis

The pee-parazzo has been ordered by a judge to stay at least 150 yards away from Supervisor Scott Wiener.

Michael Petrelis, a blogger and gay-rights activist who has a vocal critic of Wiener’s policies, was given the order Wednesday after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. The charge is related to an October blog post in which Petrelis described his attempt to photograph Wiener using a urinal at City Hall.

On Wednesday, Petrelis, who is known for being outspoken at civic hearings, declined to comment outside the courtroom. However, his attorney, Derek St. Pierre, spoke for him, along with a few supporters raising “I Like Mike” signs.

“We will be fighting this case,” said St. Pierre, who argued during Wednesday’s proceedings that the restraining order is unjust because Wiener is a public official and Petrelis a citizen.

“The restraining order makes it very difficult for Mr. Petrelis to continue on as a journalist,” St. Pierre said.

Supporters of Petrelis said the stay-away order has made the case a First Amendment issue.

But Judge Donna Alyson Little disagreed, and she also brushed aside a declaration by St. Pierre that Petrelis had not exhibited a pattern of harassing behavior to warrant such an order.

“I think somebody might disagree with that,” Little said.

In his October blog post, Petrelis wrote, “Scott Wiener was standing at the urinal and just started to tinkle as I entered and the camera took 4-6 seconds to focus, enough time for him to put away his wiener and zip up.”

The only photo Petrelis published was of Wiener at the bathroom sink with his toothbrush and toothpaste.
Wiener described the incident in a letter to the Sheriff’s Department, which led to Petrelis’ arrest.

The written statement said the blogger “has a history of inappropriate and harassing behavior” and “has yelled at me in public before as a result of our political disagreements.”

One of Petrelis’ supporters called the criminal case a “political witch hunt” and accused Wiener of being an “ambitious politician who has goals beyond San Francisco.”

“You have to take Mr. Petrelis’ blog into context,” St. Pierre said, adding that his client is a “very large part of the political scene here in San Francisco.”

But when asked whether it’s OK for anyone to take photographs of others while inside a bathroom, St. Pierre declined to comment.

“We’re not going to discuss that,” he said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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