SF Pride board
unprepared for meeting
by James Patterson
The first San Francisco Pride board of directors meeting since last month's parade and festival was highlighted by continued community unrest about management and governance issues.
The July 16 meeting, which lasted nearly four hours, drew questions about the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee's compliance with policies and procedures and bylaws, as well as continued questions on basic operational functions such as online submission of membership applications.
Board members seemed puzzled and unable to address basic questions on member privacy, why the July 9 meeting had been postponed, how many members San Francisco Pride has, and how many open seats there are on the board of directors, which was the stated purpose of the meeting.
To the consternation of many of the estimated 30 people who attended, the meeting did not begin promptly at 7 p.m. as scheduled. It was delayed by about 10 minutes. Board Vice President Davace Chin announced he would chair the meeting. Board President Lisa Williams, who attended a Trayvon Martin rally at City Hall, arrived about 45 minutes late.
Six other board members were present: Justin Taylor, Javarre Cordero Wilson, Kirk Linn-DeGrassi, Shaun Harris, Pam Grey, and Lou Fisher.
Chin told the Bay Area Reporter that he did not know why Pride CEO Earl Plante could not attend. SF Pride's new interim attorney, Julius Turman, did not attend.
Williams announced that board member Lord Martine had resigned.
When Chin announced that Treasurer David Currie was not there to present a preliminary financial report, several people objected. He could have submitted a report in his absence, one Pride member said.
SF Pride's former counsel, Brooke Oliver, told the B.A.R. that she "recently joined" SF Pride as a member. She had a host of proposals aimed at making SF Pride address "accountability and transparency of the elections process."
The purpose of the meeting, per governing bylaws, was for voting members to place into nominations new members to the board of directors. Under questioning, no board member knew how many seats were open. No board member knew exactly how many members SF Pride had. Chin eventually guessed at "about 330."
In the nomination of board members, Oliver and John Caldera accepted their nominations. Joey Cain, a former board member, postponed accepting his nomination. Chin said that nominations would be accepted until the August meeting.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)
The membership approved several of Oliver's proposals and SF Pride will post its current bylaws, procedures, and policies on its website. SF Pride will send board candidate statements to members via email and post them on its website.
But Oliver's proposal to require SF Pride to comply with the California Corporations Code, "a statutory obligation" she said, and permit members access to SF Pride's membership lists drew opposition from community members concerned for privacy based on sexuality and HIV status.
Both Cain and attorney David Waggoner have requests for the membership rolls before the board. Last week Plante told the B.A.R. that Turman was researching the issue. This proposal will be further discussed at the August meeting.
Community member Pat Keenan objected to the National Guard recruiters who were at the Pride festival this year and proposed they not be invited back. The board said it was a complicated issue and moved it for discussion to the August meeting.
Several community members wanted SF Pride to return to an online application process. Fisher said the system had been hacked, the office had been swamped with applications, and "mistakes were made." She agreed to take action on the request.
SF Pride also agreed to post several things online, including meeting minutes for the past 12 months, its process for determining contingent lineup and the 2013 parade lineup. In previous years, the parade lineup had been posted on SF Pride's website prior to the event. This year it was not.
The meeting was further complicated when the board had a lengthy delay to determine who among the approximately 30 members present were eligible to vote. The delay further frustrated members and many expressed disgust at the conduct of the meeting. Eventually, eligible voters were given red cards to vote on proposals.
After the meeting, Oliver told the B.A.R. that her proposals, aimed at accountability and transparency, were not related to the board's handling of the Bradley Manning grand marshal fiasco. The gay Army private, currently in a court-martial in Maryland for leaking classified government documents, was named a community grand marshal but that honor was rescinded by the board two days later.
Oliver said she would not comment on her June resignation as SF Pride's longtime counsel. She said it was attorney-client privilege.
"As a human being," she said, "I was not happy how the Bradley Manning grand marshal process was handled by SF Pride."