Pride members fail
to remove Currie
by James Patterson
At a planning meeting of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee this week, members were unsuccessful in removing treasurer David Currie from the organization's board of directors.
The vote from the 36 members present was 6-29.
Some members were upset with what they see as his role to declare "no winners" following the chaotic 11-hour annual election in September and his silence during the Chelsea Manning controversy earlier this year.
The meeting, held November 12 at Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco in the Castro, was attended by approximately 45 people and turned chaotic at times as many voiced lingering concerns and frustrations over the conduct of board members at the September 15 annual meeting.
Board member John Caldera, who arrived late, distributed a letter to members calling for them to support a motion to remove Currie from the board "without cause." Caldera took his seat close to Currie but the treasurer stared in the opposite direction.
Vocal member support for Currie's removal was based on the belief he supported former board member Lou Fischer's claim of no winners at the election.
Board secretary Justin Taylor said that former board member Pam Grey, voted off in September, took minutes at the annual meeting that show Currie had not supported the no winners decision. Taylor said Currie supported the newly elected board members.
This was an unusual declaration as Taylor admitted Grey's minutes had not been approved by the board and he had only recently received them. Still, the board was silent as to the accuracy of the unapproved minutes. Neither Taylor nor interim Executive Director Lisa Williams would offer the Bay Area Reporter contact information for Grey for her confirmation of the contents of the minutes.
Members asked Currie to explain why he supported fewer board seats in the election. He revived criticisms of the past board when he reminded members they had not known how many board seats were open for the election. His support of fewer seats was "because big changes would be difficult to manage" and he felt it better to "grow the board in a more logical way."
Former board member Shaun Haines, seeking a new board appointment after he lost re-election, took the floor to deny any involvement in the incendiary April 26 San Francisco Pride press release, signed by Williams, that rescinded the organization's grand marshal honor to Manning, the Army private who was convicted of leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning is now serving a 30-year prison sentence.
"I would have said 'hell no' to that statement," Haines said, voice shaking. He said he was disappointed San Francisco Pride had let that occur.
Haines endorsed the Pride Committee's second press release stating Manning's nomination was improper as she was not local.
"It was based on policies and procedure," he said, but the community paid no attention to it. Haines, who is black, said it was the community's anger over Manning that "wiped out African American members" from the board.
Williams was up and down, standing and sitting, during the long debate on the Manning controversy with which she was so deeply involved.
Currie spoke for 10 minutes on why he should continue as treasurer. Virginia, Taylor, and Joey Cain temporarily left their seats. Currie said he brought better financial management to San Francisco Pride and "pushed hard for transparency" after the Manning "horror" ensued.
He said there was no one else on the board who could serve as treasurer, a clear swipe at Caldera, who challenged Currie for the job at the October meeting. Among board members, only Virginia focused on Currie as he pleaded his case to members. Caldera continued to shake his head in disagreement with virtually everything Currie said.
During member comments, Caldera jumped to his feet and said Currie was "confrontational" and "disrespectful" to members at the annual meeting and urged members to unseat him. Member Marilyn Murrillo urged likewise. Members peppered Currie to disclose more on the Manning decision and severance for former San Francisco Pride CEO Earl Plante.
Currie said he was "out of town when Manning's decision took place" and said he had no role in it. Information on Plante was confidential, Currie said. Under questioning, Currie agreed to stand for election at the next annual general meeting. Starchild asked Currie to call on President Barack Obama to issue a pardon for Manning. Currie declined.