Monday, April 18, 2011

BAR 'Denied Access' to
SF AIDS Budget Meeting

In mid March, the Haas Fund co-sponsored and paid for a weekend junket in San Francisco for select bloggers and old media, that was invitation-only and no part of the junket was open to the public. Many community divisions were fortified and new ones created over the secrecy of the junket until it was underway and other transparency issues.

Among the elite attendees were Bay Area Reporter editor Cynthia Laird and her cub reporter Matt Baume, an ambitious young gay who rarely if ever even mildly challenges anything to do with Gay Inc, pictured above in the center and on the left. The photo was snapped by fellow attendee Karen Ocamb, who like her BAR colleagues raised no public objection to how the Haas Fund junket was organized behind closed doors.

A few days after that junket, I blogged in advance about an invitation-only, closed-door meeting of AIDS service providers in San Francisco convened by and held at the gay community center on Market Street. The meeting was held on March 18, and some weeks later the BAR's Seth Hemmelgarn wrote about trying to attend the AIDS strategy session.

In a clear case of karmic payback, the gay paper reported:

The Bay Area Reporter was denied access to the March 18 meeting. Just before the gathering, [community center executive director Rebecca] Rolfe explained attendees "strongly" wanted to keep the meeting closed because they wanted to have "an honest conversation" about what the [city AIDS budget] changes mean. ...

Interesting that the BAR had no qualms about being part of the closed junket meetings at the Haas Fund office, and less than a week later attempted to crash an invitation-only discussion and the paper's writer was excluded.

San Francisco's leading gay weekly might learn a large lesson here about always siding with bloggers and activists demanding more transparency and open-door attendance policies at Gay Foundation Inc junkets _and_ when AIDS service providing agencies meet to discuss cutbacks and forced reorganization at the agencies.

Our community could do with improved and stricter sunshine rules all around.

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