Thursday, May 19, 2011

EQCA Boss Palencia:
$0 for No on Prop 8

The elitist Democratic gay lobbying organization Equality California, without holding a single community forum, chose their new leader this week and the name was unfamiliar to myself and many San Franciscans. The executive director is now a Southern California Latino gay man from the nonprofit world named Roland Palencia.

He gave his first interview as EQCA ED to LA-based longtime lesbian journalism Karen Ocamb, whose blog LGBT POV has unfortunately served as an uncritical platform for the group. Their chat did not broach the subjects of regular town halls where the community sets the evening's agenda, board members presenting themselves at free events in their local areas or any other challenge to the status quo.

Palencia told Karen he blamed the victims of EQCA's abysmal engagement for the 2008 loss:

I also think that we, the community as a whole, could have been a lot more involved, could have done a lot more things. It was an issue that was not getting us much traction for the community. It’s hard to believe that now – but that was the reality.

The No on 8 lacking traction in the community? Not a sign of intelligence from Palencia, if that is what he really believes. The remarks were thankfully duly scrutinized by LA Weekly's veteran gay reporter Patrick Range McDonald:

Palenci's comments about the disastrous "No on 8" campaign, which was widely reported to be disorganized and dysfunctional, echo nearly identical excuses often mentioned by "No on 8" leaders, which angered many people in the gay community.

There have been numerous reports about the "No on 8" leaders not reaching out to college students, people of color, and grassroots activists, for leaving gay rights activists to fend for themselves in places like the Central Valley, and for running an isolated campaign without much outreach to the larger gay community and their straight allies.

Neither Karen nor Patrick wrote about the matter of Palencia's donations to the No on 8 campaign, but Seth Hemmelgarn of the Bay Area Reporter broached the subject:

Palencia said his involvement in the No on 8 campaign included writing checks and phone banking. He didn't remember how much he'd contributed.

Surprisingly, Seth didn't report how much Palencia gave to the campaign, so I used two search engines to learn the amount.

According to the Secretary of State and SF Chronicle data, the new leader of EQCA contributed $0 to the No on 8 effort. Why would he tell the BAR he wrote checks when the public record doesn't back up his claim? If there is a record of Palencia donating to No on 8, lemme know the URL for it.

At the state level, Palencia's totaling giving comes to $4,150 to the CA Friends Latino PAC, the G/L Latino/a HONOR PAC, Villaraigosa for Mayor, Friends of Fabian Nunez, Friends of Gil Cedillo, Gatto for Assembly, Portillo for Assembly, ACT BLUE, Torie Osborne for Assembly, and no donations to EQCA.

The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission campaign search engine shows he's doled out $1,250 to just three local candidates: Villaraigosa, Eduardo Reyes and Conrado Terrazas

Federal Election Commission records reveal a single contribution from Palencia. In late November 2008 he gave $400 to the Nevada State Democratic Party.

The only recognizable gay name among the recipients I recognize is Democratic Gay Inc hack Osborne, and I don't blame the guy for directing the bulk of his donations over the years to Latinos. But I'd like to know why he's not given more to gay pols, or anything to EQCA, Victory Fund or the Human Rights Campaign.

He's clearly a GWM, gay with money, so why no giving to those entities?


Lester said...

While I respect your opinion, I think you have some of your facts wrong. First, Roland is not a"GWM" or "gay with money." He is an immigrant and a long-time activist who worked hard through HONOR PAC and the East LA office of the No on 8 campaign to raise money and recruit volunteers to defeat Prop 8. he has continued those efforts through the Latino Equality Alliance.

Second, Roland makes a valid point about the shocking apathy and complacency in our community before Prop 8 passed to the surprise of many many (not including me). That is not to say the No on 8 was not a disastrously run campaign. It most certainly was. The two points are not mutually exclusive.

All I am saying is, can we give the man a chance before you all jump to crucify him?

Lester F. Aponte
Outreach Director,
Marriage Director,

Michael said...

hi lester,

nice to hear from you. you say i have some facts wrong, then you don't say what exactly i supposedly got wrong. palencia is a GWM, gay with money, and his donations back up that claim of mine. while you're right, he's an immigrant and longtime leader of nonprofits, he's also a GWM.

finally, we need to hold all Gay Inc leaders accountable from day one, and you are wrong to say we're crucifying palencia, if we point out his lack of donations to no on 8.

Lester said...

I was trying to point out that Roland is neither white nor rich. To my knowledge, "GWM" stands for gay white male. When he donates to political campaigns and causes it is a far bigger sacrifice than it is for the people you have in mind. By all means hold us all accountable. That is the value of what you do.

Michael said...

yes, GWM generally stands for gay white man, but as i pointed out in my post, i was re-defining the acronym. a few years back, there was an indie film called 'kiss me, guido' about straight guy on the lam looking for a place to hide in NYC. he reads the apartments to share ads in the village voice and sees GWM in them. guido thinks it stands for gUy with money, he moves in with a gAy man and laughs are the results.

Lester said...

DOH! I totally missed that. I get it now. I am informed that Mr. Palencia has also contributed to Love Honor Cherish, an organization dedicated exclusively to fighting Prop H8.

Michael said...

i can top your missing me redefining the term GWM episode today. the first few times i saw the phrase TMI used as web shorthand for too-much-info, i wondered why they were referring to 'transcendental meditation international'!

regarding palencia's donations to the HONOR PAC, which i noted and turn up in campaign disclosure search engines, were not made in 2008 when no on 8 was happening.

my central point that there are no public records showing he gave anything to no on 8 and EQCA stands as correct.

still not sure why he told the BAR he wrote checks to the campaign.

Patrick Connors said...

If there is a perceived apathy about the prospect of the passage of Prop 8 (and blaming the victim is a rather appalling way to skirt responsibility) then we must also consider why the apathy may have existed.

Could it be in part to the lackluster campaign and the cautiously crafted - some might call it cowardly - tone of the No on 8 campaign? What kind of excitement should be expected when the STRONGEST message used was one from Dianne Feinstein?

Is hearing from that complicit creature supposed to make LGBTs around the state jump for joy?

I hardly think so.

If EQCA or any org wants to point the finger at an apathetic community they better first say something - ANYTHING - about their failings and misuse of $45 million.

All indications from the town hall meeting in SF point to a repeat of the same tactics and foolishness from 2008.

Expect MORE apathy - not less - if that is the case. Our leaders are supposed to LEAD not complain when the cats they are paid quite well to herd are not being 100% obedient and following a moderate, mainstream, milquetoast message.