Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Castro Benefits Group Willing
to Take Control of Rainbow Flag

After almost two-weeks of the opaque and murky process of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro regarding raising the New York flag to celebrate gay marriages in that state, the beautiful sunshine of the Castro Benefits District meeting yesterday morning was most welcome.

Four members of the CBD's executive committee met at Coldwell Banker's office on Market near Castro Street, in one of the rooms facing Market Street. Talk about great location to cruise, er, truly transparent meeting!

Many neighborhood items were on the agenda, including the latest problems with MUMC's control of Harvey Milk Plaza, a public space and one of crucial meaning to gays around the nation and globe, especially the flag pole in the center of the plaza. Like many folks, CBD members were initially pleased when MUMC announced they would fly the New York flag, only to have their hopes dashed because of MUMC not doing their technical homework.

CBD board secretary Pauline Scholten wondered why MUMC couldn't cooperate with the activists wanting to raise the Empire State flag, and walk to Cliff's Hardware to get their advice on how to hoist two flags at once, and purchase the necessary rope or other equipment. Only Steve Adams, president of the local Sterling Bank and MUMC, can address Pauline's legitimate concerns.

Dominic Campodonico, president of the CBD board, spoke of how he favored the CBD taking over all responsibility for the flag pole, including the costs of insurance and enormous rainbow flags if, and that is a big if, the MUMC crew would relinquish control. He was quite frustrated that all Castro stakeholders were not able to find a way to honor the New York gay marriages and simply fly that state's flag for the weekend.

He also said if the CBD were to take control of the flag pole, the process for operating it, including when to lower the rainbow flag or add another flag to fly from the pole, were be transparent because the CBD falls under the purview of the sunshine Brown Act. So many unnecessary hurdles and hassles regarding the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza would disappear should the CBD become the stewards of it.

What a benefit it would be to the Castro gayborhood, political activists, store owners and civic leaders to have the rainbow flag and pole in the hands of a group that is committed to full transparency, democratic engagement and working with various constituencies! Harvey would be so proud if that were to become reality.

Reporter David Stevenson of KTVU showed up at the end of the meeting with a cameraman, in preparation for a story that was supposed to air last night. He interviewed the CBD leaders and myself, and I keep checking the KTVU site hoping they'll web-post their story for all to see.

I wish the CBD leaders the best of luck, reaching out this week to MUMC leaders in an effort to find a resolution to the vexing matter of giving more folks in the diverse Castro community the chance to use the public plaza and the public's flag pole.

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