Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ocamb Criticizes EQCA's Laziness
Over Gay Education Bill Alerts

For many years, I have kicked Equality California's butt for being too concerned with rubber chicken galas, pleasing corporate sponsors, hosting cocktail receptions at the estates of A-gays, and failing to regularly engage the grassroots community. I've also urged longtime LA-based reporter Karen Ocamb to stop serving as a mouthpiece for EQCA.

Back in April, I lodged several complaints about how she allowed her "independent" blog to be co-opted by EQCA, as she published only the most gushing pieces about the group and its former inept executive director. My post noted that EQCA had done nothing to mobilize the community over SB 48, the gay education bill, as it moved through a state senate committee and our adversaries were attending committee hearings, writing letters, making phone calls, etc.

We gays were kept in the dark about every step in the legislative process for SB 48, until after hearings or votes had been taken. EQCA couldn't even be bothered to tell us how to watch the hearings and legislative chambers' proceedings. And none of this bothered Karen - until last week.

She finally noticed the laziness of EQCA and expressed serious concerns regarding their outrageous lack of community engagement. After noting that our opponents were lobbying Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the bill, Karen pointed out he's long been a friend of farm workers, yet he recently vetoed a card-check bill they were behind. Last Friday, she wrote this on her LGBT POV blog:

Therefore it is disconcerting that Equality California, the co-sponsor of SB 48 with the Gay-Straight Alliance, failed to automatically include an action alert at the end of their press release announcing the bill’s passage TWO DAYS ago. The EQCA action alert from Roland Palencia, the new executive director, was finally sent out late Thursday after questions from a reporter on Wednesday.  And it still fails to convey a sense of urgency ...

If EQCA doesn’t convey a sense of urgency in getting this bill signed, will the LGBT community simply shrug if Gov. Brown vetoes it? And while they anticipate a backlash from some Religious Right groups, is EQCA even thinking about the possibility of an initiative to overturn the FAIR Act if Brown signs it? Palencia told reporters that he hoped to hit the ground running when he assumed his new job. This is his first sprint.

It's great to have Karen _finally_ getting her lips off EQCA's butt and kicking it ever-so-gently, and I believe her criticism played a direct role in forcing EQCA to exercise its community engagement muscle.

We need more watchdogging and pushing from Karen and other bloggers, nudging EQCA to shed its blind allegiance to Democratic Party leaders, corporate donors and an unhealthy focus on meeting the partying needs of A-gays.

Let's hope Karen urges EQCA to regularly update the community on all gay-related bill and issues they're working on in Sacramento, inform us of when hearings are happening, encourage gays to attend or watch the hearings, and that this statewide gay group begin regular town hall meetings.

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