Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ex-EQCA Board President
Wonders If Palencia is a 10? 

(Gary Soto. Credit: Frontiers.)

Gary Soto, the former president of the board of directors of Equality California, speaks some truth that does not instill confidence in the group or its new executive director. He did it in an interview with Los Angeles-based lesbian journalist Karen Ocamb for Frontiers, when discussing EQCA's chief Roland Palencia:

And if there are issues out there with Roland—because I don’t really know now because I’m out of there—certainly you can look at that. And that’s not ‘internal.’ That’s a regular norm organizational restructuring piece of knowledge every company knows about. ... So what’s the board leadership doing about it? If you want Roland to be a 10 and he’s not a 10—what are you going to do to make him a 10? I don’t have any pointing of fingers at Roland. My thing is what is the board leadership doing now? ...

While Soto believes he lacks fingers pointing at Palencia, just raising these questions is a form of exactly that. There's a degree of disingenuous in what he says.

Yes, there are plenty of concerns among grassroots gays who aren't donors to EQCA that Palencia is, to be charitable, lacking in a number of ways and in only holding receptions and fundraisers for donors, while ignoring the need for public forums and direct engagement with the at-large community, the elitism continues to EQCA's detriment.

What is surprising about Soto's comments is the direct way he publicly challenges the board. They can't be happy with his remarks. Soto also unloads about the criticism they received after Prop 8 lost in November 2008 and the community was exacting accountability from the remote leaders of the failed campaign:

I was horrified at the thought that Equality California was the target of the backlash of what didn’t work. There were so many people that were Monday quarterbacks coming out of the woodwork that were not involved in the process—but they were certainly out there with their vicious attacks on why it didn’t work. ...

The process was an invitation-only affair among the usual Gay Inc and A-gay folks, with barely a ray of transparency over how they made their decisions. Soto and company didn't know how to respectfully engage the grassroots and they paid a price for their mistakes.

Having never met the guy, I'm not sure if it's fair to judge his skin, thin or thick?, when it comes to public accountability for a major fuck up based solely on comments such as these, but I can't muster any sympathy for Soto not having a backbone when it was needed on behalf of his organization and his close friend, Geoff Kors, who was tarred and feathered after Prop 8 passed. Soto said:

I will put it on record: as board president of Equality California, the thing that I did not do and I regret the most in my role as board president of Equality California Institute that I did not respond to the bloggers out there that attacked Geoff Kors and attacked Equality California. ... But no one else was speaking. And if all the voices out there that were speaking were the negative voices—that’s who people were listening to. So I am not proud of the fact that I did not step up to the plate to defend Geoff Kors and the organization. And with that, we got the brunt of the backlash. ... And all the work we had done was being attacked by a handful of people. ...

Oh, boo hoo hoo. Not only were Soto and colleagues spineless during the campaign - refusing to debate the Yes on 8 leaders, afraid to put gay people in TV ads, denying Prop 8 was about gay marriage and instead was a referendum on equality - they failed to understand the depth of rage beyond their tight, little circle.

Someone must tell Soto it was waaaaaaaaaaaay more than a handful of people who were demanding accountability and better leadership after November 2008. Almost three years later, I'm still waiting for EQCA to prove it has adopted genuine transparency and democratic engagement principles.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael or Karen or Seth or ANYBODY (including Steve Mele?) -
A review of public statements will, I trust, confirm EQCA as the "fiduciary placeholder" for the approx $1.6 million remainder from the "Equality For All" '08 coalition campaign funds UNspent, and (we were told, in print!) would likely be needed to pay penalties to CA's FPPA for various late filing deadline infractions, etc... Now that EQCA is NOT going forward w/ a ballot initiative in '12, where's that money? Where's the final accounting?

Michael said...

i sure wish more of us demanded public meetings from EQCA's leadership, so we could pose all of your questions to them directly and get an accounting.