Monday, March 25, 2013

Bill Wilson at City Hall to Supes: Save HRC's Budget

How's this for citizen advocacy? On Friday, March 22, veteran LGBT community photo documentarian Bill Wilson headed to City Hall to personally lobby members of the Board Supervisors and their staff. He delivered a letter on recycled tree asking members to take a stand against threats made on the budget of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, because commissioners want a town hall meeting on the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza.

Thank you, Bill, for continuing to do the right thing about the people's flag in the heart of our queer territory.

Here's Bill making his views known to newbie Supe Norman Yee, who told Bill he would look at the minutes of the HRC meetings in November, and then the February meetings where HRC executive director Theresa Sparks said an elected official had threatened her city agency's budget regarding any public meeting on the Milk Plaza flag.

The battle over a private merchants group hostile to activists including Bill, began on January 26, 2011, the day Ugandan David Kato was murdered. Over the two-years-plus controversy, David Campos has spoken at the 9/11 ten year anniversary event and also promised the Milk Democratic Club that he would tackle the flag control issue as it related to ALL flags on city property including the flagpole off the mayor's balcony.

Yet, Campos has gone along to get along and not challenged the Department of Public Works, which spends city dollars to maintain the flagpole and base, and has not challenged his colleagues about what is at fundamental level a public property and access issue.

Very glad to see Bill delivering a letter to Campos' office.

I'm including this photo of Bill at Jane Kim's office because I like the various pieces of artwork decorating her door. That splash of red so complements Bill's lime green shirt, and the nearby hearts are worth smiling for.

Check out this excerpt from Bill's letter to the Supes. He and his husband Fernando are in Washington for the Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, and when he returns I'll see what replies he's received. From his letter:

For over two years now we have simply requested a public meeting about a public policy for public access to public property. The rainbow, leather, bear, and transgendered flags have flown from the flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza to mark various events. 

The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro (MUMC) have steadfastly refused to hold an open meeting where all the stakeholders could hear at the same time what everyone else was being told. They have changed their policy to now only allow the rainbow flag to fly.

We came to the HRC with the hopes that they might be the group that would provide us the mechanism for a public meeting. Commissioner Mavis, as you can see from the enclosed minutes, requested such a hearing. He wasn’t even informed when HRC's Chair decided that they wouldn’t hold a hearing.


Gary Virginia said...

Thank you Bill Wilson for not only your activism on this issue but also the larger issue of back room dealing at City Hall. There are laws re the Sunshine Ordinance, with the Ethics Commission, and with the Human Rights Commission that must be enforced. Keep publicizing the facts. Thank you!

Michael Petrelis said...

We're so lucky to have Bill keeping tabs on the Human Rights Commission and our electeds at City Hall.