The minutes from recent February and March hearings of the Human Rights Commission reveal several key political factors that should be of interest to San Francisco's press corps, advocates for public access equality and government watchdogs.
HRC meets tonight at 5:30 pm at City Hall in Room 416, and it sure would be great if local gay, daily papers, alternative weeklies and online news and blogger sites attended and took note of the allegations that the commission could lose funding over the flag controversy.
First, Commissioner Todd Mavis is leading a valiant effort to have the HRC keep a promise made in November to hold a public meeting about the myriad controversies surrounding the rainbow flag on public property at Harvey Milk Plaza. Mavis has shone a light at alleged threats by an elected official to reduce the HRC budget if such a meeting is held.
Second, at the March 14 HRC hearing, Mavis strongly advocated for a meeting just on the alleged threats but at the urging of Chair Michael Sweet maneuvered to have the commission discuss the alleged threats in a private conversation with HRC executive director Theresa Sparks.
Click here to read the extensive draft minutes of that meeting.
Third, since October according to the Bay Area Reporter Sparks has been investigating allegations of discrimination lodged by transgender leader Veronika Fimbres. Sparks has provided no details about when her investigation will conclude and if her findings will be public.
Fourth, neither Bill Wilson who for two-plus-years has advocated for public access equality regarding control of the flag nor I have been at an HRC meeting since November. Of his own volition, Commission Mavis has adopted this matter as his cause and he's been the leader insisting HRC keep its promise of a public meeting. Thank you, Todd Mavis, for your integrity and for doing the right thing!
Since the controversy began in January 2011, public access equality advocates have been rebuffed at every turn to simply discuss the control questions at an open forum and no effort has been spared by politicians and the Merchants of Upper Market Castro to keep such a forum from happening.
Yet, we now see Commission Mavis, who has had no contact or communication with Fimbres, Wilson or myself, keeps raising the flag issue before the HRC. What that tells us, again, is that the controversy is larger than a few activists wanting public access equality. It's a question of who controls public property in the Castro and now has expanded to one of potential threats made against the HRC's funding from the City.
Theses are just a few of the reasons why the San Francisco press and bloggers should be at the HRC meeting today.