Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How SF Pride Picked Manning as a 2014 Honoree; Parade Line-up

Like the Academy Awards, SF Pride is a year-round endeavor and not just a one-day affair. As someone who became a voting member of SF Pride for the first time last year, after the debacle of selecting Chelsea Manning as a grand marshal and then rescinding the honor, I've expressed concerns and praise for the new board that was installed in October.

After attending the Tuesday, Feb. 4 board of directors meeting, I was confused about a number of matters and submitted questions to the directors and today received a reply from Marsha Levine, who is a director and in charge of the parade contingent line-up. The video shows executive director George Ridgely as he finishes his report, and you can see how well-attended the meeting was.

First up, just when my brain was wrapped around the revised policies and procedures for the many grand marshal slots and the current nominating process, the directors last week voted unanimously to pick Manning as an honoree. Confused as to how she was chosen this early in the grand marshal selection process, I asked for clarification. Marsha replied:

The Board of Directors has historically appointed special awards or non-community grand marshal honors upon those most deserving at any time, as warranted. What you are referring to are only the Community Grand Marshal, Organizational Grand Marshal, and Pink Brick Award Recipient nominations coming to a close this Tuesday night. As for the number of grand marshals, they will be significantly reduced this year. 

Good to know the BOD has the right to select someone as they see fit at any time leading up to Pride. Just when I think I understand the selection process, a curve ball is tossed out but at least I know now how it can happen. As I've stated at meetings and in writing, there are too many grand marshals and even with a reduction this year there will be eight of them in addition to Manning and maybe a Lifetime Achievement honoree. Nine or ten honorees is like bestowing that many Oscars on leading actresses or actors.

Next up, my questions about whether politicians could be merged into a single group and made the last contingent, and if the mayor had a role in choosing the line-up of the politicians. Marsha said:

The Mayor’s Office is not given/does not have any special power to determine our line up, however, and as per typical of every major metropolitan city, we can get a list from the Protocol Office of elected rankings, to help us determine the seniority order for registered politicians attending our Parade. There is no chance at this time that all the politicians will be put in one large contingent and/or at the end of the Parade for a myriad of reasons, much of them posted at the bottom of the 2013 Line Up web page

Frankly, it's not worth my time and effort, right now, to attend these meetings knowing that when Pride Sunday rolls around, elected officials will very likely again, as in 2013, be front-loaded in the line-up. I in no way wish to expend energy building an event glorifying the egos of politicians.

The line-up has been a major concern of mine and last year I kvetched about how there were 23 elected officials with contingents and they were in the first half of the line-up, while more than 100 community contingents waited hours to march up Market Street with a sparse number of spectators and news cameras.

My largest area of concern is the Pride web site and how it lacks so much info. Yes, four months after the new BOD was installed, I expected a user-friendly site. Marsha's response:

Lucky Guttirez, Jesse Oliver Sanford, and Justin Taylor have addressed your questions about the progress on modifying the sfpride.org web site at every General Membership and/or Board of Directors Meetings where you have asked the question. The IT issues are being addressed, however, keep in mind that the web site design/updating belongs firmly with staff — not the BOD nor with volunteers -- and until a few weeks ago, we did not have a permanent ED to drive this. 

In the meantime, since October, Justin and Lucky worked very hard to post online some of the documentation the Membership requested — so I would not categorize this as nothing done. IT is also charged with updating our software, equipment, and Internet provider, much of which takes priority given its age and lacking — being able to work efficiently and effectively first would allow more time for redesign later.

On the Membership web page, you can see many of the minutes requested by the Membership posted as a priority, links to governance documents, and upcoming meeting dates for the BOD and General Membership meetings.

The members page today lists info for January's membership meeting and nothing about tonight's meeting. The minutes are current only up to September 2013. If you weren't able to attend the meetings since then, how are you supposed to learn what transpired? While an email was sent to members about tonight, folks may have changed their addies or non-members wishing to check out the meetings who visit the Pride site wouldn't have a clue about the time and location for tonight.

I've pushed for regular updating of the site with minutes, to keep everyone informed about all the various issues that come up at the meetings, such as Manning being selected for a grand marshal slot in 2014, and Marsha addresses this:

Every time there is something newsworthy to share, we have generated a press release (we cannot control the media picking it up and running it), we have posted to social media, and we have sent emails to the Membership. I think we've done more communicating with the public in the last four months than the previous leadership during the last two years combined. It would be really nice if the Membership would not judge us by the past transgressions of the previous BOD(s), and instead, supported us in the efforts we are making. Especially since we are now into full production mode for the event. 

It's not so much a question of sharing only newsworthy decisions or what the media chooses to cover but simply posting minutes and not depending on any media outlet to get the details out there. My hope is that I can very soon learn about the agendas, discussions and decisions of membership and BOD meetings from the Pride site.

Thank you, Marsha, for addressing my questions and so quickly too!

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