Friday, February 24, 2012

SF Chron Omits Milk Club Backing
on Equal Access to Public's Rainbow Flag

One of the San Francisco Chronicle's conservative columnist, Chuck Nevius, pictured, ran a hatchet job on me and the campaign to make the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, which is a public space belonging to and maintained by the city, and a key fact was omitted.

In our phone chat, I told Nevius about the overwhelming support to create genuine community control over the flagpole from the influential Harvey Milk Democratic Club. He was told that at the club's Tuesday night meeting, the flag issue again was broached and the membership reaffirmed its commitment to equal access to this important piece of public space.

As promised, I sent hatchet-man Nevius the full email I had received this week from Suzanne Ruecker who took notes at the packed August 23 endorsement meeting of the club, clearly spelling out where the club stood on this matter:

Gabriel Haaland made a motion that at a time when private entities are encroaching upon and attacking public spaces and public workers,the Milk Club stands against private entities controlling public spaces. Furthermore, we stand against the privatization of Harvey Milk's rainbow flag by the Upper Market Merchants Association.[Slight mistake. It's the Merchants of Upper Market Castro. -michael.]
Motion seconded by Tim Durning. Passed unanimously by vocal acclimation.

Because it was inconvenient to Nevius' hatchet job to portray the latest skirmishes over the rainbow flag as a campaign supported only by myself, the Milk Club's solid position calling for an end to the monopoly of the merchants group was omitted by Nevius.

Another key aspect to the flagpole story missed by the SF Chronicle pertains to the paper's own campaign this week to give the public more access to public spaces. Check out these excerpts from Wednesday's editorial, that I believe also apply to the privately controlled rainbow flag:

Some of San Francisco's best public spaces are half hidden in high-rise lobbies, on downtown rooftops and tucked behind busy streets. The rules requiring access to these prime spots should be rewritten to let the public know what they're missing . . .

But finding these spots can be a challenge . . . a visitor needs to find the right elevator among a bank of look-alike choices or sign in with a security guard . . . The result is a public benefit that's going largely unused. The city needs to make sure the regulations are carried out fairly.

How about rewriting the rules requiring equal access to the flagpole, so the public knows what they're missing in terms of using it for purposes other than filling the coffers of Castro merchants? After more than a decades of having no written rules, the private merchants group finally crafted some but the vetting process is far from transparent or fair.

A requester needs to kiss the butts of the bullies of the merchants group or show how use of the Milk Plaza flagpole will bring profits to the store owners. The result is a vital public space is largely in the grip of control queens who are loathe to share the public space with the public.

The Chronicle and city leaders need to make sure the regulations governing equal public access to the flagpole are equitable to all members of the public, and not just friends of the merchants.

Here's a radical notion for Nevius and the bullies of the merchants group to consider. Let's end the demonization of me and focus on reclaiming public space in the Castro for the public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Petrelis, I read it & thought you were right, which is how I came here. I know who you are of course, consider me more of a LC person & I like a LOT of what you have to say.