Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Rights Chief's Report:
Milk Plaza Flag and Discrimination

For 18-months or so, while gay men and AIDS activists were being denied equal access to the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, and even when I contacted to complain about the situation, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and its executive director Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman and politician, took no interest in our plight.

But when transgender leader Veronika Fimbres (with expert nudging!) made a request to MUMC to use the flag and pole on city grounds and the ensuing controversy garnered global queer attention, Sparks inserted herself into the controversy. She's gamed and limited her involvement to an investigation by the HRC, which allows her to hold private meetings with MUMC and Scott Wiener, and keep prying public eyes away due to confidentiality concerns.

Sparks has yet to explain in writing why all the other times when MUMC rejected requests, the commission looked the other way.

At the Nov. 1 MUMC meeting, Sparks gave a skimpy overview of her investigation which she disclosed also involved her having private discussions with the City Attorney's office about a new (I never saw the old) set of rules for the flagpole at Milk Plaza.

Closed door meetings and one-on-one phone calls with MUMC, Wiener and the City Attorney, all conducted by Sparks without minimal transparency.

Tomorrow, November 8, starting at 5:30 PM in Room 416 at City Hall, Sparks will be presenting a report (the agenda omits whether its verbal or written) to the full Human Rights Commission.

Public comment will follow her report and I will be there with Bill Wilson to address the commissioners. I hope you'll join us.

Unfortunately, even though the HRC meeting will take place in a City Hall room camera-ready to air it on SF GovTV, the meeting will not run on Channel 26 nor will it be streamed. Sparks should forthwith find the funds to make her meetings transparent. If it ain't on the web, it ain't transparent.

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