Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Castro's Gay History Sidewalk Etchings Stir Controversy Before Vote

Local nudist and Harvey Milk Democratic Club member Trey Allen has brought controversy to an effort by the Castro Benefit District's plan to spend money etching LGBT historical texts into the gayborhood's public sidewalks. Lord knows, I am not opposed in the least to anyone making noise about public space in District 8 or questioning the process of the CBD, but I do question why Trey and others have tunnel vision.

(The day after Prop 8 passed in 2008, the flag was flown at half-staff. Public domain photo.)

Why aren't the people upset with the proposed CBD texts and how that group operates, along with their control over some of the Castro's public spaces, also taking the Merchants of Upper Market Castro private organization to task for their illegitimate control of the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza? Since the etchings became an issue, I've not heard a peep from Trey or his colleagues challenging MUMC never holding public meetings, maintaining restrictive policies as to who can attend their monthly meetings and creating elitist policies regarding City property.

There isn't one post or comment about MUMC or the flag at Trey's Facebook page about this sidewalk controversy. Sure, stir the pot about the homo historical etchings but I urge Trey and others to also develop a larger vision, one that includes closely scrutinizing MUMC, attempting to attend one of their meetings and challenging their bullying control of the public rainbow flag.

The regular monthly meeting of the CBD is this Thursday, April 10 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at the BofA community room at 501 Castro Street.

I reached out to the CBD's executive director Andrea Aiello because of my concerns that the group wasn't allocating adequate time for public comment. She replied with details about how public comment will be handled on Thursday and reminded me that no final decision will be made at the meeting. Folks who can't make the meeting can email their concerns to Andrea at Here are excerpts from her email:

Most all of the 35 minutes will be devoted to public comment. The board will not deliberate on or discuss the comments during the board meeting. There is a working group that will continue to meet on the historic text. It is the job of the working group to deliberate, go back and research if necessary, check on source documentation, wordsmith, etc.

We will make every reasonable effort to accommodate the number of people who want to give public comment. Public comment is intended to be directed towards the board members and public comment should not be about a comment that was just shared in public please no comments about the public comment. If there is a very large number of people who want to speak, there is a chance that individual comments might be limited to less than 2 minutes. 

We are asking that people come with their suggestions in writing. It is very difficult to get everyone's comments down correctly. Having them in writing will ensure that we get every suggestion written as the author intended. The comments should also be accompanied by the source/citation/references. 

There is also 5 minutes on the agenda at 7:25 for general public comment, if there is no general public comment, this time will be rolled into the 35 minutes. If there are a lot of people wanting to speak, we will try to get through the 1st part of the agenda quickly, so there is more time for public comment.

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