An election observer told the Bay Area Reporter Sunday, September 15 that most of the people running on an accountability slate were the leading vote-getters in the race for seats on the San Francisco Pride Committee board, but a quirk in the bylaws may mean that it’s mathematically impossible for anyone to win.
Tensions flared among members during an hours-long vote count, and an ambulance was called after board President Davace Chin apparently collapsed.
The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee Annual General Meeting took place Sunday afternoon at the W Hotel. It attracted 145 voting members, about 20 percent of the eligible voters. The main order of business was election of seven new board members among 14 candidates. The meeting, which consisted of brief statements from the candidates, ran smoothly until vote counting began.
As election officers and observers began certifying the eligibility of signed ballots, lengthy delays occurred. Board secretary Lou Fischer ran into difficulty trying to conduct a meeting by randomly selecting items on the agenda, which members had never approved.
Fisher intended to skip most agenda items and announce winners of the election by 5:30 p.m. Then members would enjoy a reception with winners. This proved impossible as vote counting went on until after 10.
Election officers, counters, observers, and SF Pride officers became embroiled in a dispute over interpreting the organization’s bylaws. Upon looking at the vote results, Fischer immediately declared there had been no winners.
Pandemonium erupted as arguments began among all involved and the candidates. Interim Pride attorney Julius Turman, who conducted the meeting, herded the group to a private location to further discuss the bylaws and election results.
Pride members Sue Englander and David Waggoner attempted to access the private location, but were directed away by Turman and treasurer David Currie. Waggoner said he had been told to leave the area or he would be escorted out by security.
Paul Quick, an election observer, shared his vote totals with the B.A.R. and said the accountability slate, minus Kevin Bard, had been elected along with Pride board incumbent Justin Taylor. The accountability slate includes Gary Virginia, Jose Cital, Joey Cain, John Caldera, Marsha Levine, and Jesse Oliver Sanford.
Sanford is the candidate former SF Pride CEO Earl Plate tried to force from the race with a threatening email. Days after Plante’s email became public, he resigned under pressure from the board.
Quick’s vote tallies are based on a reading of the election rules. He said it was a fair outcome based on the voting. If the vote totals hold, it would be seen as a repudiation of SF Pride’s board of directors and its problematic leadership of the organization over the past five months.
As the night wore on so did the patience of the remaining members, which included all members of the accountability slate. The group brooded for more than an hour on the likelihood SF Pride’s decision would be an outcome of no winners.
Around 11 p.m. Chin came forward, not to give election results, but to read a statement explaining that according to bylaws dated August 7, 2012, there were no winners. He was shouted down and Turman pulled him away from the angry crowd who followed them with shouts of “Reform!” and “Amazing!”
Members appointed a chair from among themselves and proceeded to announce the election of most of the accountability slate and Taylor. They no longer recognized Chin’s position and Chin had to ask the member chair if he could speak.
Before Chin could speak, he said he was dizzy and collapsed. Caldera, a former Navy hospital corpsman and a member of the accountability slate, joined others to help Chin. Turman called for an ambulance. Around 11:50 p.m. Chin was stretchered out of the building to the awaiting ambulance. As of Monday morning his condition was not known.
For the few remaining members who were present, Taylor announced that SF Pride would have to address the election outcome at a later time and date.
The dysfunction of the meeting and the dramatic climax had many members saying that Supervisor Scott Wiener, a critic of SF Pride’s governance structure, would act quickly to bring professional management to the organization.
“It’s inevitable,” said one member who did not want to be identified.
While voting for board members was fraught with problems, selecting SF Pride’s 2014 theme was a success. Ron Anderson submitted the winning theme, “Color Our World with Pride.”
The B.A.R. will have more on the board vote in Thursday’s edition.
–Reported by James Patterson