[Updated 9/13/13, 6:45 p.m.] Late Friday afternoon, a letter from the San Francisco Pride Committee to members retracted an earlier letter whereby the board members seeking re-election endorsed themselves.
The letter, from Pride board President Davace Chin and Pride’s interim attorney Julius Turman, said in part that the previous 9/12/13 email sent 24 hours prior, “was sent in error and, accordingly, the email and its endorsement message are hereby retracted. We sincerely apologize for this error.
“SF Pride, as an organization, has not and will not make any endorsement of any candidate for its board.”
The letter went on to provide the names of all the candidates running, including those who have been endorsed by San Francisco Pride Members for Democracy, Accountability, and Transparency. Those candidates have been sharply critical of the current Pride board’s operation and decisions made this year.
“We are working diligently to ensure that the board of directors’ election will be conducted fairly, impartially, and with the utmost professionalism. We wish the very best to each of this year’s candidates on their campaign,” the letter concluded. End of update. Original post below.]
Just days before members are set to vote for new board members, incumbent board members sent out their own slate list of endorsed candidates – themselves.
The move raised questions from some board candidates who were not included, since it was sent out on Pride letterhead to the entire membership.
“Recently you received several emails from a group that identifies themselves as SFPMDAT [San Francisco Pride Members for Democracy, Accountability, and Transparency]. Their recent email included a slate of candidates they endorse for SF Pride Board of Directors,” the SF Pride slate letter states. “Pride is a membership-driven organization and while we welcome participation by all of our members, we have received multiple inquiries from other general members about this slate and wish to clear up any confusion.”
The letter continues, “The slate you may have received is not an official endorsement by the current board members of SF Pride. We welcome you to come to our [Annual General Meeting] on Sunday, September 15. There are many good candidates that are running and we hope that you can come, listen to the candidates and make your own decision.”
The letter then listed the slate of incumbent Pride board members Kirk Linn-Degrassi, Pam Grey, Shaun Haines, Justin Taylor, and Javarre Wilson. It also included Community Advisory Board member Rochelle Fortier Nwadibia, who is running for a seat.
The seven-member SFPMDAT slate consists of Kevin Bard, Joey Cain, John Caldera, Jose Cital, Marsha Levine, Jesse Sanford, and Gary Virginia.
Neither newly installed interim CEO Lisa Williams, who previously served as board president, nor newly appointed President Davace Chin, signed the email. Chin denied any knowledge about it. Williams left a Board of Supervisors hearing Thursday, September 12 and was unavailable to comment.
In response to the Pride board candidates’ self-endorsement, Virginia sent a scathing email to Williams, Chin, Pride attorney Julius Turman, and Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener saying it “jeopardized” his candidacy. He also questioned why he was not considered for SF Pride’s endorsement.
Virginia further questioned the fairness of Sunday’s election as incumbent board members seeking re-election will conduct the election and determine the outcome.
Virginia is seeking written answers to seven questions concerning the San Francisco Pride Committee’s unusual self-endorsement before the Sunday election.
“At this point, I’m considering seeking legal counsel to see if any California laws have been violated,” he stated in the email.
Sunday’s Annual General Meeting takes place at 2 p.m. at the W Hotel, 181 Third Street. Registration begins at 1:30.
– Reported by James Patterson