New Pride board expected to be named

by James Patterson, Bay Area Reporter, 19 Sept 2013

Pride board President Davace Chin, with the board of directors in the background, spoke to members at the beginning of the annual general meeting Sunday, September 15.(Photo: Rick Gerharter

The San Francisco Pride elections committee was expected to announce new board members Wednesday evening following a brief meeting to complete the final calculation process that was marred by a formula error at Sunday's marathon annual meeting where no winners were announced.

The elections committee's meeting was scheduled after the Bay Area Reporter went to press, but a letter from the Pride board Tuesday seemed likely to end a controversial 72 hours that saw Pride board President Davace Chin briefly hospitalized following his collapse near the end of Sunday's meeting and a chaotic end after Vice President Lou Fischer declared there were no winners.

Chin cited "dehydration, lack of food, and lots and lots of stress" for his fainting spell.

"We can disclose that as a result of a mathematical error in the formula used in the calculation of votes, the election officers will be reconvening ... to complete the final calculation process, officially certify the election, and issue an announcement of the 2013-14 board of directors," the board's statement read.

According to Chin, the "incorrect formula" subtracted "against" votes from the "for" votes for the candidates. Only abstentions should have been subtracted, he said.

In a telephone interview, Chin said the incorrect formula had been used for past elections, he assumed it correct and he approved it for the 2013 election. He would not speculate if past elections using the bad formula gave bad results.

The incorrect formula was discussed Sunday by members, board candidates, and SF Pride's election committee but no one could figure a way around it in the highly charged atmosphere.

The Wednesday meeting, according to Chin, was expected to last "about 30 minutes" and be "a very smooth process."

Of the 14 board candidates, it is expected that most of the newly elected board members will be from the accountability slate. Based on unofficial returns compiled by election observer and Pride member Paul Quick, the winners on Sunday were Gary Virginia, Jose Cital, Joey Cain, John Caldera, Marsha Levine, and Jesse Oliver Sanford. Accountability slate candidate Kevin Bard did not appear to have been elected. The sole board incumbent re-elected appears to be Justin Taylor.

Quick shared his totals with the B.A.R. Sunday night.

The SF Pride Members for Democracy, Accountability, and Transparency formed in July to address governance issues raised over the Pride board's withdrawal of grand marshal status for transgender WikiLeaker Army private Chelsea Manning, currently serving a 35-year sentence for espionage.

The election, it is believed, has removed board members who outraged many in the community over the Manning controversy. Returning incumbent Taylor was not seen as part of the SF Pride cabal against Manning. All of the accountability slate candidates supported honoring Manning and consider her a hero for exposing what they believe are U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regarding the incorrect formula, Cain, called "the Jerry Brown of SF Pride" due to his recurring role in the organization over the years, said in an email that he felt Fischer was responsible for it.

Gay Supervisor David Campos, concerned over Sunday's election based on the B.A.R.'s Monday blog report, offered his office and mediation skills to broker a resolution. Chin, by phone, said SF Pride "appreciated his leadership" but had reached a resolution.

Chin, who is leaving the Pride board September 30, likely will have the goodwill of many community members, including some of the expected incoming board.

"Davace is great," said Cain. "I wish he had been president of Pride for the last year.

[Updated 9/19/13: Chin welcomed community members and board of director candidates to witness the finale of the annual general meeting 2013, which began at 2 pm Sunday at a local hotel and ended Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. with election results across town in the Ceremonial Room of San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center.

Chin clearly explained the formula used to calculate votes per candidate as "the total of the candidate's "in favor" votes minus their abstentions, divided by two, plus one." The nine-member election committee performed the calculations openly, quickly and without any disagreements about an "incorrect formula" that marred their work Sunday evening and delayed results.

An audience of 50, including treasurer David Currie, aside from Chin the only SF Pride board member present, interim counsel Julius Turman, and four of seven accountability board candidates, waited less than 30 minutes for the new board members to be announced.

Chin stated there were 146 ballots, three declared invalid, for a total of 143 votes. As expected accountability candidates Joey Cain, Gary Virginia, John Caldera, Marsha Levine, Jose Cital, and Jesse Oliver Sanford were elected to the board. Kevin Bard was the only accountability candidate not to be elected. Sole board incumbent Justin Taylor was re-elected. Caldera, Levine and Taylor were not present.

As is SF Pride's custom, Chin did not give candidate vote totals. Unofficial numbers had Virginia with the most votes, 101 in favor, and the least abstentions, five. Levine had 99 votes and six abstentions. Sanford had 93 votes and nine abstentions. Cain had 91 votes with eight abstentions. Cital, at 21 now the youngest member of the board, had 79 votes with 16 abstentions. Caldera had 72 votes with nine abstentions. Taylor had 72 votes with 14 abstentions.

According to unofficial returns board incumbents voted out were Pam Grey with 52 votes and 12 abstentions, Shaun Haines with 50 votes and 23 abstentions, Javarre Wilson with 37 votes and 18 abstentions, and Kirk Linn-Degrassi with 34 votes and 10 abstentions. Grey, Haines, and Degrassi attended Sunday's meeting and asked members to vote for them. Wilson did not attend.

Why did Degrassi do so poorly? He was questioned Sunday about why he had not attended a recent candidate forum at Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco in the Castro. He said he had to work and added he needed some time to himself.

Election of most of the accountability slate of candidates drew a standing ovation from a smiling and cheering audience Wednesday.

Virginia said the election of the accountability slate was "a mandate for change at the SF Pride board."

Newly elected board members, the election committee, and community members praised Chin for his handling of the difficult and troubled election. Pat Keenan, a member of the election committee, told the audience Chin and Turman saw the Sunday election process "wasn't right" and they displayed leadership by "making it right." This drew more applause with members nodding their heads in agreement.

Most members agreed Wednesday was the "smoothest" and most "cheerful" SF Pride meeting in many months. The festive atmosphere included cheer and goodwill for Chin and the new board members.

Currie said he wanted more open meetings and transparency in decision making by SF Pride's new board. He said it was important for the community to know the board was open and attentive.

Cain, a founding member of the San Francisco Pride Members for Democracy, Accountability, and Transparency, was uncertain of the fate of the organization. He expressed concerns the group might be needed in the remaining 11 days of the outgoing board members.

Many community members expect Cain to be voted president once the new members are seated. He may have competition, as Virginia, Levine, and Sanford were the three top vote getters in the election.

Chin, who planned to leave SF Pride September 30, confirmed to the B.A.R. that would preside at the next SF Pride board of directors meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 1, at 7 p.m. at Pride headquarters.

Chin said the new board would vote for four officers, including president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. He said they would also make committee assignments and attend to other matters. An immediate issue for the board will be a report to Supervisor David Campos on their actions to address financial and governance issues raised by City Controller's office in 2010.

Bruce Beaudette, who wore a rainbow skirt to Sunday's 11-hour meeting, came to the election finale dressed in polka dot pajamas. He said he was ready for another long meeting.

Election observer Jokie Wilson wore a cool and colorful Polynesian ensemble with a palm frond hat. The gay artist said he was "very happy" at the election's outcome.

As the newly elected board members repaired to a nearby pub they encountered Campos, who had been delayed by another commitment. He congratulated the new members and pledged to work with them on Pride 2014. Cain was already on message and told the supervisor he wanted to meet soon to discuss more city money for Pride. The event is 280 days away. End update.]