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Friday, June 24, 2011

Pride: Supes Not Convinced Current Management Can Run Parade

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 1:50 PM

click to enlarge rsz_pride_cover.jpg

A front-page story in today's San Francisco Chronicle trumpets the news that Pride has whittled its debt down to $77,000 heading into the weekend's festivities. Sounds great -- in the two months since our cover story breaking down how the massive gay and lesbian festival and parade systematically marched itself to the brink of financial disaster, Pride has paid down some $83,000.

Pas mal, pas mal. But the story doesn't answer the question one most wants to know: Has any of this changed the minds of influential city supervisors who have adamantly stated that Pride must be wrenched away from the nonprofit that's run it for the past 40 years? Here's the short answer: No.

"I'm all for embracing them, but I'm still not convinced they're where

they need to be or are going in the right direction," says Supervisor

David Campos. "There are some positive signs. But this is too early to

tell. You can't have the kind of problems they've had and all of a sudden

everything is fine and dandy."

Adds Scott Wiener, "After the parade we'll all sit down and have a very frank discussion."

Brendan Behan, Pride's interim executive director, predicts the parade will make "net revenue" this year. But "it's not going to be a windfall revenue." In fact, "it won't be enough to eliminate the deficit. But we'll move a step closer."

As for what comes next, Behan isn't focusing on that. He does, after all, have some parade to attend this weekend. But there is a large degree of uncertainty. He's still the interim director, and he wouldn't tell SF Weekly if he even wants to work past the end of the year when his contract expires. How Pride will deal with the debt it will all but certainly carry after this weekend is still up in the air. Fund-raising? Bank loan? Aggressive grant-hunting? That's all to be determined.

Campos, meanwhile, lauds Behan's work -- but isn't sure Pride has reorganized itself to the point where it can tread water without a particularly acute executive director. As revealed in our cover story, Pride's board was asleep at the fiscal wheel to the point where it knowingly approved a yearly budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red -- then overspent its "balanced" budget by 25 percent.

"The concerns identified by the controller's report were systemic in nature," says Campos. "They deal specifically with the role of the board, the board's ability to provide meaningful oversight -- irrespective of who sits in the executive director's spot."

Pride's sloppy organizational setup -- and its designed inclusiveness -- lead to inefficiencies. Both Campos and Wiener noted that the much smaller Folsom Street Festival donates roughly three times what Pride does to local charities. Be confident this will come up in future months.

In any event, Behan says he and Pride's board will take stock after this weekend's festival to see what measures are working and which aren't. Campos and Wiener, meanwhile, will take stock of whether Pride, in general, is working.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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