Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pride Houston, We Have A Problem


An anonymous source presented me with this information and I am now presenting it to you. Today Teresa Carpenter, one of four board members (Frankie Quijano - Pres., Paul Pettie & Jeremy Fain) of Pride Houston sent in her resignation letter (you can read the PDF below) citing issues within the organization as her reason for leaving. It should be noted that the source would not reveal why they sent this story to me and that I hope Teresa finds peace after being subjected to the experience she had. She stated that "There are issues that need to be addressed within this organization that can no longer be swept under the rug as they have been in the past."

***As you know, the LGBT community has had its issues with Pride Houston as recent as the Juneteenth Fiasco. For more on that, scroll to the bottom of this post.***

These are the issues that she outlines via the leaked letter:

  • "As far as the bylaws go, you are out of compliance with two specific laws according to the State of Texas and Texas Business Organization Code under which all Non-Profits are governed by. As the CEO of Pride Houston, Inc. for the past 13 years, you should be very much aware of these laws and it is my personal belief that you are. These are State laws and they override anything that are written within our bylaws... 
    • A Board of Directors MUST have a President and a Secretary (Sec. 22.231). The term of an officer cannot exceed three years (Sec. 22.232). In the absence of a provision authorizing a specified term, the officers must be appointed or elected annually (Sec. 22.232). 
    • Also, according to Section 2, the Non-Profit (the CEO) should be transparent with its financial records at all times, to its donors, board, and members (which we have none).
    • I know that our former treasurer asked you several times for copies of the contracts that were signed for this year’s Celebration so that he could give you a more educated guess as to our financial status. His emails went unanswered. Per our Pride Houston, Inc. bylaws, “The Chief Executive Officer may execute any deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts, or other instruments, that the Board of Directors has authorized to be executed.I know there are probably several dozen contracts that were executed for this year’s Celebration without the Board of Directors approval or knowledge."
"I simply cannot be part of an organization which conducts itself with such little regard for legal requirements and obligations, fiscal accountability, and the pitiful relationship that Pride Houston and you specifically have with the volunteers, sponsors, and the community at large."
  • I also know that there were decisions made in regard to vendors that were financially irresponsible that should have been addressed with the board prior to being made. 
    • An example of this would be the change in vendors less than 24 hours prior to the Rock the Runway event. The vendor change resulted in costing the organization about the same amount of money as the original vendor would have to begin with, and there seems to be no logical explanation for the change in vendors. 
    • Another example was the change in vendors for the Kidszone at Festival. Even though money was saved, the apparatuses were inappropriate for young children to play on. A mechanical bull and a rock wall are not appropriate for young children. The intent was to entertain children under the age of 10, and we were way off base. Our volunteer who was the committee chair for that area submitted an appropriate vendor and bid only to be met with resistance by yourself and you changed her entire scope without consulting her. These types of “power plays” make volunteers feel that the time that they spent putting together plans, bids, and ideas were worthless and whether or not our organization is one that they would like to work for in the future.

"The power of this organization should never lie with just one or two people, it should be a much broader range of individuals. It should also have a much wider landscape and demographic which has been missing for a long time. May I remind you, the CEO, that as with any Non-Profit Organization, the CEO/President works at the pleasure of the Board of Directors, not the other way around. The CEO answers to the Board, the Board does not answer to the CEO, and that is not how this organization runs itself. The CEO of Pride Houston, Inc. is far too involved in the everyday decision making of the organization while excluding the Board on many levels. This should never be done, as it is the Board who should be making the most major decisions and not the CEO."
  • Next, I would like to address is your lack of leadership from the inside out. Individuals who are on the outside see a calm, and organized group of people who all work together as a team. On the inside there is a totally different story. You demean and belittle those who want nothing more than to work for the better of the organization. 
    • For example; On June 26th, the day of the Pride Celebration, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee took issue with the fact that she was placed towards the back of the parade. Your logic in this was that she had not turned in her check until the Thursday before celebration. No matter when she turned in her check should not have mattered. First and most important, she is a security risk and should have been toward the front of the parade with the other high profile entries such as Mayor Turner and Representative Green. She is also a United States Congresswoman, who deserves the recognition of the office she holds, no matter what personal issues are harbored. Let me be clear once again, I did not give anyone permission for their contingency to move that day, but had I know what was going on, I probably would have, and I think the rest of the board would have agreed with my assessment of the situation. 
    • March 28th, I sent you an email stating that I had sent you multiple messages on Facebook regarding Pride questions (those messages had spanned over a week) and that I was about to leave town for 10 days on a pre-planned family vacation. I finally resorted to sending you an email which you responded to on April 6th explaining to me that you sit on each and every Pride committee. You made it a point to tell me that you “work full time, were going to school full time, consulted full time, and volunteer for Pride full time and that you do not have the luxury of ample free time during the day/week as others might have.” {¹}
    • Another example that comes to mind; on March 7th I emailed you and asked for a contact at the Houston Dynamo/Dash to request tickets for a giveaway for Eden, and I did not hear back from you until March 30th {²}. At that time you told me you were working on Pride in the Park and that you would have tickets but you would keep me informed. My next email to you dated June 1st went unanswered. A 23 day turnaround time for an answer to a question from another Board member is unacceptable. 
    • Another example of this would be the relationship with Walgreens. After the General Manager of the Montrose Store contacted the Montrose Center out of sheer frustration after trying for several weeks to get in touch with you or Mr. Sheffield to ask a simple question, he was given my number. I happened to know the answer to his question, but per your instructions, did not answer his question. You had always told us, the Board of Directors, that you were the only one that was to speak to sponsors. So, I did the best I could to keep him calm, by driving all the way to his store in Montrose and speaking to him directly, face to face, and ensuring him that I would have someone get in contact with him soon. Not only did this happen once, but it happened six (6) times between May 26th and June 18th. As you are very well aware, Walgreens is a $10,000 sponsor. Then on the day of the event, I was giving a tour to our Honorary Grand Marshal and was stopped outside the Walgreens tent and was asked why a $10,000 sponsor would be placed where they were (off the side of the main festival by the Public Library, where they were hardly seen). It was made very clear to me by the District Manager that they would be meeting and would consider dropping their sponsorship.
"Now is the time to take action, to make Pride Houston, Inc. the standard for LGBTQI organizations in the Houston area. Now is the time to make the Board of Directors truly diverse. It is time to have Lesbians, Transgender, African American, Bisexual, Allies, and other demographics represented to help make decisions that are truly inclusive of all. After the Juneteenth “issue” in 2015, there was to be a “Diversity Committee” and when I tried to put one together at the first volunteer meetings in September and October of 2015, I was told to “hold off” on building that committee and that it would be addressed at a later date. That never happened."

TRANSLATION: Frankie Quijano you need to resign!


Source: OutSmart
  1. State law mandates the organization has a president and a secretary. He has refused to allow a secretary to be elected citing one was not needed.
  2. Frankie Quijano has never presented nor prepared a budget for the fiscal year for the Board of Directors.
  3. Pride Houston bylaws state that Frankie Quijano is allowed to enter into contracts with the permission of the Pride board. The Pride board must see the contracts and approve the contracts. The Pride board has never seen a contract. 
  4. Frankie Quijano does not allow the Pride board to have any contact with any sponsor.
  5. Frankie Quijano does not allow the Pride board to make any statements to the media. That is his sole responsibility. 
  6. Frankie Quijano does not allow the Pride board to be involved with the everyday workings of the Pride Celebration committees because he says the Pride board cannot be trusted not to interfere with their work. 
  7. Frankie Quijano makes it very difficult to work with Pride as he is constantly making remarks such as "that person doesn't bring anything valuable to this organization." 
  8. Frankie Quijano has little to no regard for the Lesbian, Transgender, African American, or Ally communities. Gay men are all that is needed.



Background:


Pride Houston took a series of controversial steps in 2014 that entailed the move all Pride related festivities to downtown Houston and then a date change from the usual weekend that coincides with the Stonewall anniversary to the weekend of the annual Juneteenth celebration.

There had always been a plan of action to address the issue of having this event on the same weekend as Juneteenth and when time permitted I and a group of other  Houston Black LGBT leaders and allies with multiple ties to mainstream African American community organizations set up meeting with the PRIDE Houston board members.  We held that meeting with three Pride Houston board members at the Houston Urban League downtown headquarters on October 22 to discuss the ramifications of  why the selection of June 20 date was unacceptable.

We, as a group came up with a statement that we found to be appropriate to hand to the board members as well as read out loud during the meeting: 


"As Black LGBT and allied leaders and activists, we strongly and collectively oppose the June 20, 2015 date  of the Houston  LGBT Pride Celebration.  We urge Pride Houston to move the celebration to June 27, 2015.

Holding the Pride celebration on June 20 is a mistake for several reasons, but the top two reasons are 1) it directly interferes with Juneteenth, the oldest known nationally recognized celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the US and 2) it undermines the meaning of the Pride celebration, which at its core commemorates the Stonewall riots, the catalyst for the LGBT movement we know today. The effect of not moving the June 20th date will be disastrous, as it will erode the relationship built among the LGBT community and communities of color, specifically the Black community.

The erosion of these relationships will be detrimental to the Houston LGBT community with respect to the fight to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Opponents of the ordinance have vilified it since its inception stating in hateful terms that the ordinance is an underhanded means to grant more rights to LGBT persons while denying others. Because leaders from the mainstream black community feel they were not consulted, they were inclined to believe this false rhetoric of the HERO opposition. It took many long nights from LGBT and allied leaders to correct that misinformation. By holding the Pride celebration the same weekend of the Juneteenth celebration, communities of color will likely be inclined again to believe the misinformation, thereby unraveling community trust and HERO support.

Politics aside, maintaining the June 20 date excludes the Black LGBT community.   At the very least, Black LGBT persons are put in a situation where they have to choose whether to celebrate Pride or Juneteenth with the corresponding communities. Far too often, people who live an intersected life must choose which part of their identity fits the occasion. During the Pride celebration, people, including those who live at those intersections, are able to bring their whole selves to the celebration. Why? Because the LGBT community contains all races, abilities, and identities. Moving the date to June 27the maintains the tradition of inclusiveness, something the LGBT community is continuously striving to attain.

Practically speaking, moving the date now will not cause any confusion and doing so quietly will prevent community uprisings.  At this time, the June 27th date is free, which means the process to change it should be simple.. However, not changing the date will definitely cause more problems than necessary.

So again, we urge you to move the Pride celebration back to the last Saturday of June, specifically June 27, 2015."

About two and a half weeks after this meeting we got this:


"November 11, 2014

Re: Request to move the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration

To Whom It May Concern:

The Board of Directors for Pride Houston® have discussed in length the recent request to move the
Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® from Saturday, June 20, 2015 to the following week on Saturday, June
27, 2015 by a group of local individuals that are unassociated with any one (1) local group. With a 6-2
vote the Board of Directors have decided to continue with the current date of Saturday, June 20, 2015
for the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration.
There have been previous instances where the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has fallen on the third
weekend in June around the 20th of the month and similar requests were not made during those
instances. Furthermore, a substantial amount has already been invested into the Houston LGBT Pride
Celebration for its current date that would un-recoupable which can be crucial for any non-profit
organization.
As was recently confirmed by the Mayor’s office of Special events, currently on June 20, 2015 the only
parade listed is set to begin at 10:00 AM CST and end around 11:00 AM CST. With the Houston LGBT
Pride Celebration beginning its parade beginning at 8:30 PM CST it would show minimal impact on that
parade.

Pride Houston is willing to work with any organization that could be producing a parade on the same
date so that both can be equally marketed and supported by the Houston community.
Pride Houston also hosts public production meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of every month where our
volunteers discuss logistics, its events and of course the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration. This has been
an ongoing tradition for over 15 years and would be an excellent opportunity for those not associated
with the organization to observe, provide external insight, brainstorm new ideas and even volunteer for
the organization. For more information on these meetings please email volunteer@pridehouston.org.

Sincerely,

Frankie Quijano
President and Chief Executive Officer
Pride Houston, Inc.
fquijano@pridehouston.org
The march on the steps of City Hall against Anita Bryan in 1977 is widely known as Houston's “Stonewall
Movement”, so the legacy that began in downtown will continue on in downtown Houston in 2015."

Then this happened after the uproar got huge:


"It is with great pleasure that Pride Houston announces that the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has been moved to June 27, 2015 in respect of the historic Juneteenth holiday. Pride Houston understands and celebrates the importance of the equality of all humanity and the significance that Juneteenth means to African Americans. Specifically we understand that although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, it was not until two and a half years later on June 19, 1865 that African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom from slavery. That fact is why Juneteenth weekend is so important and why we chose to move our date.

It is important to note that Pride parades celebrate the 1969 Stonewall Riots when the LGBT community and its allies stood up against police raids and brutality in the LGBT community. This awareness puts us in a unique position to see the parallel struggles of our communities especially in this time when racial profiling of African American men and boys such a relevant topic in America today.

In a time when the civil rights of historically disadvantaged people are under attack it is imperative that the LGBT and African American communities maintain a coalition against hate, racism and homophobia. It is to that end Pride Houston has also created a Cultural Diversity Task Force to celebrate the cultural uniqueness of the various members of the LGBT community to be incorporated into actual the Pride Weekend festivities.

So please mark your calendars for June 27, 2015 to celebrate the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration in downtown Houston. Also, remember the weekend of June 19, 2015 to celebrate Juneteenth. We will be at both and we hope you will too.

Board of Directors:

Cristina Martinez, Frankie Quijano, Jason Gallegos, Javier Ramirez, Joey Guerra, Karen Mory, Paul Pettie and Rob Higdon."