Divisions on the Gender Front (GCN letter to the editor, 6.26.02)

Letters to the Editor
Gay City News

Divisions on the Gender Front

June 26, 2002

To the Editor:

In the article, “Division Follows Victory” (by Duncan Osborne, Gay City News, June 21 – 27), Melissa Sklarz is quoted as identifying herself with a “democratically elected” NYAGRA board of directors.

In fact, the May 2000 bylaws were superceded by two subsequent versions and therefore are no longer valid. Neither the August 2001 bylaws nor the current bylaws (adopted in March 2002) sanction a membership-elected board. Not even the May 2000 bylaws sanction a “vote of no confidence” in the board. Most important is that this fraudulent election –– run by a disgruntled terminated ex-employee, Jamie Hunter –– was conducted with a list that was not the official NYAGRA membership list, so even under the May 2000 bylaws, that election would be invalid.

When Donna Cartwright resigned from the fraudulent NYAGRA “board,” she cited “serious concerns about the low level of membership involvement in the efforts to reconstitute NYAGRA,” indicating that the false NYAGRA has no membership support, in whose name this invalid and illegal election was ostensibly held.

All that Ms. Cartwright and Ms. Sklarz have to offer are personal attacks on Pauline Park, NYAGRA’s co-chair, whose leadership of the campaign for Intro. No. 24 in the City Council was instrumental in its passage and whose grant-writing made NYAGRA the first seriously funded transgender advocacy organization in the country.
Moonhawk River Stone
Co-chair, NYAGRA
New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy

June 26, 2002

To the Editor:
As someone who joined NYAGRA as a general member before the current controversy started, I’d like to offer my perspective on the situation reported in Gay City News. After reading that article the reader may not have the complete picture.

I attended the May 4 meeting and purported “election” organized by Jamie Hunter, NYAGRA’s terminated ex-employee, and a few disgruntled ex-board members. I can tell you that meeting had no legitimacy, procedural or otherwise. The meeting, which did not even have a quorum of legitimate members, did not follow any rules of order, and there was no attempt to verify membership for those who did vote. I’m a paid-up member in good standing and was not notified of the meeting, and I know other members who also were not notified. One member I know who was considered a supporter of Pauline Park and the legitimate board was deliberately excluded from the meeting. The bylaws do not give the membership the right to remove or elect the board of directors.

The votes that were taken to conduct the illegitimate “removal” of the existing board and “election” of a new board (most of the so-called candidates did not even attend the meeting) were taken by a handful of members, and the motion to move forward with this election carried by only one vote. No neutral third party verified the votes or the election. In the middle of the meeting, Jamie Hunter announced that the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) would be counting the ballots, but AVP has since said that they informed her on May 3 that they would not have any involvement with the election, whether in ballot-counting or certifying the vote. After Jamie announced that I asked out loud if anyone was present from AVP and no one responded. It’s strange to me that a terminated ex-employee would be counting the ballots (which she collected at the meeting) in an election to elect a new board that then votes to rehire her, and that this meeting was called in the first place by Andrea Sears, Jamie’s live-in partner. It seems to me that there are some serious conflict-of-interest issues here.

Furthermore, the so-called board of the false NYAGRA hasn’t even been able to organize a board meeting with a quorum while they are trying to create the false impression that they have support of the legitimate membership of NYAGRA.

Unfortunately, the opponents of the legitimate NYAGRA board of directors used the Gay City News article as an opportunity to engage in vicious personal attacks on Pauline Park. Everyone knows that Pauline led the campaign for the New York City transgender rights bill, and that without her, it simply wouldn’t have happened. Pauline also raised the $80,000 in grant money in question. It’s strange to me that the anti-NYAGRA conspirators would claim that the membership lost confidence in someone with such an obvious track record of legislative and fundraising success. It’s even stranger to me that a non-transgendered white lesbian would be trying to oust the only transgendered person of color from the board of a transgender advocacy organization serving a community with a majority of people of color.

The truth is this: when the board of directors fired Jamie Hunter, she turned around and organized an illegitimate and phony election with the clear expectation that a new “board” would “rehire” her.

Charles Ober

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the 26 July 2002 issue of Gay City News.

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