Uncertainty over Future of LGBT Pride Parade, Billy DeFrank Center

Dysfunction within the Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose could put the city’s annual LGBT Pride Parade in jeopardy, according to a report published Thursday by the Bay Area Reporter. Meanwhile, a key issue in the fight for the District 6 City Council seat revolves around the fate of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center. Council incumbent Pierluigi Oliverio put out a memo the same day as the report asking that the city-owned property on The Alameda be slated as the last sold by the successor agency of the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency. A City Council vote on whether to sell the property is scheduled for next week.

“The Billy DeFrank center is the only LGBT community center in the Bay Area—south of San Francisco,” Oliverio writes in the memo. “The Redevelopment Agency and former Vice Mayor Frank Fiscalini played a crucial role by providing the center with its location by only charging $1 a year for its lease agreement. The Billy DeFrank center provides great value to the LGBT community and San Jose as a whole. The Council should strive to continue providing the community this resource.”

Along with pension reform, the Bay Area Reporter’s story suggests that responsiveness to the LGBT community will be a hot-button issue in District 6.

“I think one of the clear differences I have made in the campaign, and will continue to make, is he doesn’t interact with the community or neighborhoods,” challenger Steve Kline told the Bay Area Reporter about Oliverio.

Oliverio reportedly told the media outlet that he disagreed with Kline’s assessment, adding that he thought his constituents were more concerned with “qualify of life issues in San Jose.”

Tonight at the DeFrank Center, the board for the Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose is scheduled to discuss the role of its director, a position that was filled and vacated by Dane Dugan in the span of three months. Nathan Svoboda, who took over the role of Pride’s board president following Dugan’s resignation, says his organization isn’t “in turmoil.” But the Bay Area Reporter’ story would suggest Svoboda, who reportedly broke down in tears while trying himself to resign at a board meeting, is sugarcoating the fractures within the organization.

Andre Mathurin reportedly left the board recently because of issues with Vice President Roman Fernando, who was almost ousted from the board, and lackluster fundraising efforts to date in 2012 leave the annual LGBT parade, scheduled for Aug. 19, in a tenuous position.

But the city could step in with some financial help, according to the report:

“There could be some help on the way from San Jose city officials. Kerry Adams Hapner, director of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs, said her agency is recommending that the city provide a ‘general range’ of $7,500 for Pride. She said she has ‘a certain degree of confidence this grant is going to proceed as recommended,’ but the ‘final say’ would come from the City Council and Mayor Chuck Reed. Adams Hapner said the office’s grant recommendations would be released next week, when they would be forwarded to the city’s Arts Commission. That panel would then send recommendations to the city council.”

Click to read the Bay Area Reporter’s story on the LGBT Pride parade and Bill DeFrank Center.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Pierluigi Oliverio shows his true colors here. He might be for tight fiscal policies when it comes to reducing wages or laying off city workers, but when it comes to a prized voting block—choose any one of San Jose’s many treasured “communities on the take,” the councilman is ready to open the checkbook. The man is either a phony or a fool.

    His concern for housing the LGBT community is in direct contrast to his concern for the housing needs of this city’s struggling or laid-off workers, many of whom are at risk of losing, or have already lost, their homes. At a time when this city’s workforce can’t pay its rent (or mortgage), how can Mr. Oliverio justify handing money to beggars? His generosity toward the LGBT community is also in contrast to the best interests of this city’s hard hit commercial landlords, any one of whom would be happy to see the city release a renter back into the marketplace.

    Personally, I am disgusted that tax dollars are spent to prop-up a community that serves only its own kind, plays partisan politics, and is founded on the premise that its members are distinct from others. The individual members of the LGBT community are free to enjoy taxpayer supported parks, roads, libraries, and other services—no different than any other citizen. Why do they deserve more? The answer is they don’t, at least not on the public dime.

    If it’s “pride” that this community so desperately wants to display, then I suggest a good starting point is for the LGBT community to pay its own way. Paying rent is part of grownup life. So is paying for your own parties. If these folks want a parade, let ‘em pay for it. It is, after all, a community that is not without means, as evidenced by its ability to play hardball politics and pursue a deep-pockets approach to litigation.

    There’s no pride in being a parasite.

  2. There is something seriously broken in San Jose when a community center is a “parasite” but San Jose Police and Firefighters are supposed to be victims because they take a pay-cut or face lay-offs. I tell you what: less reduce all city salaries to whatever the highest-paid employee at the DeFrank center makes, and then we’ll see who the real money-grubbers are.

  3. And in turn FORCE the highest paid employees at the billy de frank center to work throughout the night facing the most dangerous situations and dregs of society. Oh wait, no one WANTS that job regardless of high pay?? No way, it’s easier to ” work” at a community center and just use 911 if something scares you.

  4. dhkelly,

    San Jose’s police and firefighters provide a defined and vital service to the general public in exchange for the wages they receive. They did not create the positions, hiring qualifications, nor professional standards to which each is held—the public did. To compare these people who risk their lives in the course of their duties to any collection of people whose only accomplishment is to have self-identified themselves as a “community” and strong-armed local politicians for handouts is absurd. What voice did the general public have in the creation of this “community” or the services provided by its center? The answer is zero, which also happens to be the amount of tax dollars to which their center is entitled.

    Nice try at justifying the unjustifiable, but a beggar with a well-crafted pitch is still a beggar.

  5. dhkelly,

    I will equate your understanding of the statistical danger of police work to that expressed about the statistics of death by the late George Burns’: “If you live to be one hundred you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.”

    Every day in this city the lives of dozens of police officers are placed in jeopardy not by way of unusual assignment or freak accident, but by the very nature of the job. There are no nurses, roofers, truck drivers, or fishermen who daily confront dangerous criminals, and place themselves in harm’s way, and deal “normal” citizens who’ve gone over the edge. That statistically few cops die in the line of duty can be attributed to their extensive training in one key area: how not to be killed.

    All street cops have been personally assaulted in the course of their duties, most have suffered injuries, and almost every cop whose made the street his/her career has had at least one person make a serious attempt to murder him/her. There is no other occupation that confronts its workers with so many different ways to get killed—or entails as much daily peril over as many years, as does police work. Twenty-five or thirty years of confronting suspicious people, apprehending the desperate, restraining the berserk, and being called upon to go through doorways where friends, family, and neighbors dare not go adds up to a danger tally that can be neither accurately measured in fatalities, nor, obviously, understood by those who’ve never done the job.

  6. Are you folks suggesting that San Jose couldn’t find good police officers for 20% less than we are currently paying? We have some of the highest paid “public servants” in the country, and their union have continually manipulated themselves into absurd and unsustainable wages and pensions. Instead of firing young, smart cops, we should institute across-the-board pay cuts. I am tired of San Jose shutting down libraries, community centers etc. in order to overpay a politically powerful lobby like the police.

    P.S. being a police officer is statistically less dangerous than being a nurse, a roofer, a truck driver or a fisherman. I appreciate what cops do, but it ain’t that dangerous.


  7. Look,I am not trying to be a jerk, but the fact is that there are cops in cities all over the country who do the same thing the SJPD does and are paid a lot less to do it. These are every bit as brave, every bit as overworked, and yet they somehow manage to pay their mortgage without bankrupting their communities. Those cops would love to come here and keep us safe for 3/4 what we pay the SJPD.

    • I don’t think you’re trying to be a jerk…  But I do believe that businesses and municipalities alike have to compete regionally when it comes to compensation in order to attract high-quality candidates.  I might get paid half of my salary to be a cop in Nebraska, but I could also buy my $450K house for maybe $150K.  When it comes to the Bay Area, San Jose PD is dead-last in overall compensation, and far below every other agency in Santa Clara County.  Honestly, I could go to work as a patrol officer for virtually any agency in the Bay Area and make several hundred (in some cases over a thousand) dollars a month more than I make in San Jose as a supervisor, along with getting a substantially better pension.  (San Jose PD’s retirement plan is significantly more costly to employees than PERS.  In general terms, we pay between 17 and 23% (depending on the year) of each paycheck into the fund.  PERS members pay between 0 and 9%.  We get an annual accrual rate of 2.5%; PERS members get 3%.) 

      When SJPD recently put out the call for new applicants only 800 people applied for 70 authorized positions.  About 30-40 are likely to make the cut.  By contrast, when Oakland PD announced it was hiring earlier this year, they had 2,500 applicants for 55 positions.

  8. News flash:
    In this country, there will always be someone who will do the job cheaper. And if not here now, they will soon cross the border.
    Just think about that. And now apply it to every other occupation. Including your own…if you have one?
    Comprendes Mendes?

  9. dhkelly,

    San Jose’s police officers have not bankrupted their city. Their pension plan is under attack not because it is the root cause of the city’s fiscal problems but because it makes a convenient target for politicians eager to continue to use the city treasury to extend their political roots and fertilize their careers. That pension plan, which provided this city with fifty years of unblemished service (valuable in attracting and keeping good people here), was undercut by reckless government policies (from which there was no hiding) and irresponsible stewardship by the city. That said, its current funding level is such that, should our city leaders approach its deficit with the longterm view that is traditional (and currently being employed with the Redevelopment deficit), it remains, given a few tweaks, quite salvageable.

    Now, regarding their compensation, our cops are, as are most workers, paid according to what they do and where they do it. This is a pricey place to live (remember, it was our own mayor who, in 2007, said you had to earn $250,000 a year just to buy a house here). If you want a city policed by cops so underpaid they have to rent, you’re not going to like the cost of recruiting, hiring, and retraining their replacements every three years, the cost of paying for the mistakes of a police force with a low level of experience, and you’re really not going to like seeing the crime rate soar. How’d you like to live in one the many cities with a 50% homicide clearance rate? Trust me, you won’t like what it does to your children or your property values.

    The hiring standards used here are not the same as found elsewhere. With the exception of meeting the demands of identity politics, San Jose PD has strict hiring guidelines on behavioral standards, intelligence, and psychological suitability. It has been these standards, coupled with a solid training program (pushed into existence by the POA), which has allowed this city to provide top-notch crime law enforcement with the lowest staffing levels in the country. It is also these standards that make hiring such a challenge (e.g. not one of our last three presidents or vice presidents could’ve satisfied the department’s character requirements).

    San Jose PD has never been staffed above 60% of recommended levels—even after a major hire, something that has over the years saved this city billions of dollars. Change the environment as the mayor is irresponsibly doing and you will cost lives, drive out business, and save the city not one stinking dime.

  10. Josh,

    Have you done any research on the DeFrank Center issue.  This morning, I read an article about the RDA successor agency, the City of San Jose, identifying RDA-owned properties in an effort to sell them. 

    Looks to me like the LGBT Community Center has a “hell and highwater” lease from the City for one dollar per year until the year 2054!  I don’t know who in their right mind would purchase a property like that… it is essentially worth nothing to any other organization with the leasehold currently in place.

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