Philadelphia is a great place to live. It has so much, so close-by: history, museums, sports. It’s walkable, livable, has green space. No, it didn’t get Amazon’s HQ2 and yes, it’s often overshadowed by New York and Washington. Too bad it has people in charge who don’t care about serving the public.
This goes along well with what I’ve recently written about liberalism turning so far left, it’s often becoming extremism. (See here, here, here and here.) Of course, Philadelphia is more to the left than the nation as a whole. Let’s see how much.
Here is the deal:
Mazzoni Center is the oldest AIDS-service organization in Pennsylvania, and has been â€œproviding innovative and compassionate care and services for people living with HIV since 1981.â€ Thatâ€™s according to director of communications Larry Benjamin in a recent column in the newspaper, Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), which is the main source of news for Philadelphiaâ€™s LGBTQI+ community.
For decades, Mazzoniâ€™s CEO was Nurit Shein, an Israeli woman no longer mentioned on the centerâ€™s history page but who undoubtably oversaw the â€œsteady and continued growthâ€ listed on that page:
- The first HIV testing site in Pennsylvania in 1985.
- TheÂ first sponsored housing for individuals living with HIV in 1986.
- Opening the regionâ€™s first HIV-related food bank in 1989.
- Opening its primary care medical practice, which has since become a cornerstone of the organizationâ€™s services, in 2003.
- â€œToday, with more than 35,000 individuals benefiting annually from its services, Mazzoni Center is a leader among community-based organizations in the greater Philadelphia area.â€
â€œThe center has 35,000 clients and an annual budget of $16.5 million, $6 million of which is comprised of federal grants. The balance comes from revenue generated through the health center and private-development funding.â€
In other words, the nonprofit gets government money and asks for donations, since it canâ€™t come close to surviving by simply charging its clients or patients fees. This affects all of us.
For example, in Sept. 2010, Mazzoni reported,
â€œThanks to a newly created HIV-prevention funding opportunity from the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionÂ (CDC), Mazzoni Center will receive $337,248 annually over the next five years to help continue three of our key intervention projects: HIV counseling, testing and referral services for MSM of color, for which we collaborate with GALAEI (Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative); comprehensive risk-counseling services for HIV-positive or high-risk men to cut down on the risk of future transmission or infection; and our community-outreach program â€˜Get Real.â€™â€
â€œMazzoni Center is pleased to announce it has received an award of $1.5 million through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvaniaâ€™sÂ Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). The funds are designated to support the purchase and renovation of a Center City building at Broad and Bainbridge Streets, where the agency will relocate and consolidate its core programs and services in summer 2017. â€¦
â€œThe grant demonstrates the growing commitment and collaboration between the State of Pennsylvania and the LGBTQ community,â€
and both of these examples of public funding happened, like so much else, under CEO Shein.
But despite so many successes over a generation, not all has been going well at Mazzoni for the past few years.
According to PGNâ€™s Nov. 15 article â€œAnother Mazzoni CEO out â€” Whatâ€™s next?â€
â€œLast year, Mazzoni Center was plagued by published reports of systemic racism, mismanagement and dysfunction. In April 2017, Robert Winn resigned as medical director amid charges of sexual misconduct. CEO Nurit Shein was asked by the board of directors to resign later that month, following accusations of delayed action on Winnâ€™s alleged misconduct.â€
â€œStephen Glassman stepped in to fill the interim CEO job in July 2017. During his tenure until March, he hired consultants with far-right ties to discourage employees from unionizing, which sparked another controversy. Last September, Mazzoni Center employees nevertheless voted 51-34 to unionize.â€
Then, the board of directors hired an executive-search firm which spent five months conducting a nationwide search for the right leader.
Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino was hired as Mazzoniâ€™s third CEO in less than two years â€“ moving up here from Florida â€“ but she recently resigned after just seven months. It wasnâ€™t due to the heat, weather-wise. The former Floridian was probably used to our mostly warm weather during her short tenure.
No. PGN reported the trouble started right away because Gonzalez Sciarrino is a straight woman! Yes! You read correctly. These are the details youâ€™ll probably find disturbing:
â€œAt the time her hiring was announced in March, she was attacked on social media by Mazzoni Center employees and others demanding her resignation, at least partly due to her non-LGBT status.
â€œThe Black and Brown Workers Cooperative (BBWC), who say they represent nearly 400 workers in Philadelphia, told PGN in a statement in early April, just days after Gonzalez Sciarrino took over as CEO: â€˜The days of people who are not from our communities coming in to take up a considerable amount of power in our communities is over,â€™ said BBWC cofounder Shani Akilah. â€˜A white, straight cis woman is not fit to lead Mazzoni, no matter how much experience she claims to have,â€™ said Akilah. â€˜The one thing she does not have and will never be able to have is lived experience.â€™â€
Can you believe that?
Such an outrageous statement about an accomplished woman who the board of directors chose to lead their troubled agency after a long search!
Talk about discrimination, and it happened this year â€“ not just in America, but inÂ The Birthplace of America!
Besides, who gets to pick their boss?
Click here for more of the articleÂ including why Gonzalez Sciarrino had to stop driving and start walking to work, always changing her route.
For now, three people will lead.
And days after Gonzalez Sciarrinoâ€™s resignation, PGN reported Mazzoni Center fired its Senior Health and Sexuality Educator for violating its harassment policy. According to the paper,
â€œThe move follows a series of social-media postings on Sloanâ€™s personal Facebook page since the announcement of CEO Lydia Gonzalez-Sciarrinoâ€™s resignation earlier this week. In one public post on Monday, Sloan wrote: â€˜This is what happens when you cross me. HAPPY MONDAY BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #WEWILLNOTLGBTQUIETâ€™ over a shared article of PGNâ€™s coverage of the CEOâ€™s resignation.
â€œA commenter questioned whether Sloan should be congratulated, to which she replied: â€˜Congratulations is absolutely the word. THANK YOU â€¦ IM [sic] SO HAPPYYYY.â€™
â€œIn another, Sloan shared a second article written about Gonzalez Sciarrino resigning with the hashtags â€˜WeWillNotLGBTQuietâ€™ and â€˜#Bih,â€™ internet slang for bitch.â€™
â€œAs she left the building on Thursday, witnesses told PGN Sloan shouted out: â€˜I got fired by y’allÂ â€” tell your friends.â€™
â€œShortly thereafter, she wrote on her Facebook page, â€˜They went and fired me for no reason get ready to raise hell everybody.â€™â€
Makes me wonder what kind of people work at Mazzoni!
A PGN editorial, â€œSocial media and public officials,â€ said,
â€œAmber Hikes, the executive director of the Mayorâ€™s Office of LGBT Affairs, had opinions on the resignation of its executive director, Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino, and posted those opinions on social media.
â€œWhen we called her for a clarification and asked whether she was representing her own views or the views in her capacity as a representative for the mayor, she stated: â€˜This is a trip. Itâ€™s weird that itâ€™s a slow day at PGN, especially with everything going on, but Iâ€™ll give you a quote to explain whatâ€™s going on.â€™â€
That PGN editorial concluded, â€œThe issue boils down to whether a non-LGBT person can run an organization that serves primarily LGBT people,â€ and the newspaper has spoken out against discrimination like that before.
In this particular case, it wondered based on Hikesâ€™ social media posts, â€œIs her view personal or administration policy?â€
Thatâ€™s the question I â€“ as a Philadelphia citizen â€“ wanted answered. I even asked about public officials using their own social media accounts while supposedly working for the public, developing policy for the mayor.
Remember the name Amber Hikes, because this post is mostly about her. Shortly, you’ll read the Facebook faceoff we engaged in, and the letter she asked me to send â€“ containing a bunch of questions â€“ she never bothered to answer. You’ll also see several of her tweets containing profanities, and how her support of certain people â€“ and disregard of others â€“ are a prime example of the left gone too far.
PGN reported in March, 2017, Mayor Jim Kenney appointed her executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs.
Therefore, she works for the city but youâ€™ll find no brotherly love coming from her (except for her boss, the mayor) and little sisterly affection.
Hikes had lived in Philadelphia for more than a decade but moved to California more than a year before her appointment at City Hall. Thatâ€™s when she told PGN,
â€œâ€˜When I arrived in Philadelphia about 11 years ago, I was a young, black queer woman seeking people who looked like me who loved like me and frankly, the next decade of my life, [I was] just living, studying, working and trying to build that community that I was seeking,â€™ Hikes said. â€˜I noticed these multiple identities that were reflected in the intersections of so many of our underserved citizens.â€™â€
And apparently those are the only people Hikes cares about.
For example, on Aug. 20, Gonzalez Sciarrino fired Kay Martinez, who was Mazzoni Centerâ€™s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. That caused an estimated 50 people to walk out to protest the firing. Among those protesters was no other than Amber Hikes, the executive director of the Mayorâ€™s Office of LGBT Affairs. Iâ€™ll get into the contradiction shortly.
According to a written statement from the Mazzoni Center that PGN published Aug. 30,
â€œâ€˜The reason for Kay Martinezâ€™s termination was disagreement with the Mazzoni Center management team that resulted in unprofessional conduct that was inconsistent for someone in their role,â€™ according to Mazzoniâ€™s written statement. â€˜We believe the facts, when communicated in the appropriate forum, will be obvious proof that we could not continue the employment of Martinez, a high-level director.â€™â€
In the same article, PGN reported Martinez â€œfiled a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and publicly accused Mazzoni Center of wrongful termination, retaliation and discrimination,â€ and accused Gonzalez-Sciarrino of lacking â€œLGBTQ and trans competency.â€
â€œGonzalez-Sciarrino took on an ally role once she became the leader of an LGBTQ organization. There needs to be a demonstration of a high level of LGBTQ competency, no matter who it is,â€ said Martinez. â€œIâ€™m not saying this heterosexual, cisgendered Latina person has no business being there â€” itâ€™s about her level of LGBTQ competency. I had to educate the CEO on what my pronouns were and how to properly use the they/them pronouns, and that displayed a very significant trans incompetency.â€
I wasnâ€™t there, donâ€™t know what really happened and have not heard about a resolution. Besides, most of us use he/him pronouns for someone who looks male, and she/her for someone who looks female. With so much diversity in the LGBTQI+ community, how could someone look at someone else and automatically know which pronouns they prefer? Even Harry Houdini wouldnâ€™t be able to get out of that one!
But we know Hikes walked out over the firing.
PGNâ€™s editorial stated,
â€œShe (Hikes) injected herself into this latest firestorm (Gonzalez Sciarrinoâ€™s resignation), as she has with others on social media.â€
So the executive director of the Mayorâ€™s Office of LGBT Affairs has had problems on social media before.
The editorial ended,
â€œRight before presstime, Hikes did clarify that the statements are â€˜on my personal Facebook so yes, Iâ€™m speaking personally.â€™â€
Of course, I got interested and looked at her Facebook page. That was last Tuesday, Nov. 20. This is what I found:
So at least one of her Facebook friends, apparently not from Philadelphia, was very interested in Gonzalez Sciarrinoâ€™s three replacements, and wanted to make sure at least one was of what she considered the proper race, and trans, rather than cis.
Remember, the Mazzoni Center survives on public, taxpayer money â€“ plus the generosity of some individual members of the public. Tens of thousands of peopleâ€™s health, and other peopleâ€™s jobs, depend on the place running smoothly. Otherwise, itâ€™s a waste of money and a huge shame after so many people worked for so long, so Mazzoni could offer groundbreaking programs.
See that Facebook friendâ€™s response before my question, which I decided should be about a large group of individuals never once mentioned in the resignation matter: men!
You can see I was attacked and also who her Facebook friends are by the number of thumbs-up quickly praising her for acting strong and attacking me. (Who your friends are tells a lot about you.) But I thought this public servant was out of line and didnâ€™t give up, explaining myself further, using her tone against her, and then mentioning the mayor.
My letter makes a good point about her sentence starting with â€œYes my boss.â€ So before going to bed, she made a more disgraceful assumptions and remarks, but invited me to send an email to her office, which I did.
(It appears since then, Hikes made her personal Facebook account private, and after that shut it down. Good move for somebody who was documented as having injected herself into multiple firestorms on social media!)
I spent the next morning crafting this exact letter to Hikes, emailed it midday, and ccâ€™ed Mayor Kenney, whom Hikes spoke for and answers to:
Hi, Ms. Hikes! I’m a citizen of Philadelphia, on and off for 20 years on Thanksgiving (tomorrow, by coincidence).
You’ll no doubt remember last night, I wrote, asking you a question. I had just finishing readingÂ PGN‘s latest article on the saga of the Mazzoni Center, and you said to â€œFeel free to shoot an email … with your grievances.â€
Here it is.
I donâ€™t expect detailed answers to every question Iâ€™m putting forth here, but would appreciate general explanations about some of the things youâ€™ve said, and some of the ways I feel.
You were quoted in the front-page article â€œAnother Mazzoni CEO Out â€” Whatâ€™s Next?â€ (Nov. 16 edition,Â https://www.epgn.com/news/breaking-news/13993-another-mazzoni-ceo-out-what-s-next) as saying:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œlived experienceâ€ qualifies a leader for an organization that deals with marginalized communities.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œI think that personal, lived experience with those communities is essential to be able to serve them appropriatelyâ€ â€¦ â€œIn the same way that I think it is appropriate for a black person to lead Black Lives Matter, it is appropriate for a woman to lead the National Organization of Women, I think itâ€™s appropriate for an LGBT person to lead an LGBTQ center.â€
Actually, while proofreading before publishing this post, I realized she mustâ€™ve meant the TheÂ National OrganizationÂ forÂ Women, notÂ ofÂ Women, and she should know better.
I also just realized the NAACP was formed in 1909 as aÂ bi-racialÂ endeavor â€“ not a black organization â€“ to advance justice forÂ African-Americans.
Seems I know more than Ms. Hikes on some aspects of women and African-Americans! It also disproves her last point. But as you may have imagined, thereâ€™s plenty more…
That first statement leads me to wonder what qualifications the leader of an organization that deals with marginalized communities should have? If â€œlived experienceâ€ is a requirement, then are there others? If not, then how does â€œlived experienceâ€ qualify compared to other qualifications? Could it simply be a tie-breaker?
That second statement, dealing with demographics, leads me to wonder, â€œDo you think it was appropriate for President Obama to lead (what was) a majority white nation?â€ Also, do you feel thatâ€™s OK when it comes to labor laws?
Then, the newspaperâ€™s editorial (https://www.epgn.com/opinion/editorials/14003-social-media-and-public-officials) quoted you when they contacted you as saying, â€œThis is a trip. Itâ€™s weird that itâ€™s a slow day at PGN, especially with everything going on, but Iâ€™ll give you a quote to explain whatâ€™s going on.â€
That statement sounds to me like something President Trump would say to the media, not â€œthe executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia,â€ as it says in your biography (https://www.phila.gov/departments/office-of-lgbt-affairs/). Would you mind sharing what else was going on the dayÂ PGNÂ contacted you? (Iâ€™ll be happy to help clear things up with them by forwarding your answer, if youâ€™d like.)
(I don’t agree withÂ PGNâ€™s opinion 100 percent and don’t think anybody in the world can, since it tries to give opposing points of view and make us think. I would suggest a few changes to the newspaper but will not question its original reporting. As for any agenda, after decades as a reader, I will suggest it’s the betterment of theÂ LGBTQI+ community in every way, in Philadelphia and around the world. I take that to mean equality and peace.)
Your use of personal social media while serving the public made news, and it was also news to me that it had made news before. (Editorial: â€œShe injected herself into this latest firestorm, as she has with others on social media.â€) Therefore, I became curious.
Also, you chose to have your Facebook account’s privacy setting open to the public (or did not pay attention) which has apparently led to some news and definitely led me to read, which was my right. This morning, I saw that setting had changed and Iâ€™m sure you understand the consequences of libel, should that be the case, considering your response to me last night. You know whatâ€™s on the Internet tends to stay there. You should also know I always jealously protect my good name, with legal counsel on hand for a situation exactly two weeks ago (Nov. 7). Iâ€™ll ask you to make sure any defamatory reference to me on your Facebook timeline is gone, after you respond to me.
I don’t think you treated my questions, and definitely my point, fairly. I was intrigued when I read this comment to your post on Mazzoni, and the probing answers and replies that followed.
When I saw the response that followed, from somebody whose Facebook profile says she is â€œbased in Washington DC and Californiaâ€ rather than any mention of Philadelphia, and considering how you answered her, I decided to ask you about this story making news.
I decided to use gender as the basis of my question, because it had not been brought up, and because PGN reported in its news article, â€œThe three new leaders are Medical Director Dr. Nancy Brisbon, Care Services Director Alicia Manley and Chief Financial Officer Racquel Assayeâ€ â€“ all women.
I even called out my own questions as among the â€œknit-pickingâ€ ones! I wanted to make a point.
Letâ€™s say your response to me was different than above, not so nice, and falsely accusatory.
Iâ€™ll point out, right off the bat, your response to me was absolutely rude. You tried to make it clear you don’t work for Mazzoni, using emojis between every word. Of course not. Youâ€™re â€œthe executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia.â€
Then, you used the phrases â€œis exactly what we needâ€ and â€œis moving us in that direction.â€ Does that sound like a politician with an interest in the center, or something more that may cross a line? It definitely makes your relationship sound different than your first sentence (â€œI donâ€™t work for Mazzoni,â€ emoji, emoji, emoji).
But you were one of the people who â€œparticipated in a walk-out to protest the firingâ€ (according to theÂ PGNÂ article) of Mazzoni Centerâ€™s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. How could you walk out if you donâ€™t work there, and how could you protest as a city official? I donâ€™t get it, either way.
If you say you were simply standing by the non-management workers there, please realize I’ve been a member of two unions and shop steward at one. I have absolutely no problems with unions, and in fact encourage workers to unionize. Collective bargaining is probably the only way for them to have a voice in working conditions and we are lucky Pennsylvania has not turned the way of Michigan under previous gubernatorial leadership here.
However, the treatment of the patients is the reason Mazzoni exists, and the reason members of the public donate money to keep it running and more. I completely understand the workers walking out if they were ordered to do something morally wrong or illegal. (I chose to leave one job under similar circumstances.) Otherwise, they were probably putting their jobs and even the treatment of their patients on the line.
You also accused me of being sexist, but that is not true in any way. There are women I turn to as mentors for advice, including whether I could be considered one for something I said, did, or believed. Again, I was simply adding one more facet of humanity to the discussion that had not been mentioned: gender. If instead, I had mentioned religion, age or national origin, would you have accused me of â€œageist nonsenseâ€ and the like?
I donâ€™t know the three Mazzoni leadersâ€™ religions, ages or national origins, and unlike so many others, Iâ€™m not asking. It should really be nobodyâ€™s concern (except possibly for government employment forms), unless the people involved choose to share that information. Anything else sounds like a quota system and thatâ€™s wrong, whether itâ€™s aiming for a number higher or lower than the current number â€“ especially on employment issues where there may be legal concerns and you represent the city of Philadelphia.
Right now, I’m doing as you suggested and emailing you with the address you gave. If you didnâ€™t notice on top, I’m also taking this moment to make sure you know this email is not private since I’m cc’ing your boss, Mayor Jim Kenney, because you called All Lives Matter (a phrase IÂ neverÂ used) â€œnonsense.â€
Thanks, but I donâ€™t need you to put words in my mouth.
Mr. Mayor, Would you agree itâ€™s â€œnonsenseâ€ that All Lives Matter, realizing I never brought up that phrase to Ms. Hikes?
Also, should your appointee be answering a constituent as a â€œblack, queer womanâ€ or as a public servant? If you do think she answered appropriately, then do you answer constituents as a â€œstraight white male of Irish descent?â€
Ms. Hikes, considering your statement itâ€™s â€œnonsenseâ€ that All Lives Matter, please put in order the amount that these peopleâ€™s lives matter (in general, not a specific person, and feel free to add any I may have forgotten, or combine any):
I don’t know about you but I think there is too much division in this country, and a lot of it comes from people treating their fellow Americans as less than them. But on the other hand, others like the ones you responded to cling to very, very specific classifications â€“ and caused me to write.
Right now, our country is divided over so many personal issues. I think concentrating on very, very specific classifications for a job (or three specific jobs) â€“ three of the four (Black, Latina, trans and woman) written by your Facebook friend in the comment, and brown written by you in your first reply to that person â€“ adds to the divisiveness.
The LGBT community is already a minority of the population. Labeling more and more differences separates us, and makes us a tiny minority of a minority of the population. How many people will qualify if you add in religion, age and national origin (oh, and â€œlived experienceâ€)?
All people are created in the image of God, and automatically entitled to equal human and civil rights. That should be practiced by everyone including the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, your biography on your city officeâ€™s websiteÂ https://www.phila.gov/departments/office-of-lgbt-affairs/Â says you set your â€œsights on fighting and advocating for the most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ communityâ€”specifically youth, transgender people, and people of color.â€ I take that to mean not the LGBT community as in your city officeâ€™s title, but only certain subsets. Correct me if Iâ€™m wrong.
Then, a few paragraphs later: â€œHikes believes in employing an intersectional lens in all aspects of community work.â€ Does that mean filtering people and deciding how worthy they are of the cityâ€™s help, using the words from your Facebook post above?
Remember, the top of the page which sounds like a job description reads, â€œCity of Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs: Serving the LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia through advocacy and inclusion.â€ I take that to mean the cityâ€™s goal for the office. â€œThe LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia,â€ from the city, sounds quite different than your quote, â€œmost vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community.â€ Again, correct me if Iâ€™m wrong with this distinction.
And does the cityâ€™s use of the word â€œinclusionâ€ regarding the office you lead refer to all elements of the LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia or just the ones mentioned in your biography?
You know none of us chose the circumstances in which we were born, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, â€œI have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.â€ I spent years teaching that quote to elementary schoolchildren. I think that concise quote best describes what all of us should want for the future of the world, and these days can go beyond â€œthe color of their skin.â€
We, collectively, have vastly different experiences. Much of it is due, as I said, to the factÂ none of us chose the circumstances in which we were born. But then to read what you wrote last night, â€œthat we need to see more black and brown trans women in leadership in our organizations,â€ has me questioning your devotion to all members of theÂ LGBTQI+ community in your role as â€œexecutive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia â€¦ serving the LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia through advocacy and inclusion.â€
As a city resident, homeowner, and taxpayer – as well as member of the LGBTQI+ community – I want to know how you represent me.
Am I wrong for asking?
Also, do you feel the demographic issue taking such a major role in the Mazzoni saga is turning moderates such as myself to the right, which would probably be the last thing you want politically?
Thank you in advance for your more thoughtful answers this time around.
I hope you thought the letter was well-written, informative and asked good questions. I donâ€™t know whether Mayor Jim Kenney or his hand-picked executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, Amber Hikes, feel that way.
Neither of them bothered to respond!
Thatâ€™s ironic since when Hikes was hired, PGN reported a city spokesperson had said,
â€œThere was a very vocal need for someone to be more outward-facing and more community-engagement-based.â€
So Tuesday, I forwarded them this second email:
Ms. Hikes and Mr. Mayor,
Tomorrow will be one week since I wrote to both of you and I have not received any sort of answer, much less acknowledgement, to my questions and concerns from either of you.
Public servants need to be available to be effective, kind of like journalists. I’ve been one of those for a couple of decades.
Furthermore, I’m wondering if I’m the first person to ask you these questions because if not, then you could’ve probably given me canned answers you’ve already given others.
I plan to blog on this disgrace (at least so far) so thousands around the world know what I consider the craziness and favoritism that goes on in Philadelphia, and how my inquiry has been ignored (so far). Itâ€™s all unfortunate.
I’ll include your entire, unedited answers in my post tomorrow, especially from Ms. Hikes, who had time to immediately respond to her personal-but-public (but last I checked, private) Facebook account at odd hours last Tuesday, Nov. 20. Iâ€™ll also include my letter.
Please inform me. That shouldnâ€™t be too hard for decision-makers with your titles and powers in such a big city, right? Even GmailÂ â€œnudgedâ€Â me to follow-up, as if I needed to be reminded.
Philadelphia citizen and taxpayer
Iâ€™m ashamed of the politics that goes on in this great city and sometimes ask myself why I donâ€™t move just over the line, where there is no city wage tax that takes more money from paychecks than the stateâ€™s income tax does. Productive people donâ€™t seem to be valued.
As for the Mazzoni Center, its volunteer board of directors is about to become a whole lot different. Five of the 17 will resign. According to PGN, the reason is lack of enough diversity among a board with this membership: â€œFive are women, six are people of color and eight are white men.â€
Board president Chris Pope told the paper,
â€œMany of our legacy board members have served for 13 years, and now itâ€™s time to make space for new faces, new voices and new perspectives. Diversifying our board has been a major focus for some time now and we are looking for prospective candidates that will bring a fresh outlook as we move the organization forward.â€
Weâ€™ve been through Facebook. Yesterday, I wondered if Ms. Hikes had a Twitter account, and boy does she!
I hate to say it, but notice the vulgarities from this public servant on this forum. I havenâ€™t published anything like this since my post on the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings.
These were all her personal tweets. None of them were retweeted from somebody else. Iâ€™m going in chronological order, starting just over a year ago, and any underlining in red is mine. I chose words I think she should not have used, or used in the way she did. Itâ€™s unbecoming for someone in her role. At least I think so.
The rainbow flag colors â€œreflect the diversity of theÂ LGBT community.â€ That means itâ€™s an abstraction of everybody, and just a skin deep representation because nobody in real life actually looks like any of the colors. It represented â€˜prideâ€™ in Philadelphia until June 2017, when Hikes
â€œofficiallyÂ added black and brown stripesÂ atop the cityâ€™s pride flag â€” making Philadelphia the first city to do so â€”Â toÂ recognize people of color who had long felt excluded. â€¦ Hikes views the new flag as a way to start conversations about race and identity, particularly with white people who have not experienced the same disparate treatment as people of color â€” and may be reluctant to believe it exists.â€
Talk about pettiness and simple-minded people separating themselves from others when theyâ€™re supposed to be coming together, uniting as one!
The Philly.com article goes on to say,
And speaking of coming together, uniting as one:Â Months earlier, in Jan. 2017, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations
â€œfound widespread reports of racial tension and discrimination in the neighborhood (the Gayborhood), which often touts its inclusivity. â€¦ The report noted that dress codes, ID policies, bar service and treatment of staff can vary depending on the patron or employee, which perpetuates discrimination.â€
Because of that, it forced 11 bars and two nonprofits â€“ the Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT â€“ to take part in fair business practice training within 90 days and implicit bias training within 120 days. Did places frequented mostly by straight people face the same requirements? Do you think those establishments, including neighboring ones, are any better?
The Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr., a black former mayor of Philadelphia who sits on the board of FIGHT, told Philly.com,
â€œHe was shocked to see the organization named in the report. He said he was skeptical about the thoroughness of the vetting process.
â€œâ€˜Philadelphia FIGHT is probably one of the most diverse organizations in the city,â€™ Goode said. He called the organizationâ€™s CEO, Jane Shull, a champion of equality in the workplace. â€˜I do not believe anyone could write that who investigated, who read the personnel plan, who knew what they were talking about.â€™â€
So citizens of Philadelphia: Do you think there is any more to this woman than vulgarity, divisiveness and unresponsiveness? Is this appropriate from one of our city leaders? Should Hikes be sent her walking papers?
This is the contact information for bothÂ Ms. Hikes and Mayor Kenney, taken from their pages on the cityâ€™s website. Please take a few moments to share your feelings with them (and maybe get a response!), but also the city council member for your district, and donâ€™t forget all seven council members at-large, at the bottom of the webpage.
(Click here if you donâ€™t know who your districtâ€™s city council member is. Youâ€™ll see a map, where you can type in your address, and their name will come up.)
In Feb. 2017, the city started a Commission on LGBT Affairs, calling it
â€œa 23-member body that will advise the Mayor on policies that support the lives of LGBT individuals in the city and support and amplify the work of the Office of LGBT Affairs. â€¦ The members reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, which includes transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer communities, as well as diversity in ethnicity, religion, race, gender, disability, profession, citizenship status, socioeconomic status, geography, housing status and age.â€
Hikes, still the newly-appointed LGBT Affairs executive director back then, said,
â€œI look forward to serving with this vibrant team as we address the needs of our community and elevate the voices of our most underserved community members.â€
But Sharron Cooks, the chair of the newly created commission â€“ and also the first transgender personÂ ever to chair a city commission, according to Philadelphia Magazine â€“ was voted out in May, after just six weeks.
The magazine reported,
“Philly was sent documentation from the meeting that raised concerns surrounding Cooks’s social media interactions with members of one of the commission’s committees.
“‘The emergency meeting was basically centered around complaints that Commissioner Amanda Dougherty made about Sharron targeting her in various social media posts she made this past weekend,’ said a commissioner present during the meeting who asked not to be named.
“‘Dougherty provided the commission with multiple screenshots of Facebook posts where Sharron indirectly called her out for being a white bisexual woman taking up space in the community affairs committee.'”
Sounds too much like Amber Hikes with social media. And President Trump.
Like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there has to be another revolutionary change in leaders here in Philadelphia. Click here for directions on registering to vote.
- Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, justice and becoming a Justice, Sept. 23, 2018
- News starting out good but going downhill fast, Oct. 2, 2018
- Political pondering, 3 weeks before Election Day, Oct. 16, 2018
- Not a good day for political thoughts, the USA as a whole, Oct. 28, 2018
- Difficult week, from anger to sadness, as election approaches, Nov. 4, 2018
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