SENIOR Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board members have dismissed the request for an upcoming Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) as pointless.
The board confirmed it would hold the EGM at the request of Mardi Gras directors James Brechney and Silke Bader, but did not support the meeting as the board was already working on the resolutions listed in the request.
“The board doesn’t support the call because the items listed can’t be dealt with at an EGM.”
Bowron said an explanatory memoranda would be sent to all Mardi Gras members which would highlight that many of the items have either been resolved or the board is currently working on them.
One of the resolutions calls for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the 78ers – the group of people who held the first Mardi Gras – and that it “must include a marquee at Fair Day, a modest budget for the 78er float, and cover accessibility issues such as access to chairs at Mardi Gras events”.
Bowron said the Mardi Gras board has been in meetings with the 78ers, a fact confirmed with the Star Observer today by a member of the group.
“We are in an ongoing conversation with them,” she said.
“The 2016 Mardi Gras was a big season for them with all the different apologies and for us. We met with the 78ers in May… and there has previously been an MOU with them.”
Bowron was clear the Mardi Gras Board harbours no animosity towards Bader and Brechney, but is disappointed their actions are a distraction from the achievements of Mardi Gras this year, including recording a six-figure surplus for the first time in many years.
“We are about to announce a successful result from the end of season and now this in the arena and it just deflects attention away from those results,” she said.
“I can’t speak comment to their motivation, but yes their actions do seem it (dramatic).
Can we please have just ONE year of Mardi Gras that isn’t marred by feuding board directors? It’s like clockwork ughhttps://t.co/lSMT5LPugV
— Elias Jahshan (@Elias_Jahshan) June 4, 2016
Brechney – who told Star Observer to refer to him as the ‘dissident director’ – and Bader released a statement saying they “called this important General Meeting to give an opportunity for the members to send a clear message to the whole Board on expected values of accountability, transparency and fairness”.
“We are personally committed in the belief that our organisation has more work to do to properly engage the volunteers, the members, our founders the 78ers and many others in our LGBTQI community,” they said.
“Only together can we continue to transform Mardi Gras into the vibrant, loving & relevant organisation she deserves to be. We are calling on all members to either attend the meeting or submit their proxy votes in favour of our motions.”
Brechney and Bader told Star Observer they were not speaking on behalf of Mardi Gras, who were bound by the organisation’s rules to maintain confidentiality, and called the meeting because they “need member-based input into the expectations they have of all of us as Board Directors”.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of robust conversation with our members, this is why we have a Constitution that allows two directors to call a meeting like this. The 13 motions aren’t that narrow, they cover a broad range of issues that we would like to see discussed.”
Community photographer C.Moore Hardy plans to lodge an official complaint with Mardi Gras after she was denied AAA access to the parade route this year. One of Bader and Brechney’s suggested resolutions is to institute a transparent process for the 2017 Mardi Gras season to allow a long standing community photographers full access to the Mardi Gras Parade route.
Hardy said she is not surprised by the internal conflict at Mardi Gras and welcomed the call for an EGM.
“Problems and differences arise in a cyclic format, this has happened before,” she said.
“Community organisations are bound to have individuals who do not communicate well, the power corrupts them.
“It has more to do with individuals involved without due process. That’s what happened to me… I spoke to as many people about the issue regarding me, the responses were not impressive at all.”
Community Action Against Homophobia has asked Mardi Gras to change the date of the EGM, as it is on the same day as a pre-election marriage equality rally. However, Bowron confirmed it would not be able to change the date.
“We are bound by the Constitution and the Corporations Act so can’t change the date of the meeting,” she said.
“However, the EGM is at 10am and the rally is at 1pm so there’s plenty of time for people to attend both if they wish to.”