Letter to the Editor:
I found the Windy City Times article on "Parade leader speaks on future of Pride" (in the Sept. 19 issue) both eye-opening and surprising. I recognize the sizeable contributions Richard Pfeiffer; his partner, Tim Frye; and Gene Janowski have made to the LGBT Pride Parade over the years. However, it concerns me that the future of Chicago's Pride Parade will be dependent on a little handwritten book, and that proper financial accountability seems to take a back seat when it comes to funds raised by the committee and their itemized distribution.
Chicago is a world-class city and perhaps it is time for the Pride Parade to reflect that in both organization and accountability. If it is called an LGBT parade, I don't think it unreasonable to ask why the leadership of Pride Parade is not reflective of that community's mixture. Diversity in our community is a daily reality for many of us. More importantly, the wealth of financial and organizational talents available in our various community organizations could be a gold mine of opportunity for the current three parade organizers.
Perhaps it is time for the committee to grow in diversity and financial accountability. Not having financial policies and procedures in place could open the Pride Committee to accusations of misleading or incomplete financial information. Such problematic fiscal matters could open the door to claims of abuse and accusations of wrongdoing.
One of the unanswered questions for me is what part 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney and 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman play in the makeup of the Pride Parade leadership. Do they have any say in the distribution of funds accumulated or the placement of politicians in the parade?
No mention was made of this, nor was the question asked in the article concerning the meeting with the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Who made the decision at that meeting to change the kick-off time for the parade? Was it a joint decision, or did Tunney have the final say since he was a parishioner at the church?
I find it deeply troubling that aldermen would be involved in this matter. My question to both politicians is, "Why would you support such an organization with such questionable best-business practices when it comes to its fiscal matters?"
Another troubling aspect of the article was in reference to the organization's nonprofit status. Are corporations made aware of the committees for-profit status in terms of how they claim that deductible in their taxes? Since the Pride Committee is a for-profit organization, are taxes being paid on the funds being raised to state, county and federal governments? Finally, who is claiming that income on their taxes?
Accountability, diversity, organization and best-business practices are not unreasonable expectations when we are dealing with a major parade in Chicago that draws 750,000-850,000 people.
The article is certainly a good starting place for a community dialogue to begin. I want to thank both Windy City Times and Kate Sosin for giving us such an in-depth look at the matrix of accountability that appears to be challenging the current "Pride Parade leadership." Perhaps it is time for a community meeting. I fear this article has only raised more questions than it has answered.