(Originally published: Nov. 13, 2013, 2:17 p.m.; Updated: Nov. 13, 2013, 5:13 p.m.)
LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Chair Roberta Dunn has announced she will hold a community town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m., at the center, 2508 N. Davidson St. The chosen date is one week after Dunn’s initial suggestion of Nov. 27, which would have occurred on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Dunn has said a “respected person” will moderate the event. It is not yet clear who this person is, but the moderator will be announced soon.
(Update: The center’s announcement on Facebook says the first town hall “will be the first Town Hall Meeting (of four yearly) in what will become a tradition of openness for the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.” There’s still no word on whether the organization will amend its bylaws and open its board meetings to the public.)
In scheduling her organization’s town hall, Dunn asked for my preference in dates. See screenshot below (click to enlarge).
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- Charlotte LGBT center issues misleading response, leaves several questions unanswered, but says it will host town hall meeting, Nov. 12, 2013
- The community voices the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte willfully ignored in their public statement on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2013
I found it curious Dunn would ask me to choose the date for her organization’s own event, as if she and her board were shifting responsibility over their own decision-making abilities to me. (Update: Dunn later commented that she was asking my opinion on dates to accommodate my schedule, which wasn’t made clear in her statement or comments. Also, I’d hope that the center is holding the town hall because they want to be transparent and accountable, not simply because they want to appease one person.)
I responded last night:
I just got your recent comment regarding the town hall date, where you ask me to respond on whether Nov. 27 is appropriate.
I don’t think it is my duty to determine when and where an open, town hall discussion should be held by the center. That responsibility lies with the center and its leadership alone. If you think the evening before Thanksgiving is appropriate, when many people will be traveling to visit with their families and therefore unable to attend a community event, then by all means schedule the town hall then, but before you make your final decision, let me point you to some community feedback to which you and your board should be listening. See attached screenshot. (See also screenshot of your original request.)
Let me know what your final decision is. I will advertise it as well as I can, so as to ensure the best community feedback in order to assist the center in its future well-being. Thanks.
Dunn then followed up this afternoon. See screenshot below (click to enlarge).
Again, I find it astonishing that the center can’t plan its own event. Do they really want a town hall and discussion with the community? If so, plan the event. If not, don’t plan the event. Choose a date. Step up. Be leaders.
Following up on your latest comment (see attached for reference). Thanks for making a decision on whether or not the center would hold a town hall and choosing the date. As I mentioned to you in my email last night, I did not feel it was my duty to schedule your town hall for an organization on whose board I do not sit and whose schedule I do not control. It should be up to the center’s leaders on whether they are open to community feedback, and I’m glad you and the board have decided to host the town hall on Dec. 4. I will advertise as well as I can; I certainly hope you and the center’s board and staff will advertise, as well, and take the initiative and responsibility to see that it is marketed as widely as possible (via Facebook, posters, etc.)
Who will be the town hall’s moderator?
I’m not a board member at the LGBT center. I will not do their work for them. I may have ideas, which I have shared, but it isn’t my responsibility to listen to feedback from community members about organization on whose board I do not serve and with which I have no official affiliation. If the center board truly wants feedback and transparency, then they need to show it. Doing their jobs by making decisions as a board chair and a board is a good start.
And, I should add: I, and so should the community, expect that all board members be present at the town hall they have now planned and scheduled.