Leppert to miss gay Pride parade

Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2007.

For the second time in four years, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert will miss Dallas’ gay Pride parade. Chris Heinbaugh, Leppert’s openly gay chief of staff, told Instant Tea that Leppert has a “longstanding personal commitment” on the day of the parade, Sept. 19.

Leppert, a political conservative, surprised some when he appeared in the parade his first year in office. He became only the second Dallas mayor ever to appear at gay Pride, after Laura Miller. Leppert missed the parade in 2008 due to a family matter, but attended the parade again last year.

Heinbaugh declined to elaborate on Leppert’s “personal commitment” this year. Heinbaugh said he believes all 14 of the other council members, with the exception of Vonciel Jones Hill, have said they plan to appear in the parade this year.

Last year, all but two council members, Hill and Carolyn Davis, were at Pride.

—  John Wright

'An open letter to Carolyn Davis'

Taken from the comments to the post below, this was written by former Dallas Voice staffer and District 7 resident David Webb, otherwise known as the Rare Reporter:

Dear Ms. Davis:

As a former homeowner in District 7 I would like for you to know how dreadfully disappointed I am in you for failing to show up at the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade as you had promised. Surely, you could have called someone to tell them you couldn’t make it for whatever reason that might have been. As it was, everyone expected you to be there, and you just didn’t show. Former Councilman Leo Chaney, who represented District 7 when I lived there, would never have treated his LGBT constituency that way. Given the numbers of LGBT voters in District 7, you owe them more than that. Your failure to honor your commitment will be remembered, and I hope you will explain yourself in the days to come. What we have read in the Dallas Voice is that you have a history of not returning phone calls. This may be one you need to make.

—  John Wright

So, how many councilmembers were really at Gay Pride? 13, according to Angela Hunt

Councilwoman Angela Hunt, shown front and center on the float, says 13 of 15 councilmembers showed up for Sunday's Pride parade.
Angela Hunt, shown standing on the float (in the Capri shorts), said she was among 13 of 15 councilmembers who showed up for Sunday’s Pride parade.

I was in the street taking photos when the float with Dallas city councilmembers on it sped by during Sunday’s Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, so I didn’t get a chance to confirm who was or wasn’t on it. As I reported previously, all councilmembers with the exception of District 5′s Vonciel Jones Hill had agreed to appear in the parade this year, which would’ve been a record — 14 of 15. But Councilwoman Angela Hunt told me this morning that in addition to Hill, there was one no-show: District 7′s Carolyn Davis.

I’ve left a message with Davis’ office, but as one city official whom I won’t name put it, “good luck getting her to call you back” — not because we’re the gay paper, but because she’s just not good about returning phone calls in general.

Anyhow, mayor’s chief of staff Chris Heinbaugh confirmed for me again this morning that Davis had agreed to appear in the parade. Heinbaugh said he’d even delivered a map of the parade area to Davis’ office so she would know where to go. But apparently Davis either got lost anyway or simply decided not to come. Who knows, maybe she was sick. Or maybe, just maybe, she was in Belize.

Picture 1

—  John Wright

Dallas City Council votes down proposal to reinstate funding for HIV/AIDS services

I just got off the phone with District 1 Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who was kind enough to step outside and call me during the City Council’s still ongoing budget briefing. Jasso reported that the council has voted down an amendment from Angela Hunt that would have reinstated $250,000 that has been cut from the budget for HIV/AIDS services.

Jasso said the amendment was defeated by a vote of 9-6 in a straw poll, over concerns that the funding source — collection of delinquent multi-tenant inspection fees — doesn’t really exist. Jasso said the amendment was supported by herself, Hunt, Pauline Medrano, Carolyn Davis, Linda Koop and Steve Salazar. Jasso added that a majority of the council supports the HIV/AIDS programs themselves, just not the proposed funding mechanism for Hunt’s amendment. She said councilmembers have directed City Manager Mary Suhm to identify another, more reliable funding source. Jasso said the city has also applied for two grants, totalling $500,000, to fund HIV/AIDS education and prevention. The council is expected to finalize the 2009-10 budget Sept. 23.

“We’ll find something out next week, but it is an ongoing thing in terms of how she [Suhm] can reprogram some money,” Jasso said. “It may be that we don’t get anything until January and it goes without for a few months.”

There’s no word on how a delay in funding would affect the HIV/AIDS programs at places like AIDS Interfaith Network and Resource Center Dallas, given that a large portion of the money is used to pay staff members’ salaries.

—  John Wright