Last year's Cleveland Pride rally
On Tuesday morning, WCPN's Sound of Ideas convened a panel to discuss the cancellation of the 28th annual Cleveland Pride parade and festival, and the efforts behind #PrideintheCLE
, the event created in the cancellation's aftermath.
Pride Inc. CEO Todd Saporito, City Councilman Kerry McCormack and the LGBT Center's Executive Director Phyllis Harris offered their competing interpretations
of how exactly the cancellation went down.
Among the biggest "news" items from the discussion: Todd Saporito, who has come under fire for his decision to cancel Pride, will be stepping down from his post as soon as he "wraps up" his current work.
Responding to a caller (~23:20 in the Ohio Channel video
) who asked Saporito directly about the circulating online petition
calling for his resignation, (which has been signed by more than 1200 people), Saporito said this was going to be his last year as executive director anyway.
"I don't think you really ever want somebody to walk away without finishing up and wrapping up their books, personally," he said. "This was actually my last year to be working. As a matter of fact I was called in to this year because they were having some issues."
"So you're done?" Host Mike McIntyre clarified.
"My goal is to wrap up the organization," Saporito said. "There are new board members coming on, schools that are linked to it. I mean, we actually have tight relationships with all the college GSA programs... I'll be wrapping up everything that I can to make sure they have everything they can for next year."
McIntyre, applying icing to the cake: "To answer [the caller's] question directly: There's been a call for your resignation. Your answer to that is, 'this is my last year anyway,' and you will be leaving that job?"
"Well, I mean, I'm going to wrap up all the work I would've wrapped up regardless," Saporito said. "And then I'll be moving on because I was moving on, not because there was a petition out there for me to resign."
The exchange closed the contentious 20-minute segment, which also found Saporito and Kerry McCormack passively disagreeing on the preparedness of the city's safety forces, and Saporito and Harris actively disagreeing about the minutiae of when she received word of the cancellation.
Saporito reiterated justifications he's already made for the cancellation, though he's notably distanced himself from the "changing social climate" rhetoric that appeared in the Pride Inc. press release. On Tuesday, he suggested the cancellation was due primarily to logistical concerns related to the festival's new location and a lack of communication with city personnel. The safety forces, Saporito suggested, were focused on the RNC to the exclusion of all else.
Though McCormack rebutted that the city is "more prepared now than ever" to host events on the scope of Pride — have a look at the RNC and the Cavs parade, he said — Saporito responded that without dialogue and without the expertise of safety officials, the coordination was too much of a challenge. It'd be "myopic," he said, to suggest that without all partners understanding how to manage an event, it can still go off without a hitch.
"What it sounds like," tendered Mike McIntyre, "is that essentially you weren't organized enough at the end. Is it possible that that's true or no?"
"No," Saporito answered quickly. "All the work's done."
Though McIntyre tried to suss out what Pride might look like in 2017 and beyond, Phyllis Harris said that right now, the focus is on putting on a successful event Saturday.
#PrideintheCLE, which will have been planned in 13 days, will begin with a parade at noon that will take marchers from the Superior Viaduct over the Detroit-Superior bridge and ultimately to Public Square. Festivities on the Square will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.