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What is Pride hiding? There are a lot of questions about Pride Fort Lauderdale (Pride), the group producing the upcoming Pride of the Americas (POTA) event that starts on Feb. 10.  

Why are top-level people fleeing the organization right before the big event? How is money from sponsors and events being spent? Who is in charge?

Those questions have been asked, but answers have not been forthcoming. This leads to the main question: What is Pride hiding?

SFGN has reached out to Pride multiple times over the past several weeks; once through their website as well as multiple attempts to Pride President Miik Martorell through Facebook Messenger and his Pride email address.

While he has acknowledged SFGN’s requests he has yet to agree to an interview.

SFGN has requested minutes and video links of all their meetings since the start of 2022. We have seen some memos and minutes, but those were provided by an anonymous source and verified by SFGN.

Pride’s by-laws &/or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) require the board to meet at least once a month and that “all meetings of the Board of Directors shall be announced at least 48 hours in advance and, as reasonably, published for the general public.”

A search of their website, a general web search, and a look back through months of postings on their Facebook page did not turn up any notices which could be determined reasonable notice for the general public.

They are not required to make a video or verbatim records. However, they are required to make minutes of their meetings “available as soon as feasible and posted on the Corporation’s website or available in hard copy.” No such postings are on and requests for electronic and/or hard copies have been ignored.

Collapsing Into Chaos?

Pride has seen an exodus of leadership since mid-December. Executive Director Kevin Clevenger is leaving, but will stay on until after POTA. Entertainment Director Shawn Palacious (aka Kitty Meow) also left, citing health reasons.

Two other board members have also resigned, Secretary Jay Soboe-Rodriguez and Greg Beltran. This much turnover so fast in any organization is enough to raise eyebrows, but to happen so close to an event at least four years in the making signals real concern.

What makes the departures of Beltran and Soboe-Rodriguez even more concerning is they both come from the Midland organization. According to documents obtained by SFGN, Midland has committed $100,000 to Pride.

The resignation of their members from the board notwithstanding, Midland hasn’t shown any sign that its support is wavering, but with POTA shrinking from a three-day beach party to a one-day event away from the ocean, people have said there may be frustration on the diminishing return on their investment.

Originally scheduled for April 2020, POTA was delayed for years by the pandemic. Visit Lauderdale, Broward County’s convention and tourism arm, has been on board with POTA since 2019.

Their patience began running thin early. Minutes from Pride’s May 3, 2021 meeting show they discussed returning $150,000 to Visit Lauderdale. Visit Lauderdale has confirmed that half of their original commitment was returned but they remain a presenting sponsor of POTA 2023.

Who Is Getting the Money?

In minutes from the Dec. 19, 2022, board meeting, Pride notes that POTA is expected to lose at least $21,000. It also shows budget cuts of $176,664. Martorell is credited with providing a budget that lists costs, such as $25,000 for VIP Lounge and $305,000 for the Main Stage.

But there are no details.

Specifics, such as who are the contractors for set up and clean up and who gets the $136,000 budgeted for “Logistics,” are not spelled out.

These specifics may exist somewhere, but they have not been turned over to SFGN or made public on Pride’s website.

Too Little Too Late?

According to the aforementioned budget, $40,000 was set aside for marketing. Specifics on how that money will be spent also aren’t spelled out.

However we’re told Pride will be at the New York travel show January 28-29, two weeks before POTA.

POTA was initially supposed to be an international event attracting visitors from all over the Americas while spotlighting Fort Lauderdale as a tourist destination.

SFGN continues to press for information regarding Pride’s operations and expenses, and will welcome interviews with Martorell and anyone connected with the organization.