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Monday, April 10, 2006

Not Good Enough, Lorrie

Posted by on April 10 at 11:33 AM

On Saturday I posted this about Lorrie McKay’s decision to leave Washington Won’t Discriminate, the group that is supposed to be fighting Tim Eyman’s effort to repeal Washington’s gay rights law. McKay was recently hired to run the group’s campaign. She left after just four weeks.

The parting is being described as amicable—and, hey, aren’t they all? McKay told the Seattle Gay News that she was stepping down because “we had a difference in style—the [Executive Committee of Washington Won’t Discriminate] and I…. I really had to ask myself if it was really more helpful for me stay [sic] or get out of the way.ā€¯ Campaign co-chair Anne Levinson described McKay’s departure as “pretty normal for campaigns,ā€¯ adding, “we will keep moving on.ā€¯

From the outside it looks like something’s rotten at WWD—and ERW, for that matter—and unless someone with direct knowledge of what exactly is going wrong at WWD is willing to step forward and make some non-amicable public comment, WWD will continue to limp along. Which wouldn’t be a problem if Tim Eyman weren’t sprinting past us. There’s a terrible fear of rocking the boat in Seattle’s gay political circles. If something is seriously wrong at WWD, Lorrie, say something now, not after Eyman kicks our asses this November.

In the comments thread, Lorrie wrote this:

Eyman will only kick our ass if we remain distracted and if we remain confused about Referendum 65. Currently, we are both.

Referendum 65 asks voters whether our state’s law (2661) that protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation should be “approvedā€¯ or “rejected.ā€¯

We want the law that the legislature passed in January (2661) to be ‘approved.’

Don’t be confused. If they gather enough signatures for Referendum 65 to qualify for the ballot, we will need R-65 to pass in November. We will need to campaign to Approve R-65 in order to retain the law (2661).

Avoid being distracted. Move forward, focus and support the next campaign manager who steps up to lead Washington Won’t Discriminate and this campaign on our behalf.

Sorry, Lorrie, but vague platitudes aren’t good enough. Folks want to know—including other folks in the comment thread—why you left the group after just four weeks. What the hell is going on at WWD?

Sandeep Kaushik, also in the comments, wrote this:

I have heard that it is not just Lorrie who has left the campaign (though that is bad enough, given her smarts and extensive campaign experience). My understanding is that a couple weeks ago Kelly Evans, who ran the brilliant and gloriously successful anti-I-912 campaign, and who had been signed on as a top operative for WWD’s anti-Eyman effort, also quit abruptly.

If WWD is fatally screwed up and you know it, Lorrie, you have a responsibility to speak up now. When you came on everyone said you walked on water and knew your shit. Same with Kelly Evans—if she helped defeat I-912, which everyone expected would pass, we need her working at WWD. But it looks like good, smart folks can’t work with the folks who are running WWD. And if that’s the case, well, people who are being asked to pour money and volunteer hours into what WWD are going to conclude that it’s a deeply dysfunctional organization and withhold their support. If it’s not deeply screwed up, Lorrie, you’re going to need to explain why exactly you had to leave. And why you’re going to have to explain why others should work with a group that you yourself couldn’t work with. Not knowing the reasons why you left makes it harder to do that.

And if the group is really screwed up, Lorriw, you should say so. Holding your tongue only allows the group to remain screwed up. And there’s too much at stake for that.

CommentsRSS icon

Sometimes the best thing for an organizer to do is just step away from the group without blabbering on about an organization's core problems, lest its shortcomings be used against it.

Successful advocacy organizations are like icebergs: you don't see them until they rip a hole in your ship's hull. Or, in this case, tear up the Eyeman campaign. The real action is on the DL. We hope.

Dan, if you want to find out what's going on, find out in private - off the record. Attacking organizations because they aren't good enough is counterproductive and scares people away from supporting a cause. Don't screw WWD over like you did Gay City. Help it. Beating Eyeman is more important than moving tabloids.

Does DL stand for "Down Low", or "Disabled List"?

It's got to be "Disabled List" because that makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Hey, here's another question. Does "FNARF" stand for "Foolish Nitwit Airing Retarded Fodder"?

Niceberg, ever here this: "The truth will set you free!" It really works. Hiding behind niceness just increases the damage done and delays the inevitable.

Why, yes, it does!

Dan, I would be surprised if Lorri hadn't signed some kind of separation agreement in which she agreed to not discuss details of her separation, possibly in exchange for a payment. She may not want to face a civil suit. If so, it was her choice to sign that, of course.

Second, she may be concerned in these days of litigation about a suit if she spills any beans if any are to be spilled. Sometimes, personalities don't fit inside organizations. Would the Stranger agree to pay for her legal expenses? This is not unheard of for print publications to do so in exchange for a source providing details they are otherwise reluctant to do.

Because she's now a private individual, it seems rather blase of you, Dan, to ask her to open up. I'm not defending her, the group, nor our legal system, but those are the parameters in which she's operating, and it may have some bearing.


For starters, it's spelled "Eyman." Current events!

And if WWD, ERW or another likeminded organization believes that voter education is a covert practice and that affecting change only occurs in secret, then that group's shortcomings most certainly should be brought public. And that group most certainly will not be receiving any part of my paycheck.

After all, this is not about who's sitting at whose lunch table. It's about promoting an important message and affecting change.

If Dan can't tell you you're full of s__t, who will? The voters?

Thanks for reiterating my point, Horatiosanzserif. You wrote, "It's about promoting an important message and affecting change."

The way to do that is to support a movement. That means either building faltering organizations or starting new ones. Is does NOT mean spilling barrels of sour ink at one group.

Nobody benefits when a media agency that supports a cause is also the leader of an attack on an organization doing the work. That just scares funders, leaders and volunteers. Remember, Blues, how the Reds have won. United. And how we have lost. Divided.

Dan. Unite us for change and, if necessary, help get a better organization off the ground. Don't kill our only hope just because you can.

BTW, Horatio, you misspelled "sans".

I believe our friend Horatio's name is a take on the comic actor Horatio Sanz of Saturday Night Live. Thus, it is in fact spelled correctly for that connotation.

Ya know, maybe she found out after she came onboard than an ex sat on the executive board, or that one of the E-board members is just a flaming asshole that she can't work with. Why should she be expected to be publicly uncivil by saying so? Maybe her reasons for leaving haven't anything to do with the organization at all - maybe she just decided she didn't want the job. Let's not go leaping to conclusions that this points to some kind of deep systemic problem at WWD or ERW.


I agree that personal attacks on people are weird.


I have seen little inkling of a "message" getting out.

I have seen little change affected, and Election Day is just about six months away.

All I have seen are the top folks in a few big-deal advocacy groups quit for nebulous hippie reasons.

If this is indeed the "only hope" vs. Tim Eyman's referendumb, it's looking pretty meek in the public eye -- no matter what The Stranger does or doesn't report.

I have worked with both Lorrie Mckay and Kelly Evans. I am worried that both of them left. I am worried that I haven't read anything yet or seen any presence yet. I am worried that Ed Murray did not even mention this initiative at his kick off. I am worried that the Stranger is not printing stuff about this all the time.

From Lorrie's post it sounds like Eyman pulled a fast one on the title and the yes v. no vote. This also worries me.

Working in the gay community can be VERY difficult. It's horrible actually (dealing with all the in fighting and constant criticism)and will have an impact on our ability to recruit talent to this battle. But both McKay and Evans have been there before working for Hands Off Washington so I can't believe they both did not go in with eyes wide open.

They need a good campaign manager. Karen Cooper at Washington NARAL ran the campaign to successfully defeat 2 anti discrimination initiative in the 1990's -- maybe she would be willing to take a year off from NARAL to defeat this? Although CHOICE is under attack so I don't know if NARAL can spare her.

Who is on the board besides Levinson? I think Ann is smart and pragmatic but who else is there calling the shots. Ann was on the board of Hands Off Washington during the effort to defeat the initiatives. It was when she and some other campaign veterans like Cooper, Rollin Fatlian, etc. left that the organization lost its focus (a subject Mr. Savage brought up again recently in a port about WWD). We are going to need a real campaign with people who know what the hell they are doing. People who can run a 'decline to sign' educatiion effort, who can find a clear and concise message that resonates with undecided voters, and people who can recuit volunteers, donors and resources.

I am worried. The departure of both McKay and Evans is concerning.

Who exactly is on the Executive Board of WWD?

I have worked with Lorrie in the past and although I think she is a great person with a lot of skill and expertise I was actually pretty surprised that she was tagged to LEAD the campaign. I see Lorrie as more of a back up member of the band, not the lead singer. Perhaps that became evident to the Board.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to Lorrie when I say this. I think she is a fantastic field organizer and coalition builder but I am not sure of her ability to lead a campaign and keep it all together and moving in the right direction. I also don't think she has ever managed people or a big campaign before. She is smart and maybe she could have learned it on the job-- but maybe she is just not the right fit.

I hope WWD can hire a campaign manager who is a veteran. They need some real campaign strategy people, they need good media folks and they need an extensive field campaign. They will need a good campaign manager who can be a great leader and bring that all together and not get frazzled by the community and their incessant criticism of every decision this person will make.

For the good of us all let's hope WWD gets a great campaign manager as soon as possible.

You are assuming that the organization is dysfunctional and discounting that maybe Ms. McKay was just not the right person for the job. I have no idea what's true but has anyone talked to the two women who left? Why don't you join the board or something Dan? Or get more involved with the organization and maybe you will get a better idea of what's happening? Right now it seems like you are making some big assumptions that there is all kinds of shenanigans going on over at WWD.

I know of all the persons mentioned thus far (some better than others). BIG fan of Evans. BIG fan of McKay. Not a fan of Levinson. And I trust my judge of character after many years in the professional and activist world. But my opinion doesn't mean squat because I am not directly involved!!!

My point is that we likely all have a different take on the people involved, the tactics, the direction, etc. Shit, that's just the way it is with us. Please refrain from the personal assessments. this could easily spin into yet another war of personalities and words, and then we all look like fucking idiots.

So sorry that McKay and Evans are gone. Will we crash like the monorail? Wait, remind me who was a top administrator for that misguided boondoggle?

See what I mean? The answer to that question only adds fuel. Let's avoid the infighting. otherwise we all look like idiots.

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