Major sponsors? Gone. Executive director? Gone. The entire board and executive committee? Gone. The person who oversaw the departures? Still here.
Pride Fort Lauderdale President Miik Martorell has generally avoided interviews since immediately after Pride of the Americas (POTA), dodging questions of transparency, finances, leadership and more.
Finally, a defiant and defensive Martorell spoke with Happening Out Television Network’s Al Ferguson. The nearly 90-minute interview covers important issues confronting what was once one of South Florida’s most important organizations. Martorell oscillates between making excuses, to admitting a lack of organizational understanding, to casting himself as a victim/martyr.
He refuted previous reporting on many of the issues discussed, but still has yet to offer any proof to back it up. OutSFL is recapping this interview because Martorell refuses to take answering questions directly.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Pride and Martorell’s leadership has been the opaqueness of their operations. Many people have said transparency issues are what drove them to cut ties with the organization.
He says the opposite is true.
"The last thing I’m [going to do] is hide things. Our organization has never hidden anything.”
He said he doesn’t understand why people expect the worst from the organization, yet he refuses to give any documentation, even that which is required in their by-laws.
While blaming a years-old website redesign on a lack of public minutes and documentation, Martorell said anyone who wants to see minutes can contact him directly. This reporter has asked multiple times, in writing and verbally, and has not been given access to anything.
When given the opportunity to promise easier access, he seemingly doubled down on obfuscation and blamed it on others. He said he will do what is legally required. Minutes from nonprofits of this type are not legally required to be posted.
He also insisted that people can come watch the meetings. Martorell then admitted it’s not that easy.
“I will say that we haven’t been posting [notice of] the meetings. It may appear [the public is] not invited, but that’s a mistake on our part.”
He said it was discouraging that people could see the minutes for themselves and make their own observations.
“When you tell people the truth, they read into it whatever they want.”
Board of Directors
At the time of the interview, Martorell was the only person on the board. When asked why this happened, he said all “the core” board members left for health reasons.
Now Martorell will pick the people who decide whether he stays with the organization, and said he will look to past members.
To operate legally, they need a minimum of three board members, and he expects to have two people join him by the end of June. If any additions/appointments have been made, their website doesn’t reflect the changes.
He also admitted that people who weren’t qualified to sit on Pride’s board were admitted last year, and blames the other board members for violating the rules, pointing out that he only votes in meetings if there is a tie.
Both co-treasurers have left. When told, two board members beside the treasurer must sign checks. Martorell said that has not happened since at least before he joined Pride several years ago, and said reporting about the two signature requirement was incorrect.
Ferguson, who had read the by-laws, corrected him. Martorell said the by-laws would be changing. He also said current spending was approved by the old board. He did not comment on who was cutting and signing checks.
Martorell also said he writes a detailed budget for the organization, but has refused to share that with OutSFL.
He also said he put $89,000 on his personal credit card to save POTA. Martorell says he’s been repaid, and the check went to the credit card company directly, not him.
New Executive Director
Before Christmas, Kevin Clevenger announced his resignation as executive director, effective shortly after POTA. Since then, Ernie Yuen has taken the job.
Yuen comes from Las Vegas Pride, and people there gave him unflattering reviews, including one person who told OutSFL that Yuen has no business running a non-profit.
Martorell defended his new ED, saying, “He has a way of bringing people together,” and said he has been mentoring Pride Fort Lauderdale for years.
Sponsorship: No Refunds
Major sponsors pulled out shortly before POTA, including Midland/CAN. They had already paid $75,000 of a $100,000 annual sponsorship and requested a refund. Martorell had previously said he would work with them, but did a complete 180 in the interview, saying, “No, we will not” refund the money. CAN/Midland has referred inquiries to their legal team.
However, he did refund Visit Lauderdale half of their investment, $250,000. He “doesn’t remember” if Visit Lauderdale ever threatened legal action.