Don’t Buy Cupcakes at the Priory Bakery: Bar owners target LGBT ally Brenda Frazier

The CP bloggers have done a nice job summarizing an attempt by a newly formed bar-owned PAC, HosPAC, to punish Brenda Frazier in her current campaign by launching a “Don't Vote for Brenda Frazier” campaign of their own.  Her crime?  The drink tax.

“I just don't buy it that there's no alternative to balance the county budget except to impose a new tax,” said John Graf, owner of the Priory Hospitality Group and chairman of the new committee, called HosPAC.

“The people spoke loud and clear that they didn't want this tax,” Graf said. “[The members of Allegheny County Council] weren't listening and they weren't willing to be creative.”

The group's first visible efforts will be radio ads and rented billboard space to push the message: “Don't Vote for Brenda Frazier.”

“It just happens that Brenda Frazier is the first person running,” Graf explained. “It's our intention to challenge each and every person that voted for this tax.”

What's interesting about this situation from a gay perspective is the juxtaposition of Frazier, a long time LGBT advocate, and the local gay bar owners emerging as leaders under the Delta Foundation mantle. 

According to DF Chair Gary Van Horn, part owner of Images, no local gay bar owners are members of the PAC.  Van Horn points out that he is not a one issue voter and remains mum on his support for or opposition to Frazier.

I would hope that the gay bar owners would stay out of this.  While the drink tax does have an impact on them, so would losing a House seat to someone who is not an ally of the gay community.  Len Bodack and Dom Costa don't have pro-gay track records and we need every ally we can muster in the battle over the marriage protection amendment and the advancement of civil protections legislation. 

We cannot afford to be divided on this.  Frazier's election is imperative for the well-being of the entire LGBT community. 

Let me amend my earlier statement. I would hope the gay bar owners support Frazier.  A gay friendly state environment is good for business.  Period.

I'm just bummed that the Priory is involved in this.  I love their bakery and, clearly, I cannot patronize a business that wants to elect some homo-bigot or quasi-homo-bigot into a space I need filled by an ally. 

So, don't buy cupcakes at the Priory Bakery. 




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  • I just read this comment. I hope that my oppostion to a certain candidate, Brenda Frazier, based upon her key vote in passing the Allegheny County Drink Tax is not construed as a repudiation or criticism of Ms. Frazier's views regarding LGBT issues. The Priory Hotel and Grand Hall at The Priory have been extremely supportive of LGBT issues over the years, both financially and through various donations of goods and services. We are host to both the Renaissance Choir event and Lambda Ball at our Grand Hall facility, and have gotten uniformly favorable reviews, backed by the fact of repeated re-bookings by both groups. My invovlement in the Political Action Committee which is opposing Brenda Frazier has nothing to do with any position she has on LGBT issues and has everything to do with her complete abdication of leadership with regard to the imposition of the 10% Drink Tax in Allegheny County. In fact, I personally have supported Brenda prior to her ill advised vote, including holding a fundraiser for her at my own expense last fall. This Drink Tax is an existential issue to many businesses in Allegheny County, including ours. Our Grand Hall bookings are off 25% in 2008 versus 2007. This cannot stand, and elected officials such as Brenda Frazier should be held account for decisions which cause severe economic hardship.
    Thank you for your consideration of this comment.
    John E. Graf
    Priory Hospitality Group

  • It was never my intent to suggest that your attack on Ms. Frazier was related to LGBT issues. It is undeniable, however, that if you are successful in keeping her out of office, your actions will have an immediate negative impact on the entire LGBT community. An unintended consequence, perhaps, Mr. Graf, but one that I take very seriously.
    Your actions on this matter threaten the welfare of my family and thousands of LGBT individuals throughout the region.
    My personal opinion is that it is short-sighted to blame Ms. Frazier or other individuals for the overall loss of revenue to your business, but you are free to assign blame as you believe necessary.
    I believe Brenda Frazier should be held accountable for her ongoing — often controversial — support of a community in a regional with a distinct socially conservative bent. Our community should work tirelessly to elect her to office, thus we find ourselves in opposition to your efforts.
    This is more than a personal difference of opinion. If you are going to put up billboards targeting one of our candidates, it is important that the LGBT community members that patronize your businesses understand the long-term impact of your choices. I was being facetious about the cupcakes, but I do think awareness is important.
    As I said, I patronize your bakery on a regular basis and attend functions at the Priory. You are a wonderful asset to my neighborhood and my LGBT community. However, you are targeting *my family* with this campaign and that is not okay with me. I will continue to cover this story as it unfolds.

  • You say, “Your actions on this matter threaten the welfare of of my family and thousands of LGBT individuals throughout the region.”
    Yet your actions in this matter threaten the welfare of the entire region. A cross section that includes the LGBT community. Many people don't understand the full impact the drink tax has had on the community. You, for instance, think that this has hurt the business of The Priory and that is why they are doing this. Yet you don't even think of why Tuscany closed their doors so recently. You don't seem to know that we nearly lost a chain restaurant that had been planning on moving to the South Side since The Works were in a planning stage.
    I don't think you understand that many LGBT bars and clubs in the area aren't exactly high-profit.
    You are supporting someone who has taken another 10% out of their books – all too support Dan Onorato's mistake.
    It's easy to point out that she's has supported LGBT issues in the past. It's hard to do the research to find out how badly she has hurt Pittsburgh's business owners and the entire community in an effort to follow the party line.
    What else will she vote for just to make her party happy?

  • I have indeed thought about the closure of Tuscany (see earlier blog post). Could it have just something to do with Starbucks opening across the street? Come on, I was in Tuscany often and it didn't close over night because of the drink tax — that's a hollow argument.
    Are you actually implying, sir, that losing a few restaurants and bars might equal in impact the loss of countless civil protections for my community? Are you serious? If it hard to do the research on your end, start reading the gay media and see the RESEARCH on the impact of a constitutional amendment. Ask the women in Ohio who can't seek protection from abuse orders because they aren't married. Ask the children in Florida who might lose their families because of unfinalized adoptions. Ask the partner who isn't holding the hand of his dying lover. Ask them what damage your little campaign might have.
    I'm sure many LGBT clubs aren't high profit, but let's take a step back … many G clubs. There aren't any L, B or T clubs to my knowledge. Because they aren't financially sustainable by targeted populations. Believe me, that's my patent response when women complain about the lack of a lesbian bar — you have to actually buy drinks to make it viable. If the G clubs aren't sustaining their customers, perhaps they (like Tuscany) need to rethink the needs of the L, B and Ts.
    I don't profess to know the economics of it all, but I can calculate that my loss of a place to eat or drink is very small compared to my other potential losses. I know that the loss of employment opportunities is a real concern, but the loss of potential employment protections is bigger.
    Your campaign hurts the LGBT community.

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