Under escalating pressure to add women and minorities to its all-white top leadership, the Tournament of Roses will announce today the appointment of five new members to its Executive Committee, including two African Americans, an Asian American and a Latino, The Times learned Monday.
Two of the five, including the Asian American, are women, said sources close to the tournament, which stages the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl football game each New Year’s Day.
Attorney Stan Sanders, who participated in an effort to reconcile the tournament and black groups protesting the lack of minority and female committee members, would not comment on details of the breakthrough, except to say that it would satisfy the tournament’s harshest critics.
But sources close to the negotiations said Monday that tournament officials will add the five members to the eight-member Executive Committee, now made up of eight white men. The five new appointees already are members of the recently formed Executive Policy Council, which helps set tournament policy.
“I think all of Southern California will be happy with this announcement,” Sanders said at a news conference at Tournament House in Pasadena.
Disputes about the tournament’s all-white leadership “will be resolved in the interests of a peaceful, safe and joyous celebration” on New Year’s Day, said Sanders, who became involved in negotiations at the request of Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.
Demanding that four new minority Executive Committee members be appointed, protesters have blocked traffic and held a candlelight vigil in front of Tournament House in recent months. Protest leader Danny Bakewell, president of the Brotherhood Crusade, has threatened to disrupt the Rose Parade on Jan. 1 with a “counter-parade” if the minority appointments are not made.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to withdraw the city’s float from the Rose Parade if the tournament failed to include minorities and women in its top ranks.
The tournament’s eight-member Executive Committee--with one vacancy because of a death this year--makes decisions regarding policy and operations, and its members are the organization’s future presidents. With the new arrangement, minorities and women presumably will be in line for the tournament’s presidency sometime early in the 21st Century.
The tournament has made a series of concessions to its critics since 1991, when the organization appointed a second 1992 Rose Parade grand marshal to appease critics who said its first choice, a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus, symbolized the greed and destructiveness of the Spanish conquest of the New World.
Since then, the tournament has increased its membership to 950 by appointing dozens of minorities and women. It also has committed itself to giving minority and women contractors at least a quarter of its business, given minorities broad new responsibilities within the organization and formed the Executive Policy Council to involve minorities and women in policy decisions.
But until now, tournament leaders had resisted demands that they modify a system under which only senior tournament members, most of whom are white, qualify for the Executive Committee.
The Executive Policy Council, from which the new Executive Committee members come, has authority over a broad range of tournament activities, including employment, membership and contracting. But critics have dismissed the body as tokenism.
“It has authority over everything but the parade and the football game,” Bakewell said recently. “What else is there?”
Tournament officials have maintained that the body has real powers, though they often have been vague about its operations. The council’s functions have sometimes been described as a leadership training program.
“The premise is that the council will eventually fade away as more and more women and minorities take top executive positions,” William Flinn, associate executive director of the tournament, said recently.
It was unclear whether the Executive Policy Council will continue to operate in another form.
The five new appointees are: Linda Klausner, a riding instructor; Don J. Wilson, a Los Angeles City College dean; Ly-Ping Wu, a hotel management consultant; Gerald Freeny, an employee of the state Department of Insurance; and Ralph Gutierrez, a Pasadena City College professor. Wilson and Freeny are African American and Gutierrez is Latino.
Principals of the tournament and of the protest groups would not comment on the new selections Monday, saying they were committed to maintaining silence until a news conference scheduled for today.
Only Pasadena Councilman Isaac Richard, one of the tournament’s most vocal critics, would comment:
“I’m very thankful that the tournament realized it was time to mend their ways,” Richard said. “We can move forward now with a united community on the serious financial issues that involve the tournament.”
Richard referred to a report by a City Council-appointed panel of lawyers and accountants, which last summer found “the appearance of impropriety” in business dealings between the city and the tournament.