SAGE'S SAGA CONTINUES- FROM BAD TO WORSE
Same Scenario Different Name,
San Antonio for Growth for the Eastside's
Revolving Employment Doors Date Back
To The Days of CERA
They say that history has a funny way of repeating itself. Those who reflect and are introspective are wise to make note of certain things from the past, especially if negative outcomes were the result of careless or reckless actions. We are currently witnessing history repeat itself in real time as the community based organization known as SAGE seemingly implodes before our very eyes.
Akeem Brown, Jackie Gorman, Eddie Kirby
To completely understand where SAGE is today we have to understand where they came from. Around 2005, San Antonio began to experience an economic renaissance. Development and growth was taking place, especially economic growth. There was an overwhelming concern that something equitable needed to be done to include the Eastside Community to share in the city’s new found prosperity. The historically Black Eastside had been either neglected and ignored by city leadership or completely sold out by them. There was consensus that the area needed a credible economic development organization (EDO) to formulate a plan of action that would include all facets of the Eastside.
Enter the Community Economic Revitalization Agency or CERA. CERA functioned in the same capacity as its successor SAGE at that time. CERA, led by then director Ida Brown, was created as a conduit to ensure that the Eastside would benefit and not be forgotten in this new boom. Not long after its inception CERA became embroiled in scandal and malfeasance. The details of the downfall will be left out as we may have young readers. As CERA spiraled out of control it was decided that it needed to be revised or a new EDO was needed to fulfill promises from the past and chart a new mission for the future of Eastside residents and businesses. With a new name, governance structure, and purpose, the new EDO was named San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE) and was formally created in 2008.
That brings us to today and it appears that history is again repeating itself as SAGE, the spawn of CERA, appears to be following the same path as it’s forebear. Spiraling out of control destined to go down in a ball of flames.
Jackie Gorman, former SAGE CEO, resigned after being put on administrative leave while the board found the basis of her problems to be a personality clash with EVERYONE which led to her escorted departure from the premises. Akeem Brown, COO, then took the reigns as the Executive Director. In a week’s time, before the dust of Ms. Gorman’s abrupt departure could settle, Akeem Brown also resigned under precarious circumstances making negative headlines across the city.
Where does this leave us in the Eastside community?
Let us not forget the $1.81 million dollars lost from Bexar County designated for African American businesses to the Alamo City Black Chamber. We called for the tech director of CPS Energy to be fired and be replaced by a Black business owner who lives in the community and cares about the long term interest of the community. We, Black people do not need to be hand held by our public utility companies CPS Energy and SAWS who do the bare minimums with Black businesses and contractors. When the Chamber failed it was bad but to see SAGE fall is going from bad to worst. What is more than confusing is the CEO of CPS Energy, Paula Gold-Williams, has not addressed the conflicts of interest. While we understand she will be the incoming chair to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, which mission is different than the Black chamber, we are wondering why CPS Energy hasn't said more about our community's disappointment in the Bexar County matter and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation's problem of keeping the Black chamber off of their board. I will continue to write until there is change.
Again, it's not just SAGE. The Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce, led by Dr. Eddie Kirby of CPS was entrusted with the task of improving Black business and he has completely dropped the ball. What I also found to be insulting is the fact that he didn't attend or promote the state's TAAACC Black Business Conference that my company sponsored. He doesn't want the leadership responsibility. The TAAACC Conference had students from St Philip's College attending and the Alamo Chamber didn't represent at all. Even as the state was able to focus on our local political leaders who were honored by the state Black chamber, State Rep Barbara Gervin-Hawkins and Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert Jr., they were AWOL. At what point do we stop putting lipstick on these pigs and trying to pass them off as beauty contestants vying for Ms. Congeniality.
You can change the name, and the building, and even the mission statement, yet if you don’t change the true intentions of those at the top we’ll continue to get the same results. What we need are people who believe in putting the community’s interests first and not their own. It’s hard to feel sorry for Ida Brown, Jackie Gorman, and Akeem Brown. They are not victims. Don't feel sorry for Dr. Eddie Kirby and his board... they are not at all vested in our community. This appears to be a resume line item. The real victims are the residents and business owners who call the Eastside home. We are once again left embarrassed by those entrusted to help secure our futures.
It is uncertain what SAGE’s ultimate fate will be. Perhaps the ship will be righted and the organization will go on to fulfill its intended purpose. However, if history is an indicator my guess is that SAGE is on borrowed time and the community will again be left to fend for itself.