The controversial leader of YouthPride has been removed from the city’s working group studying ways to end prostitution, but the mayor’s office and City Councilman Michael Bond disagree on who made the decision.

Terence McPhaul, executive director of YouthPride, an organization that serves LGBT youth, was informed Friday, March 22, that he was no longer on the group, Bond said. The decision was made days after the city announced those on the working group in a press release.

YouthPride ED removed from Atlanta working group to reduce prostitution

“Through emails they [the mayor’s office] said there were some issues with Mr. McPhaul … but I was not fully aware of accusations and they said he would probably be problem,” Bond told the GA Voice. “I said OK, it’s their group and we obviously don’t want people on there that will distract from the work. I accepted them at their word.”

Bond said it was the decision of the mayor’s office to have McPhaul removed and replaced with Tracee McDaniel, a transgender activist who is on the board of YouthPride. But a spokesperson for Mayor Kasim Reed said Bond made the decision to have McPhaul removed.

Issues surrounding McPhaul and YouthPride include the nonprofit being sued and evicted for non-payment of rent, the organization not having a five-member board of directors for several years as mandated by its bylaws, and McPhaul’s tendency to sue his former employers for millions of dollars.

Bond chairs the City Council’s Public Safety & Legal Administration Committee, which held a work session Feb. 25 on proposed legislation to banish prostitutes from the city. The proposal was initiated by Atlanta Police Chief George Turner but quickly came under fire from activists who said punishing sex workers does nothing to eliminate the problems that lead people to prostitution, including unemployment and drug use.

At the work session, Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui announced the creation of a task force to take a “holistic” look at finding ways to stop prostitution.

A Feb. 25 press release from the mayor’s office said members of the working group would be appointed by Farooqui “and will include City Council appointees” by Bond.

“The Working Group will comprise of leaders from the Mayor’s Office, City Council Public Safety Committee, Law Department, Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Municipal Court, and advocacy groups on both sides of the issue,” the press release said.

Bond told GA Voice he recommended McPhaul to the group as well as Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham and Xochitl Bervera, director of the Racial Justice Action Center. All are openly gay.

Bond acknowledged he did not know of the controversy surrounding McPhaul. But, he added, it was his understanding that the mayor’s office was making the final appointments to the group.

“The mayor’s office told me there was no guarantee my recommendations would be on the final list,” Bond said. “This is their group.”

Bond said the mayor’s office asked him and fellow Public Safety & Legal Administration Committee member Cleta Wilson to make recommendations “and they would vet them and they would decide the final list.”

Bond said he knew McPhaul worked with LGBT youth and thought it would be important to have someone on the working group representing that demographic.

“I know he works with LGBT youth and in the work sessions we had we were told that many LGBT youth are vulnerable to prostitution,” Bond said. Bond added he knew McPhaul because the two go to the same barber.

But Reese McCranie, spokesperson for Mayor Reed, said it was Bond’s decision to remove McPhaul from the working group and that he did not know why McPhaul was no longer on the board.

Bond said the mayor’s office informed him of the controversy surrounding McPhaul and he didn’t find out who would be on the group until after a press release was sent out by the mayor’s office with the list of names.

“I haven’t been privy to how things were going to be set up,” Bond said.

There has not been a public announcement of when the first meeting of the working group will be.

Bond said the working group will be very important in ensuring the safety of all people in the city.

“Once we get started we should get some good recommendations. This is a topic that is super controversial but definitely needs to be addressed. We have to deter behavior and have enough resources to serve those in need,” he said.

“Our city shouldn’t be known for banishment. But it also should not be known as sex trafficking city,” Bond said.

Members of the working group:

Kristin Wilson, Innovation Delivery Team, City of Atlanta

Candace Byrd, Chief of Staff, City of Atlanta

Melissa Mullinax, Public Affairs/Office of Chief Operating Officer, City of Atlanta

Amber Robinson, Law Department, City of Atlanta

Lt. Scott Kreher, Atlanta Police Department, City of Atlanta

Alice Johnson, Atlanta Police Department, City of Atlanta

Raines Carter, City Solicitor, City of Atlanta

Rosalie Joy, Public Defender, City of Atlanta

Stephanie Davis, Executive Director, GA Women for a Change

Peggy Denby, President, Midtown-Ponce Security Alliance

Xochitl Bervera, Director, Racial Justice Action Center

Jeff Graham, Director, Georgia Equality

Tracee McDaniel, Board Member, YouthPride

Douglas Dean, Resident, Pittsburgh Community

Bill Cannon, Resident, Booker T. Washington Community

Donna Hubbard, Pastor, Women at the Well Transition Center

UPDATE on March 29: From McCranie: “The Mayor’s Office presented the concerns of the community to Councilmember Bond’s office and he deferred to our assessment that replacing Mr. McPhaul with Ms. McDaniel was in the best interest of moving the group forward without unnecessary distractions.”