While standing outside the Washington Hilton Oct. 16 after being at the PRSA Assembly all day, a tall, heavyset man came out of the hotel and directed a string of profanities at me.

My alleged offense was that I had “kissed” Marisa Vallbona, who had just been elected Western district director, and I was warned never to do that again. Various profanities were directed at me in a loud voice. The complainer wouldn’t give his name and I asked a hotel doorman, who was standing close by, to call the police because I felt threatened.

It was a classic case of “assault,” which is defined as a “violent verbal or physical attack.”

Police have been notified and they have told us to submit a written report to them in person on our next trip to D.C.

Attempts were made to find the identity of this person but a partial answer came in an e-mail Oct. 22 to me from VP-PR Arthur Yann who said:

“Following the Assembly, you got into a verbal (and by some accounts, physical), altercation with an Assembly delegate, which was observed by a board member and other conference attendees.”

The indication from this is that Yann knows who the person is. There was no physical contact between me and the delegate. Had he touched me, that would have been “battery.”

The assault was on top of the pen-gifting “Flash Mob” that about 20 delegates pulled off at 2:45 p.m. that day during a break in the Assembly.

I thought I was being honored (as John Nash was in “A Beautiful Mind”) but delegate Derek DeVries said the meaning was that we had lost our grip on “reality” like schizophrenic Nash. He also said we were a “curmudgeon,” “misguided” and prone to inaccuracies.

Vallbona Was E-mail “Pal”

I tried unsuccessfully to tell the verbal assailant that Vallbona and I were good friends for several years and traded thoughts with each other via numerous e-mails.

I first dealt with her when she was chair of the Universal Accreditation Board in 2007. UAB is supposedly an independent body and its officers are not bound by the PRSA policy of avoiding contact with me.

Since Aug. 13, Vallbona and I exchanged 48 e-mails, including 23 from her and 25 from me. She was the only candidate among 19 who conducted such a dialogue with me.

Having no reason to believe she was just as friendly to me as ever, I approached her when she passed me by in the lobby and gave her a slight embrace and either an “air kiss” or a kiss that brushed her cheek. She didn’t seem to mind. I though we were still friends. I did nothing wrong.

One of her e-mails said: “I know you are so frustrated that they [Society leaders and staff] aren’t responding to you and I don’t blame you for being frustrated.” She said I had to get answers from them and not from her.

Vallbona Rapped Society on Lack of Diversity

Vallbona, in her candidate presentation, had criticized the Society for what she felt is its lack of diversity. She wrote the Society is “dominated by a specific type of member” and that she is “Hispanic and can count on my two hands the number of Hispanic members I’ve met in the Society over the past two decades.”

The 17-member 2011 Society board will be all-white for the fourth year in a row.

Two qualified African-American candidates for an at-large seat on the board were rejected by the nominating committees in 2009 and 2010.
Gold Anvil winner Ofield Dukes of Washington, D.C., was rejected in 2009 and Regina Lewis, a 25-year member employed by The Potter’s House of Dallas, was rejected this year.