I read some rather disturbing news today. A story in Triad City Beat let me know that the Human Resource Commission would be dismantled, although the term revised was used. All of this during a period of time that the City of High Point’s Human Resource Director has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint with the federal government, fearing for her safety due to her race. All of this because of a phrase that reads “dismantling white supremacist systems” on a program about police and community relations.
Really? If I didn’t know better I would think High Point and Co. were bored and simply needed something to throw on the agenda. Apparently, there is nothing else to talk about, like how to bring money to other areas of the city instead of just the North, East and Southeastern areas. Maybe you could figure out why everyone’s light bill has doubled. A handful of people, not cause for concern. The majority of the city? May be time to pull out the flashlights and look around.
Or here’s a thought, while those flashlights are out, perhaps you can look at the city’s salaries and make sure that employees’ performance is matched up to their pay. Wendy (who makes $100,828 annually as the executive director of City Project) and City Project Crew make a lot of money and still can’t seem to implement the suggestions from paperwork Duany charged them $410,000 for his consultation and master plan. I haven’t seen a sea can since that model at The Crit in 2013. All I’ve seen are the bike lanes on Southside and the goats that the Southwest Renewal Foundation brought in with the $33,000 that Council allocated them. That’s right folks, I said goats. The goats were brought in to eat the kudzu so that a greenway along Richland Creek could be developed. Not a bad idea if you don’t add in that the goats cost about $1,200 an acre.
But no. Sadly, let’s decide to “overhaul” a program that could leave the majority of our residents voiceless instead of finding a more efficient way of doing investigations and dealing with complaints. Why you ask? According to TCB, Councilman Latimer Alexandar said that the desire grew out “of concern that the department “was headed in a direction contrary to where the city really felt it needed to be.””
You don’t say?!? I wonder what part of the city he’s referring to.
Moving on. Under the new guidelines, council will now govern the commission stripping them of the ability to investigate complaints that include “the denial of equal access to, and discrimination in employment, housing, education, recreation and public accommodations” where that denial could be due to a person’s “race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age or handicap.” The commission will also no longer be able to act as a public forum to hear complaints, disagreements or misunderstandings that could lead to “more serious conflict.”
So what would the commission do you ask?
Apparently, it would generate plans and analyze human service needs for residents. Per definition, they would carry out specific duties outlined by council instead of advising them and keep a watchful eye on the activities and trends in regards to human relations in the city. It is expected to help the youth become qualified for employment and present a six-month plan in its biannual report to council. All while doing it with less members, it was reduced from 13 to nine seats, all appointed by the mayor and membesr of council. This pretty much eliminates that part where the commission would act independent of council but work side by side.
The second part of this interesting change is that it seems to omit current Human Resource Director Al Heggins. Any mention to her title has been changed to “human relations program.” She has made it clear that she feared for her life after dealing with racial tensions and institutional racism in the city after some backlash from the flier. Apparently, some council members and their constituents were bothered about the explicit discussion of race in programming and literature produced by the HR department, Alexander told TCB. A discussion that a large part of High Point wanted to have, therefore going to their local commission to set-up a number of community meetings with police officers so that residents could speak on their fears, ask questions and address departmental procedure. So what happens to Heggins? No one is saying.
Caught up? Good.
What bothers me the most, outside of the liberties taken to pass this motion in a special meeting, is that a handful of constituents felt bothered talking about race relations. What bothers me even more is that so did elected officials who are put in place to not only represent their wards but the city as a WHOLE. There was no public hearing on the matter and it wasn’t done at a regular meeting, meaning they didn’t give a damn what the general public thought. Perhaps it’s time for new leadership.
Those offended constituents weren’t the ones calling for the community meetings. I’d be surprised if they attended. The meetings are exactly what was being done across the nation in the wake of events in Ferguson, Mo. because, you know, it was national conversation. A conversation that was worldwide and apparently made some people feel bad enough that they didn’t want to talk about it. I think they tried that approach shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation. I didn’t go so well.
Perhaps those council members who are expected to look at what’s best for the city, should stop babysitting constituents and tell that select group they should stop being so sensitive. Or they could just admit that it was never about what the city wanted or needed as a whole but an individual decision made upon the perception of themselves and their neighbors, followed by them stepping down to truly serve their community so that someone interested in helping the ENTIRE city can step up.
You know all this complaining reminds me of an old proverb:
THROW IT OUT THERE AND A HIT DOG WILL HOLLAR.
I’m just saying.