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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Human Relations Commission and Ombudsman on Tonight's Agenda

Following up on the Ombudsman Position

Did anyone catch the Davis Enterprise last night; you might have seen the announcement of the new Ombudsman, Robert Aaronson. Buried in the niceties and praise for the new city employee were some cold, hard facts.

Aaronson will keep his duties in the city of Santa Cruz, and spend a couple of days a month in Davis, said Deputy City Manager Kelly Stachowicz. "He's a contract employee, so he will basically be accessible by e-mail or voice mail; anybody can use that at any time and he will check those frequently," Stachowicz said.

Hang on, now I’m fuzzy on my math as it relates to couple, few, several, many… but I’m pretty sure a couple is two. As in the guy will be in Davis two days a month. Is that correct?

Claire St. John writes:

There might not be much discussion about the $60,000 contract, however, as the item is on the consent agenda along with 12 other items that are approved with a single motion.

Again, let me do the math here, we are spending $60,000 on a guy who will be in Davis two days out of the month. And they complained that the Berkeley model was too expensive?

I do not know whether to congratulate Mr. Aaronson or apologize to him for not give him the resources and power to be able to adequately do his job.

Following up on the Human Relations Commission

I’m not even going to talk about living wage today, but it is going to be a very busy council meeting tonight.

When the Human Relations Commission was founded there was a city ordinance establishing its charter. The City Council is now removing that ordinance and replacing it with a resolution. Does that resolution weaken the authority of the HRC? That’s unclear.

What is clear is that this resolution replaces any existing charges that the HRC had:
WHEREAS, this resolution supercedes all previous resolutions related to the structure and purpose of the Human Relations Commission
Here’s what I do not follow quite as well. In the resolution, they write, “the commission is established and guided by the following documents: a. Davis Anti-discrimination ordinance…”

The Human Relations Commission shall have the responsibilities as provided in this section and such other duties as the Council may, from time to time, decide:

a. Study and make recommendations regarding problems in the city which arise from alleged discrimination prohibited by state and federal law or local statutes and report such information to the City Council.

b. Advocate and encourage educational and other appropriate activities to seek to discourage or prevent discrimination and prejudice and/or to promote diversity, equality and justice. This function can be addressed by holding conferences and other public meetings, engaging in educational campaigns, partnering with other organizations to develop outreach information and programs, and other methods determined to be appropriate. Specific activities for which the Commission is responsible include the city of Davis Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, the city of Davis Cesar Chavez event and the city of Davis Thong Hy Huynh Awards. Resolution No. 06 –XXX

c. Recommend to the City Council such publications and reports as may address issues of discrimination, diversity, prejudice or other matters related to the community principles or anti-discrimination.

d. Recommend programs and activities to encourage minority- and woman-owned businesses in Davis.

e. Recommend to the Council additional programs and practices designed to further commission objectives and take other necessary action to prevent discrimination against groups and individuals to ensure public peace, health, safety and general welfare for all residents of Davis.

f. Take other necessary actions, as directed by Council, to prevent discrimination against groups and individuals to ensure that all members of the Davis community will be treated equally and fairly.
However, the council wants to take the police issue outside of the purview of the HRC. How do they do that when they are directed to take “other necessary actions… to prevent discrimination against groups and individuals to ensure that all members of the Davis community will be treated equally and fairly.” I think they need a disclaimer: except when the offending party is a police officer, in which case there is nothing they can actually do.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting