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Monday, October 16, 2006


Those who only read about the Davis Human Relations Meeting in the newspaper last week may have missed the big story buried under the lead.
"[T]he commission has been charged with reviewing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, created in 1986. Dixon appointed a subcommittee to look at the ordinance to see if any changes are necessary."
The article does not mention why they are reviewing the city's seminal ordinance that incorporates one of the most sweeping anti-discrimination laws in the nation into the Davis Municipal code.

At issue is Section 7A-15(C):
"Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against in violation of the provisions of this ordinance may file a request to have the Human Relations Commission investigate and mediate his or her complaint. The Commission may adopt rules of procedure to accomodate the needs of such investigation mediation. A complaint to the Commission shall not be a prerequisite to filing a civil action under this section, and the findings and conclusions of the commission issued in response to such proceedings shall not be admissable in a civil action."
Councilmember Lamar Heystek brought this section of the anti-discrimination code to the attention of the HRC and Councilmember Souza (a former chair of the HRC himself) who recently helped re-write the commission's charge, was completely unaware of this section of the city's Anti-discrimination Ordinance. The commission sub-committee is charged with determining whether the city council should alter the anti-discrimination ordinance adopted into law by the City Council on Feberary 26, 1986 and approved by Nichols-Poulos, Rosenberg, Tomasi and Mayor Ann M. Evans and opposed by Jerry Adler.

Now recent history of the HRC begs the question--why was the City Council seemingly completely unaware of this section of the ordinance? This is not a mere academic question, one of the reasons that the City Council disbanded the HRC in June was the claim that they overstepped their bounds. When in fact, according to the Anti-discrimination Ordinance, the former HRC not only had the authority but were in fact mandated to investigate the charges of racial bias in the police department by members of the public. Far from exceeding their authority, they were acting within the direct letter of the law. And for doing that, they were disbanded.

The more pressing question now is will the HRC recommend to abrogate their own authority and duties that are authorized under the Davis Anti-Discrimination Ordinance? And will this community allow the City Council to weaken perhaps the most seminal piece of legislation in our city's municipal code?

---Doug Paul Davis Reporting