Human Relations Council decides to restructure

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 17, 2018

SALISBURY — The Human Relations Council talked about restructuring and focused on figuring out a process to adopt new ordinances and bylaws during Thursday night’s meeting at the city office building.

On the restructuring, the council elected Dee Ellison as treasurer and Flora Calderon-Steck as secretary.

The council also decided on a subcommittee to discuss how the council should operate.

“You also need a process for ordinances and bylaws adjustments in that committee because that’s another part of the scenario,” council member Olen Bruner said. “You cannot go with this — a new structure — until we recommend the adjustment of the bylaws and the ordinances so that City Council can then deal with it.”

Under the new structure, there would be four subcommittees:

• Commemorations and celebrations, to include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Banquet, Good Neighbor and Mayor’s Spirit Luncheon.

• Community issues and action, covering fair housing, education and workshops, and crisis response.

• Covenant community connection, for forums and documentary series.

• Multicultural: Hispanic Coalition, La Fiesta de Rowan and International Festival.

The council discussed moving the community connection subcommittee under community issues and actions but decided it was best to keep them separate.

“I don’t think that together would be very effective. It’s got it’s place, and I think you’ll get new energy and new movement behind,” Vice Chairwoman Liliana Spears said.

Susan Lee, who leads the covenant community connection committee, added the two would be separate but could work together.

“Our workshops and education are more about moral issues, ethical issues and issues that are up in the community and a single issue that may not be. That’s not saying community issues and action wouldn’t be,” Lee said. “What if we are interested in juvenile delinquencies or the juvenile court system? There might be some overlap, but then there’s some kind of overlap between commemorations and celebrations too.”

Anne Little, the human relations manager, reported back about the Fair Housing Task Force that was discussed at the Aug. 7 City Hall meeting. Little explained the task force would be slowed.

“What we’re going to do is we’re not going to move as quickly as we thought we are,” Little said. “The city is going to hire a consultant. What we’re going to do is take the HRC, the Housing Advocacy Commission, the CDC and the at-large folk and create a steering committee that works with the consultant to create a process for fair housing. One of the issues here is if you have an issue, where do you go?”

The consultant would provide the task force with an up-to-date analysis of impediments.

Lee also recommended that the task force look at what other communities are doing about fair housing.

“That Fair Housing Act was in 1968,” Lee said. “We’re behind. Orange County’s Human Relations Council website has fair housing. We can just copy it. There’s a lot of work that’s already been done since 1968. We can find it.”

Spears added: “Let’s not reinvent the wheel.

Council members spoke about the four vacancies on the council. HRC has one vacancy under its appointees, and the City Council has three vacancies. Spears said the council has received three applications.

Roberta Mahatha, a lead instructor for the English Language Learners Program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, attended the meeting and said she is interested in joining the council.

Little also talked about the budget, which as of July 31 had a balance of more than $28,000. She said in August, the council received two scholarships totaling $7,500. In July 2017, the balance was $7,000.

“We do have a healthy budget at this point,” Little said.

Spears asked the council members if they had any questions and after no response, she said, “When there’s a surplus, there’s generally no questions.”

At a previous meeting, Calderon-Steck said the Hispanic Coalition was hoping to move the location of La Fiesta from Fisher Street to in front of the library at Church and Fisher streets. She said the group decided to stay on Fisher Street, which would help with continuity.

A couple of members noted that Oct. 6 is also the day of the Livingstone College parade, but they concluded the parade may bring out more participants and the two events are at different times.

“I don’t think we’re going to change it,” Spears said.

The Human Relations Council will meet again at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the city office building. Several members will meet to discuss bylaws and ordinances before the next meeting.