Op-ed by Peter Children –
There is a lot of talk going around as to just why our mayor refuses to consider the re-appointment of three Human Rights Commissioners. It’s been said he stated he wanted younger people on the commission…younger people with fresh ideas, people who might be inclined to see things his way. My first thought stemmed from what I had heard concerning the commission itself; that if enough sitting members decided to shut it down internally all they had to do was to vote it closed….then get up and leave and shut the lights off when they left the room.
Not going to happen. I have learned that the remaining Commissioners must first approve any appointees that the mayor might recommend before they could be seated…..so that isn’t going to get it done.
When and why did all this fuss about the Human Rights Commission begin anyway? The most popular theory involves I.C. Systems. It goes something like this: popular belief has it that the director of I.C. Systems son ran the mayor’s campaign when he ran for office, and further investigation revels that I.C. System along with its director made a collective contribution to the mayor’s successful effort in an amount bordering on $500.00….so there’s some alleged beholding at work here…..you think? Here in this country you’re still entitled to think.
Here is how it is alleged to have begun. On or around June of 2008 a woman who had been employed at I.C. Systems was terminated. She went to see Lionel Foster the director of the local Human Rights office and claimed age discrimination played a part in her dismissal. Lionel, ever the sleuth…champion of the downtrodden and defender of the hoi poli sprang into action and found credence in her words. He then set up a conference with the good folk at I.C. Systems where an offer and comprise took place. She offered to accept a paltry $2,500 to make it go away…..but there was no comprise to be found on that day….I.C. Systems turned her down. It next went before an investigative judge who found in her favor and recommend a fine be levied against I.C. Systems….which was subsequently appealed to district court where it now resides, and has resided for the past two years. Who says life can’t be exciting in a small town?
If I ran a successful campaign for someone who was elected to the office of mayor, and I wanted to be vindictive….people are known to be vindictive, I’d had no trouble asking that my pound of flesh be honored. And if I were the beneficiary of a winning mayoral campaign I’d try best to oblige. The only obstacle in his way was Weaver, Nelson and Marsters…and this as he found out was an unmovable force. The other three at that table are already comfortably situated in his pockets to the extent he has to be careful when he sits down.
It’s been said that Tornquist recommended that the Human Rights Commission be given to Parks & Recreation….what was he thinking, that people were going to the East Park shelter house to express their grievances? He’d always been a mystery to me, the biggest mystery was how he ever got a seat at that table.
Bookmeyer was ready to cut the budget of the Human Rights commission in a heartbeat to the extent it could no longer operate, but he never looked once at the MacNider Museum who draws about $270,000.00 a year and has close to $900,000.00 in reserve. He’d rather eliminate the concerns of the unfortunate with a simple vote in order to fulfill what this write believes could be an obligation. Why would anyone be surprised at that? This is a guy who ran for public office with a promise to listen to the concerns of the citizens….and one of the first things he does upon taking office is shutting off the public form portion of the council meeting. Public pressure forced him to reinstate it but he limited it to 5 minutes….he wants to hear what you have to say, but just not all of it.
He needs to learn that the comment he made alluding to old people sitting on boards did not go down well in this community. I am 76 and I will admit I didn’t vote for him. He needs to know if he runs for re-election many more in my age group will follow my lead…..hopefully.
Peter J. Children