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Human Rights ordinance change up for second reading tonight


This news story was published on March 15, 2011.
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The Mason City City Council and Mayor will meet at the Mason City Library tonight at 7 PM. On the agenda is the second reading of a proposed ordinance change on how commissioners are selected for the Human Rights Commission.|The Mason City City Council and Mayor will meet at the Mason City Library tonight at 7 PM. On the agenda is the second reading of a proposed ordinance change on how commissioners are selected for the Human Rights Commission.

Currently, the Mayor selects from applicants who want on the commission, and he then brings them before the commission for their approval, and then the applicants face the City Council for final approval.

The ordinance change would somewhat reduce the Mayor’s role in the applicant selection process, requiring him to “communicate and cooperate” with the commisison to “on all appointments and reappointments to the commission” and then take those choices to the Council for approval. Also stricken from the current ordiance would be the ability of the Mayor to remove a commissioner “for cause.” That power would be shifted to a “a majority vote of the administrative tribunal.”

The ordinance change was worked out between Council member Travis Hickey and Human Rights Department Director Lionel Foster. “Council member Hickey and I have met on 2 different occasions to discuss amending the Human Rights code. I found both meetings to be very productive and necessary to resolve this protracted discussion,” Foster wrote in a March 10 memo. “Having given Council member Hickey’s suggestions much thought, I absolutely agree with him that the lack of communication and cooperation only exacerbates the controversy.”

The ordinance passed on first reading two weeks ago. However, the ordinance still must pass tonight’s second reading. According to sources, NorthIowaToday.com is told that the ordinance may fail this evening. Don Nelson will not be attending tonight’s meeting, so a 3-2 vote against the ordinance would kill it. According to email NorthIowaToday.com has received, Council member Travis hickey may be reconsidering his “yes” vote on the first reading.

Hickey told NorthIowaToday.com today that “This process has been way too drawn out and controversial. I voted “yes” two weeks ago so I could have a chance to consider the ordinance more fully without ending it right there. I will have more to say at tonight’s meeting.”

Hickey also said that he did not help draw up the ordinance change; he says Foster did all that and brought it to the Council two weeks ago based on their discussions.

Council member Max Weaver told NorthIowaTody.com regarding the issue “Neither CM Hickey or Solberg have done much with their elected position in the 15 months they have served. They’ve been bystanders for the most part. I was very excited for Travis when he brought the ord. change to the table I thought he did a very good job of compromising the issue so it would pass. But I guess his close friendship with the Mayor won out. I still have hope for CM Hickey that working hard for the taxpayers of Mason City trumps a beer and a smoke with the Mayor.”

Council member Jeff Marsters told NorthIowaToday.com “Hickey is jumping ship. He told me the Mayor was mad at him after he voted on the ordnance change, and Bookmeyer didn’t invite him out for a beer.”

NorthIowaToday.com will have more on this developing story after tonight’s City Council meeting.|

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