MASON CITY – The Mason City Human Rights Commission will meet Thursday for its regular monthly meeting and deliberate on a number of issues pertaining to the future of the agency, including the elimination of the position of Human Rights Director.
As a result of this year’s budget passed by the Mason City Council, funding for Human Rights will be dramatically cut beginning July 1st. The Mason City Human Rights Department and Commission will have $15,000 to work with, and funding to pay for a Human Rights Director is not included. Thousands of grant dollars will be lost due to the city’s decision to de-fund the agency. Lionel Foster has been Human Rights Director in Mason City for over three decades and is a member of the Iowa African American Hall of Fame. He will likely be out of a job. A discussion will be held Thursday on “the separation of Lionel Foster from the Human Rights Commission.”
Also on the agenda is further discussion on a cooperative (sharing) agreement between The Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the Mason City Human Rights Commission. Read more about that agreement here.
The commission may welcome a new “friend” in Mason City educator Dan Ramaeker. Ramaeker wrote on his application that he is “very concerned over the council’s recent action and want to do my part to insure all citizens of Mason City have equal protection under the law.”
In other matters, Human Rights Commission member Steve Palmer has devised a plan to liquidate office equipment and office space currently in use by the Mason City Human Rights Department.
Palmer’s plan includes “donating” office equipment used by the commission and department to City Hall.
Palmer, an insurance agent, also said in a memo that “office space on the south side of the reception area will no longer be needed.” NIT has already reported that Blue Zones personnel and materials have begun to move into this area.
Sources also told NIT that Palmer was instrumental in ending a long-standing practice where the commission ate lunch during its monthly meeting.
Related to the issues of office equipment and office space, discussion will take place involving the securing of confidential files that are currently held in the very desks and office area that Palmer has recommended be vacated.