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Update on current status of Mason City Human Rights agency

Mason City Human Rights Commissioner Brian McNamarra and Dean Genth
Mason City Human Rights Commissioner Dean Genth (center)

Due to the request from Mayor Bookmeyer, the City Council and many members of the community as to where the Mason City Human Rights Commission’s progress stands on finding a way forward, Vice Chair Dean Genth has offered this current update to those individuals and the community:

Dean A. Genth, vice-chair of the Mason City Human Rights Commission, announced today that by virtue of all the hard work that our Commission members have provided, they are now in a position to continue to provide services to the citizens of Mason City. A recent signing of a contract with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will allow the Commission to receive approximately $35,750.00 through 2014 for investigating employment discrimination complaints. The federal funds will augment the $15,000 city funds, and allow the Commission to retain our current full-time Administrative-Assistant, Amy Simpson.

The other good news is that the HUD office in Washington, DC informed the Commission that we may use the left-over funds from our 2012 fair housing contract to cover administrative costs, which includes paying accrued earnings owed to our departing Director, Lionel Foster. In that regard, the Commission will not have to spend any of the city’s $15,000 FY 2013-2014 funding.

The Commission is not obligated to send our active cases to Beth Townsend at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) as requested by Mayor Bookmeyer. Those cases have been thoroughly investigated by the Commissioners, and are merely waiting for a final decision to be written by staff. Since the Commissioners have spent a considerable amount of their volunteer time investigating those cases, it would not be fair to them to give the ICRC the benefit of their free labor.

More importantly, the Commission’s active cases are under contract with the EEOC. According to the EEOC contract, we will receive $650.00 for each completed case. If we sent those cases to ICRC they would only reimburse our Commission $100 per case, which means the Mason City Commission would lose $30,250.00, which makes no economic sense.

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