Rights Commission Meeting Minutes
March 11, 2008
Chair Janet Delmore; Commissioners Philip Crump; Thelma McKenzie; Marie
Oftelie; Bob Venters
Commissioners Tam McGehee and Pam Bosch
Others Present: City
Manager Bill Malinen and Recording Secretary Sheila Stowell
to Order: Chair Delmore called the Human Rights
Commission (HRC) meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Chair Delmore reported on the HRC reception following the
Essay Contest presentation before the City Council in February that she and
Commissioner McGehee attended.
Chair Delmore welcomed Muoi Duhl to the meeting.
Commissioner Bob Venters requested an additional
discussion item entitled “Vision Proposal for local HRC.”
Chair Delmore questioned the wording on lines 92 through
94, specifically “connotations” regarding City Manager Malinen’s statement
regarding focus on a positive and cooperative relationship as diversity
training issues were considered.
After discussion, Commissioner Delmore moved and
Commissioner Venters seconded continuation of the January 8, 2008 meeting
minutes until the April meeting to allow Chair Delmore time to review her
Review – Buying Books for Schools
Chair Delmore reported that she had spoken to staff
regarding funding of the school books, and 2007 funds were not used, as the
request came in too late.
Commissioner Venters disagreed with the City Attorney’s
February 25, 2008 legal analysis and written opinion regarding the proposed
HRC Ordinance prohibiting landlords from asking the immigration status of
tenants and prospective tenants. Commissioner Venters disagreed with the
City Attorney’s opinion, saying that verbal opinions he’d received from
several non-profit attorneys working more exclusively with immigration issues
had been more supportive of the proposed ordinance. City Manager Malinen
had asked the City Attorney to review the draft ordinance and general policy
intent for possible legal issues associated with the proposal.
Commissioner Venters asked how best to receive a response
from the City Attorney, rationale for the City Attorney’s opinion and policy
issue considerations under the City Council’s domain.
Discussion included Section 8 housing provisions,
disclosure of information on rental application forms, First Amendment rights
and applicable state and federal laws, whether the City Attorney should be
asked to attend an HRC meeting, if Commissioner Venters should meet with him
during office hours at City Hall and cost implications for the City Attorney
Commissioner Venters said he preferred a written response
rather than verbal so an exact record of HRC concerns and City Attorney
responses would be available.
City Manager Malinen noted the unique situation with the
HRC proposal, with the usual procedure being that the City Council meets with
the HRC to give direction for the Commission’s focus. The Commission would
then bring recommendations to the City Council for their consideration.
While not trying to detract from the HRC’s proactive initiative, City Manager
Malinen asked if a majority of Councilmembers support the proposed ordinance,
saying it may be awkward since it was not something that the City Council had
looked at and referred to the HRC.
Further discussion included the HRC’s charge to create a
safe environment for the community, recognizing the legal implications with
the proposed ordinance, potential legal exposure with financial implications
to the City with such an ordinance, thus the City Attorney’s caution.
City Manager Malinen said Councilmembers had received a
copy of the opinion letter, and Commissioner Venters noted that Councilmember
Pust had e-mailed him and City Manager Malinen seeking background
Discussion included whether it would be appropriate to go
directly to the City Council for their input on the issue, with Commissioner
Venters volunteered to send an e-mail to the City Council to gauge their
willingness and to work with the City Attorney to clarify potential legal issues.
City Manager Malinen said he would alert the City Attorney
of Commissioner Venters’ interest to meet for further discussion.
on Race/Diversity Training
Discussion continued from the January meeting on diversity
training and Chair Delmore and Commissioner McKenzie’s contacts with other
communities and/or agencies.
City Manager Malinen’s updated Commissioners on the
self-directed, on-line training for all City staff beginning in April, with
modules available for diversity, harassment and customer service training.
Discussion included whether the HRC could access the
training for review or personal training, and City Manager Malinen offered to
check with the City’s Information Technology Director about e-mail access and
Commissioner Venters advised that when he had spoken with
Police Chief Carol Sletner, she expressed her perception that the Police
Department was being singled out for diversity training. He assured her that
the HRC was attempting to meet the needs of police officers and their peers
in training options. Commissioner Venters advised that he was currently
attending the Police Department’s citizen academy.
Additional discussion included specialized training for
police officers and their peers on an area-wide or regional basis; possible
location for such training (i.e., Northwestern College); the Grand Rapids
training model and involvement of the Attorney General’s office and POST
Board continuing education credits; and the desire of the HRC to build a
positive relationship between the HRC and Police Department.
Commissioner McKenzie reported on her attendance at a
community event held in Shoreview and coordinated by the State Human Rights
League and the City of Shoreview HRC, with the Bethel University diversity coordinator
and a mix of diversity and gender, and interesting and enlightening
Chair Delmore asked Commissioner McKenzie to see if a
video and/or manuals could be obtained for commissioners to review.
City Manager Malinen distributed 2006/2007 diversity
comparison demographics from Roseville Area School District No. 623, recently
presented to the City Council by Peg Kennedy, noting the cultural and racial
diversity those changing demographics represent.
The Commission discussed the Imagine Roseville 2025
community visioning process discussions that related to inclusionary issues
and neighborhood connections and awareness; how to relate to and communicate
with neighborhoods; community process to determine actual boundaries and
neighborhoods (i.e., block captains; areas of interest around specific parks
or amenities); and how the community can be more engaging and understand
differences to create educational and awareness opportunities, and the role
of the HRC in that process.
Chair Delmore opined the targets were not being met, and
that the schools were doing their job, but City employees needed to do their
Commissioner Venters said that with evidence that two HRC
initiatives (housing ordinance and diversity training with the Police
Department) had been essentially rejected, creating his perception that while
the Council expressed support of the Imagine Roseville 2025 process
and goals, their actions didn’t show that they promoted a welcoming
Commissioner McKenzie said the HRC was encountering the
fear factor, an ongoing problem with changing demographics and diversity.
Commissioner McKenzie highlighted past HRC initiatives, such as the “Stuff
the Park” program and she encouraged the HRC to get into the community through
such initiatives as the “Time to Talk” settings to get conversations started.
Commissioner Delmore said it seemed that the HRC had been
“shut down,” and sought City Manager Malinen’s assisting in accomplishing the
City Manager Malinen questioned if that was an accurate
perception; noting that part of the resistance may be the indication that the
diversity training is only a Police Department issue, rather than a
community-wide one where all needed to be understanding of demographic or
cultural differences and changes in the community. City Manager Malinen
suggested that the HRC address those issues from a broader perspective, and
recognize certain legal issues that the City Council considers from a more
global viewpoint. City Manager Malinen advocated for a broader approach for
the community, to actively engage in communication individually and
collectively to create more understanding.
Chair Delmore said that a joint meeting with the City
Council would be advantageous.
City Manager Malinen advised that all advisory commissions
were scheduled for their annual meeting with the City Council later this
spring, depending on agenda time availability.
City Manager Malinen encouraged the HRC to pursue
community involvement in their diversity training, through programs discussed
earlier and offered staff’s support to help the HRC get notice out to the
community for such meetings.
Commissioner McKenzie volunteered to provide additional
information on the Grand Rapids training, and Commissioner Crump suggested
that at the next HRC meeting, a date be set and planning begun in earnest.
Further discussion included broad-spectrum mailings; how
to encourage attendance, developing partnerships with the school district, MN
Department of Human Rights, possible grant funds and other planning
City Manager Malinen offered to seek out additional
information on grant funding available through the State League of Human
Ms. Muoi Duhl shared some perspectives of diversity
changes that she’d experienced in her native Vietnam and impacts depending on
occupation and lifestyle.
Commissioners agreed that the next agenda include
discussion on planning for community forum/diversity training.
Commissioner Venters asked that City Manager Malinen
direct the City Attorney to respond to his e-mail in a timely manner.
Commissioner Venters noted that in reviewing essays the MN
Human Rights Act stated that individual classes were protected, and asked
that a letter to Mindy Greiling and John Marty be drafted asking that
immigration status be a protected class in the Human Rights Act. Commissioner
Venters volunteered to draft the letter for the next meeting.
City Manager Malinen distributed the City’s “green
brochure” providing areas that the City was leading in environmental
City Manager Malinen said the City was moving forward,
hopefully in the fall of 2008, with the University of Roseville program to
familiarize citizens about City services and processes.
Chair Delmore moved and Commissioner Venters seconded
adjournment of the meeting at 8:10 p.m. Motion carried 5/0.