Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How The Greensboro City Council Really Works

Eric Ginsburg at YES! Weekly writes, City gathers feedback on Human Relations Department and it's quite a mouth full. Here's the meat.

"Several people, including District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small, acknowledged that council has pressured the commission or the department head not to take up certain issues, with Bellamy-Small naming the truth and reconciliation process on the Klan- Nazi shootings and the White Street landfill as two examples.

“Do you want the truth?” said Bellamy-Small, when asked by Neerman to weigh in on the discussion. “In my time on the council there have been points in time that the director was given issues by the city council not to touch.”

She said there was “serious political backlash” after she pushed for a report from the department about the truth and reconciliation process which Bellamy-Small said former Mayor Keith Holliday had tried to put off indefinitely. Part of the problem, she said, was that all of the funding comes from the city, and “he who has the gold makes the rules.”

There goes your plans to run for Mayor next year, Keith. After all, we can't have a human relations department that actually accomplishes things can we? Why that would be like having a working inspections department under Mayor Robbie Perkins.

"A number of attendees who had served on the human relations commission said they remember feeling that pressure.

“The [department] head was under a lot of pressure to keep certain things under the rug,” said Gary Palmer, a former commissioner. “You knew there were certain things [or people] saying, ‘Don’t go in that direction.’” Several people focused on ways the department could bolster existing activity, such as putting employment issues on par with housing, granting subpoena power to the complaint review committee to review claims against police and increasing outreach, specifically to non-English-speaking immigrant and refugee communities.

“Without real legal status like subpoena power… they can’t necessarily get all the information,” retired Guilford College professor Claire Morse said. Her husband Larry, a retired NC A&T University professor, said there are business interests that oppose giving more employment powers to the department."

And so it is, as it has always been, Greensboro in a nut shell.