A few months after passing a resolution "reaffirming the City of West Linn as a place of inclusion and acceptance," the City Council took one step further Monday, March 6, by tentatively agreeing to partner with a citizen-led "Alliance for Inclusive Community."
Alliance representatives Kathy Selvaggio and Mary Pat Silveria spoke to the council as part of a work session and presented two initiatives they hoped to garner support for: a town hall style meeting on inclusion and diversity and a "human rights commission" that might serve as an additional resource for celebrating diversity or dealing with issues related to discrimination.
The Alliance as a whole is focusing primarily on outreach in its early days.
"We have organized into three subcommittees," Selvaggio said. "One dealing with city government, one with the neighborhood associations and faith-based organizations, and one with schools."
A town hall-style meeting would bring many of those groups together under one roof, with the focal point of the event being a panel discussion featuring representatives from government, the police, high schools or middle schools and the community at large.
The human rights commission, as Selvaggio and Silveria envisioned it, would be made up of volunteer citizens and report to the City Council. Their hope was that the commission would both promote cultural appreciation events and serve as a resource for people who are having problems.
The council was generally supportive of the ideas presented by the Alliance, with some caveats. City Council President Brenda Perry said she was concerned with including faith-based organizations in the town hall meeting given the separation of church and state and the fact that it would be near impossible to decide which of the many organizations within the city to invite. She was also concerned with the title of "human rights commission."
"I'd like it to be more on the positive side rather than a 'looking for problems,' negative type of thing," Perry said.
The council also agreed that a town hall meeting related to inclusion should be separate from those that are already planned as part of its 2017 goals — which are intended more for general citizen outreach.
Community member Alice Richmond expressed strong disagreement with the entire premise of the Alliance for Inclusive Community and said it would only further politicize the city.
Nonetheless, the council supported the effort and suggested that the Alliance's next action should be speaking with the Public Safety Advisory Board.
By Patrick Malee
Assistant Editor, West Linn Tidings
Pamplin Media Group
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