PORTLAND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 500 Portland, OR 97204
Present at the July 11, 2012 session of the Human Rights Commission (HRC)
Commissioners: Abdul Majidi, Aimee Krouskop, Allan Lazo, Ashley Horne, Christine Rontal, Damon Isiah Turner, Deyalo Bennette, Donna Maxey, Emily Gottfried, Hector Lopez, Kyle Busse, Mayra Arreola (via teleconf), Moloy Good, Stephen Manning. Absent: Donita Fry.
HRC strategic planning consultants: Mark Fulop of Facilitation & Process, LLC and Mariam Wakili of PSU
Office of Equity and Human Rights: Ronault LS Catalani, Cat Goughnour
Full listing of public and press present is available upon request
1. Welcome and Introductions
Allan welcomed the public, Commissioners, and City staff and called the meeting to order at 4:10 pm. Commissioners opened the July session by briefly relating their observations on, or experiences with, housing issues. Comments included: housing discrimination; privilege of home-ownership; homelessness; public housing, un-neighborliness.
2. Approval of July minutes and August agenda
Minutes approved with spelling corrections. Agenda amended to include Human Trafficking Task Force Report. Agenda approved.
3. Public Comment
Commissioner Maxey corrected and apologized, on the record, for comments made at the last McMinnamins-sponsored Race Talks, about a recently published book on Jim Crow laws.
4. Presentation of the Strategic Plan 2012-2015 Mark Fulop of Facilitation & Process, LLC, presented to the full Commission the proposed final version of the City of Portland, Human Right Commission Strategic Plan 2012-2015. Mr. Fulop reminded the Commission of the expiration of his firm's contract with the City.
Commissioner Lazo commented on the Strategic Plan's allignment with the Commission's 2008 Framework for Action, and indicated his encouragement with progress toward that earlier document's strategic recommendations.
Commissioners agreed with Mr. Fulop that presents a “road plan for operationalizing” the strategic plan, and indicated approval of the Plan as a “living document” adaptable enough to adjust to shifting societal and political circumstances.
The Commission's Strategic Plan 2012-2015 was approved unanimously and the Commission thanked Mr. Fulop and Ms. Wakili for their work
5. Presentation and Discussion on Federal Fair Housing Act
Commissioner Good presented and led discussion on the 44th year of the Federal Fair Housing Act and local implementation. The Act was passed shortly after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's passing, and it represents a national initiative limiting the absolute authority of citizens over private land. The federal Dept of Housing & Urban Development regulates real eastate transaction, affirmatively enforcing fair housing standards.
Referring to The Oregonian series on low-income housing (reported by Brad Schmidt), Commissioner Good presented a brief overview of local affordable housing siting patterns and public housing authority practices that mitigate against the nondiscrimination intent of the federal Act.
Commissioner Good concluded by identifying three areas of advocacy that might reinforce provisions of the Fair Housing Act, including: educating & empowering public housing voucher-holders, preventing discrimination against Sec. 8 tenants; Settling on criteria that deliberately locates public housing in high-opportunity parts of town; Implementing “inclusionary zoning” ordinances.
Discussion among Commissioners included: what qualifies as “housing” under federal law; Why do property owners/managers disfavor public housing voucher (Sec 8) holders; What are City government practices encourage City funding of public housing in high-poverty areas; Institutional racism.
HRC chair moves and Commission approves moving forward with City housing policy education and advocacy. Commissioners Moly, Deyalo, Turner, Lazo, and Arreola, agree to form a Fair Housing Task Force.
6. HRC Organizational Subcommittee Report and Discussion
The subcommittee Commissioners Arreola, Horne, and Krouskop, reported and proposed to move this process forward in three phases: An open discussion on the July 9 Office of Equity (OE) – Human Rights Commission, Memorandum of Understanding; A return to the Subcommittee to reach accord on amendments; Presentation to OEHR Director.
Difficult areas of agreement must include: HRC autonomy from City governance and bureaucracy; OE and HRC knowledge of, and presence in, each other's programs and proceedings; HRC authority over OE staff and budget; HRC independence in reporting to City Council; HRC identity as “community voice” at times distinct from OEHR public position.
7. Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) Report and Discussion
Commissioner Busse presented HTTF's immediate and long-term commitments. Included in his discussion were: HRC's presence in anti-human trafficking programs of the US Attorney's Office, Multnomah County's District Attorney's and Sheriff's Offices; the HTTF's current work mapping at-risk immigrant Portlander populations; and a longer-termed law enforcement agency and general public education initiative on our area's foreign-born communities.
8. Community and Police Relations Committee (CPRC) Report and Discussion
Commissioner Lopez summarized the CPRC's ongoing work as providing a locally and nationally unique modelling of a “safe venue to disagree.” And that this initiative had established a platform for a 5-year police bureau anti-racism training.
To date, Seattle police officers had presented an 8-hour training to Portland Police Bureau command, HRC, and other essential actors. Training for all bureau commanders is scheduled next.
Closing Updates and Announcements
Commissioner Gottfried discussed plans for a September City Council candidates forum on Human Rights and a revival of the Human Rights Award banquest, provisionally scheduled for Dec 10, 2012.
Meeting adjourned at 6:30pm.