Iowa Civil Rights Commission
August 8, 2002
10:00 Am – 12:00 PM
321 Main Street
David Leshtz, Chair called the meeting to order.
Present were Commissioners Maria Waterman, and David Leshtz. Via ICN were Commissioners Connie Gronstal, Tim Tutt and Alicia Claypool. Also present were Corlis Moody, Executive Director, Ron Pothast, Business Manager and Araceli Goode, Executive Secretary.
Motion was made by Commissioner Gronstal and seconded by Commissioner Tutt to approve the June 27, 2002 Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes. The motion passed unanimously.
No Press was present. The Davenport Human Rights Commission hosted the Iowa Civil Rights Commission Commissioners’ meeting. Director Judith Morrell, two of their Commissioners and recording secretary were present. Judy addressed the Commissioners highlighting some of their accomplishments since 1999 when she accepted the position of Director. She feels that the increase in number of complaints is attributed to the commission’s outreach/education/training on diversity and civil rights in the schools, police department, fire department, and businesses. In addition, she feels customers’ faith in the Commission to address the complaints, September 11 –National Origin issues, and the economy may be other reasons that can be attributed to the increase in their caseload. In response to a question, she stated hat the majority of the complaints are in the Area of Employment with the basis of Race being first and Sex second; that Housing complaints have increased due to education of the public; and, there has been an increase this year in Disability cases and a decrease in Public Accommodation. She will send a written report on their education program in the schools to the Commission to distribute to the Commissioners. On Racial Profiling, she stated that the data sheets to record the stops made are being used, but it has been implemented only for a short time span and no statistics have been complied. On Anti-immigration, she reported that rumors had circulated that a business had mandated that only English be spoken and the Commission ran an ad on the Public Channel stating that it was illegal to do that. Thanked the Civil Rights Commission for all the help especially Rick Autry, AAG for returning their calls. Complimented the Civil Rights Commission on their website stating that she used it all the time.
Commissioner Leshtz – attended the Disability Act anniversary celebration in Iowa City. The trails for wheelchairs and universal designed houses were displayed. Spoke before the Kiwanas organization who were interested to know the trends in the complaints being filed. He extended an invitation to everyone to attend the Human Rights Breakfast at 7 AM on September 26, 2002. He had also spoke with the Governor’s Office regarding the current commissioner vacancy. The Governor is seeking to fill this position with someone from the northern part of the State as well as a Republican or Independent to keep the balance on the board. Any interested party should call the Governor’s Office.
Action: Alicia gave a brief summary of the purpose of the Gays, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in School Task Force. A packet of information was put together and 400 of these were distributed this day at the end of Kathy Collins’ presentation at the Iowa School Administrators conference. She is SAI’s legal counsel. She spoke for a few minutes regarding SO issues and the impact on student safety. More distributions of packets are planned as they are requested along with a presentation at the School Board Association conference in November. In February, five dates have been selected as possible days for a pilot forum to take place. Site availability will determine date and site. Ames is the choice for now and the target audience is educators, parents, students, civil rights, LGBT and other community leaders in central Iowa. Once established, this forum would be made available to replicate elsewhere in Iowa by possibly working with local Human Rights Commissions. Several speakers have been named but the final selection has not been made.
No New Business discussed
A group of African-American citizens interested in education of African-Americans will meet August 19 to put together a proposal of recommendations to address issues such as what would make the education system better which will then be presented to the Governor. Ruth White is the new director of the Division on Status of African-Americans.
As to the budget, loss of HUD Grant money and reduction of State Funds have caused a huge reduction in this year’s budget. All the possible cuts have been made. Four ICRC staff members were offered the Buy-Out/Early Retirement Plans and the number that accept the offer will determine the number of layoffs.
In response to the question regarding Housing complaints filing, Corlis stated that an agency must have ordinances substantially equivalent to Title VIII statues before HUD will award a contract. Presently, only five other agencies beside Civil Rights Commission have contracts. The city agencies have jurisdiction only within their city whereas the State agency covers the entire State.
No Old Business discussed
Next meeting date is October 10, 2002, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM and hosted by the West Des Moines Human Rights Commission in West Des Moines.
The meeting adjourned at 11:30 AM
Minutes submitted by Araceli Goode, Executive Secretary