Iowa Civil Rights Commission
October 11, 2001
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Council Bluffs Library
400 Willow St.
Council Bluffs, Iowa
The Commissionersí Meeting of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission was brought to order by David Leshtz, Chairman. Present were Alicia Claypool, Timothy Tutt, Connie Gronstal and Gilberto Solivan. Maria Waterman was present via ICN. Also present were Corlis Moody, Executive Director, Ron Pothast, Business Administrator, and Araceli Goode, Executive Secretary.
Recognizing the Public and Press
The Chair recognized Karen Dales, Executive Director of the Council Bluffs Human Rights Commission and the Council Bluffís Commissioners present thanking them for hosting the ICRC Commissionersí Meeting. Also greeted guest speaker, Christine Dingman. No members of the press were present.
Approval of Minutes
The motion to approve the September 20, 2001 Commissionersí Meeting was tabled until clarification is made about the statement by Commissioner Westfall regarding the diversity training being done for State Troopers on page two, under New Business, second paragraph, third sentence. Timothy Tutt also wanted to add under his report that he had talked to Herman Quirmbach of the Ames City Council. The Chair requested the press release issued following the September 11 occurrence be attached to the minutes.
Gilberto Solivan - No report
Connie Gronstal - Thanked the Commissioners for coming to Council Bluffs. Reported a Diversity Conference was coming to Council Bluffs. Was not sure at this time of details but would let the Commission know.
Timothy Tutt - No report
Alicia Claypool - Reported that she had attended the Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Banquet two weeks ago. Several people were recognized from around the State. October 20, 2001 the Islamic Center in Des Moines will be having an open house to thank members of the public for the support they have received throughout the last month. It is from two to five and open to the public. Also attended an interfaith service September 23 that was very well attended. She passed around a copy of the editorial write up. Also had newspaper articles regarding the Commissionís Resolution to add Sexual Orientation to chapter 216. Reported Des Moines is also working on a Hate Crimes Law. Continues to be concerned about discrimination against Arabs and Muslims and wondered if the reason no complaints are being reported is due to fear of retaliation. Wondered what the education Unit of the Commission was doing that might overcome that fear. Or if there was something the Commissioners should be doing to get the word out that there is opportunity to make complaints based on religious or ethnic discrimination.
Maria Waterman - Attended an Anti-Hate Coalition that was very well attended in Davenport. Also attended part of Black Iowa Education Hearings that were held in Davenport last week. They were very well attended and reported some alarming statistics were produced by this research.
David Leshtz - Reported the Iowa City Human Rights Commission would be having its annual awards breakfast September 25, at 7:30 AM. Everyone is welcome. Also the fifth annual Day of the Dead celebration is happening on October 27. Commended the Commissionís webmaster on adding the Commissionerís contact information to the Commissionís web page.
In response to Alicia Claypoolís comment about discrimination against Arabs and Muslims complaints filed, Corlis stated there has not been any civil rights complaints filed, but there have been several incidents reported in various papers. The Attorney Generalís office has requested the Commission assist in tracking any discussion of hate around incidents. So far none of the reported incidents have become Civil Rights complaints, but are being pursued by police officers and other law enforcement. The Attorney Generalís office opinion is to curtail it as soon as it happens.
In addition, reported there are at least fifteen articles from various newspapers regarding the Resolution on Sexual Orientation, which are favorable to the Commissioners and what they are doing. These articles were passed around to the Commissioners for their review.
Regarding the Commissionís Education Unit and immigration rights and of those who might be persecuted due to September 11, the Commission has been awarded a grant for $60,000 by the Department of Justice. The grant was applied for before the event of September 11. It is to be used to educate immigrants that normally would not know what their rights are.
Christine Dingman presented on her perspective on disability issues in Council Bluffsí schools. She is a former member of the Council Bluffs Human Rights Commission and a parent of a disabled child. Her presentation covered the frustration of parents when faced with ensuring that their physically and mentally challenged children are given the same opportunities as other children. She wanted the Commission to look into this widespread issue to see how ADA laws can be enforced. Question and answer period followed. After further discussion, the Chair recommended a subcommittee be formed to cover this issue. David Leshtz and Connie Gronstal volunteered to undertake this issue.
Due to time constraints with the ICN, the Chair moved Old Business on the Agenda to be discussed next. The second guest speaker will be given the opportunity to speak after Old Business is discussed.
Alicia and Maria reported on the Resolution on Sexual Orientation and the need to discuss the meaning of sexual orientation. The Chair recommended the Resolution be sent forward to the Legislature as voted on and continue to discuss specific issues on sexual orientation at other times. The Commission is now on record in support of adding sexual orientation to Chapter 216, which is a step forward.
Immigration and Naturalization Services was the next presentation group. Mike Wordy and Joe Kenny, two investigation officers from the Omaha District Office addressed immigration. It was an informative presentation regarding how they do their job to reduce the number of illegal aliens. After discussion, the Chair thanked the Officers for coming and addressing the Commission.
Executive Directorís Report
Corlis referred the Commissioners to the contact cards in their packets of information that the State troopers will be using when they make a traffic stop. Commissioner Westfallís office sent them as agreed at the September Commissionerís Meeting.
Corlis then reviewed the Directorís Monthly Report. The Commissioners indicated the present format met with their approval. One suggestion was to define the abbreviations. Corlis stated that the terms would be spelled out instead of being abbreviated.
Corlis informed the Commissioners that at this time no personnel reductions were scheduled due partially to the federal contracts, but she would inform the commissioners if this changed in future months due to further budget cuts.
Corlis explained the letter from Cari Dominguez, the new chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, regarding the new policy, resulting from the September 11 event, being put in place regarding Employment discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, or country of origin. Corlis will recommend the Education Unit integrate the new policy into their curriculum.
The Commissionerís information packet includes an update letter from the Accessibility Taskforce on their progress. In the past two years, not much progress has occurred due to the many issues surrounding building codes and enforcement.
The Resolution on Sexual Orientation is also included in the packets for any discussion.
The Hate Crimes meeting that was scheduled did not happen. Fred Gay, Polk County Assistant County Attorney will attend the meetings and keep Corlis abreast of any changes. That law was originally written in the Polk County Attorney Office and will not be rewritten but they are working on adding strength to the violation of the law for punishment and adding a section on harassment. The Commission does not enforce this section of the law.
The next Commissionersí Meeting will be held November 8, 2001, in Cedar Rapids. Chair suggested looking into seeing the mosque in Cedar Rapids and if anyone had any suggestions on meeting site to let him know.
Motion was made by Alicia Claypool and seconded by Connie Gronstal to adjourn the meeting. The motion passed unanimously. The Chair adjourned the meeting.