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Dover Post
  • Dover Human Relations Commission comes under scrutiny

  • Dover City Council’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the city’s Human Relations Commission, with the scope of what that review should entail being a topic at the Aug. 25 committee meeting.

     


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  • jayne.gest@doverpost.com
        Dover City Council’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the city’s Human Relations Commission, with the scope of what that review should entail being a topic at the Aug. 25 committee meeting.
        Issues between the commission and both former Council President Beverly Williams and current President Kenneth Hogan have been ongoing.
        Williams said she first became aware of problems when she received complaints and concerns from the State Human Relations Commission and Chairman Calvin Christopher.
     
       “He felt that the Dover Human Relations Commission had gone off mission because they saw themselves as a judicial body,” she said, adding that Christopher said such a function is reserved for the state commission only.
        Williams suspended all commission appointments until the issue could be settled, however Hogan said he’s already begun filling the four empty positions.
        After becoming council president, he said he became aware of some of the prior issues, including that the state wants the name changed. Hogan said he read the Dover Code’s chapter on the Human Relations Commission as well as the commission’s own by-laws. He concluded that part of the chapter was unclear and the by-laws may have gone beyond the mission of the commission.
     
       “I just think it needs to be reviewed carefully, looked at and talked about what needs to be changed,” he said.
        Another issue at stake is the $1,200 spent by the commission to pay for ads to fill empty positions. City Manager Tony DePrima said he doesn’t support such actions because there are plenty of options available for free advertising.
        Commission chairman Dr. Samuel Hoff said while such a review is certainly a right of the council, he felt it was extremely unusual and appalling to have the HRC singled out from all other city commissions.
        “The Dover Human Relations Commission has absolutely no problem with the legislative and finance committee reviewing our performance,” he said, adding that in fact they welcome it.
        Hoff also said he believed there have been no allegations against the commission, criticism of ineffectiveness or change of the commission’s mission.
        Both Councilmen Eugene Ruane and Rueben Salters pointed out the commission has done many positive things, despite any problems. Salters said he hoped those problems could be resolved by better communication.
        Committee chair Timothy Slavin talked about a series of questions that need to be answered about the commission. They included items such as whether the mission matches what it was set up to do, what are its history of accomplishments, whether the commission participated in activities outside the charter, what is the best method to attract membership, how the intake process should be handled, if the by-laws contradict the city’s code, if the commission’s title causes confusion and if the commission has successfully met its mission.
    Page 2 of 2 -     He later said he would refine those questions and submit them to council and commission members, adding that a series of meetings then will address the needs identified.
    Email Jayne Gest at jayne.gest@doverpost.com
     

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