1. Call to order: 5:03
Attendance: Yamaguchi, Gillis, Simon, Garret, Muse, Choudhary, Elson, Williams, Jenkins, DuQuenne (council liaison), Seltzer (staff liaison)
Simon read the Land Acknowledgement.
Simon/Elson moved to rotate the land acknowledgement reading to a different commissioner at each meeting. Motion passes unanimously. Gillis volunteered to read the land acknowledgement at the May meeting.
2. Approval of Minutes:
: Elson/Williams moved approval of the minutes as presented. Motion passes unanimously.
3. Public Input: None
4. Meet with Toya Cooper SOU Vice President of DEI.
Yamaguchi introduced Cooper and invited her to talk about her work at SOU. Cooper spoke of her background and her approach to DEI. She will start with a survey of SOU students to determine their concerns.
Williams spoke of racial micro aggressions that occur at the Ashland Middle School and noted that this language is a learned behavior.
Simon noted the commission has met with different groups in the area who share an interest in the work of diversity, equity and inclusion and that Cooper may want to meet with those groups. Simon informed Cooper that SERJ has requested the City create a position for a full time DEI manager.
Simon thanked Cooper for taking time to attend the meeting.
5. Update on the Housing Production Strategy Committee.
Gillis gave a brief update on her first meeting with the HPSC and noted that the group is pleased to have a representative from SERJ.
5. Update from sub-committee on participation in special events.
Yamaguchi asked the group if there was interest in meeting in person. Williams is not available during the week. Elson expressed a preference for meeting outdoors due to covid risk and Gillis expressed the need for a hybrid approach. DuQueene offered an outdoor meeting space at the Ashland Springs Hotel. Yamaguchi offered May 14 as a possible date, but several commissioners prefer to wait until June. It was suggested that Juneteenth would be a date the commission could come together at a scheduled Juneteenth gathering. Seltzer explained that the city is developing a hybrid model for commission meetings.
Yamaguchi is working with BASE on the Juneteenth celebration on Sunday, June 19. Yamagichi suggested a smaller event in Ashland on Saturday possibly with a food truck and a speaker. She encouraged commissioners to volunteer for BASE at the Juneteenth meeting. Seltzer noted that parameters and cost associated with a banner on Main Street. Simon broke the discussion into three different motions.
M/S Simon/Jenkins to secure a banner to be hung across Main Street in celebration of Juneteenth and to ask Lessard to approve the expense. Motion passes unanimously. Yamaguchi and Williams volunteered to work with staff on banner content.
M/S Elson/Yamaguchi SERJ will have a presence and will participate with BASE on the Juneteenth Medford event. Motion passes unanimously.
3. There was not a motion to organize a separate Juneteenth event on Saturday, June 18.
Due to time constraints, the discussion about documenting and archiving the work of SERJ and the discussion about participating in the July 4 parade was delayed to the May 5 meeting.
6. Discussion about conducting DEI Engagement for the commission.
This item was delayed to the May 5 meeting.
6. Council Liaison/Staff Liaison Update.
DuQueene spoke on several issues:
• The process to recruit a new SERJ commissioner. The commission application is available on the website (Seltzer will send the link) and she noted that someone who previously applied to serve may still be willing to do so and those applications will be reviewed. She said applicants would meet with the Mayor, the co-chairs and herself.
• She noted that SERJ is due to report to the City Council on June 21.
• There are holidays that are not on the software to include in the master calendar. The IT Director is still working on incorporating the existing holidays included in the software to the master calendar.
• Simon asked about the status of the SERJ request for a DEI manager. DuQueene noted that the City Manager has said the position is not in the budget and therefore cannot be funded and in addition departments have been asked to reduce their budget: 5% (police and fire) and all other departments by 10%. The council will discuss the budget in May.
The position could be included in the next budget cycle which will occur in the spring of 2023.
Simon requested a formal written statement from the City Council and/or the City Manager to reflect DuQuenne’s update. Simon noted it does not feel good to be ignored and a response is the courteous thing to do. In addition, she asks that the statement include the information on how to include the DEI manager request into the next budget process.
Due to time constraints Seltzer did not provide a staff update.
7. Wrap up and future agenda items.
Meeting adjourned: 6:35 p.m.