Thursday, May 19, 2005

Race in Raytown

A while back, I did a post about Raytown, describing it as a microcosm of middle-America. That post resulted in an email correspondence with someone involved in Raytown, and she forwarded to me the following transcript of a May 9 meeting of the Raytown Charter Commission:
Ms. Wittman - I have a hard time understanding how having members of labor unions come talk to us, minority groups come talk to us, is going to have anything to do with the drafting of the Charter. I would like to add one person myself, that being the mayor of Raytown, Sue Franks. Now we know that under 4th class city government, we have a strong mayor concept. She however, my understanding, does not work as a strong mayor. And I'd like to have her come back and explain exactly how she operates her office.
Mr. Barnes - Thank you Mr. Chairman. I'd like to speak on behalf of minorities addressing the Charter Commission regarding the writing of this Charter for the city of Raytown. You've taken the time to look at the census tracks regarding Raytown, we have over 18-20% racial minorities in this community that are a vital part of this community. They're voting citizens, they're tax paying citizens, and they clearly ought to be involved and we should hear from them in this Charter process. That includes disabled people, minorities, others, veterans, anybody that would fall into those protected classes. They clearly need to be part of this. And I personally object to questions being raised regarding minorities that live here in Raytown.
Mr. Gray - Thank you Mr. Barnes.
Ms. Wittman - I'd like to add..
Mr. Gray - Ms. Wittman, I haven't recognized you yet, are there others to discuss.
Mr. Aziere - I would like to - if we're going to look at all of the angles, I'd like to consider having realtors come, also the school district, Chamber of Commerce, I mean all of these people. If we're going to unions, and we're going to go to other groups, I think these three groups have a vested interest. People who deal in real estate definitely have feeling on the value of what keeps our community together and likewise the school district because they're right in the center of our downtown. And the Chamber, you're talking about business people, well, we should include all of them, not just small but large too. When you get the Chamber involved, it allows everybody to participate, not just the small business man. So I'm going to suggest asking them also.
Mr. Gray - well like Bill Price, at Shamrock cabinets, is a pretty good size business man, but GE out here which was BHA, or Walmart, those are corporate residents in the sense that they're here a while and then they're gone.
Mr. Aziere - I don't recall using those names.
Mr. Gray - I didn't say you did. But your point is well made on broadening the group. Ideally we'd have the old town-hall meetings like in New Hampshire, and have everybody in town here to hash it out. But that's just not going to happen, there's just not that many people interested - apparently.
Mr. Aziere - I guess one point - I don't understand we came up with this list of people we were going to invite but not the entire committee was invited to make these suggestions. We just got a list of these are the people that are coming. I don't know about other people on this committee who had input, but I know that I didn't.
Ms. Wittman - I didn't.
Mr. Aziere - and there are others that didn't, so. I guess I'll make a point that in the very beginning one of the processes you mentioned what that in the last charter, that there were people who operated on the side and did their own thing. I kind of see that happening here too - this is a good example of it. So I'm kind of feeling like, you know, if you feel that way, we shouldn't have these and let's just scratch all the rest of them. We can get on with our business of writing this Charter.
Mr. Gray - I disagree with your prospective. It's been open to anybody that wants to suggest to me any kind of group testifying and give me good reason why - as the Chairman, I said that sounds reasonable and made the invitations.
Ms Darby - I'm highly disturbed that some of our Commission members are trying to shun some of our decent citizens here in Raytown regarding the minority population. I'm deeply troubled. They are a part of our city. They do deserve a voice. There was a Human Relations Commission set up. Was that just PR or do we actually believe in the diversity of this community? Is anybody, are there any city employees that are of a diverse ethnic background? Considering the population of our city I would think that we would welcome such input and I'm highly disturbed by this.
Ms. Wittman - I remember at the very beginning of our meetings that we invite Dr. Atkins, who was the Chairman of the 1996 Commission. To come to speak to us and help us avoid the pitfalls in drawing up of this Charter. That was sidestepped, and I did make that suggestion.
Mr. Gray - I don't understand any pitfalls he was going to help us avoid.
Mr. Briggs - Again, I'm concerned that some of the members of our Commission - do you not understand that this is an open and free process? Anyone can come and speak before this group. That's why we have on the agenda public comments. I think some of these suggestions that have been made - and that's all they are, suggestions, that we invite some other people. I think they are good suggestions. Because maybe we haven't heard from these people, whether it be small business or minorities, or whatever. But that doesn't exclude anyone from coming to the microphone and speaking at any given meeting that we are having.
It sounds like some members of the Raytown Charter Commission don't really care to hear from "those people". If you are one of "those people", or you support "those people", then, by all means, you should try to make the meeting at 7:00 PM on May 23 at the Raytown City Hall.


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