I write as chair of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission to express my opposition to the proposed ordinance combining the Civil Rights Commission, Affordable Housing Board, and Human Services Commission.
This proposal will not make the commissions more effective. It will do exactly the opposite. The Civil Rights Commission is composed of volunteers who have jobs and families. We receive no financial support from the municipality. There are important issues we do not have the time or resources to address as it is.
Giving the responsibilities of three commissions to a single commission will dramatically reduce the time available for addressing civil rights.
If the members of Council making this proposal had taken the time to speak to me they would have known that it would make the Civil Rights Commission far less effective.
It took years of time and effort to get Council to create the Civil Rights Commission. Even then, the Commission was given no authority to anything more than make recommendations to Council. Efforts by the Commission to play an active advisory role, such as by offering suggestions on how to implement our municipal commitment to equity, have been rejected.
I had hoped that Council and the Commission would learn to work together for the benefit of the entire community.
Instead members of Council are attempting to marginalize the Commission still further by making it part of a new body that will have much less time to devote to civil rights.
It is a sad day when the greatest obstacle the Civil Rights Commission faces in carrying out our mission is the opposition of our own Council.
Fern M. Spruill