by Tom Strand, Interim HRC Chair
The Human Relations Commission in Colorado Springs is back after an absence of almost 17 years. In June of 2010 the Colorado Springs City Council passed Ordinance 10-48. In early 2011, over 35 volunteer candidates were interviewed and on March 8th nine commissioners were selected for 2-4 year service terms along with three alternate Commissioners. This Commission met for the first time in City Hall on April 28th. After a brief orientation, the 12 person Commission selected an Interim Chair, Tom Strand, Interim Vice Chair, Ernest House and Interim Secretary, Teressa Hill. The interim officers are designated to serve until September 2011 when a slate of permanent officers are elected. Since the initial April 28th meeting the Colorado Springs HRC has met on the third Wednesday of each month, as well as on May 21st for a general team building and organizational half -day session.
The mission statement and objectives of the HRC are still under development but are generally set out in the ordinance. The draft mission statement is: “To promote understanding and respect for all Colorado Springs residents by facilitating constructive communications through referrals, conflict resolution and proactive outreach.” The purpose of the HRC is to help guard against mal-treatment and discrimination in all parts of life for our residents, including housing, transportation, employment and day-to-day activities.
The HRC has created two sub-committees, Education and Structure, in order to accomplish the background work to properly launch the HRC later this fall. These committees have met 2 to 3 times to establish educational and training requirements (such as mediation skills) and to ensure the Commission is fully prepared to assist residents with a myriad of potential issues/problems. The Structure Subcommittee has drafted by-laws and other operating documents which are currently being reviewed and are pending Commission adoption.
The committees are working with members of City Council and other city offices, such as Legal and HR, to start up a program, a website, and public contact information for the HRC.
Stand by for the official announcement of the activation of your new HRC later this year!