(DISCUSSION) The Commission’s position on district based planning and its actions in regards to recommendations from the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.
Comm Queen reviewed that he had been asked to be the representative to the JJCC, and during one meeting he had introduced the statement of utilizing district based planning, which was adopted by the workgroup. At a subsequent JJCC meeting (the steering committee) this statement was removed from the list of principles adopted, and that action was supported by the JPC representative (Comm Stiglich). His concern about this were unresponded to by anyone, so he wanted to clarify how such things would be dealt with in the future, to avoid confusion.
Comm Ricci said that while she would have been the JPC rep on the JJCC, she wanted to give other commissioners the chance to participate, so asked Comm Queen to represent the commission. She wanted others to get this experience also so she did appoint another commissioner to rotate on. She sent an email memo about this. As to not responding to Comm Queen’s queries, she said that upon advice of the City Attorney, she should not, in order to avoid violating open meeting rules. Also, she was out of the country on personal family matters so communication was not easy.
There was disagreement about whether clear communication was given about the appointment of Comm Stiglich to the JJCC, or whether effective and appropriate means of inquiring into this and resolving the question were used. Both Comms Ricci and Queen had different views about what had occurred and why.
Comm Stiglich was troubled that this issue was brought up at a meeting she was not present at. She said she is very open and willing to deal with such questions face to face. She felt this problem is more a matter of misunderstanding of what happened at the JJCC steering committee mtg. She said she has not misrepresented the commission, nor spoken against the policy of district based planning (as adopted by the commission). It was not her that brought up the issue at the meeting, nor her that questioned the appropriateness of the statement in the document. While she agreed with the opinion of the others who did raise it, she did make an effort to amend the document to include the principle (district based planning) somewhere else in it. So other language was included (eg. working with commissioners, faith based, community orgs.) while remaining true to the spirit of what the JJCC was.
David Onek, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, recapped the history of this issue, pointing out that the original approval of the statement submitted by Comm Queen occurred in violation of the protocols set up by the JJCC, but got carried to the steering committee despite this. At the steering committee meeting in question, Gary Bieringer questioned why it was in the document, and why not statements from other commissions or groups. Why only the JPC’s statement.
Comm Hale commented that the JPD should take the lead in this process as it is the only body held responsible for the direction of juvenile justice policy in the county (he said legislatively it is recognized as the lead).
Comm Queen reiterated his concern for the role of the commission vis a vis the JJCC and being the policy maker for the Probation Dept.
There were disagreements over whether the workgroup fully understood and supported the statement presented by Comm Queen or just went along with him. Comm Queen felt that those chairing the JJCC should have acted to endorse the statements and input of the commission (as the primary policy directors in the City), in this case where the statement was very positive. He asked that this question be addressed in the commission retreat so a clear protocol can be set up.
Onek commented that his role and that of Liz Jackson-Simpson was of facilitator and not advocate of one side over another. Comm Queen said there needs to be a clear understanding of what the roles of others are when the commission makes policy and how they will respond to it (whether in the JJCC, JDAI, etc.) We need to be speaking with a single voice.
Comm Stiglich reiterated her offense to the statements in the minutes saying she misrepresented the commission and spoke against a policy adopted by the commission. She said she hadn’t and reiterated what transpired. Comm Hale continued to say she had, by not opposing removal of the statement.
Onek also said it was not a rejection of the principle.
Comm Stiglich said, it was not a rejection of the concept or principle, just an opinion that it did not belong in that spot in the document, but was incorporated elsewhere. Comm Ricci said that it behooves the commission to have full reports from commissioners who attend meetings on behalf of the commission, so that all commissioners know what is transpiring in those efforts.
Murlene Randle, MOCJ Director, commented about individual commissioners representing the commission. She was confused about what the commission had wanted, when the selection process for the new chief was going on. She was given the understanding from Comm Queen that the African American Relations Board would pick the people the Mayor would ask for public input, and that he further gave her a list of people that she was only to speak to about this. She said this was represented as the Commission’s position. She said that Comm Ricci did not corrobate this, so it was further confusing when she was questioned by Comm Queen why she hadn’t used those listed names. She said the Commission needed to follow a clear policy on its external communications.
Comm Queen took exception to that impression of his message to Randle. The submission of the list was approved by the Commission, and it was not an exclusive list of African American orgs, but a cross section of CBOs from various communities.
Comm Ricci said that while she did ask Comm Queen for a copy of the communication he was giving to MOCJ, she never received one.
Comm Stiglich said there appears to be a great amount of suspicion all around, from the Mayor’s office, to the Commission. There needs to be better communication all around.
Comm Stiglich repeated that she felt the way it was brought up was not in the best form, that she should have been there to receive the questions directly, which she would have gladly done.
There was an outstanding difference of opinions as to the nature of the list given M. Randle, whether it was meant as an “exclusive” list. Comm Hale repeated that this list was the result of the Commission asking Comm Queen to come up with a suggested process.
Comm Queen strenuously objected to that characterization, and felt M. Randle was being disingenuous about wanting wide community input, when originally he (Comm Queen) was told by her and Steve Kawa to back off of the request to have community input into the selection process, because of “confidentiality” issues. He said that when he brought this up with the Commission, it was agreed that he could come up with a list to give to the Mayor, of community based orgs that he could involve in the community process. And at a previous meeting where M. Randle said this list could not be an exclusive list, he of course agreed. Comm Queen further said that subsequently, M Randle came to a meeting of the African American police relations board, with minister Christopher Mohamed and Dr. Amos Brown, where they expressed their desire to have the African American community represented in this process.
M. Randle said she did go to that meeting, and they agreed to give input. She was surprised when Comm Queen said to her the list was supposed to be the exclusive list.
Comm Hale emphasized why it was important to keep the concept of community based planning on the forefront.
At this point, Comm Ricci closed the discussion as it was reaching far from the agenda item. She just reminded everyone that when external communications are made from the Commission, that copies should be given to the President and Secretary, so that clear records are kept.
Public Comments: James Bryant, SEIU 790, suggested such a discussion should be done in private.
Denise Coleman, clarified the process of the JJCC, and said that most of the people in the workgroup were unfamiliar with the concept he presented, and justifiably voted against it. She felt that the final vote that approved it, was more because they were influenced by the Commissioner, rather than because they fully understood and supported it.
Amin Abu al Amin, African American Police Relations Bd, felt that Comm Queen was being besmirched by the allegations of the nature of that list. He suggested that the list be produced to see if recollections are accurate.
George Smith, Ella Hill Hutch also felt Comm Queen was being attacked. He expressed gratitude for Comm Queen’s work with his community.
Comm Chuck asked for a point of order and opinion from the attending City Attorney. M. Baumgartner spoke off mike and was not clearly picked up.
Comm. Fetiçō responding to George Smith’s comments were that it is their primary responsibility to work with the youth. G. Smith said that he would take that back and work harder on his end, but encouraged the Commission to open up ways for youth to access them to participate more in public government.
Comm Chuck expressed concern for the polarization on the board. He said there needs to be consensus.
Comm Stiglich, as a final comment on the list, said her recollection was that it was permitted to go forward not as an exclusive list, just advisory, to the Mayor.
Comm Ricci, on the leadership question, said that when she took on the role of the President, there were many people clamoring for changes that were long needed. She said it was not a question of the leadership but the question of individual acts of individuals on the commission, some who may not have wanted those changes, and had their own agendas. She has always been focused on what changes were needed in the Dept to better serve the youth, and wanted people to treat each other with mutual respect in carrying out the common work.