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May 7, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

Human Relations Commission
City Commission Room, Fargo City Hall

1.      Welcome and Introductions

2.      Approval of Agenda

3.      Approval of March 5th Minutes

4.      Discussion: Introduction of Cristie Jacobsen, Fargo Police Cultural 
         Liaison officer
         General procedures: Media  contacts
         Slot for a Youth Member?
         Discussion: Moorhead Human Relations Commission, Mtg May 8
         Discussion: Working more closely with Liaisons
         Janeen Leaving (Lunch May 21 at Café Muse)

5.      Presentation:  Jill Sherbrooke, Foster Care Issues

6.      Funding Requests: 
         NDHRC conference $500 
         FM Pride Paper ad $175 

7.      Public Comment (12:30)

8.      Other Business not Listed on the Agenda

9.      Adjourn


Human Relations Commission Minutes

 Wednesday: May 7, 2008:

The regular meeting of the Board of Human Relations Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, was held in the City Commission Room at City Hall at 12:00 o'clock p.m., Wednesday, May 7, 2008.

The Human Relations Commissioners present or absent were as shown following:

Present: Joy Rice, Prairie Rose, Joshua Boschee, Mitch Marr, Hatem Nour, Yoke Sim Gunaratne, Janeen Kobrinsky

Absent: Fowzia Adde

Chair Prairie Rose called the meeting to order.

Item 1. Welcome and Introductions
(12:02 p.m.) Introductions were made.

Item 2. Approval of Agenda
(12:03 p.m.) Chair Prairie Rose asked to add the Human Relations presentation given to the City Commission under Item 4. Discussion.

Hatem Nour moved to approve the agenda with the above addition. Second by Joy Rice. All Members present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Item 3. Approval of March 5, 2008 Minutes
(12:03 p.m.) Yoke Sim Gunaratne requested that section a. “American Herro” movie under Item 7. Funding Requests be changed to state: “Yoke Sim Gunaratne noted this request did not come through the Cultural Diversity Resource.” She also clarified the 3rd sentence of paragraph 9 under Item 8. Public Comment should state: “She suggested the Human Relations Commission contact a representative from Cass County Social Services to educate the Commission about social rules and processes”.

The Commission then decided to review and edit the minutes before meeting times as a time saving measure.

Mitch Marr made a motion to approve the March 5, 2008 minutes with the above listed amendments. Second by Joshua Boschee. All Members voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Item 4. Discussion  
Human Relations presented to City Commission
(12:04 p.m.) Chair Prairie Rose stated she presented information about the Human Relations Commission (HRC) to the City Commission at their last regular meeting. She stated the topics included the Martin Luther King event, the Know Your Rights Initiative, and the Human Relations Commission budget and activities. She informed the City Commission of the HRC’s goal to move forward, revitalize relationships with the community, and engage in more projects.

She also stated the HRC is going to strengthen their fiscal accountability, create more funding guidelines, and improve on organization. She noted Mayor Walaker and Commissioner Mahoney gave feedback that was helpful and stated access through the Mayor has been phenomenal.

Introduction of Cristie Jacobsen, Fargo Police Cultural Liaison officer
(12:10 p.m.) Cristie Jacobsen briefed the Commission on her role as Cultural Liaison officer to educate and assist when there are cultural barriers. In addition, she stated she studies cultures themselves, interacts with the police department to eliminate conflict, and does follow-ups. As well as handling legal questions or concerns, she stated she trains the trainer and educates her department. She noted she offers an open house the first Wednesday of every month from 12:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Charism Center to welcome new Americans, share cultural values and beliefs, discuss issues or concerns, and answer questions. She stated her desire is to reach out to leaders in the community and build trust. She mentioned her office hours are flexible.

Yoke Sim Gunaratne questioned whether training has ever been provided through ethnic groups. She stated it is good there is internal training, but that Cultural Diversity could bring a cultural perspective as well. She stated other cultures could speak and she would like the police to invite others to train the department.

General procedures: Media contacts
(12:20 p.m.) Nate Bailly mentioned a Human Relations Member wrote a letter to the Forum without prior HRC approval. He stated it is HRC policy that letters to the media (where the author indicates they are a Fargo Human Relations Member) are to be approved by the entire Commission prior to publication. Mr. Bailly brought this to the members’ attention as a reminder. 

Slot for a Youth Member?
(12:22 p.m.) Chair Prairie Rose stated she is open to having a youth member position in the Human Relations Commission. She mentioned currently, there is one spot available. If another position is added, she stated it would need to be approved by the City Commission. She added an age range needs to be set and requested to table this item until the next working meeting.

Moorhead Human Relations Commission meeting May 8, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
(12:24 p.m.) Chair Prairie Rose discussed the meeting to be held with the Moorhead Human Relations Commission. She stated it will be an open forum for Moorhead’s Members to come together, along with Fargo’s Members Nate Bailly, Mitch Marr, and herself to discuss their work and missions.

The remaining Discussion Items were tabled and continued until Item 5. was heard.

Item 7. Public Comment
(12:29 pm.) Sheri McMahon, Fargo resident, spoke to the Commission regarding issues that have been brought to her attention. She began by stating the Building Inspections Department may not be enforcing ADA laws. She stated this includes physical access to buildings, and stated she would like a copy of the Department’s policy regarding ADA.

Ms. McMahon then spoke of the Fargo Public School’s non-discrimination policy. She stated it is reviewed and revised periodically but contains erroneous information and does not include all of the protected classes, including race and disability. She is encouraging the school district to discuss discrimination and add disability discrimination into the curriculum. She stated many parents are afraid to step forward, but there are serious problems with the policy itself.

Ms. McMahon also discussed her involvement with a group, Cass Clay Child Welfare Family Alliance, Leon Francis and she formed. She stated North Dakota has a high child removal rate, especially among African Americans and Native Americans. She mentioned that she was part of an organization called Region 5 Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health that has been formed to look into the issue.

Item 5. Presentation:  Jill Sherbrooke, Foster Care Issues
(12:42 p.m.) Jill Sherbrooke, Red River Valley Foster/Adopt Coalition Consultant, spoke to the Commission regarding foster care issues. She stated there are culturally diverse children coming in and not enough homes to support them. Currently, she noted, the Coalition does not have culturally diverse families; the majority of homes are White-Non-Hispanic. She would like to be able to recruit and retain foster families for these children. She stated the need is to educate families on how to help these children; help them learn and keep connected with their religion and cultures. She asked the HRC to help with these endeavors.

Ms. Sherbrooke announced the Coalition is holding the 2008 North Dakota Foster Parent Association Conference at the Doublewood Inn in Fargo, ND on October 3-5, 2008.

Item 4. Discussion Continued
Working more closely with Liaisons
(12:49 p.m.) This item will be discussed at the next working meeting.

Janeen Leaving
(12:50 p.m.) Chair Prairie Rose announced that Member Janeen Kobrinsky will be leaving the Human Relations Commission. She stated a luncheon will be held in Ms. Kobrinsky’s honor May 21, 2008 at the Café Muse.

Item 6. Funding Requests:
NDHRC conference

(12:52 p.m.) Chair Prairie Rose requested that the HRC delay the decision to fund the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition Conference request of $500 until the June working meeting, where the Commission would be reviewing a revised funding procedure policy.  All Members agreed.

FM Pride Paper
Nate Bailly added the FM Pride Paper funding request for $175 has been approved.

Item 8. Other Business not Listed on the Agenda
(12:54 p.m.) Mitch Marr extended an invitation to the 2008 FM Pride Celebration scheduled for June 3-8.

Item 9. Adjourn
The meeting adjourned at 12:55 p.m.