Task Force of the Human Rights Commission

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Task Force scheduled meetings are at various times. Please contact the Task Force Chairperson or watch for public notices of those meetings times.

Task Force on Business/Labor

Chairperson: Jane McQueeny

Since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, the work force has undergone a dramatic change; however, welfare reform has been welcomed in Kansas City, partly because the community has already launched a bold response to welfare reform that links the city, the state, the federal government and local business under a single banner to put people to work using wage supplements. The key missing component is basic life skill training. In part, such training must change habituated notions of inadequacy, the legacy of the welfare culture. A change in attitudes is required among people on the other side of the equation. The managers, supervisors and foremen need to realize that the transition from dependency to self-sufficiency will take patience, good will and persistence; therefore, employers cannot allow themselves to return to the unproductive traps of discrimination and racism. The Commission will routinely hold workshops, seminars and public hearings to discover the extent of the problem and recommend solutions.

Task Force on Gay and Lesbian Issues

Chairperson: Kelly Kendall

The issue of civil and human rights has never been so explosive or potentially divisive as it relates to issues involving gay and lesbian rights. The commission is committed to eliminating any and all barriers that restrict citizens of this community from the full pursuit of happiness as guaranteed by the Constitution. The Human Relations Department will investigate all complaints of discrimination, in housing, employment, and public accommodations involving the gay and lesbian community. It is the hope of the commission that many of the issues can be addressed through heightened public awareness using workshops and seminars.

Task Force on Law Enforcement

Chairperson: Eric Hurtt

Law enforcement is an essential part of our community. It gives the community an effective if not perceived measure of security. In Kansas City, we use a community-oriented policing strategy. This policing methodology is aimed at increasing the interaction and cooperation between local police and the people and neighborhoods they serve. Normally the goals of this strategy are to reduce and prevent crime and to increase feelings of safety among residents.

Task Force on Communications and Media Relations

Chairperson: Eddie Lorenzo

The media are an integral part of the community. They provide a first-hand opportunity to get feedback on what is happening within the city as a whole. The reporting on these events can shape our perceptions of ourselves. We trust the media to act responsibly. We trust the media to report events within the various communities fairly and without bias or prejudice. The task force on media relations raises the question as to the efficacy of reporting the new. There are issues of profiling. There are also issues relating to and perpetuating historical racial stereotyping. The Commission provides a forum through workshops, seminars and hearings to solicit from the community the extent of the problem and develop recommendations for corrective action.

Task Force on Religion

Chairpersons: Christopher Huff and Mike Lewis

This task force explores whether or not there are any barriers to religious expression within the city. It also explores ways the faith-based community can be involved in the elimination of racism and intolerance within the community. This task force will also provide coordinated leadership on matters of spiritual growth and moral integrity. The Commission will routinely hold workshops, seminars, and public hearings to discover the extent of any problems and to recommend solutions.

Task Force on Youth and Education

Chairperson: Nancy Olivares

The Commission is concerned with the plight of youth within the community. It is understood that here should be a focus on families’ help to highlight the underlying purpose of human investment: developing individuals who are healthy, productive, caring and civil. The commission believes that good health is the platform from which each of us proceeds in life. Without it, other achievements become difficult or impossible. From the Commission’s point of view, health means far more than an absence of physical disease. It means good nutrition, healthy behavioral choices, physical safety, mental well-being, and good educational opportunities. The Commission is also concerned with reducing youth domestic violence, street crimes and racist behaviors. It is believed that this will reduce stress, abuse and negative self-images. The education of our children has long been of concern to the community as a whole. It is a crucial issue within the community. Our society encourages that all adults be able to support themselves, thereby being less of a burden on society. It is important that the education of our children lead to their becoming self-sufficient. Obtaining a good education leads to contributing to the betterment of society as a whole. It also allows for having a good job on a career path. It builds self-esteem and allows people to improve their own lives. The Commission is committed to eliminating barriers in education that restrict the student’s full growth and earning potential.