UPDATE: Implementation of racial justice commission recommendations continues
Mayor names permanent Racial Justice commission
UPDATE (3/1/22 4:15 P.M.) – The City of Lexington continues to work on implementation on the Commission for Racial Justice and Equality’s 54 recommendations to disrupt and dismantle systemic racism in the community.
The Commission turned in its final report in October 2020, after an intensive three-month period of exploring racial issues related to health disparities, economic opportunity, housing and gentrification, justice issues, racial equity and law enforcement.
“We are making important investments in systemic change,” said Mayor Linda Gorton. “We are almost half way through implementation of these recommendations. I was determined that this report would not sit on a shelf and gather dust, and it has not.”
Just this month, Gorton named permanent Racial Justice and Equality Commission and named its first chair, Sam Meaux, and vice chair, Charlotte Turley. Last October, Tiffany Brown was hired to serve to serve as the Equity and Implementation Officer in the Mayor’s Office. As part of her duties, Brown is continuing to implement the recommendations of the original commission.
“We need to address our local food systems and the economic mobility of the residents in this community,” said Brown. “In doing so we have hosted several community engagement sessions with residents, resource agencies, and other stakeholders to address the basic needs of historically marginalized communities of color. We have also engaged with workforce and education partners that will remove barriers in the workforce that cause people of color to be unemployed or underemployed.”
Other steps taken to implement the recommendations include:
- Placement of two civilians on the Police Disciplinary Review Board.
- Results from a disparity and availability student are expected in May. The study is examining whether there is a disparity between the availability of minority firms and usage of those firms in awarding of government contracts;
- Establishment of WORK-Lexington, a workforce resource center, at Charles Young Center. It offers assistance with job applications, job connections, job placement, and program referrals.
- An increase of $100,000 in each of the next two years to offer more opportunities through the Summer Youth Employment Program. A final decision on the funding increase will be made as part of the upcoming budget.
- Appointment of Charlie Lanter as Commissioner of the Department of Housing Advocacy and Community Development. Lanter will be working on several recommendations related to affordable housing.
A complete list of actions taken to implement the recommendations are as follows.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton officially Monday appointed the members of a permanent Racial Justice and Equality Commission and named its first chair Sam Meaux and vice chair Charlotte Turley.
“Today is a new day,” Gorton said. “A day to look to the future. A day to talk about our City and its wonderful mix of cultures and languages. And most importantly, a day to pledge to work together to ensure everyone is welcome, and everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”
The city does not set up new, permanent commissions very often.
“The message the establishment of this commission sends is simple: We know we still have work to do to achieve racial justice and equality, and we are in it for the long haul,” Gorton said.
Meaux is the retired principal of Tates Creek High School. In his application he wrote that he is interested in serving on the commission because he is very concerned with the current equity issues in Lexington.
“As I’ve watched and listened I feel that I have a perspective that would help affect positive change.” Meaux wrote. “As a former school level administrator, I’m even more concerned with the mounting issues schools face as they must also deal with the issues of the community.”
Charlotte Turley is a former city enforcement officer with the Division of Waste Management. She also worked as a para-educator with Fayette County Public Schools, as a juvenile detention officer, was a staff member with the Department of Youth Services, was a deputy jailer, and was a member of the U.S. Army Reserves military police.
Turley wrote in her application that she is interested in serving because she is “passionate about racial justice and equality for all people.”
Pending final approval from the Urban County Council, in addition to Meaux and Turley, members of the Racial Justice and Equality Commission will include Christian Adair, Emily Duncan, Timothy Johnson, Jessica Sass, Yajaira West, Serenity Wright, Juan Castro, Marshall Fields, Bob McLaughlin, Abdul Muhammad, Miranda Scully, Kennedy Wells and Whit Whitaker.
Tiffany Brown, the city’s Equity and Implementation Officer, will be working with the new commission. One of its first jobs will be to continue to implement changes recommended by the original commission.
Recent progress on the recommendations includes:
- Appointing permanent Racial Justice and Equality Commission.
- 2 civilians added to the Police Disciplinary Review Board and will begin accepting nominations for volunteers.
- Addressing health equity by finding innovative solutions to improve healthy food access.
- Expanded programing at the Charles Young Center to include trauma informed group therapy for youth whose lives have been touched by violence.
- Working with community organizations, courts, and other resource service agencies to remove barriers to integration in workforce, education, housing and health equity by offering an expungement clinic.
- Body cameras and enhanced software for all police officers
- Ongoing minority business disparity study to be complete by May 2022.