Thursday evening's City Council meeting was again another marathon for the record books. After a couple of hours of public comment and a break, Council business began.
It started on the most positive note I have ever witnessed, a presentation, and I usually loathe presentations but this was one that was sought out by Council President Holly-Ward and NorthWard Councilwoman Caldwell-Wilson and is called Ban The Box.
It is a law that is already in place in 38 jurisdictions throughout the United States and is also in place in Federal Government hiring practices and U.S. corporations.
Ban The Box delays criminal background checks until later in the hiring process after skills and qualifications have been considered. No more will you see a little box on your employment application asking you whether you have ever been convicted or arrested for a crime or not.
Past discretions would be considered only after a person has been vetted based on their knowledge which basically means less discrimination against those of us, especially within an urban environment, that have had unfortunate run in's with the law, more especially those of us who have had these law breaking indiscretions occur while experiencing the exuberance of youth in a poverty stricken, crime ridden neighborhood.
Kudos to the above mentioned Council women who engaged this campaign to end discrimination against those who have not made it out of the hood completely unscathed but turned their life around in the end.
Unfortunately after that came a shameful -no- strike that- several shameful and creepy rants by Councilman Bethea who as an elected official threw Separation Between Church & State out the window and opted instead to invoke (in one of his creepy-preacher-rants) the Biblical story of "he who be without sin cast the first stone." I was reminded of Sunday School at the Salvation Army as a kid but was quickly snapped back to reality when one of Bethea's rants angered Council President Holly-Ward so much that she dropped a powerful bomb.
The rant was regarding Bethea once again trying to put a motion on the floor for a vote by the body to elect a Council Vice President. The motion failed three times already and Council President Holly-Ward said that an ordinance is being drafted to address the fact that their is no official position on the books for a Vice President. The current process allows the Council President to select whom may stand in for her during any absence.
Bethea referred to the current process as a "dictatorship" ( a word he chose to use several times throughout his rants), during her retort Council President Holly-Ward said that she has a CD recording of a meeting that shows that City Clerk Leona Baylor manipulated the process to favor Councilwoman Reynolds-Jackson be elected VP. Holly-Ward said that she will be taking the recording to the Law Department.
To that Baylor erupted stating "I'm sorry that Council members are fighting but don't include me in this" << paraphrasing if you want to get the gist of the verbal confrontation fast forward to 3:49 in the entire recording HERE
In the end the Resolution and Ordinance that has caused so much contention the past few days; the resolution of a vote of no confidence and the first reading of an ordinance that would cut the Mayor's salary in half, passed.
I will be uploading plenty of FlipCam clips of public comments and such later on in the day, please check back later for that video footage.
As for the buzzing or crickets sound you hear throughout the above recording of the entire meeting; nothing I can do about that. It's either you listen to that buzzing or I go back to having an open mic that captures every distracting sound from the gallery.
Public Comments Video Below, more to come...