Delta Township Begins Ordinance Consideration Process

By | 2013-06-06T09:00:00-04:00 June 6th, 2013|Michigan, News|

The Delta Township Board of Trustees heard comments from residents June 3. BTL photo: Todd Heywood

DELTA TWP. The Delta Township Board of Trustees Monday heard from residents about a proposed comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance despite removing the proposal from the body’s agenda.
The proposal, which is still in the discussion phase and does not include any introduced draft legislation, was slated for an end of the meeting Committee of the Whole, however, board members voted six to one to remove the item Monday night, but allow the 20 or so residents who attended to speak to them about the issue.
Trustee Douglas Fedewa made the motion to remove the item from the agenda saying, “I think this deserves our full attention.”
The board had met two weeks ago and reviewed the basic idea of an ordinance and had received ordinances from other municipalities. Fedewa was concerned that the board would not be able to have the full conversation on the ordinance he believes it deserves.
“I think our discussion would entail laborious and particularly long discussions,” he told the board, noting that they would need to sift through other ordinances in order to decide what best worked for Delta Township.
Township Clerk Mary Clark, the sole no vote on the proposal, called the move “disrespectful” to citizens that had come to talk to the board.
“We’re not solving anything tonight,” she noted.
Supervisor Kenneth Fletcher, who announced the initiative last month as part of a press event in which Delta and two other Lansing area townships announced plans to introduce non-discrimination ordinances, said there was no rush to pass the ordinance.
Trustee Douglas Kosinski said he did not think the board was ready for “the full discussion,” and called for more information.
“I would very much like to know how much we are dealing with a real versus a potential problem,” he said. He added that he wanted to know what the incidence rate of allegations of discrimination was in the state. “I would like to see more hard information on the scope and nature of the problem.”
At issue is the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the proposed ordinance, which are currently not covered by Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Earlier this year the Michigan Department of Civil Rights released a year-long investigation into discrimination against people in those categories and found that discrimination had “real,” and “substantial” impacts on the economic future of the state.
Nathan Triplett, mayor pro-tem of the City of East Lansing, is spearheading the regional nondiscrimination ordinance strategy with One Capital Region. He was on hand Monday night to answer questions from the Delta officials on the impact of the East Lansing ordinance – the oldest non-discrimination law including sexual orientation in the country.
He said since 2001, the City’s Human Relations Commission had received nine complaints for discrimination – including two related to sexual orientation or gender identity. None of the complaints went to a formal hearing. The Commission, to his knowledge, has never taken a complaint all the way through a hearing; instead, he said, the body is capable of solving many of the issues through formal and informal mediation.
Triplett also noted that the Commission costs the city about $2,000 a year including support staff time to operate.
Following Triplett’s presentation, the board seemed mollified and prepared for next steps.
“We’ve got some substance to chew on now,” Kosinski said.

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