Thursday, January 20, 2011
The challenge of any community committed to living together harmoniously is to find ways to work out differences and treat all citizens and residents fairly in the process. I believe Pocatello:
- Accepts our responsibility to make our city a community where all people are welcomed, secure and valued;
- Values respect, appreciation, collaboration, diversity and friendship in our relationships with each other;
- Proclaims with words and deeds that ours must be a just community where harassment, intimidation, discrimination and violence are totally unacceptable;
- Communicates a strong, clear message that all forms of prejudice and hatred will not be tolerated;
- Challenges all who live in our community and region to act in ways that reflect a commitment to, and accountability for, racial and social justice-equality in our personal lives, families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, clubs, association, institutions and places of worship.
I believe these values are fundamental to the health and growth of our community. It is in this spirit that I applied for an open position on the Human Relations Advisory Committee for the city of Pocatello. As the newest volunteer on this committee, I am rapidly learning about the group’s functions and position in the community.
The Human Relations Committee is one of 24 volunteer citizens’ groups that advises the city of Pocatello’s mayor and city council. Advisory committees, in general, do not establish policy or supersede the authority of city government, but they do involve citizens in decision-making processes of local government, and they play a vitally important role in guiding the city.
This committee was reactivated December 6, 1984 by city ordinance and maintains a member ship of ten persons who serve staggered, four-year terms. Members are charged with advising the mayor and city council on actions they might take to improve human relations and remedy civil rights concerns in Pocatello.
Individuals or groups may informally present grievances, issues or proposals to the committee for consideration. Additionally, the committee investigates the quality of equal rights, privileges and opportunities for all city residents and develops programs to educate the public about current human relations and civil rights matters. Membership is open to anyone living in the greater Pocatello area and, as much as possible, reflects a cross-section of the community.
The city operates a dedicated phone line, 239-6985, where residents may report complaints or concerns. A staff member is available to answer calls during business hours. At other times, callers may leave their name and contact information. A member of the Human Relations Advisory Committee will respond within 24 business hours. Appointments may also be scheduled to address the committee with a proposal, suggestion or concern. All of Pocatello’s advisory committees are listed on the city’s website, www.pocatello.us.
A detailed brochure about the Human Relations Committee is available at the city offices that includes information about documenting complaints or issues. The Human Relations Advisory Committee meets on the second Monday of the month, September through May, 6:30 p.m. in city hall, council chambers, 911 North 7th Avenue. Applications are accepted at any time and are kept on file for one year in the event of a resignation or other unanticipated occurrence. The committee currently has two vacancies.
Susan Matsuura is an Idaho native and a member of Pocatello: Too Great For Hate. She was appointed to the city of Pocatello’s Human Relations Advisory Committee in November 2010.