July 11, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
The city council on Monday unanimously rejected the mayor's request to allow the city to stop providing administrative support to three city commissions - the Permanent Commission on the Status of Hartford Women, the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues and the Commission on Disability Issues.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez asked for the change last month because he wanted the flexibility during budget time to debate funding the commissions, not because he was targeting specific communities, his staff has said.
The council had little discussion on the matter Monday, but the mayor's request came to the council having already been rejected by the council's health and human services committee.
The three commissions, which make recommendations to the mayor, are charged with eliminating bigotry and discrimination against the city's women; the disabled; and gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered. They also work to remove barriers that prevent those populations from having a better, healthier life.
All three commissions fall under the auspices of the city's office of human relations, which in the past has supplied a liaison to each commission to help it do its work. But cutbacks to the city's budget have hobbled the office's ability to provide that help. Cutting the staff support to the commissions could have saved roughly $25,000 a year.
After the vote, Councilwoman Elizabeth Horton Sheff said that she was pleased with the result, because the mayor's move would have no doubt resulted in the elimination of commission staff.
"The commissioners are volunteers, they come and give of themselves to the city, and I think that the city can show that same kind of commitment to their work by just providing staffing," she said. "It is unconscionable to even begin to think about taking away staffing."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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