Note: I wasn’t sure until we had quorum that we were going to get quorum, so I didn’t post this back on 12/20. Here it is!
Our commission is finishing the year strong with a lot of important issues on the agenda. But first, a note on timing — I haven’t posted an update here since September because we haven’t met since September. This is disappointing, since our commission provides a valuable service to our community and, on a personal level, I enjoy spending time with and learning from my fellow Commissioners, Unfortunately, both in October and November, we didn’t have quorum — this was because several of our volunteer commissioners had deaths and births happen and they had to refocus on their families. We are currently on-schedule to meet for tomorrow, so fingers-crossed!
Now, onto the agenda.
First Thing’s First: Report from the Chair
I used my time to report on a two things:
- Thanking everyone for their time, service, and brilliance. Several wonderful commissioners present at the meeting were cycling off the board, and their service has been vital.
- Going over every date in 2019 that we would all have the opportunity to come together, hoping that using some of my mad scheduler skills would help us find and maintain quorum for every meeting in 2019.
Monthly Letter to Council
Read the full letter here. Some highlights included our feedback to city council on issues that had come-up in the past month and we believed might come-up again. Here is what we wrote:
We were concerned that Chief Garcia’s six page memo, “Subject: City Council Policy Priority #10: Personal Care Business Compliance Initiative” (9/20/18) included was no mention of any labor trafficking assessment conducted by SJPD at the 191 identified illicit massage businesses. It concerns us that the Vice unit might be continuing the type of “sting” operation which resulted in the Ruiz settlement in the amount of $125,000 (File: 18-1388). Ending human trafficking requires a survivor-centric model, with survivors receiving access to restorative services; nothing in this memo indicates this was either SJPD’s approach or the outcome of their strategy (File: 18-1381).
We strongly support council’s resolution opposing the Public Charge rule released by the Department of Homeland Security and published in the Federal Registrar on October 10, 2018 (File: 18-1419).
3. We recommend strengthening the privacy and civil liberty protections in the Automated License Place Recognition Policy (File: 18-1438). For example, in this line: “The City will not use ALPR Technology for the purpose of monitoring individual activities that are otherwise protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” It is not clear how the city would respond if the current administration requested the license plate data from a protest where attendees parked on city property; the request would be a clear effort to chill speech as this administration has in the past, but without a clear policy on deleting this tracking information, a city employee might share the information. (link)
Our colleagues on the Housing and Committee Development Committee shared a letter in September in support of increasing family-sized affordable housing in San José as part of a broad and comprehensive response to the affordable housing crisis; because access to housing impacts a number of human rights, we wish to add our support for this letter as well.
Ad Hoc: Womens’ Bill of Rights
- We heard a presentation from Zulma Maciel of the City Manager’s office on how they were moving forward in finding an independent consultant to conduct the gender analysis survey. This has been a major focus of the commission in the past year, and a major focus of mine on the commission, so it was gratifying to see forward momentum. Her ask: She asked if I (as the chair of the committee focused on implementing the Women’s Bill of Rights) would gather input from the other members of my ad hoc on what a Request for Information (RFI) should look like. She provided a sample RFI from 14 years ago, for a warehouse contract, and I turned it into this, which I’m pretty proud of.
- Some quick reading: The op-ed I ghost-wrote on this issue, published in San Jose Inside, sparked greater attention to this issue in the City Manager’s office. That would not have been possible without the courageous leadership of Taraneh Roosta and Ruth Silver Taub, who inspired the passage of the Women’s Bill of Rights; I was deeply grateful to be able to collaborate with them on putting some pressure on the City Manager to move forward.
Ad Hoc: Ending Domestic Violence
Good progress, Chris Demers is building a powerful report for council. I have some work to do for this committee that I am behind on, but I look forward to getting it done.
Ad Hoc: Protecting the Rights of People with Disabilities
Unfortunately, the commissioner leading this ad hoc has had to cycle off the commission, but I am hoping when Councilmember Dev Davis, Councilmember Lan Diep, and Councilmember Sylvia Arenas fill their constituents’ seats on the commission, one of the new members will take-up the mantle (Councilmember Davis’s seat has been empty since June, and the perspective of Willow Glen residents is missed).
In the meantime, the commissioner leading the other disability-services focused ad hoc will be trying to do this work justice, in addition to all of her other important work.
Ad Hoc: Protecting Environmental Sustainability Rights
Angie Lopez, the chair of this ad hoc committee, shared some photos of the ways in which San José city streets are being rutted by industrial traffic coming from city-owned land, pictures of hillsides stripped and potentially ripe for mudslides — all concerning and something I hope council responds to when we submit the report.
Ad Hoc: Protecting Justice-Impacted Children’s Rights
We discussed the best ways to improve how young people living in the nexus of the juvenile justice system and special education systems can get the help and support they need.
Ad Hoc: Protecting Immigrants’Rights
I shared this disturbing and validating article about how the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s interpretation of federal law has changed dramatically under the Drumpf administration. On a personal note, I haven’t gotten a call to respond to an ICE raid in my community in a few months, which I hope means more of my neighbors are safe. I know no one feels much safer and won’t until we have immigration reform. It’s now been 11 months since we requested ICE come and speak to us, and though we have been diligent in our follow-up, they haven’t accepted the invitation. Yet.
Note: Staff let us know that, because we had missed 2 months of meetings, we should be able to push the deadline for our ad hocs to April. That is good news, because particularly with vacancies, we could use the time. I’m hoping to have that timeline change confirmed today.