Third San José Human Services Commission Meeting

Tonight is my third Human Services Commission meeting and I am so excited for our human rights-packed agenda. I spent last week in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria with the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program where I was reminded that our hopes are universal but our resources are often unequal, which means those of us who are lucky enough to live in resource-rich environments have a responsibility to use those resources for the greatest good. Our 16-woman delegation worked with our 27 Nigerian TechWomen Fellows to reach about 2000 women and girls with workshops in 5 days. I miss the jolof rice, the overflowing ideas, and the history that surrounded us but I am excited to get back to work back home. Much of the agenda of tonight’s meeting is about resources, so let’s dig-in.

Summary of Work Since Last Meeting

Topics for tonight:

Women’s Bill of Rights Policy

Summary: To review the ordinance in detail and create a plan for implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), including deciding whether to create an ad hoc committee and on next steps.
Action: Vote to approve a letter to Council regarding funding and sending an op-ed about the letter to media outlets.
My thoughts: I wrote the letter, so I am a fan of creating an ad hoc committee focused on a particular aspect of implementation. A parliamentary procedure note: for a reason I don’t yet understand, the City Clerk told new commissioners that commissions are not allowed to have standing committees and can only have ad hoc committees that exist for 6 months to work on an issue and can never touch that issue again. This seems to undermine any long-term work a commission might do, but it’s how the structure currently exists, so I’ll be listening for proposals of what the next 6 months of work on CEDAW should look like.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) invitation

Summary: to discuss and vote on whether the Commission should follow up on the invitation.
Action: Vote to hand-deliver the 2/15 invitation for Gilroy ICE office inviting their new spokesperson to appear before the Commission.
My thoughts: This is my agenda item, so I am in support of it. I’ve bounced this idea off of a few dozen of my immigration activist friends and they thought it could either be beneficial or do no harm, so I want to continue to move forward.

San Jose Police Department Presentation

Summary: Heather Randol, San Jose Police Department Purpose: to provide the Commission with information about how the police department does its hiring and how it trains on cultural competence.
Action: Vote to send a letter recommending the Council change the protocol on who handles property taken from people who are homeless during clean ups.
Reference materials: October 2017 Public Safety Report and Commission presentation on hiring.
My thoughts: I’m interested in learning more about a) where SJPD is in having a force that mirrors the community it serves (in terms of gender, language, ability, immigration experiences). When I lived in Seattle, I heard former King County Sherrif Urquhart’s Chief of Staff talk about how the decreased violence by police against citizens by moving from a ‘warrior’ to a ‘guardian’ mentality in their training, as well as changing their point-based system.

The hiring points-system thing was a really nerdy, really fascinating fix to a knotty problem. As I remember it, the King County Sheriff’s Department  used to assign the most hiring-system points to veterans of the armed services and they were only allowed to hire the top few point-getters at any given hiring period, which meant non-veterans with otherwise valuable work experience as social workers or in the Peace Corps never made it into the County Sherrif’s department. So they started giving the same number of points for prior service as language capability, social work degrees, and Peace Corps work and totally transformed their recruiting pool. This meant multi-lingual veterans were very lucky and everyone else had to strive — which is how it should be, for those who want to work in law enforcement.

Items to propose for the next meeting:

  • Presentation: Uplift Family Services
  • Action: Following-up on the suggestions by Sharan Dhanoa (South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking) and Josue Fuentes (District Attorney’s Office of the County of Santa Clara) at the 2/15 commission meeting, draft a letter to City Council requesting additional funding for transitional housing for survivors of human trafficking be provided, as a lack of housing is stoping people from being able to leave exploitative in our city. Note: This is building-on the 2017 – 2018 Work Plan topic of Human Trafficking.
  • Discussion item: Discuss Anthony King’s proposal that the city create an advisory board of people who receive services from the city (including, but not limited to, services for people with disabilities or people who are homeless) to advise the city on whether to grow or shrink relationships with agencies providing those services. Note: This is building-on the 2017 – 2018 Work Plan topic of Promote Disability Culture.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s meeting!

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