On Monday the Auburn City Council decided by a vote of 6 to 1 to contract with the Racing to Equity consulting group to provide city leaders and staff with racial equity training and help it develop policies.
A significant change from last week’s study session when, with only Councilmember Larry Brown absent, the council split 3 to 3.
Bill Peloza was the only no vote on Monday. His objection was that the council had not had enough time to study changes to the plan, which he noted, had arrived in their city hall boxes only shortly before the 7 p.m. meeting.
No, more delays, said Councilmember Yolanda Trout-Manuel.
“As I’ve said several times, the cost of this could be greater, like lawsuits, if we didn’t have this training in our city,” Trout-Manuel said.
Last week, councilmember Largo Wales objected to what she had considered the prospective plans overly narrow focus on racial iniquities when, she said, such an effort could also examine and address bias against other groups that deal with discrimination every day.
Wales had likewise questioned where the city would get the money to cover the costs of the program at a time when its tight budget situation and its inability to adequately meet the maintenance needs of its own street system are well known.
Councilman Claude DaCorsi, while supportive of racial equity training, last week questioned why the three council members who won’t be there after the new year – Wales, Peloza and John Holman – should be sitting for all that training.
Why not, DaCorsi suggested, delay training for a year to benefit the three freshman council members who will be there in 2020?
But a series of sweeping changes to the plan effected by city staff and others over the last week turned Wales and DaCorsi into enthusiastic yes votes, Candis Martinson, Direct or Human Resources and Risk Management for the city of Auburn, explained what the revised plan does:
• Trims the original $400,000, three-year plan to two years at a reduced cost of $141,150;
• Delays council training under the plan until 2020 so the three new council members can participate;
• Defers original community engagement measures in favor of revisiting them when the plan has run its two-year course. to allow recommendations about moving the plan forward;
• Delays the train-the-trainer program to “institutionalize” the training, that is, to bring it in house, until after the relationship with Racing to Equity ends.
“I’m in awe, in that I had a number of concerns, and every one of them you very aggressively dealt with in what I see as a positive way, and how you’ve sequenced the funding of it so we can make mid-term additions and subtractions,” Wales said to Martinson.
“I appreciate the effort that you and the mayor and others have taken in presenting us tonight with a resolution that I would say is workable,” DaCorsi said.