Hispanic Center: Racial Justice for Stronger Community! October 27

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Gadfly will count this as a Community Engagement Initiative event, though it’s the 3rd annual such summit, and though Councilwoman Negron referenced it (he believes) as in the works when Councilman Reynolds announced the CEI. Gadfly registers once more his impatience for visible movement in the CEI area, which was passed at City Council July 7. Gadfly hopes for a calendar of such events so that they will be open to the public, covered by the official media, and all energy devoted to generating enthusiasm in and participation of the public. We have an opportunity to do something truly momentous, he says, quoting one of his favorite followers.

register here

The Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley invites you to our Virtual Health Equity Summit on October 27, 2020 at 9:00am – 11:00am with a focus on systemic challenges faced by communities of color. This year’s event will address the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, colorism within the Hispanic Community, and systematic racism in education. The funds raised from this event will be utilized to support HCLV’s health equity work. To register, please visit: https://hclvhealthequitysummitracialjustice.eventbrite.com

Presentations:

  • The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Communities of Color, Dr. Rajika Reed
  • Understanding Colorism within the Hispanic Community, Dr. Griselda Rodriguez
  • Systemic Racism in K-12 Education, Dr. Joseph Roy & Three students from the BASD

As the center continues to focus on building a stronger foundation for the future in order to help improve the quality of lives of families (Hispanic and non-Hispanic) by empowering them to become more self-sufficient, while promoting an intercultural understanding in the Lehigh Valley; please consider contributing to assist with its efforts by making a monetary donation: https://bit.ly/2Yz2WZO

register here

Gadfly donated — how about you?

New branding campaign takes off!

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

 

image courtesy of a Gadfly follower

Gadfly:

I love this! Mr. Mayor, please kick off the new slogan by embracing diversity with a new police chief who is well-informed about systemic racism, new recruitment models and training, data-driven adjustments and open dialog, and the most up to date practices in equitable policing!

Kim Carrell-Smith

Bethlehem: “The Anti-Racist City” — how’s that sound?

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

“The Community Engagement Initiative is [about] looking at the ways that
we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.”
Councilman Willie Reynolds

Can you imagine a new (or additional) brand for Bethlehem? Gadfly is anxious to get the campaign going. Can anybody photoshop in “the Anti-Racist City”? The CEI is our castle in the air. Let’s start imaging some supports under it.

“We are at an important moment in our community’s history,
and we have an opportunity to do something truly momentous.”
Anna Smith

And what’s this meeting all about?

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

High alert! This memo from headquarters just came in!

Committee of the Whole Meeting

Thursday, October 29, 2020

6:00 PM – Town Hall

Subject: Interaction of the Police Department/Health Bureau/Recreation/Department of Community and Economic Development

Now what do you suppose this means?

Note that Gadfly index’d it under “Community Engagement Initiative.”

But is it?

Could this be the former of the two kinds of meetings that Councilman Reynolds described as the possible ways the CEI could evolve?

Not sure.

This meeting was announced at City Council last Tuesday.

Without explanation.

Teasing us.

If this is part of CEI with the goal of “ending systemic racism and creating an equitable city,” what’s the Recreation department doing in there?

Gadfly has his eye on the beginning of Budget season. There was some talk in June and July that substantive discussions about possible restructuring of public safety would need to take place before Budget season. Budget season started last year on November 12.

A vision of Bethlehem as anti-racist city

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

In his comments during the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting, Councilman Reynolds enunciated a powerfully moving vision for the City:

“The Community Engagement Initiative is [about] looking at the ways that
we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.”

Gadfly isn’t sure anyone has remarked on that vision. It was perhaps easy to miss in Councilman Reynolds’ characteristically passionate machine-gun delivery. Or maybe we have become cynical about big ideas. But it hit him smack in his Idealism gland. He feels it should have been the headline in the August 12 local media.

Just think about it.

A goal of ending systemic racism and creating an equitable city.

A vision of Bethlehem as anti-racist city.

It makes Gadfly’s loins leap.

It made Gadfly call the Reynolds/Crampsie Smith resolution that includes the Community Engagement Initiative “audaciously ambitious.”

The murder of George Floyd was tragic, horrendous.

But it tapped our conscience, and triggered (yet another) national reckoning with race, triggered (yet another) attempt to deal with “America’s original sin.”

And it put a fire in Councilman Reynolds’ belly.

Take 5 mins, 16 seconds and listen to the Councilman at the June 3 City Council meeting, the first one after George Floyd’s death

  • I think that the fact that everybody in this country just about agrees that what happened to George Floyd was horrorific, it was a tragedy, it was an injustice unlike what we have seen on camera for a long, long time.
  • But there’s also a difference between not doing something wrong and doing what’s right. And I think that’s part of the conversation we need to have in the city.
  • we need to start with the understanding that we don’t have the same experience in this country based on our skin color. We don’t. And I think as a government we need to be creating institutions that are equitable and fair.
  • It’s just not enough to be against racism, but we need to pro-actively be anti-racist.
  • It is not enough just to say what happened in Minnesota is wrong. It is not even enough just to say that we can have peaceful demonstrations here. It’s gonna be enough when people that are in marginalized communities are able to look at us as our elected officials and look at things we’ve done and say, you know what, they made things better.
  • It falls on every public institution, every governmental institution to make sure that we understand both the history, the pain, the anger, the frustration, and we need to be committed to creating better, fairer institutions that are equitable and that our citizens can look at and say that they believe them.

It is this dynamic vision of Bethlehem as an anti-racist city that fuels Gadfly’s impatience that you have seen him express lately.

Things seem to be going too slow for him.

Enough of the thinking that we should be totally in listening mode, that change is slow and incremental, that Bethlehem can’t change the world.

Gadfly thinks often of this line from the comment by Anna Smith at the August 11 Public Safety meeting — one of the best of the lot, Gadfly feels —

“We are at an important moment in our community’s history,
and we have an opportunity to do something truly momentous.”

Let’s get to it.

Regarding the difference between being not racist and being anti-racist, Gadfly refers you to the wonderful short video we watched a week or two back.

Visions of Bethlehem

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Bear with your long-winded Gadfly as he sets the stage for his next post or two on the Community Engagement Initiative, willya?

In the run-up to the election in May 2019, Gadfly provided a prompt and asked 6 of the 7 candidates for Council seats (one was unable to participate) to do a mini-essay each week for 8 weeks preceding the election. To help us know them better. To help us get beyond the yard signs and the meet-and-greet patter and the Candidate Night stump speeches. 8 essays each. Due Saturday noon. Gadfly remembers that Grace good-naturedly (he thinks) beat him up over rumpling her festive Friday nights.

The candidates were wonderful. Imagine doing that in a busy campaign season on top of their day jobs. It said a lot about them. Gadfly was extremely grateful for the cooperation. And it was very instructive for voters. Gadfly followers were much appreciative. Gadfly hopes to do the same as his swan song before the next election, especially since the mayoral office is on the ballot.

In Gadfly’s mind, the climactic prompt was the most important. At the end he asked the candidates to rise above the routine and mundane topics on which much election conversation and debate is based and talk about their “visions” of the City. Gadfly encouraged them to strive to be poets rather than politicians. It was probably the toughest prompt. It asked them to engage with us voters on a quite different level than their views on parking rates and such. And he doesn’t believe they had “canned” answers.

Gadfly loved their varied answers, their varied visions, and he repeats them here, even those of the unsuccessful candidates, for Will Carpenter and David Saltzer are worthy to be remembered for what they contributed to a good race.

Visions appeal to our highest instincts.

Gadfly repeats their visions here as a frame for thinking in the next post or two of this series of the goal of a Community Engagement Initiative.

The job of a leader is to have a vision that inspires citizens, that connects with citizens, that engages citizens. Sometimes that vision is capsuled in a slogan. What is your vision of/for Bethlehem?

Will Carpenter

Bethlehem is a gem. We are very fortunate to have inherited what we have from past leaders. Many, many business leaders, residents, and city employees work to make what we have so special. Our first obligation is to respect that work and the needs of our current tax payers. Where is the sense in giving public funding to attract new businesses that harm existing ones? We must define what we value in our community and make policy to promote and protect those values.

This has always been a place where hard working people can afford to live, find good jobs and attend great schools. To protect this we need strong leadership to value and attract more than just high-end developments. Neighborhoods should have a seat at the table when new projects are considered. If a project is not supported by the surrounding neighborhood citizens, their concerns should be addressed before a project can move forward. At the very least, contested projects should not be awarded public funding or tax incentives.

Our historic city is uniquely situated for smart growth —  or exploitation. Our geographic position, natural and historic beauty makes us attractive to businesses and investors. We should both protect and take advantage of this and make Bethlehem better for everyone — with projects that help fund solid infrastructure and connectivity, improve air and water quality, and so on to allow us all pursue our livelihoods on equal footing.

We must respect our past as we forge our future.

Michael Colon

Moving forward I want to keep making Bethlehem a place where natives want to stay and out-of-towners want to move to. As many industrial towns across this country lost their economic anchors, like a steel mill, they saw a mass exodus. Even as recently as my high school and college years, I’d have to hear from friends that Bethlehem did not appeal to them. Reasons included lack of career opportunities, a perception of a rusty old steel town, or simply “nothing to do.” Through its reinvention and revitalization, Bethlehem has come out of the shadow of the Bethlehem Steel celebrating strong technology, arts, education, healthcare, and small business sectors. We are unique in how we’ve redefined what Bethlehem is and what it will continue to be. This energy revitalizes a community and brings it together. I envision more community hubs and events growing that bring out neighborhoods. The expanded Tunes at Twilight concert series, the upcoming 3rd season of the West Side Farmer’s Market, the Recreation Bureau’s Movies in the Park, all the events put on by the Downtown Bethlehem Association and SouthSide Arts District. I envision us to keep diversifying our economy, supporting the quality of life for all who live here, and fostering the sense of one big community. When we stop moving, the rust comes back.

David Saltzer

The Historic City of Bethlehem, The Christmas City, The Steel City, all of these make Bethlehem unique, and all of these describe this great city’s ideals and history. This city is rich in its history, which needs to be preserved and continue to be taught to the next generation, as well as new residents and visitors. I have concerns that we are losing some of that history by allowing buildings to be built that do not fit into the neighborhoods or blend in with the beautiful architecture of the city. We need to look into rehabilitating some of these beautiful remaining structures and reusing them rather than destroying them and building new “box” structures. We are on the cusp of an exciting time and have the opportunity to do some phenomenal things to bring affordable housing into the city and attract businesses that will work with the city to maintain some of the history while providing good jobs with a livable wage. These initiatives will attract people to live, work, and reinvest in the city, allowing it to grow and create new history. Bethlehem-present has the ability right now to make Bethlehem-future something that our previous generations would be proud of and happy to call home.

Walkability and bikeability are important issues. How can we make that more enjoyable and safer for everyone in the city? The city has applied for a grant to have a study done on this initiative. I am excited to see what the study shows and what the recommendations are.

J. William Reynolds

During my time on City Council, I have tried to lay out a vision for what our community needs to be moving forward. I included my vision for our city in my Bethlehem 2017 initiative when I proposed making our city more progressive and investing in several areas in which I felt we could do more. We needed to focus on the issues that will determine our success in the 21 st century and do so by creating opportunities for our citizens to be involved in helping to create the solutions to the problems of the 21st century.

We need to focus on the issues that matter to our residents – climate, neighborhood reinvestment, technology, the efficiency of government. That focus starts with planning
that includes creating long-term strategies for our community and our city. That planning isn’t just elected officials sitting around talking. It involves government
leveraging the best asset we have – the passion of our citizens.

Our community is at its best when we have everyone working in the same direction on an issue. Our NorthSide2027 neighborhood meetings are a great example of that.
Families, long-time residents, small business owners, community groups coming together to work on planning what the future of their neighborhood can be. This is the
vision that I have always had for our city – our neighbors coming together to positively talk about what we are as a community and what we can be. We are going to need
more of that to make sure Bethlehem never loses what makes our city what it is.

Grace Crampsie Smith

My vision is captured in the following: “Embrace our rich heritage as we build our future.” Given Bethlehem’s rich cultural and architectural history, it is fundamental to maintain a balance between preserving the city’s past, honoring the people and businesses that built this city, and promoting progress in our diverse community. Bethlehem is a city that has never been stagnant. We are unique in that for centuries Bethlehem has constantly evolved and re-invented itself in the arts, education, and business while never losing sight of its heritage. Maintaining a balance between our past and future will remain a constant challenge, yet an achievable one. The Steel Stacks is a fine example of connecting the past and the future. While many steelworkers had concerns re: this project, it has a good mix of preservation of the industry that built this city and the addition of a great cultural center for the city. As we move forward, it is imperative to honor and build upon our unique past, while incorporating modern and smart growth.

Paige Van Wirt

I think Bethlehem has been held in a paradigm of development that is left over from the early years when Bethlehem Steel closed: any development is good development.  I think this is an outdated notion and does not reflect the reality that we are a unique city, poised for a development boom, with a diversified tax base and beautiful downtowns, architecture, and geography.  We are in this strong position in part due to the hard work of our previous city leaders. However, this economic engine must now be harnessed and directed to create a city that respects our downtowns, demands excellence in the plans and vision of the investors in our city, and hews to the notion that a great city comes from incremental, healthy organic growth of codependent businesses, and does not run after the next large, bright shiny object.

I see a walkable Bethlehem, including a pedestrian bridge project if found to be feasible, that attracts young people to stay here, or to relocate to here, because of our wonderful quality of life. I see a Bethlehem that emphasizes alternative means of transportation, including walking on our future repaired sidewalks, with increased residential density downtown to support our small businesses. I see a Bethlehem that uses data to drive decisions, not campaign donations. I see a Bethlehem that respects the environment and uses the power of the government to pilot green initiatives that have worked for other cities. I see a Bethlehem that prioritizes the development of affordable housing through targeted zoning changes which will spur construction in this price range. I see a Bethlehem, emboldened by the involvement of its citizens in local government, that is innovative, fiscally prudent, adaptive of best practices and determined to provide a joyous quality of life for all our citizens, a Bethlehem where the citizens know their voices matter, and will be heard.

What shape will the Community Engagement Initiative take and when?

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Councilman Reynolds — co-sponsor with Councilwoman Crampsie Smith of the July 7 resolution that urged a Community Engagement Initiative — has been the prime articulator of the goals and possible shape of the CEI.

It might be instructive for us to revisit his two main statements about the CEI:

July 7: ‘Reynolds rationale for the resolution”
August 11: “Councilman Reynolds on the Community Engagement Initiative”

Let Gadfly summarize for you key points about the Community Engagement Initiative articulated by Councilman Reynolds:

  • Goal: “The Community Engagement Initiative is not about our police department; it is about a different kind of conversation and looking at the ways that we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.”
  • Shape: “There can be two types of meetings, one type of meeting could be run by the City of Bethlehem similar to [the Public Safety meeting] . . . The second type of meeting, though, could and needs to be run by organizations and groups in our community . . . [schools, churches, social justice organizations]. . . . It is important that City Hall or Council doesn’t control all of these meetings.”

Let’s talk about the shape of the CEI now and the goal in the next post.

Meetings run by the City

Let’s think about this first type meeting. Since it’s run by the City (but “who” is that, as Gadfly’s last post asks?), this aspect of the CEI should be easier to set up, and Gadfly wonders why we haven’t already seen some progress here. What would these meetings be about? Councilman Reynolds already has a good idea. When he has spoken about the intertwining tendrils of systemic racism, he machine guns a litany of subject areas. In fact, the July 7 resolution itself contains a litany of agenda items. Topics for CEI meetings run by the City could include mental health, addiction, poverty, inclusionary housing, affordable housing, zoning, transportation, education, policing, employment practices. Thoughtful people might create such a list of the tendrils of systemic racism, consult about setting priorities, set priorities about which areas/issues to tackle first, and begin calling residents and people with special knowledge or expertise together to suggest the kinds of policies and legislation that would work to eradicate (he says boldly) racism in each area. Each meeting could be tasked to generate a list of ideas as well as a list of legislation. Gadfly feels that this type meeting has the best chance for getting things done quickly, and he wonders — ha! since, of course, he doesn’t have to do any of the work — why it isn’t up and running already.

Meetings run by community groups

The goal of these meetings, says Councilman Reynolds, could be letting people share their experiences . . . whatever organizers of the meetings want. The decentralized nature of these meetings by design requires the host organization to set the agenda, control questions, etc. We’re talking here about schools, churches, the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, New Bethany, and so forth. The agendas here would be set by the individual community groups. It is not clear to Gadfly how these meetings will be stimulated. It is not clear to Gadfly how substantive ideas from these meetings will get back to Council, it is not clear how the community groups will be assured that their ideas will get back to Council, for some Council members have already said that they will do their best but that for sure they would not be attending all such meetings. And the more meetings there are, the more successful the CEI catches on with community groups, the less likely Council will have much direct involvement at the grass roots level. If “we” succeed in sparking a thousand, a hundred, a dozen, a half-dozen “points of light,” how is the loop closed and how are the ideas generated brought back to Town Hall for action? Councilman Reynolds stated that he had his own ideas, but that it was important that others be heard. Gadfly gets the need for wide engagement, gets the need to assure that the agenda is open, but at this point Gadfly worries that there won’t be cohesion and looks to hear more about how this type meeting will work as part of the CEI. The danger is that people are invited to talk, nothing comes of the talk, and civic participation loses even more ground. You might remember Gadfly astounded that after 27 people called in to the Public Safety Committee meeting August 11, they were promised no follow-up, just a kind of vague “we’ll get back to ya,” and at the subsequent Council meeting one week later there was (he thinks) no substantive mention of the Public Safety meeting at all, no mirroring of all that citizen input. Where did that several hours of citizen comment go? Poof.

Gadfly is not sure if Councilman Reynolds was saying that there could be two types of meetings running concurrently. That does seem too much. Maybe he was throwing his full weight behind this second type. If so, Gadfly feels it will take more organization than he’s heard of so far, and he worries that time to meaningful action will spin out too far. But maybe that’s not a problem for many of you. Being an old feller, Gadfly has a more acute sense of the value of time than others. But all of us probably believe that the sooner racism is stemmed the better. Let’s get started.

Comments invited as always.

to be continued . . .

Gadfly’s insomnia

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Gadfly was up early this morning. Before the paper delivery man, before even the Word of the Day (“purport”) appeared in his in-box.

Part of that has to do with his 80-year-old plumbing.

But the main part has to do with nagging questions about our Community Engagement Initiative.

Gadfly knows you will envy him so smooth and settled a life that during a pandemic, the last 50 days of a nation-gripping-ripping presidential election, and ongoing concern over his sagging mental and physical powers that it’s the CEI that makes him lose sleep.

But there you go.

Gadfly’s excited about the CEI, very excited. People all over the city, underheard people especially, gathering, speaking, a social spreading of a positive kind, a spreading of dreams, ideas, concerns, problems, energy, enthusiasm. A powerful bubbling up of citizen participation. Democracy in action.

But he still doesn’t get it yet.

Forget that in the exact words in the resolution that passed July 7 in the Year of Our Lord 2020, he reads that “the City Council of the City of Bethlehem urges the Mayor and his Administration to collaborate with the City of Bethlehem Police Department to create a public space and forum,” that is, to create the “Community Engagement Initiative.” There is no sign that is happening. There is no sign that “the Mayor and his Administration” is doing that. And it seems it is only the anal-retentive Gadfly that is worrying about this little detail about who is to set up the CEI, or only the anal-retentive Gadfly who even remembers this little detail.

Sigh.

But the reason the anal-retentive Gadfly is exercising his anal-retentiveness over this detail is that he thinks we need to know who is responsible for the CEI. He thinks we need to know whom we should hold responsible, whom we should hold accountable for whether or not the CEI happens, for whether or not it is productive. Is it Councilman Reynolds? Is it Councilwoman Crampsie Smith? Is it both Councilman Reynolds and Councilwoman Crampsie Smith? Is it Council as a whole? Is it community organizations?

Where does the buck start and stop?

And something’s missing for Gadfly — visible organization, a visible plan.

If it’s there, if it’s happening, it’s not visible, at least to Gadfly. Yet.

So what got Gadfly up early this morning (it’s 4:58 as he writes) is the fact that here we are on the brink of another Council meeting, and he is afraid we are not going to hear any more in a concrete way about the extremely exciting notion of a Community Engagement Initiative.

Gadfly’s putting this in the queue for 8:00AM posting. No sense disturbing your sleep as his has been disturbed.

to be continued . . .

What is the Community Engagement Initiative, and how does it relate to the police? Can you count from 1-10?

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Community Engagement Initiative logo

The police are in the cross-hairs, nationally and locally.

Why?

Many of our residents cannot understand what seems to be a negative focus on the police, and even in some a desire to eliminate the police altogether.

At the final session of BAPL’s wonderful 4-part “Dialogues on Racial Justice” workshop series, Guillermo Lopez said that when the oppressed, the suppressed, the downtrodden finally get the energy to look up from the figurative boot on their neck and seek change, what they see first is the police. (I am paraphrasing and probably elaborating unconscionably.)

Floyd 16

The police are seen as the visible, tangible, memorable proximate manifestation of their poor condition, which has manifold sources.

Councilman Reynolds uses the easily grasped analogy of counting from 1-10. The police are 10, but there is a laundry list of social injustices before that, a 1-9, that need to be addressed first and as well if the condition between the police and the community can be improved.

There are problems with the police, but in these analogies, Reynolds and Lopez helped me see the bigger picture and understand that change in 10 demands change elsewhere.

Short clip. Listen up. Provides clarity. Good stuff. Exciting prospect.

  • One’s opportunities are often determined by your race.
  • Correcting those inequities on a structural level is one of the basic tenets of the idea of social justice
  • Social justice is not just about policing.
  • It’s like counting to 10; the police get involved when you get to 10.
  • But social justice is working, caring, dedicating your life to 1 through 9.
  •  . . . education . . . mental health . . . transportation . . . housing . . . employment . . . the list goes on and on . . .
  • We as a city cannot have a conversation about number 10 without going through 1-9.
  • That’s what the Community Engagement Initiative is about.
  • This does not mean not having a police department.
  • It means understanding that systemic racism exists in 1 through 10.
  • It means spending our time and allocating our resources . . . in a way that recognizes the responsibility of people in positions of authority to fix 1 through 10.

If you want to refresh yourself on Councilman Reynolds’ July 7 full comments from which the above clip is excerpted, go here:

Councilman Reynolds on the Community Engagement Initiative

 

Gadfly looks for the wave

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Community Engagement Initiative logo

The Community Engagement Initiative is . . . is about . . . looking at the ways that we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.
Councilman Willie Reynolds, August 11, 2020

America is ready . . . to do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism.
Prez candidate Joe Biden, August 20, 2020

I would ask Dr. Van Wirt, are you for defunding the Police Department?
Councilman Bryan Callahan, August 18, 2020

Gadfly has called the Reynolds/Crampsie Smith Community Engagement Initiative “audaciously ambitious.”

Means it.

And he was thinking about it last night during the Biden speech.

Councilman Reynolds has framed the work (“so eloquently,” admired Councilwoman Van Wirt) with our country’s highest ideals.

It’s a program to get excited about.

End systemic racism, create an equitable city.

Gadfly keeps hearing Anna Smith’s “We have an opportunity to do something truly momentous.” (T-shirts coming)

What disappointed Gadfly so much watching the video of the August 18 City Council meeting (Gadfly has had some business to take care of at home so he could not be “present”) was the lack of detail about the program, the missed opportunity to generate enthusiasm and propel momentum.

A few posts back Gadfly invited you to listen to Councilman Reynolds’ words and “catch the wave.”

There wasn’t any.

Gadfly was surprised.

Gadfly can’t help but feeling that something’s wrong with the process. He still can’t understand the misalignment between the words of the Reynolds/Crampsie Smith resolution that puts the CEI in the Mayor’s hands and the way it is unfolding in Council’s hands, what to him seemed the long delay in getting the Public Safety meeting, the lack of a clearly visible plan (Tuesday Public Safety Committee chair Colon simply said vaguely that “Council will continue to discuss next steps and make sure anything coming forward in the future will be communicated to the public”), and the virtual silence about the 6-hour August 11 meeting marked by vigorous comment from 25 members of the public.

Gadfly senses lack of urgency. Maybe it’s Gadfly’s fault, though. When you make a 9-1-1 call like he did last Friday, your mind re-prioritizes. The trivial tumbles to the bottom. Maybe he’s asking too much.

But Gadfly was surprised at the virtual silence at Tuesday’s meeting about the issues raised by the resolution and discussed August 11. He remembered Councilman Reynolds at the earlier July 7 Council  meeting justly defending the CEI from charges it was a band-aid, citing his own record of getting things done, a defense President Waldron justly seconded. Gadfly agrees. When he first started “paying attention” almost 3 years ago, he looked for a City agenda, a list of things to do, and he found Councilman Reynolds’ “Bethlehem 2017” documents, and since that time has watched those proposals come gradually into being. My sense is that Councilman Reynolds gets things done.

But, of course, maybe things are getting done in the background. Gadflies don’t really know anything. They only can see what they can see. He just wishes he could see more about so important a project.

He also wishes there were things he could unsee.

Gadfly has said above a couple times that Tuesday night there was “virtual silence” about the Public Safety Committee meeting and issues related to the resolution.

Carefully chosen words.

For there wasn’t complete silence.

There was this.

With Prez Waldron’s adjournment gavel in the air, there was this.

Felt like a grenade with “Council disengagement” stamped on it.

Gadfly wept.

Put this in your file of clips for the highlight reel when election time comes around again.

Councilwoman Crampsie Smith on the Community Engagement Initiative: building deeper, stronger, and more trusting relationships between the public, individuals, and the community as a whole

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Community Engagement Initiative logo

Co-sponsor with Councilman Reynolds, Crampsie Smith decries those instilling fear and anxiety in others and stresses her law enforcement genes as she joins JWR in kicking off the Community Engagement Initiative.

[The goal of the Community Engagement Initiative is] to address all issues relative to systemic racism as well as build bridges within the community and the police. Community Engagement is a framework of guiding principles that respects the right of all community members to be informed, consulted, involved, and empowered. Community Engagement allows everyone a voice over decisions that affect their lives and their cities and builds deeper, stronger and more trusting relationships between the public, individuals, and the community as a whole. That is our goal. What do we hope this will look like? I agree with Mr. Reynolds. . . . It could include community engagement in training, deliberate dialog and community input, and engaged research. But mostgrace crampsie smith important the direction that Community Engagement takes is guided by the framework of our community members because that’s what its truly all about. While I strongly believe in our democracy’s foundation of the right of all to express their opinions, it is very disturbing to have false contentions to instill fear and anxiety in others. No one on Bethlehem City Council ever said they want to or will eliminate our police department. This is ludicrous, and it is unfortunate that innocent citizens in our city have had fear and anxiety instilled in them needlessly due to these false accusations.  I thank our Administration and police for meeting with us and revising our use of force policies to comply with 8 Can’t Wait. We’ll meet to discuss the need for superior training and resources for mental health. . . . And this is only the beginning of our dialog. I feel I am in a unique position because I come from a family of police. . . . Thus I have personal insight into the professional challenges that police face daily.  Concurrently, I have spent almost 40 years in the Human Services and Counseling field. . . . In my current role as a school counselor. . . . Thus, I certainly do not agree with any group that calls for the elimination of the police. I do feel that we need to work together as a community to be anti-racist. I also feel that we need to insure that we use funds within the police department to make sure that our police and community have the best training and resources available to them. . . . beginning of a long term process. . . . enhance the overall health of our community. . . .

Councilman Reynolds on the Community Engagement Initiative: looking at the ways that we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Community Engagement Initiative logo

Councilman Reynolds at the Public Safety Committee meeting August 11 lays out his vision of the Community Engagement Initiative: the goal is working toward ending systemic racism and creating an equitable city through two types of meetings, one run by the City, the other by diverse community groups.

Councilman Reynolds is at his rousing best here. Worth listening and catching his energy and enthusiasm.

“That was beautiful,” said Councilwoman Negron, “you get it!”

Community engagement is of course, of course synonymous with Gadfly’s mission.

The Reynolds/Crampsie Smith Community Engagement Initiative is audaciously ambitious.

Catch the wave!

  • Community Engagement Initiative is not just about our police department. It’s about something much bigger than that.
  • People have different experiences based on their race.
  • A lot of the justified anger and frustration . . . has arisen because many Americans and people in positions of authority do not understand those different experiences.
  • Black Lives Matter . . . acknowledges that opportunities in this country have been historically unequal.
  • Correcting those inequities on a structural level is one of the basic tenets of the idea of social justice.
  • Social justice is not just about policing.
  • [the 1-10 analogy, min. 1:28]
  • We can’t have the conversation about #10 [the police] without having a conversation about #’sReynolds 3 1-9.
  • That’s what the Community Engagement Initiative is about.
  • This does not mean not having a police department.
  • It means understanding that systemic racism exists.
  • The CEI is about 1 through 10.
  • [JWR’s students at Allen High School]
  • Their experiences with the institutions that we on City Council personally trust so much . . . they don’t have those same experiences.
  • Systemic issues . . . a priority for me and proposals I have brought forward . . .
  • Systemic racism is real.
  • [Everybody] should care about these other areas [the 1-9].
  • The Community Engagement Initiative is not about our police department; it is about a different kind of conversation and looking at the ways that we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.
  • . . . difficult to change things quickly . . . challenge to come up with a plan . . .
  • The Community Engagement Initiative is designed to create a vehicle through which change can be discussed and created by a community by listening to voices that traditionally have not had a seat at the table.
  • There can be two types of meetings, one type of meeting could be run by the City of Bethlehem similar to . . .
  • The second type of meeting, though, could and needs to be run by organizations and groups in our community . . . [schools, churches, social justice organizations]
  • It is important that City Hall or Council doesn’t control all of these meetings.
  • The goal of these meetings could be letting people share their experiences . . . whatever organizers of the meetings want.
  • The decentralized nature of organizing these meetings by design requires the host organization to set the agenda, control questions, etc.
  • The City can hopefully help to spread the word on these meetings, space on web site, etc.
  • Important that we allow organizations and groups the ability to create their own groups and the conversation [schools, churches, Boy’s Club, New Bethany, etc.].
  • Why do we need to have these meetings? Because it’s clear . . . that we need to hear from our residents and we need to hear what we as a city and a community need to do better.
  • How will we be held accountable for what comes up at these meetings? How will we see progress? . . . by what we say and what we do with the conversations and the discussion.
  • I think we do have an opportunity in the coming weeks and months to make tangible progress on ending systemic racism and creating more equitable systems.
  • I think we can change a lot of things in our city for the better.
  • The chance of us making progress, though, will come down to how many people in our community and in positions of authority believe, and are willing to say that they believe, systemic racism is real, that they believe that black and brown lives matter, and that they believe that it’s our responsibility, including anyone in society that has authority, to listen and fix these systems that cause so much damage and pain.
  • I do think that we can be doing much more.