• The city is contemplating doing away with the defunct Human Relations Commission and organizing a new Community Relations Commission, but not everyone is supporting the project.
The previous commission was utilized in the early 1990s, when gang crime was on the upswing, but has been dormant for the last several years. The new commission would be composed of 11 members, including the currently serving police chief, city attorney, and director of economic development and housing. The remaining eight members would be private citizens and not necessarily tied to any particular organization.
Original plans included an Alton School District employee on the board, but Alderman Gary Fleming questioned why that position would have to be specified.
“If we do not specify that a representative of the NAACP is included, then why do we specify someone from the school district?” he asked.
The City Council agreed to drop the restriction, as “the city will always want to include a representative from the school district, anyway.”
Joshua Young of Alton opposed the new commission. He addressed the council and said he would like to see the old commission revitalized, a move that would not restrict the commission to 11 members.
“We stand to lose a lot,” he said.
President of 100 Black Men of Alton Bobby Collins Sr. also spoke in support of renewing the old commission, while Derrick Richardson of Alton said he supports the formation of a new commission.
“There is no one person that speaks for the black community in Alton,” Richardson said. “(The new Community Relations Commission) is a positive move.”
The proposed Community Relations Commission would include members appointed by the mayor with the consent of the City Council. The purpose of the group would be to promote equality and justice and to secure an end to discrimination, promote communication between government and the community, receive and research complaints involving discrimination, and initiate investigations into claims of discrimination.
“The (previous commission) had not been active for a number of years,” City Attorney Megan Williams said. “Many people have asked us to do this.”
The City Council was expected to officially dissolve the Human Relations Commission and establish the Community Relations Commission at its Wednesday meeting this week.