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Review Plan Presented for Office of Human Rights; Dr. Kenneth Clarke Appointed Interim Director

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Review Plan Presented for Office of Human Rights; Dr. Kenneth Clarke Appointed Interim Director

Monday, May 14, 2018

County Administrator Jason Molino today presented the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee with a plan for reviewing the Office of Human Rights, appointing Reverend Dr. Kenneth Clarke, who has served under contract as Special Advisor to the Office of Human Rights, to the position of Interim Director of Human Rights, for an initial term of 12 months while the review is conducted.

In a briefing memo to the committee, Administrator Molino stated, “The Office of Human Rights (OHR) is currently in a period of transition due to several changes that have taken place over the past year or more.  These changes include discontinuing all intake of human rights complaints at the County’s local office, the Director of Human Rights vacancy and the diminution of the Human Rights Commission.  As a result, the County now has an opportunity to review how the OHR mission aligns with community needs and how to best utilize County resources to meet those needs.”  The committee informally concurred with the Administrator’s recommended review plan.

Interim Director Clarke, under the direction of the County Administrator and in partnership with County Attorney Jonathan Wood, will conduct a wide-ranging review of community needs and OHR capabilities—among the many elements to be covered,  review of OHR functional areas; review of other OHR offices across the state; evaluation of support functions the local office can provide for complainants in partnership with the State; and evaluation of mediation and conciliation services by or in partnership with OHR.

The analysis is expected to take approximately four months to complete, after which a report and proposal will be presented to the Health and Human Services Committee for discussion and public feedback.  HHS Chair Shawna Black, Legislator Leslyn McBean Clairborne, as Chair of the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Legislator Henry Granison, who serves as Legislative Liaison to the Human Rights Commission, also will meet regularly with the County Administrator, County Attorney and Interim Director to monitor progress and review findings.

Prior to presentation of the recommended review plan, several residents addressed the committee, expressing strong and ongoing support for the Office of Human Rights.

Also today, the committee recommended that the Legislature support proposed State legislation that would create a legal framework for establishing Safe Consumption Spaces (also known as supervised injection facilities) as an emergency public health tool to combat overdose deaths; and heard a presentation from Child Development Council Director Sue Dale-Hall on a proposal to increase the availability of local child care services.