Clifton Advisory Committee on Civil Rights - Taking Applications Now!
The Advisory Committee on Civil Rights (the “Committee”) held its first meeting on March 16, 2023 at 5:30 pm, under the guidance of Council Member Rosemary Pino. The Committee consists of 16 permanent members and 16 alternate members to be appointed by the Municipal Council, as well as three appointed Council Members and the City Manager.
Applications Are Still Open: As seats remain available, The Clifton Times wants to encourage anyone who is eligible and interested to apply here. There are currently openings for residents of Albion, Botany/East Clifton, Dutch Hill, Greglawn, Hazel, Knollwood, Lakeview, Maple Valley, Oakridge and Rosemawr. Applicants from other wards are also welcome to apply and may be seated as “at large” members or added to a waitlist. There are currently 20 members appointed and the hope is that there will be 32 neighborhood representatives, to encourage participation across the community.
History of the Committee: The City of Clifton created the Advisory Committee on Civil Rights to advise the City Council on August 3, 2022, at the suggestion of citizens and then-Mayor Anzaldi in the aftermath that followed the City’s decision to paint over a diversity mural, created by Clifton students. The requirements of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rights are in Chapter 11 of the Clifton Code (§11-1 to §11-4). The section was amended on March 7, 2023 to clarify membership.
The Neighborhoods: The Committee will be composed of one permanent member and one alternate member from each of the following contiguous neighborhoods within the City: Albion, Allwood, Athenia, Botany/East, Clifton Center/Middle Village, Delawanna, Dutch Hill, Greglawn, Hazel, Knollwood, Lakeview, Maple Valley, Montclair Heights, Oakridge, Richfield, and Rosemawr. The Clifton Times spoke to Council Member Pino, who told us that the reason the Council decided to go with neighborhoods, is because we have areas in Clifton that are traditionally underrepresented in government, often those with Latine or BIPOC residents. Pino expressed hope that the Committee will be a way to grow engagement from voters of color and other marginalized groups, by inviting their input and committing to work for inclusion and equity.
Member Types: Permanent members and alternate members are both fully involved, but only permanent members will be voting, if a vote is needed. Pino said that she did not anticipate that there would be much voting - the group would be working together to decide what to take forward to the City Council for discussion.
Currently several of the members seated are considered “at large” which means that they do not live in the neighborhood they are representing. If a person who lives in the neighborhood applies and is seated, the “at large” member will step down from the Committee and be added to the waitlist.
Every year the members of the Committee will elect a Chairman who will lead the meetings. The current Chairman is Rosemary Pino. Tony Latona is the Council Liaison and Bill Gibson is the alternate Council Liaison.
§ 11-4 Objectives and duties.
The Committee shall:
A. Work cooperatively with other persons to eliminate discrimination and the result of past discrimination, to recommend ways and means of initiating and improving City government programs designed to eliminate discrimination or to remove the effects of past discrimination, to develop programs for coordination of community efforts to address problems involving tensions in the community and to make recommendations to the Municipal Council for the development of policies, procedures and programs that will aid in the prevention and elimination of all types of discrimination in Clifton.
B. Obtain and disseminate on a City-wide basis information pertaining to civil rights.
C. Gather and present to the Municipal Council such facts, information and data as may help and assist the Council in its deliberations pertaining to matters touching on or concerning civil rights.
D. Submit annually to the Municipal Council a report on its activities for the preceding year.
The Committee is an advisory committee, so recommendations will not be binding on the Council but will instead serve as information points for the City Council to then take action on. The Committee is currently working on the mission statement.
Term: The term of each permanent and alternate member shall be two years. In the event that a vacancy occurs, it will be filled by the Municipal Council for the unexpired balance of the term. Permanent and alternate members may be reappointed to the Committee by the Municipal Council to serve a second two-year term. Council Member Pino said that she hopes that term limits will allow the Committee to bring on new people with different experiences and voices so that they become more representative. The first terms of two years will end on December 31, 2024.
Meeting Frequency: The Committee is currently deciding how often they will be meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for April. The Committee is empowered to hold regular and special meetings, as needed. Pino spoke of the importance of the Committee members bonding and becoming comfortable working together so as to really feel comfortable advocating for their communities.
Committee Formalities Questions to Pino: The Clifton Times had follow up discussions on some of the inconsistencies in the organization and reporting of the Committee. Pino said that the inconsistencies the Times noticed was part of the reason she was working on a Subcommittee of Committees to make all of the Council committees more consistent. Currently some committees have minutes, some have agendas, and some do not. Pino talked about the importance of predictability, transparency and sharing information, as well as encouraging rotation of committee members so that council people will be more well rounded and committees can benefit from various voices.
Conclusion: As the Clifton Advisory Committee on Civil Rights gets started, Pino hopes that this will be a way for more and more community voices to find expression in Clifton’s government. Clifton is a diverse city, and the Committee is a way for the Council to see the needs of, and better serve, the different groups that make up the 90,000 Cliftonites they serve.
Please consider joining the Committee and making your voice heard!