OC Human Relations Commission Avoids Death...For Now

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OC Human Relations
The draconian and ideological $200,000 slash proposed by Supervisor Shawn Nelson to the county-contracted core budget of the Orange County Human Relations Commission won't be enacted. The Board of Supervisors met earlier today after postponing any action last week and came to a negotiated compromise.

Commandeered by Supervisor Pat Bates, the commission will take an agreed-upon slash of $50,000 going into the second year of its five-year contract with the County, reducing its coffers from $302,000 to $252,000. That's a base level of funding, not adjusted for economic inflation, that is lower than what is was in 1991.

Outlined, but not automatic, are possible further reductions of the same amount to be considered in each successive annual yearly review, which--if acted upon--would in effect take Nelson's initial proposal and spread it over the course of four years.

"We were heartened by Bates who came up with a plan to not cut us as deeply as was proposed," OC Human Relations Commission Executive Director Rusty Kennedy says. "These are tough times we know." His forced retirement last year and current contracted work was pegged as 'double dipping' in the arguments put forth, but Bates ultimately disagreed with that assessment.

"We were disappointed to hear the misunderstanding about our role in the Kelly Thomas case where from the day Kelly died until today OC Human Relations Commission has made this a top priority," Kennedy adds, wanting space to clarify the criticism aired at the meeting as he stands by the work before and leading up to the task force recommendations.

Nelson had made previous statements in press saying in essence that Fullertonians were on the verge of being riotous last year and that Kennedy was AWOL. There was definitely palpable outrage, but little police presence at the summer protests along Commonwealth Avenue outside of the Fullerton Police Department. Hell-raising had its central role in bringing OC to the historical moment of charges being levied against officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli in relation to the death of Thomas. Did Nelson really want that to be mitigated?

The commission, a government-funded entity created by a conservative Republican Board of Supes since 1971, will continue but the prospect of being phased out as such looms larger than ever with future cuts assured for discussion in the coming years. "The Board will look at that as they look at what our role is going forward," Kennedy says. "There were some good things today."

But what does tomorrow hold? Whether or not the Supes put in motion a one-time incision today (unlikely) or the framework for a slow death (more likely), we'll see you all again this time next year!

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