Deep Slash of OC Human Relations Commission's Core Budget Proposed, As It is Every Year

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Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, it's become an annual tradition to have the Orange County Human Relations Commission see its reflection in the blade of an impending cut before the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Shawn Nelson is now wielding a proposal that seeks the elimination of $200,000 in funds from their current $302,000 budget in the five-year contract they currently have. If approved, it would deal yet another blow to an already withered down institution.

The cycle is a familiar one, although this time around the agency has been caught off-guard. Two years ago, when Nelson was a newbie on the Board of Supervisors, there was a clamoring among his supporters that the commission was going to be targeted for complete dismantlement and he would be the one to spear the effort. That scenario did not play out in full as it was preserved, though not with a hit to its coffers, as part of the larger $5.5 billion dollar budget approved by the Supes, Nelson's vote included.

Further changes ensued. "Last year, they eliminated all our county employees as a proposed cost-saving measure," says longtime Executive Director Rusty Kennedy, who took a retirement as part of the compromise. "We were willing to enter the agreement with the county, share the pain and reduce their pension obligation."

This year, as the commission learned yesterday, such a move was not considered enough in the eyes of Nelson and Chairman of the Board John Moorlach who supports the proposed hatchet job. "We haven't had a chance to sit down and hear out what their rationale is for this," Kennedy adds. 

Part of the cut is aimed at the Executive Director himself whose salary is partly funded by it. Kennedy is being deemed a "double dipper" for taking the retirement he didn't want last year and currently leading the commission under its county-contract reconfiguration this year. Whether a double dip or a sought out 'double dump,' the slash would go beyond Kennedy and effect other areas of its work including the BRIDGES Program and other community building efforts.


One of the initiatives to come out of BRIDGES was the YouthSpeak contest and this year's winner Christian Lopez, a senior at Garden Grove High School, gave a speech about people with disabilities and injustice at the annual award gala held at the City National Grove of Anaheim. His words deserve an audience far and wide. The commission provided that platform of empowerment for Lopez and other youth like him.

A deep slash of the core budget would only serve to further weaken such services. Resources would be shifted and programs across the board would be negatively affected. The only uncritical support from detractor Supes is for the continuation of funds in terms of the agency's collaborative efforts with police departments. Sorry folks, but this county of ours is still chock-full of intolerance and hilarious haters, in case you haven't noticed lately. There's definitely criticisms of the commission out there, and this writer has his own, but at the end of the day, it needs to be preserved in a much more viable form than that.

Professional staff have been able to intervene in situations like the Mr. Fullerton Pageant where a gay Fullerton Union High School student was yanked from it by an assistant principal because of his pro-same-sex marriage views. Commissioners also listened to the experiences of discrimination from the local Sikh and Muslim communities and developed a plan of action based upon them. Bullying at North OC high school campuses in Fullerton, Buena Park, and La Habra was also taken on by the agency's work at the request of Fullerton Union High School's Superintendent.
 
Now, the agency's five-year contract is subject for review by the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday when the proposed two-thirds reduction in cash flow will be considered. For detractors, the question of funding is perpetually politicized. They don't call for reform of imperfections, the unofficial mantra is 'defund and deform.'

But aren't OC's imperfections too voluminous that a severe slashing of the public's commitment to a non-profit that works against them is truly what can't be afforded?

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10 comments
Carlashworth
Carlashworth

gabriel , why don't you try and answer this qyestion for rusty

Carlashworth
Carlashworth

gabriel san roman, I took your advice and googled OC weekly and "hilarious haters". Are you serious? You reference events that occurred nearly a hundred years ago. Gustavo Arellano's KKK weekly rants in the OC Weekly date from the 1900's to 1930's. Arellano's research methods are extremely weak as he refuses to city his primary documents that he claims exists on which he bases his extrapolated conclusions. Using your logic Gabriel, the tax payers should be on the hook ad infinitum for the orange county human relations commission because a hundred years ago the OC tolerated the KKK. Your attempts to defend orange county human relations shows you have an agenda that is not rooted in improving race relations or diversity among the community of Orange county 

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

 Read all the stories the Weekly writes under the subject line: "the hilarious haters"

Carlashworth
Carlashworth

"hilarious haters" with real evidence, not because I said so proof is the OC known as hilarious? What are your sources that prove the majority ofmpeoplemliving in the OC are hilarious haters

Hmmmm
Hmmmm

Yep, that's the point that dismantles Nelson's argument completely. 

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

Here's the thing: Nelson's proposed gutting goes above and beyond Kennedy. The funds that are being secured if slash takes place will go towards consolidating police/community work...the very aspect of the commission that's getting criticized. Make sense of that for me.

Carlashworth
Carlashworth

Though posed in various ways, my question always is the same. How was Rusty Kennedy, the executive director of the Orange County Human Relations Commission (OCHRC) whose mission is to act as a clearing house and mediator for Orange County’s community complaints of civil rights abuses committed upon them by their local law enforcement,  unaware his hometown’s police force, the Fullerton Police Department (FPD) was systematically abusing the civil rights of Fullerton’s community? Rusty Kennedy’s  lack of awareness of FPD’s civil rights abuses is perplexing when I read the OCHRC website that states “In the 1980s and early 1990s, OC Human Relations began collaborative work with the OC Police Chiefs Association to improve police-community relations,” and “Over the years, HRC has also developed police training videos to promote Police/Disabled community understanding, educate police officers on Latino and Vietnamese cultures and increase awareness about Police/Gay and Lesbian community issues. In 1994, HRC hosted the first annual Community Policing Awards to recognize positive community policing efforts. “ In 1999, Rusty Kennedy gave a community policing award and a thousand dollar check to Fullerton Police Department, whose then-chief was Pat McKinley. Is it possible those persons whose civil rights were violated by the FPD did not seek out the OCHRC’s aid in this matter? This is difficult to imagine considering OCHRC’s long history of acting as a liaison between Orange County’s communities and their respective police forces. What makes Rusty Kennedy’s OCHRC ignorance of FPD’s systematic civil rights  abuses difficult to grasp  is the fact that when Pat McKinley was Fullerton’s police chief( 1993-2009), McKinley also served as a member on the Orange County Human Relations commission board as a representative of law enforcement. (Voice of OC, August 11, 2011 “Fullerton’s History with the Homeless”) One of these days, Rusty Kennedy may answer this question.

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

Being a major county and not even having a Human Relations Commission would fit right into OC's reputation as home of the hilarious haters -- and that's not a good thing!

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

Sure. I think that having a police chief on the commission, given its foundational roots, is a structural flaw, one that I'd like to see rolled back. This is nothing different from what I've commented on 4F in the past. I'm just not in the 'crop til they drop' camp. BTW, Nelson introduced coaching football as a volunteer, having Black kids on his team and hooking one up with a private scholarship as somehow relevant to the discussion of the commission's work during the meeting. Real solid anti-racism, there. LOL! Especially coming from a guy who's Lemon Street Murals screed and 'Latino' health access fumble are not soon forgotten!

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

That's a weekly series every Monday. The Mexican-in-chief lays out the historical roots of a tree that has not been chopped down. If you have to ask this very question in the first place and do some homework, that's pretty telling.

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