Kennewick City Council will not move forward with 'inclusive city' resolution

On Tuesday night the Kennewick City Council decided to not move forward with a resolution to become an inclusive city.

The resolution was written by Leo Perales with Consejo Latino and introduced by Councilman Bob Parks.

A draft stated:"The City of Kennewick is committed to protecting and serving everyone who resides in, works in or visits the City of Kennewick without discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, income or economic status, political affiliation, military status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental or sensory ability."

Some believe the resolution is attempting to make Kennewick a sanctuary city, but city representatives said they have no plans of becoming a sanctuary city.

"We're not going to question your immigration status but if you break the law you will be dealt with accordingly," said Bob Parks.

Perales and Parks are an unlikely pair. Parks came under fire when he posted the meme below on Facebook in March 2016.

The community, including Consejo Latino, fought to see Parks fired. The city created a seven-member diversity commission instead, an idea Mayor Steve Young came up with after hearing feedback from residents.

The city of Kennewick website says the diversity commission's task is to "provide input from our diverse community on how the city will grow in the next 20 years as well as establish cultural behaviors that our community will embrace." The commission will "seek input from the diverse culture in our community, encourage citizen involvement and embrace our core values of inclusiveness as we continue to move the community forward."

"Me and Bob are coming together. A lot of people still can't believe that, but it just shows you that when people let their guard down and suspend judgment that you can put something good forth for the community," said Perales.

Perales was told he would present the resolution with Parks at the meeting Tuesday night, but the council decided to not let him speak last minute because of a longstanding rule.

"This council and sometimes the city want to go with the status quo rather than make real progress or change. I think this resolution is good for the city and I think it's quite sad that they wouldn't allow me to speak to the resolution tonight," said Perales.

Other councilmembers believe passing the inclusive resolution would be stepping on the toes of the individuals in the diversity commission.

"I'm disappointed that we are even talking about this right now. We need to give the diversity commission an opportunity to do the task we gave them," said Councilman Don Britain.

Britain suggested Perales was upset that he was not chosen to be on the diversity commission.

"Our members here have an objective and goals to achieve and for somebody to do a shortcut, come to council to propose something that is on their agenda... and maybe that would be one of the diversity commission's recommendations," said Britain.

"If we bring it forward, we undermine the commission," said Councilman Paul Parish.

"Quite frankly, I found (the resolution) a little untimely and not given any respect to the seven people this city has chosen to represent them in this commission," said one of the diversity commission members.

The commission began in September 2016. Tonight they presented what they have been working on so far.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," said diversity commission leader Zelma Maine-Jackson. She explained the group has been taking a steadfast approach. They plan to launch a survey to get a well-rounded view of what other residents expect from the city.

"It is up to you whether or not you will allow us to complete our task," Maine-Jackson said to the council.

Maine-Jackson and the other members of the commission admitted they haven't read the inclusive resolution, but Perales said he approached the commission with the idea before going to Parks. 

"Time is ticking. When I see people being denigrated in society, families getting torn apart, when I see moms getting deported... it's the time and place and I feel like the time and place was now," said Perales. "How long are we going to wait, how many more things need to happen before the city needs to stand up and say something?"

Perales said he will continue to attend diversity commission meetings and the partnership between him and Parks won't stop here.

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