City Hall launches LGBT meetings
by Glendale Chamber of Commerce on May 28th, 2015

By Sterling Fluharty, Staff Writer
The Glendale Star

Glendale City Council decided last week to hold public meetings over the next two months on a possible ordinance protecting the rights of gays and lesbians, even though the mayor tried to postpone those meetings until September.

Karen Kurtz, a facilitator hired by city management, outlined her proposal at a May 19 city council workshop. She recommended four conversations in the community, with one sponsored by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

At its Jan. 6 workshop, the council directed city administrators to include anti-discrimination language in city contracts and asked them to seek public input on that topic through district meetings a facilitator could coordinate.

An ordinance, if passed, could require local businesses to change their hiring practices. Those companies would not be allowed to use sexual orientation as a reason not to hire an otherwise qualified applicant.

Kurtz initially recommended holding the meetings June 3 to 10. Several members of the council said the public needed more notice and options for attending those conversations.

She said she met with staff members at City Hall to set a schedule for those meetings. She plans to summarize the comments and responses from members of the public in a final report for the council.

“We talked about the potential downside of people leaving in the summer and so we were trying to get in as quickly as we could before people left in the summer, just so that we would be able to report back to you in September,” she explained.

Mayor Jerry Weiers expressed some doubts on whether summer meetings would attract a sufficient number of city residents.

He urged the council to schedule in September the meetings that Kurtz said would ask residents to discuss the issues facing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals and other categories of people that face discrimination within the city.

“I doubt there’s a person in this room that hasn’t gone to meetings in June and July where no one showed up, for multiple different meetings, and that’s a concern of mine that we’re going through the motions and won’t be getting the representation that this truly deserves,” he said. “And I don’t want anybody to try to read that any other way than the way I’m saying it. This really needs to be done correctly. Rushing into a decision, and a bad decision isn’t a good decision - we need to take our time to do it right the first time.”

Weiers later added that he wants 100 people to attend the meetings.

“I didn’t know that we shut down in the summertime,” responded Councilmember Gary Sherwood.

A few minutes later, the mayor asked if there was a consensus for holding the meetings in August.

Other members of the council then spoke up and recommended two meetings in June and two or three in July, with one of those happening on a Saturday.

“We don’t have a consensus on anything at this point,” Weiers remarked.

As members of the council clarified for the mayor they were OK with two meetings each in June and July, he pressed them, on the spot, to come up with the “actual dates.”

Sherwood said Kurtz and city staff could set those dates after they check on the availability of the buildings where the meetings would occur.

“I guess we have a consensus. I can’t even tell you for sure what it is,” Weiers replied.
At least four of his colleagues on the council quickly assured him they had reached a consensus about when to hold the meetings.

The mayor made one more effort to show why summer meetings could be a bad idea. He posed his question to Kurtz.

“What do you do if you have a couple of these and only 10 people show up? Are we going to take those for actual meetings, take that information?” he asked.

“Yeah, they took the time to show up. Yeah, we will take them through the process,” she replied.

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