Livermore's Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee is currently in its final stage with working group members focusing on various projects related to policing, culture, economic equality and engaging with youth, according to a staff update presented to the City Council last Monday.
The second phase of the city initiative kicked off in February after Mayor Bob Woerner appointed Councilmember Bob Carling to take his place as co-chair on the subcommittee upon his ascension to mayor and the city's decision to accept new working group applicants.
Since then, each subgroup of the citizen working group -- composed of residents, working under the council subcommittee -- has held planning meetings to organize their culminating projects.
According to the staff report, Subgroup A: Community, Culture and Representations is working on identifying ways of broadening community participation in government and ensuring outreach, recruitment and appointments are inclusive -- particularly for advisory bodies and community volunteer programs. They are also working to provide information to the subcommittee about how to make sure the city's communication, media and messaging are welcoming and inclusive.
The scope of this subgroup's project shifted since phase one after the subcommittee faced backlash on social media for notes from a Nov. 17 meeting. The notes were referenced in an article by pro-law enforcement website Law Enforcement Today, which suggested that the city was considering the Thin Blue Line flag -- which is used to express support for law enforcement, but is considered by others as a symbol of intimidation -- as a symbol of hate.
The controversial document was the result of a brainstorming session when Subgroup A was considering conducting a community-wide assessment and action project, involving taking inventory of artwork, artifacts and other symbols throughout the city that represent and signify systemic racism as well as the symbols that signify equity and inclusion. At the time, city officials argued the notes had been taken out of context.
Subgroup B: Policing and Human Services is analyzing Livermore Police Department stop-and-arrest data with the help of a consultant and data expert. The group is also working to identify ways to integrate mental health clinicians with the police department to assist officers in the field on mental health crisis calls.
Subgroup C: Reaching and Inspiring Younger Generations is planning a meeting set for Tuesday (May 4) where youth will be invited to share their positive and negative experiences in the community with the goal of providing information to the subcommittee about how to better engage youth and ensure they feel welcome, included and represented.
Subgroup D: Housing, Workplace, Economic and Transportation Environments is developing a series of workshops on various affordable housing-related topics in an effort to engage the broader community about the complexities of and opportunities for affordable housing in Livermore.
In addition to the project planning and brainstorming, the subcommittee is hosting a series of storytelling sessions for the working group that are "designed to help working group members learn ways to dialogue with neighbors, friends and community members to understand how unique life experiences inform and influence perceptions in diverse cultural communities," according to the staff agenda report.
Following the update Monday, Councilmember Gina Bonanno noted that some of the ongoing projects sound very ambitious and asked if there was a possibility of the work continuing beyond the subcommittee's June 21 sunset date. Vice Mayor Trish Munro -- who co-chairs the subcommittee with Carling -- said that while some of the working group projects will conclude by June, the police data analysis is one that will continue after the group's completion.
Woerner said that what the subcommittee has done so far is an "impressive amount of work." He added, "I want to commend all of the participants, the staff and the subcommittee members. This has been multiple meetings per week for several hours -- that's a lot of work."
After Woerner asked more generally how things were going in the group, Munro said overall the progress has gone "extremely well," while also acknowledging that some of the subgroups have been more engaged than others. Carling said he agreed with Munro, adding that when he first joined the subcommittee, it wasn't clear to him how some of the groups were going to develop their projects. "I've been pleasantly surprised and they really are making progress," he said.
As the group phases out, the council will receive a final update during its regular meeting set for June 21.
A complete recording of the April 26 meeting is available here.