Urgent need for the Onondaga Human Rights Commission

The Commissioner of the New York State Human Rights Division has written a letter to the Onondaga County Legislature and the County Executive regarding the need to continue the Onondaga Human Rights Commission.

The following is a copy of that correspondance:

STATE OF NEW YORK
DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ONE FORDHAM PLAZA
FOURTH FLOOR
BRONX. NEW YORK 10458

DAVID A. PATERSON PHONE: (718) 741-8326 GALEN D. KIRKLAND
GOVERNOR FAX: (718) 741-8279 COMMISSIONER

October 5, 2009

Joanne M. Mahoney, County Executive
William H. Meyer, Chair
Members of the Onondaga County Legislature
401 Montgomery Street

Room 407, Court House
Syracuse, NY 13202

Re: Urgent need for the Onondaga Human Rights Commission

Dear Honorable County Executive, Legislature Chair, and Members of the County Legislature:

This letter is submitted in strong support of the Onondaga County Human Rights Commission.

We have received information that Onondaga County is planning to dismantle the Commission as a cost-cutting measure. While we certainly understand the requirement for all government entities to reduce costs during these difficult times, we are writing to express our dismay at the decision to sacrifice the important services provided by the Commission.

We respectfully but vehemently disagree with the position that much of work of the Onondaga Human Rights Commission is duplicated by the New York State Division of Human Rights. The powers and duties of the respective agencies
often complement, but do not duplicate, one another.

The Onondaga Human Rights Commission has played a major role in resolving conflicts and problems in the Syracuse area communities that do not fall under the strictly defined jurisdictional areas of the New York State Division of Human Rights. The Onondaga Human Rights Commission provides assistance to the many individuals and community groups that do not wish to pursue formal legal
action, but who are seeking a positive, proactive means for intervention, mediation, and/or education. Through its services, the Onondaga Human Rights Commission has played a major role in defusing hostility, resolving conflict,
preventing escalation of tensions, and increasing education and positive human relations.

Without the important work done by the Onondaga Human Rights Commission, the citizens of Onondaga County could be facing increased conflict, tension, and litigation; this could result in increased social and financial costs to government, taxpayers, businesses, and citizens.

We hope that the County will retain the Commission so that its important services to the community will not be sacrificed.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment and for your kind consideration of our input. I hope that our comments will be favorably reviewed. If you wish to discuss any of these issues with me, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Galen D.Kickland

cc: Luis R. Burgos, Jr.. First Deputy Commissioner
Jyll Townes, Deputy Commissioner Regional Affairs
James Mulvaney, Deputy Commissioner External Relations
Julia Lederman-Day, Regional Director