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City of Lincoln
Mayor's Department
Citizen Information Center Division
2000 Media Release


February 22, 2000
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Larry Williams, Human Rights Commission, 441-7624

Human Rights Commission Outlines Agenda

Federal grant to fund new investigator position Mayor Don Wesely and the Director of the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights, Larry Williams, today officially released the Commission's 1999 Annual Report and announced the Commission's mission and goals for 2000. Williams also announced that the Commission is in the process of hiring a second investigator, a position funded through a federal grant.

"The Human Rights position had been vacant for a year before Larry took over last September, and he has really hit the ground running," Mayor Wesely said. "The efforts of Larry and his staff have made the Commission an even stronger agency, and that is extremely important as our community becomes more diverse."

"We have worked with all segments of the community to set a course and direction for the Commission," said Williams, who is also the Equal Opportunity Officer for the city. "The staff and Commissioners are very excited about our plans to serve this community."

The revised mission for the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights is "to eliminate discrimination through civil rights law enforcement and to establish equal opportunity and justice for all persons within the city through advocacy and education." The Commission has outlined seven goals involving leadership, service, education, community, structure, staff and evaluation.

The Commission's annual report shows that 70 complaints were filed in 1999, with 58 of those in the area of employment. During the past year, 49 formal complaints of discrimination were decided. Williams said the addition of a second investigator in the Commission will allow cases to be resolved sooner. The $51,000 Equal Employment Opportunity grant will provide the investigator's salary and funding for educational efforts. The grant is for one year with a three-year renewal option.

The Commission is planning a training seminar on diversity and civil rights issues from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. March 22 at the Pioneers Park Nature Center. The seminar is directed at nonprofit organizations and community centers but is open to anyone. The Commission also plans to debut its bi-annual newsletter in April, sponsor a Fair Housing poster contest in March and hold a symposium and awards luncheon in July.

Last August, Mayor Wesely also announced the restructuring of the Minority Internship Program into the Lincoln Diversity Fellowship Program to help the city reach its goal of increasing diversity in city employment. Williams is coordinating the program, which has placed five Fellows into city departments. The program is also providing $10,000 to hire up to ten individuals to assist with the census over the next three months. Because the census has strengthened its efforts to make sure all minority groups are counted, the program is hoping to attract applicants of different cultures and ethnic groups to work within their own communities on the census. Training for these census Fellows is tentatively scheduled for February 29.

Williams is also working with the Mayor's office in coordinating a Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) project to strengthen diversity in the city. The Corporation for National Service has approved a grant submitted by the Mayor's office for this three-year project, which will employ three VISTA workers and a team leader. The Mayor's Multicultural Advisory Committee will help with the recruitment of volunteers and will serve as the advisory board for this project.

Those interested in the Diversity Fellowship or the VISTA positions, should contact the Human Rights Commission at 441-7624.

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