Mayor wants task force to evaluate Human Relations Commission

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Should Rapid City's Human Relations Commission continue as it is? Should it evolve? Or should it even exist at all?

Mayor Steve Allender wants answers and is asking the public to help.

The commission hasn't met since October when it failed to draw a quorum of commissioners, so Allender put the body on hold. Now, he wants a citizen task force to examine the role the commission plays and if it should continue to play it.

"I'm going to ask this task force to assess the current form of the Human Relations Commission to see if it can be effective as designed," Allender said.

The commission was formed to safeguard equal opportunities of all citizens of Rapid City by resolving conflict, settling complaints of discrimination, and promoting cooperation within the community.

As the laws and regulations barring discrimination are written at the state and federal level, the mayor asks if there a role for city government dealing with these issues.

"This is really time to take an honest look at this particular commission to see if it's doing what we intended for it to do of if it should exist at all," he said. "So I need the public's help with that."

There has never been a flood of complaints filed with the commission and the number has dwindled in recent years. Nevertheless, there is support for the panel -- and support for the task force's inquiry.

"We need a diverse group of individuals within the community to discuss what has happened in our past regarding this commission and its effectiveness and examine innovative ways to lessen the pain of this community," said Bev Warne, a member of the Rapid City Council of Elders. "We want our children to grow up in a place and live in a place that is not detrimental to their mental health, physical health, emotional health and spiritual health. We would like to have a community of caring individuals who can work together."

The Mayor hopes the task force can come back to him with some recommendations in about six months.

Interested in serving on Task Force? You can apply by submitting a Citizen Interest Application on the city's website. The application deadline is Friday, July 19th at 5:00 p.m.