Township Approves Task Force for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Township Approves Task Force for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, MI - The Township Board voted to create a task force for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan on Tuesday, July 21st.

“As a follow up, some of us met with several of the township staff and together we would like to recommend to begin the process of bringing more equity and inclusion to our community, that the board would create an inclusion task force that would be responsible for developing a long term community and equity action plan,” said Trustee Pat Jackson.

Members who have volunteered to lead this effort are Trustee Jackson, Trustee Dan Opsommer and Trustee Courtney Wisinski. Jackson also recommended that the task force should include the Township Manager and up to three directors of his leadership team.

Trustee Wisinski seconded this motion and explained why she wanted to move this development further.

“With all of the situations in our country as well as concerns in the past couple weeks in meridian township, I think it’s really important that we start to include and begin this conversation and begin to develop a plan for equity and inclusion. I am one hundred percent agree to suspend the rules in this case. I think this needs full attention, quick attention. This is going to be a long-term plan, but I think these conversations can’t wait weeks and weeks. We need to think about how we are going to develop this task force,” said Trustee Wisinski.

Clerk Brett Dreyfus opposed the motion to waive the informal rule of discussion because of inconsistency regarding past rules dealing with new motions.

“There are many hot topic issues, it’s not a good procedure just because something is important at any given moment to suspend the rules willy nilly. Rushing immediately by suspending the rules really violates the principals. The principals are that we discuss things, so the public understands what the process is. When the public understands it, they can participate better. Suspending the rules changes the public’s expectation. There’s no deadline, no pressure except ourselves saying we have to change the rules tonight. It’s a much wiser move to it to action next week, odds are it will pass unanimously,” said Clerk Dreyfus.

Clerk Dreyfus stressed the importance of having community input via zoom or email (before the vote takes place) to ensure that everyone has a voice in this motion.

“Why suspend citizen transparency when we can just vote in two weeks?” said Clerk Dreyfus.

Trustee Opsommer commented that in order to see this motion happen, he and other members wanted to push it forward by waiving the rules due to time constraints.

“We have someone who may be interested in facilitating a DEI task-force, so we thought it’d be best to get a shell of a task force established to have that person come in and interview. And so that the task force can at least begin finding someone to help us facilitate and then be built out from there,” said Trustee Opsommer.

The vote to suspend the rule passed 6-1 with Dreyfus voting against this motion. This passed the waiving of (the usual) two-week period and moved the vote to that night. The vote to pass the Equity and Inclusion task force passed 7-0.

As the Township works to strengthen workplace and community diversity, this task force will take “extremely important” steps, said Treasurer Phil Deschaine, to stay engaged in the public health of Meridian Township.

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