The Juneau Assembly voted Monday, 5-4, to hold off on a new proposal that would create a committee to review every ordinance and resolution for “systemic racism.”
Proposed by Assembly member Rob Edwardson, the committee would have the power to step between a proposed legislation and the public hearing process, and review most of the major Assembly actions before they could proceed.
The committee would have power to interfere with projects, such as the major bond package being proposed by former Mayor Bruce Botelho, which would fund a new City Hall, a new arts center connected with Centennial Hall renovations, a new city museum, and more.
The committee would have the power to stop or dramatically slow down the public process if a majority of the seven committee members object to some aspect of an ordinance or resolution, in effect creating another layer of bureaucracy. It could become the most powerful committee on the Assembly because of its ability to stop such a broad array of legislation.
Instead of having a public hearing on the proposal at the next Assembly meeting on July 13, the Assembly voted to take it up in the Committee of the Whole for more discussion, and hold a public hearing later in July.
Juneau Assembly is not the only city council that is working on a “systemic racism” committee. On Monday, Portland Mayor Kate Snyder proposed a committee develop a vision for improving racial equity in the Rose City, which has been torn apart by Antifa and Black Lives Matter mobs.
The Portland committee would be asked to come up with a vision for how the city and its departments can address racism. It would not insert itself into the legislative process.