Daily Egyptian

Mayor and City Manager release statements regarding Human Relations Commission roundtable

By Rana Schenke, Staff Reporter

Last Monday, the city of Carbondale released statements from the city manager and the mayor regarding the Human Relations Commission’s Sept. 13 roundtable discussion.

(See more: Carbondale mayor threatens firing of Human Relations Commission chair over community roundtable)

In his statement, Carbondale city manager Gary Williams said he never directed the Human Relations Commission to cancel the roundtable.

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Williams said he advised the commission to be cautious in how they framed the discussion as not to appear adversarial to the university.

“My goal is for the HRC to be successful and to provide value to the City Council and the public,” Williams said in the statement. “I think that the way they couched the recent discussion did just that and provided a positive outlet for community members to offer ideas.”

According to Jerrold Hennrich, Human Relations Commission chair, the commission did not receive any response from the university regarding the roundtable after it happened.

Hennrich said the only communication received from the university was the email sent by the chancellor’s office saying the chancellor would not be able to attend the roundtable.

In a statement written in response to the statements released by the city, Hennrich said the city manager specifically said if he was a third party advisor to the commission, he would recommend they not hold the forum.

Hennrich said he received the call from the mayor telling him he would not be reappointed to his position and not to come to the next meeting less than a week after hearing from the city manager.

The City of Carbondale is always looking for new people with fresh ideas that represent a diverse group of people in the community to serve on all of our boards and commissions,” Carbondale mayor Mike Henry said in his statement.

Henry also said the roundtable had no impact on the decision to appoint a new chair, and that he has been looking for a replacement chair since Hennrich’s term expired in April.

“It was made clear to me that I was not being reappointed because of the commission’s decision to hold the roundtable event,” Hennrich said.

The Daily Egyptian was unable to reach Mayor Henry for comment, as he is currently out on medical leave.

The Human Relations commission’s plans for the results of the roundtable have not changed. Hennrich said the next step will be presenting the findings from the roundtable at the commission’s Oct. 1 meeting.

“I’ve asked all the commissioners to go ahead and condense all the comments that they received at their table,” Hennrich said. “Then I can put all those together […] and then report that to the city council at the next council meeting.”

The city council’s meeting will be held on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.

Staff reporter Rana Schenke can be reached at rschenke@dailyegyptian.com.

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