Council discusses diversity

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Racial diversity in the City of Rome came to the forefront of discussion during Wednesday
nights common council meeting.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, a few residents expressed dismay over recent activities in the city involving racist graffiti painted on a moving truck that had been rented by a black woman, and a youth football game broken up by city police at Guyer Field where several fights had broken out. 

Both incidents sparked protests raising awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and in the instance of the Guyer Field incident, a protest against police brutality was spurred as allegations of police misconduct arose from actions taken while the youth were being dispersed from the park.

The victim in the graffiti case spoke during Wednesday night’s common council meeting, calling for more community dialogue on race issues, and how they are being rectified.

“I still don’t feel like there’s enough transparency in the process,” she said.

Later during the meeting, it was noted that in recent weeks city officials have met with the
Rome Chapter of the NAACP to discuss diversity in the city.

One result of those meetings has been to form an ad hoc diversity commission to examine issues that arise and find ways to improve on Rome inclusivity.

The committee chaired by fifth ward councilor Frank Anderson also includes councilors John Sparace and Riccardo Dursi.

Despite there being only three on the committee, Anderson added, “I believe all seven of us (city ward councilors) are heavily invested in the commission.”

He said there are plans so far to look at diversity training available for city employees, to build bridges with other community groups and to listen to constituents.

Anderson indicated that some are seeing Rome as going backward culturally, and he added, “okay, how do we reverse that trend and move forward.”

The councilor asked that residents reach out to their ward councilors with input. Ward councilor contact information can be found on the city website.

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In other common council actions, a measure passed allowing the city to agree to snow and ice removal terms with Oneida County for county highways running through the city for the 2020-2021 winter, according to a resolution.

The city will be reimbursed by the county for snow and ice removal on about 15 miles of road in the amount of $6,200 per mile for the snow removal season ending on April 30, 2021.

The council also voted in favor of allowing no parking signs to be placed on St. Peters Avenue. This after a review of requests made by residents in the area.

Also, the 2021 budget will be presented at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 5:30 pm. The presentation will be conducted via audio stream and login information will be provided to the public prior to the meeting.

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