City Officials Hold First Equity Subcommittee Meeting

A Burbank City Council subcommittee on racial equity and diversity had its first meeting last week, with members discussing potentially providing training to city employees.
The subcommittee, which met virtually on Feb. 24, was formed late last year following renewed outcry for racial justice and equity. The group, which includes Mayor Bob Frutos, Councilwoman Sharon Springer, Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, Assistant City Manager Judie Wilke and other municipal staff, will meet “as needed” to discuss potential initiatives for promoting equity and diversity.
Frutos emphasized that the early meetings of the subcommittee would be “flexible and fluid,” allowing the members to develop ideas to present to the full City Council.
“We are committed as a city and as a council to discuss the tough painful issues to make sure our city is working toward [being] inclusive of everybody,” he said.
The racial equity and diversity subcommittee discussed further steps with the nonprofit Burbank Human Relations Council, which helped the city craft its resolution acknowledging past discriminatory practices. Suzanne Weerts, a member of the BHRC board, suggested the city hold a public event in April to present the resolution, which the City Council approved in December.
“We made an important step by passing the resolution, but I want to see us make a more public opportunity to bring the community together, to take ownership of our past and to pledge to move forward,” Weerts said.
The subcommittee also discussed hiring the services of the National League of Cities, which offers training and workshops for municipalities looking to “address systemic and structural inequities.” The City Council would have to approve such a contract, which depending on the length of training could cost between about $14,700 and $80,900.
Subcommittee members applauded the idea. Frutos noted that he wanted to see the city’s board and commissions involved with diversity and equity initiatives, which Wilke said was an option with the NLC’s services.
Following public comments from multiple representatives of transgender advocacy groups from neighboring cities, Springer pushed for the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in future initiatives. She also made a brief observation about the subcommittee’s membership itself.
“We don’t have any Black people here, so it might be important to include some,” she said.