[nfbmi-talk] not much detail on ada here
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Fri Jan 10 15:03:52 UTC 2014
MICHIGAN CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION
Monday, December 9, 2013 - 2:00 P.M.
Michigan Department of Civil Rights Executive Office
8th Floor Commission Room
Capital Tower Building – 110 W. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, Michigan 48933
Present: Commission Chair, Mike Zelley
Commission Vice-Chair, Lisa Peeples-Hurst
Commission Secretary, Jared Rodriguez
Commissioner Agustin Arbulu
Commissioner Rasha Demashkieh
Commisisoner Linda Gobler
Commissioner Arthur Horwitz
Commissioner Deloris Hunt
I. CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Commissioner Mike Zelley called the meeting to order at 2:00 p.m., brought
welcoming remarks, and each Commissioner introduced themselves.
II. APPROVAL OF MEETING AGENDA
On Motion duly made (Commissioner Peeples-Hurst) and supported (Commissioner
Demashkieh), the meeting agenda was approved with an amendment from Chair
Zelley (Burton Gordin Report update during the Chair Report). Motion carried
III. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES FROM OCTOBER 7, 2013
On Motion duly made (Commissioner Gobler) and supported (Commissioner
Demashkieh), the meeting minutes from October 7, 2013 were approved. Motion
IV. DIVISION REPORTS
Director’s Report, Matthew Wesaw
In addition to Director Wesaw’s submitted report, highlights included: success of the
2013 MIAAHC Response to Hate Conference; overview of various meetings
(DODHH Advisory Board, MAPAAC); meet and greet meetings (MDCR Colleagues,
HLC Chair and Executive Director, partner agency leaders). Director Wesaw indicated that the major focus of the Department will include the Bullying Initiative, the statewide
ALPACT effort, and MIAAHC. Enforcement Division Report, Lori Vinson
Ms. Vinson reported that in closing the 2013 fiscal year, 2123 formal complaints were
processed, 2247 complaints were closed, resulting in monetary awards of $1,545,180; our
federal contracts with EEOC and HUD were satisfied; thus far for the 2014 fiscal year,
249 complaints have been investigated since October 1, 2013 resulting in monetary
awards of $96,987.
Several colleagues have retired from the Enforcement Division after many years of
service: Lena Scott, Lillie Johnson, Dyann Gatlin, Elaine Tell and Chris Priebe. Two
additional retirements are forthcoming: Armando Garcia, after 39 years of service,
December 2013; Wanda Saxson, after 45 years of service, January 2014.
Several new colleagues have been hired into the Enforcement Division: Alicia Powers
and Gloria Trevino, Administrative Support, Detroit Office; Elizabeth Taylor, LaShea
Sharp, Matthew Galvan, Investigators, Detroit Office; Sherri Bailey, Investigator,
Hearings and Policy Report, Dan Levy
In addition to Ms. Elliott’s Legal Affairs submitted report, Mr. Levy reported on the
DODHH Administrative Rules process regarding certification of interpreters; and a news
article from Petoskey News regarding bullying legislation.
Public Affairs/Budget Report, Leslee Fritz
With regards to Public Affairs, Ms. Fritz reported on MDCR’s 50th Anniversary
Celebration Tour, 35 of the 50 cities are complete; approximately 2,500 participants
have attended our events, more events to be planned for January 2014 - dates and
locations will be communicated to Commissioners; results of the Employee
Engagement Survey will be sent to state department directors this week for review
and determination of next steps; Autism Partnership tour.
With regards to the budget, Ms. Fritz reported that MDCR applied for 14 HUD grants,
and were awarded for 5 grants totaling $150,000 – funding for Enforcement activities; in
closing out the 2013 fiscal year, MDCR finished with a positive balance; fiscal year 2015
requests will be submitted by state department CFO’s by the close of this calendar year.
V. COMMISSION MATTERS
Chairman’s Report, Commissioner Mike Zelley
• Nominating Committee for 2014 Election of Officers
The following slate was proposed for the 2014 Election of Officers at the January 2014 meeting:
Chair: Commissioner Arthur Horwitz
Vice-Chair: Commissioner Rasha Demashkieh
Secretary: Commissioner Jared Rodriguez
On Motion duly made and supported, the slate for the 2014 Election of Officers was approved.
Motion carried unanimously.
• Burton Gordin Resolution
Dan Levy reported that Commissioner Arbulu is leading a subcommittee in an effort to re-open
the unsolved murder investigation of former MDCR director Burton Gordin. Commissioner
Arbulu read the following resolution into the record:
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, we pause to honor and
recognize one of the unheralded giants of the struggle to secure equality for all Michiganders, and to
reflect upon one of the great unsolved mysteries in the story of that struggle.
While serving as the first Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Burton I. Gordin was
gunned down as he left our Detroit office on March 20, 1970. His murder remains unsolved, the
motive unknown, and the historical implications unanswered.
Upon hearing of the murder, a "deeply shocked" Governor William Milliken declared, "The tragic
death of Burton Gordin stills a major voice in the civil rights struggle. He served a great cause with
great dedication. His death is a profound loss to that cause and to the public who he so well served."
Burton Gordin was a native of Philadelphia who had served as a captain in the US Army and a
reporter for the Philadelphia Record before joining the Philadelphia Fair Employment Practices
Commission as a field representative and research associate in 1949. Three years later he joined the
newly created and first-of-its-kind Philadelphia Civil Rights Commission where he would rise to
In 1964, after being created as the first (and still only) such body established within a state
constitution, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission conducted a nation-wide search and selected
Burton Gordin as our first Director. Under Director Gordin's leadership, the Commission quickly
grew in size and in stature, becoming a model other states would follow.
Following Burton Gordin's death, the Michigan Chronicle noted, "Angry militants in the battle for
civil rights progress declared him too conciliatory. Antagonists in the battle found him too
contentious." The Chronicle concluded, "That speaks more eloquently than any rhetoric that comes to
mind for his unswerving determination to conduct himself with both compassion and dignity in a most
sensitive spot in these times of strife, turmoil and terror."
Burton Gordin's lifeless body was discovered lying face up in the garage where he parked while at
work, just feet away from his running car, his wallet intact, nothing missing, and no apparent signs of
a struggle. He had been shot twice at close range, once in the back upper left shoulder (possibly while
seated in the car) and once in the chest (likely while already on the ground.) No eyewitnesses were ever identified, and no suspects were ever named.
Theories and suspects were numerous however, and reflected the tumultuous nature of the times.
Public reports of the investigation, in which the Detroit Police Department was assisted by the
Michigan State Police and the Attorney General's organized crime unit, reflected a wide variety of
possible motives. Possibilities included a robbery gone awry (the motive favored by most investigators),
but also the possible involvement of angry whites, militant blacks, disgruntled staff, the Weather
Underground and Students for Democratic Society, and law enforcement from outside the Detroit
area. None of these motives were ever proven or (publicly, at least) completely refuted.
The Michigan Chapter of the NAACP at the time called the killing a "political assassination of a civil
rights leader until proven otherwise." More than 40 years later, there remains no firm basis for
concluding there was any political motivation for the killing, but neither has it been proven there was
not. The murder of the first Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights may yet prove to be a
robbery gone wrong - one of those truly tragic coincidences that are so hard for us to accept – or it
might have been a deliberate act and thus an event of historic significance.
We may never know who killed Burton Gordin and why. While we may have to accept that the
important historical questions of his death will forever be unanswered, we must not allow ourselves to
forget the life of Director Gordin. He gave tirelessly to the struggle to ensure equal treatment for all,
and he played a vital role in helping Michigan and the nation first to correct course and then to
weather the storms of the civil rights era. To paraphrase the words of abolitionist Theodore Parker,
Burton Gordin helped to bend the long arc of the moral universe towards justice.
Today we pay tribute to Burton I. Gordin’s life's work. His accomplishments were too important, his
impact too profound, and his legacy too significant to be forgotten.
We stand on his shoulders.
On Motion made (Commissioner Zelley) and duly supported (Commissioner Peeples-
Hurst), the Commission adopted the Resolution on Burton Gordin. Motion carried
Director Wesaw indicated that he has convened initial meetings with the Michigan State Police
and the Detroit Police Department; plans to convene a meeting with the Subcommittee and the
Cold Case Team to determine next steps.
• Proposed 2014 Meeting Schedule
The following dates were proposed for the 2014 Commission Meeting Schedule:
January 27, March 24, May 19, July 28, September 22, November 24.
The September date will be confirmed at a later time, as the Commission may have an
opportunity to convene jointly with the DODHH in the Upper Penninsula in October 2014.
On Motion duly made (Commissioner Arbulu) and supported (Commissioner
Demashkieh), the 2014 Commission Meeting Schedule (with the exception of September)
was approved. Motion carried unanimously.
Awards Presentation, Director Matthew Wesaw
Director Wesaw presented an award honoring Chair Mike Zelley for seven years of service; and
an award honoring Vice Chair Lisa Peeples-Hurst for five-and-a-half years of service.
Attorney General Report, Ron D. Robinson
Mr. Robinson cited the case Barash v. SMART, indicating that the case was remanded for appeal
review in Circuit Court; the Thomas Sakewich case was also cited, indicating that the case has
been elevated to the Supreme Court – the petition was denied, and the Department will not
pursue the case any further.
VI. DEPARTMENT INITIATIVES UPDATES
Bullying Initiative, John Golaszewski
In John Golaszewski’s absence, the Bullying Initiative report was waived. However,
written reports were submitted to the Commission.
Global Michigan Initiative, Mary McLellan
In Mary McLellan’s absence, the Global Michigan Initiative report was waived.
However, written reports were submitted to the Commission.
VII. OLD BUSINESS
There was no old business.
VIII. NEW BUSINESS
• ADA Presentation by Sharon Ellis, Statewide ADA Compliance Director
IX. PUBLIC COMMENT
There was no public comment.
The meeting of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission adjourned at 3:48 p.m.
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