Lack of inspiring city manager candidates requires quick action from city commission

On Monday, January 29th, after reviewing an initial slate of City Manager candidates, the City Commission narrowed their search to 3 finalists. We have many concerns after speaking with city leaders,  community members, and others that were directly involved in the interview process. Many have been questioning if this slate of candidates is truly qualified, understands and can advance equity in the city, and if they have been properly vetted by the community itself.

Here are a few of our observations and concerns from this week:

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The next Grand Rapids city manager will decide how much police violence is tolerable

In September of 2017 Equity PAC issued A political framework to advance equitable policing. This framework was a result of a discussion with 15 citizens, community leaders and elected officials to develop a profile for public leadership in policing. The group agreed that to change policing Grand Rapids needs public officials that measure success through observable change in the community. However, we have seen no observable changes in policing in the community in the past few years by any objective measure. This is why the citizens of Grand Rapids must show up to the city manager interviews starting on Monday, January 29th to use their voice to shape the most important equity decision the city will make for years to come.

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Equity PAC Endorses The Rapid Operating Millage Renewal

Equity PAC, a local organization working to increase the number of equity-minded policies, practices and officials in West Michigan, enthusiastically endorses the Rapid Millage renewal on the ballot in November.

“Public transportation is essential to equity in Grand Rapids. We know that areas with the highest unemployment rates have the highest transit usage, and that these areas are predominantly people of color in historically segregated parts of Grand Rapids. Children riding to school, people with disabilities and seniors would also be severely impacted by the loss of transportation access. Failure to pass this millage would hinder growth in our region, but it would be an especially severe blow to those that need it most,” said Equity PAC board member Janay Brower.

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EquityPAC Endorses Love4GRPL: Library Operating Millage Renewal

Supports valuable resource, encourages increased outreach to black and brown communities

EquityPAC, a local organization working to increase the number of equity-minded policies, practices and officials in West Michigan, enthusiastically endorsed the Love4GRPL operating millage renewal. By allowing the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) to continue the existing capital millage as an operating millage, this valuable resource will continue to be available as a free information, education and community resource.

“The Grand Rapids Public Library have built their services to be a tool in addressing inequities in the city of Grand Rapids. That is why we support this operating millage continuation, while encouraging GRPL to double down on its efforts,” said EquityPAC Co-Chair, Kelsey Perdue.

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EquityPAC Endorses GRPS Non-Homestead Millage Renewal

Sees renewal as vital to district’s anti-poverty mission, challenges state school funding systems

EquityPAC, a local organization working to increase the number of equity-minded policies, practices and officials in West Michigan, enthusiastically endorsed Grand Rapids Public Schools’ millage renewal request on non-homestead properties. This millage is incumbent to receive state funding through the system created by Proposal A.

“A strong school system with an anti-poverty mission is a must if we are trying to address racial and social inequities in Grand Rapids,” said Denavvia Mojet, EquityPAC board member. “What we have seen over these last few years is the need to overhaul how our state funds public education, to ensure marginalized communities receive the educational resources they need to succeed, and not receive an unfair share of the burden to pay for it.”

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EquityPAC Endorses Wyoming Public School’s Bond Proposal

Sees ballot question as vital to ensuring this growingly diverse school district succeeds 

EquityPAC, a local organization working to increase the number of equity-minded policies, practices and officials in West Michigan, endorsed Wyoming Public School’s Bond Proposal, expressing their desire to ensure a district that is becoming more diverse succeeds. Should this bond pass, it would not increase local property taxes. The school district has proven that this bond can be paid for with existing revenues, and passing this bond will bring millions of dollars in for school building repair.

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A political framework to advance equitable policing

Equity PAC was created in early 2016 as a response to an obscure city commission decision around policing. In the past year, we’ve seen Grand Rapids police hold innocent children at gunpoint and then respond with defiance, a third party study that found Grand Rapids police to be racially biased in their traffic stops, and a lawsuit against the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for cooperating with immigration enforcement. These policing outcomes demonstrate a significant bias that need to be addressed.

Even more, there are few clearer local examples of how policing bias creates inequitable outcomes than the recently released phone conversations between members of the Grand Rapids Police Department. The tapes reveal officers working together to cover up a drunk driving offense of a former prosecutor. The misuse of discretion favoring power, the lack of concern for the crash victim, and the willingness to lie and manipulate the system are so evident that many in Equity PAC are rightfully calling for an independent investigation into the recordings to begin rebuilding public trust. 

There are no lack of policy ideas and groups that are working to advance equitable police policy, and we encourage you to get involved and give to them. However, we also need individuals in office with specific skills, approaches, and an openness to new police policy ideas and reform. We asked, what are the characteristics of a city or county commissioner or state legislator we can trust with our endorsement to advance equitable policing policy? To answer this question, Equity PAC pulled together a group of approximately 15 citizens, community leaders and public leaders to develop a profile for public leadership in policing. Here are three of the primary factors and themes that emerged from that discussion:

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Hires for New City Manager and County Administrator will shape the policy landscape for decades to come

Over the next several months, both the Kent County Commission and the Grand Rapids City Commission will replace their outgoing administrators. Grand Rapids will replace retiring Greg Sundstrom who has served as City Manager since 2009. Kent County will replace retiring Daryl Delabbio after 22 years of service as County Administrator. Assistant Administrator Wayman Britt has been appointed to serve as interim administrator and controller starting July 1. These two positions are arguably the most powerful governmental executive positions in the county.

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Five reasons you need to be at Tuesday's Equity PAC endorsement meeting

Local politics is more important than ever for equity issues, and this Tuesday’s Equity PAC endorsement meeting is an excellent cross section of candidates and millages on November's ballot that will impact our region. This meeting is open to the public; however, you need to be an Equity PAC member to vote and submit input that will be used by the board to consider endorsements.

RSVP here for Tuesday’s Endorsement Meeting

What: Equity PAC Endorsement Meeting

When: this Tuesday, August 29th from 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Where: Tacqueria El Rincon, 2055 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508

Who: Open to the public, with topics especially relevant to those living in East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker, and Wyoming.

Here are 5 reasons why you need to be at this endorsement meeting:

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EquityPAC Endorses Longtime Community Advocate Kurt Reppart for GR City Commission in Ward 1

EquityPAC, a political organization working to increase the number of equitable officials, policies, and practices in West Michigan, proudly announced their endorsement of Kurt Reppart for the Grand Rapids City Commission election in the First Ward. They believe his longstanding commitment as a community leader in Grand Rapids’ west side, and his strong grasp over a wide variety of issues make him the best candidate to support those who’ve been left out and left behind in the city. 

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