Roeland Park anti-discrimination ordinance in final form; ready for July 21 vote

Kansas City Councilor Jermaine Reed told the Roeland Park City Council that Kansas City has had no problems with its anti-discrimination ordinance after more than 20 years.
Kansas City Councilor Jermaine Reed told the Roeland Park City Council that Kansas City has had no problems with its anti-discrimination ordinance in more than 20 years.

The Roeland Park City Council is ready to vote on its proposed anti-discrimination ordinance on July 21 after making only a couple of minor wording changes and holding for future discussion a proposed resolution that would establish a committee without the authority to investigate complaints of discrimination.

Councilor Marek Gliniecki suggested the committee and delivered a draft resolution to the council at the meeting. According to the document, the committee would be established for the “sole purpose of bringing people together of various backgrounds in order to continue to develop mutual respect and build relationships.”

The guidelines limited the committee’s authority: “The Committee will receive, record and report on any complaints regarding discriminatory actions from Residents of the City or employees and businesses within the City. The Committee will not investigate any complaints, will not have the authority to investigate any complaints and will not make any recommendations about such complaints.”

The final guideline, though, implied that the new committee would be in lieu of the anti-discrimination ordinance, which brought objections from other councilors. It read: “Upon dissolution of the Committee for any reason or if the Committee fails to become active as indicated above, the Governing Body will begin consideration of enactment of the proposed non-discrimination Article 12 addition to the Chapter 5 Business Licenses and Regulations Ordinance.”

The committee discussion came after the council agreed that the anti-discrimination ordinance, under consideration for months, was in its final form for a vote. Councilors Teresa Kelly and Jennifer Gunby both said the council had already agreed that any committee would be separate from the ordinance. Megan England said she liked the intention, but it was not ready for a vote. “I feel this is being pushed through too quickly,” she said of the resolution. Gliniecki said the committee resolution was provided by a Roeland Park resident.

Jermaine Reed, a city councilor from Kansas City, earlier made a brief presentation telling the council that Kansas City passed its anti-discrimination ordinance in 1993 and has not experienced any significant problems, costs or lawsuits. Transgender protection was added to the protected classes several years later, he said.