Times-Call (Longmont)

Erie shutters DEI Advisory Board to create task force

- By Andrea Grajeda

The Erie Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board will dissolve in order to create a private group.

Dissolutio­n of the DEI Advisory Board into a task force will allow for better and more vulnerable conversati­ons that are not part of the public record. The task force would allow for space for open conversati­on without fear of retaliatio­n or harm to marginaliz­ed groups.

The Erie Board of Trustees voted unanimousl­y Tuesday night to pass the dissolutio­n of the advisory board. The DEI advisory members will establish a private task force.

Dea Lindsey, Boulder County

Judge and DEI advisory board member, said that equity work requires a structured conversati­on about race, which often include vulnerable conversati­ons.

“In order to do this work, you have to be able to speak your truth and speak freely about where you stand in terms of race and racism,” Lindsey said.

She said that race is a difficult subject, and that race conversati­on involves a lot of education and risk. She said that because there needs to be such open and vulnerable conversati­ons about equity, having those conversati­ons in the public record may discourage people from speaking. The task force would allow for space for open conversati­on without fear of retaliatio­n or harm to marginaliz­ed groups.

Kendra Carberry, town attorney, said that the task force will not be officially sponsored by Erie, but will still work closely with the town. Carberry said the task force will still report to the Board of Trustees and will be no different from other private groups the town supports, such as the Erie Chamber of Commerce or Downtown Erie Business Associatio­n.

Lindsey said that having DEI conversati­on not be open meetings does not mean that the group is closing out the public and that DEI meeting will be open to the public.

“There is a lot of fear that when we’re talking about this scary racism thing that there are like pitchforks and we’re (going to) get people. That’s really not it,” Lindsey said.

She said that in order to move forward with equity, everyone needs to be a part of the conversati­on.

Work plan presented

Town Administra­tor Malcom Fleming presented the 2023 work plan. He said the work plan prioritize­s 10 projects for the town, such as Interstate 25 Erie Gateway designs, affordable housing, sustainabi­lity initiative­s and support for the Home Rule Commission. The town also has Town Center initiative­s as a priority and will gather community input to determine civic uses for it, including a museum, cultural arts center or a town office space.

Fleming said that the work plan demonstrat­es how differ

ent department­s work together on issues and projects. The work plan is also intended to set expectatio­ns, time frames for projects, dedicate Board of Trustee meeting time to discuss projects and prioritize efforts. Fleming said that the work plan will be used to show quarterly updates on projects and to reprioriti­ze projects if new issues arise.

“We should do a few things and do them exemplary rather than many things in a mediocre way,” Fleming said.

Fleming also said that the work plan still includes the multi-year projects, such as public art programs and landfill management.

Trustee Brandon Bell said that it is important for residents to understand that the town values landfill management and oversight. He said that currently the only entrance is on County Road 5, and there needs to be more than just a singular entrance. Bell said that the landfill has another 50 years of operation life left, and that industrial operations should not happen close to residentia­l areas and could be a danger to the public.

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