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July 08, 2019

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I am troubled by this statement in the Commission statement:

"The Commission has been informed that this location is the only adequate property available for the Library relocation, and that if the City does not use this space, only the west Salem library branch will be open during the renovation."

If you listen to audio of the April meeting of the Library Renovation Council Subcommittee, as I have, they clearly state that three possible locations had been identified. Besides the Capitol Press Building there is Liberty Plaza and the Vick Building downtown. Both would cost more because of the need for modifications to accommodate the temporary library. But they would be options. When did the story change? Is this another case of lack of transparency from City staff?

Here is the audio file: . The discussion of temporary facilities begins about 34 minutes in.

http://media.cityofsalem.net/meetings/audio/library-renovation-council-subcommittee-audio-2019-04-19.mp3

I am commenting as a resident of Salem and not representing the city in this comment though I serve as Chair of the City of Salem Human Rights Commission. This comment does address mine and other roles in this process

Regarding the paragraph referring to City staff and City Attorney,

"It's also admirable that the Commission and the LGBTQ Rights Task Force stood firm against the library director, City of Salem attorney, and Commission staff -- all of whom clearly wanted the Human Rights Commission to go along with the plan of city officials to relocate the library to the old Capital Press building owned by the Salem Alliance Church."

I want to clarify the role of city staff to the commission and city attorney. Both of them worked very thoughtfully and respectfully of all involved in this discussion. They put in extra time on helping us with drafting this statement and were invaluable as resources for the LGBTQ rights task force, the Human Rights Commission, and the library as we examined the subject.

As chair of the commission and chair of the LGBTQ rights task force I would like to point out that our perspective was invited by the library relocation committee. It was with great help from city staff and city attorney that we were able to take our position in an informed and respectful manner. I am grateful for the collaboration and feel that these city employees care very much for all the people of the city of Salem in a very professional and impartial, yet compassionate manner. Our volunteer commission was empowered to make the statement regarding library relocation because we have an infrastructure in place through Chapters 8 and 97 of Salem Revised Code and strong communication with city staff. At this point the decision is City Councils to make. If anyone reading this feels strongly about this issue then please communicate your view with your city councilor before the July 22nd council meeting.

It was hard to make this statement as the city does not have substantiated reports of discrimination. If there were reports made to our Human Rights Commission regarding discrimination in employment, public accommodation and accessibility about Salem Alliance Church, the Commission would be able to take an even stronger position.

Our municipal government in Salem welcomes and encourages anyone experiencing discrimination and bias to reach out to the Human Rights Commission and Gretchen Bennett (city staff to the commission and the city's Human Rights and Relations/Federal Compliance Manager) Having these reports of discrimination greatly clarify's the decision making process when we encounter issues like this one. A report can be made, the commission and Gretchen can then provide resources for follow up, and the person reporting can choose the level of follow up they want to pursue if any.

As a transgender woman I understand why many are reluctant to report discrimination. I can also see why it is so very important to do so. With institutional discrimination still being common in our nation it is hard to put ourselves and our identities in the public eye for further scrutiny. We often just want it to go away and move on. I am personally very grateful that there is a mechanism in place at the city level to report discrimination and if the individual chooses, follow up. That is not the case in many places around the country which is why I am here in Salem and choose to serve on our commission.

Danielle Meyer

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