Binghamton's Human Rights Commission will continue on, but not with any of its current members. After months of controversy a final vote was taken on the commission's future. Tina Yazdani explains why former members are upset about what happened.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- It’s a controversial new law. Binghamton’s City Council has voted to change how the Human Rights Commission is handled.
“I think the council made a really bad decision that’s gonna hurt our community,” said Sean Massey, a Human Rights Commission former member.
As of Wednesday night, the mayor will be in charge of appointing its members. In the past, that decision was made by the commission itself, with help from residents in the city.
“The former process was a closed process, only individuals that were decided upon by the commission could be added to the commission. It was a closed system,” said Binghamton Deputy Mayor Jared Kraham.
Former members say the new process may make it difficult to hold the government accountable for human rights violations.
“We need a body that can pursue justice, represent our residents, and isn’t beholden to a mayor, or a partisan agenda on city council,” said Massey.
With the new law, all current members were removed from their positions. They’ve decided not to seek re-appointment.
“We need to go and create something else," said Massey. "Maybe something independent of city government, independent of county government, and that’s what we’re gonna be working on.”
The deputy mayor says the 6 to 1 vote by city council shows bipartisan support for these reforms.
“There is a recognition that the Human Rights Commission operated inappropriately in the past, was tied up too much in the political process,” said Kraham.
Lawmakers hope the new law will help the commission and the city move forward.