⏸️ Suspend the TRC?

Iowa City Council will have a big night this Tuesday.

March 14, 2021 | Letter No. 40

Iowa City Council has a big meeting coming Tuesday.

To catch up, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an ad hoc body tasked with informing the city’s work on racial equity, saw a run of four resignations last week. These included the recently-hired facilitator Jesse Case and the commission’s initial chair Royceann Porter. While the rest of the members seem willing to meet, the nine-member commission is now down a third of its membership during a period it is expected to come up with some inaugural projects and put together its budget.

And with the Thursday packet, the other shoe hit the floor: during the formal session, City Councilmembers will discuss whether to suspend the TRC.

[Above: Protesters sit on I-80 near the Dubuque Street off-ramp during the June Iowa Freedom Rider protests on June 5, 2020.]

Councilmember Laura Bergus said she is only in favor of a suspension if it is clear what the parameters are for lifting it. She proposed the following conditions in a draft of the resolution sent to the council:

  1. Put the TRC “on hold” until vacancies are filled

  2. Direct staff to provide recommendations for training to assist the group in "creating and maintaining safe spaces for dialogue, building trust and committing to consistent meeting procedures."

Friday morning, I called around to the rest of the council hoping to get a sense of where they stood on a suspension. But comment was limited. Mayor Bruce Teague and Susan Mims were the only other councilors to return comment. And anticipating the volitility of the subject matter, the comment offered was limited:

"Because this is such a sensitive topic, giving my position right now could lead to people making their own decision about it without me explaining the many other elements of my decision," Teague said.

Whatever happens, the council will announce the three new vacancies on the commission at the end of the meeting. If you’re looking to get involved, you must be 18 years old and reside in Iowa City.

The council will consider the motion at its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday. For more information on how to tune in, go to Iowa City's municipal website, at ICGov.org/CouncilDocs.

Yours,

Zachary Oren Smith

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Take Five

(Last week was Katelyn Harrop, a producer for IPR’s last week. In tribute, The Blessed Madonna’s mix of Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. Don’t know that it pairs with local news, but I wish it did.)

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Iowa Poll Drops - On Saturday, The Des Moines Register published the results of the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll. Looks like Iowans have something to say about U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Recapping the trial of Iowa journalist - Last week, a judge acquitted Register reporter Andrea Sahouri of all charges related to her arrest by Des Moines Police as she covered a May 2020 George Floyd protest. Here’s a file from the Register to catch you up on what happened.

IA-02 campaigns asked for comment - The campaigns for U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, and Democrat Rita Hart were asked to provide Congress’ Committee on House Administration with some clarification on just how they think the contest of Miller-Meeks 2020 six-vote victory should go. I tweeted the questions they’re asking about in this thread.

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Zachary Oren Smith writes about government, growth, and development for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Reach him at zsmith@press-citizen.com, at 319 -339-7354, or on Twitter via @Zacharyos.