By Kaitlyn Shake
Councilwoman, District 2
Sunday evening after I got home from work, I reviewed an email with the listed revisions to my submitted resolution declaring “Racism as a Public Health Emergency.” My original proposal was submitted to our Chairman Chris Pia and my fellow council members on September 13, 2020 (58 days ago). I had reached out to my fellow council members for feedback in the hopes of working towards a consensus and opportunity to answer questions, concerns or need for clarification and did not receive any response until Tuesday November 3, 2020.
On Thursday, November 5, 2020 during our only discussion with the town lawyers, Councilor Connor, Councilor Cann and our Chairman expressed some of their concerns and offered a set of revisions to which my response was that I needed to take the necessary time to review them and offer my feedback in a “reasonable time” which was decided to be this past weekend since I had to work Friday-Sunday 7AM-7:30PM.
Instead, when I arrived home ready to send my feedback there was another email with additional revisions. An hour and a half before our regularly scheduled meeting a third email arrived with the “final resolution” sponsored by all the Republicans and Councilor Dave Harden (D) District 4.
I am extremely disappointed that the revisions proposed were not included or raised during the last 58 days. This resolution was not given the required time and consensus work or process necessary to reach bipartisan support as evidenced by the rushed Republican Caucus amended proposal which left no time for further collaboration.
The majority of the 19 Connecticut municipalities, of whom adopted the original resolution originating from Health Equity Solutions, did so with additional language and suggestions in order to execute the necessary data collection, committee formation and or town initiatives. I had hoped that the town of Stratford would move in a similar direction but unfortunately with the revisions proposed in the last email from the Republican caucus meeting, the revised version does the opposite by removing and diluting the essence and purpose of this resolution; acknowledging that racism is a root cause leading to poor and fatal health outcomes for people of color which has been exacerbated during COVID19 and the systemic racial injustices plaguing our entire country.
In order for Stratford to truly progress and move forward towards addressing the racial inequities our fellow neighbors are living with, we need to acknowledge the problem first–which the amended version fails to address. Second, we need to utilize the scientific method called for in the original resolution by “improving the quality of the data collected by the Town of Stratford–it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve.” which is removed completely in the amended proposal in addition to several other key clauses.
We cannot ignore the disproportionate negative health outcomes of our neighbors of color and pass a resolution that denies the causation and consequences of systemic racism–therefore I did not support the amended resolution and hope that in the near future we will have an opportunity to bring “Racism as a Public Health Emergency” back to the table. I urge Stratford Residents to thoroughly read and compare the original resolution I proposed, “Racism as a Public Health Emergency” vs Councilor Bill O’Brian’s motion to amend my original resolution with “Resolution Regarding Racism and Discrimination.”
Statements by Paul A. Tavaras, District 3 Councilman, and Greg Cann, District 5 Councilman, are as follows:
“Without credible data, there simply are no standards of which to base if a program is effective or not. Before creating any solutions, there has to be a breakdown of where the problems are concentrated, thereby focusing improvements on that category. We already passed a resolution for the health department regarding enhanced detection. Why was that resolution acceptable having a data base, but this one isn’t? Having trepidation for possible legal ramifications displays a biases that this Administration and some council members are not sincere in dealing with this matter effectively.”
Paul A. Tavaras,
Councilman, District 3
“The submitted resolution was a call to action based on the scientific evidence. It was a pragmatic commitment, that we can do better. The revised resolution passed last night is a statement of anti-racism, but that is not enough. You only solve problems through dedication to continuous improvement, and by owning effective solutions.”
Councilman, District 5