The Royal Oak City Commission took three hours to work through a long agenda at Monday night’s regular meeting.
Royal Oak passes human rights ordinance
Royal Oak became the 22nd Michigan community to pass a human rights law, joining Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Detroit, East Lansing, Ferndale, Traverse City and others.
After listening to nearly two dozen speakers during public comment, the commission voted 6-1 to approve a human rights ordinance. It will take affect on March 14.
It was just "happenstance" that Ryan Plecha, whose house was damaged by Wednesday's explosion on Cooper Avenue, participated in public comment. He came solely for an update on the explosion, he said.
"I moved to Royal Oak because it seemed to be the right place, but I am now convinced it is the right place to be. The neighbors that helped, the police that helped, the fire that helped (after the explosion)—I can’t imagine living in any other city right now," Plecha said.
The Cooper Avenue resident said he could not fathom a scenario where last week's heroes would have questioned a person's sexual identity before offering assistance.
"Would they have not helped that person? It’s essentially the same thing before you. Someone can’t lose their job and their home for that same reason," Plecha said, adding, "I want to live in Royal Oak, but if this doesn’t pass, how can I want to live in a city that I know is going to discriminate? That’s not Royal Oak. That’s not 2013."
While the majority of people who stepped up to the podium were in favor of a human rights ordinance, there were a few people who were skeptical, calling the ordinance's language "too broad."
Commissioner David Poulton was Monday's lone dissenter. He indicated that the city has proven it is "tolerant" and preferred the matter be put before voters.
Suicide Prevention Task Force
Commissioners voted to create a sub-committee, led by Commissioners Peggy Goodwin, Dave Pouton and Patricia Capello, to research a suicide prevention task force as recommended by Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue.
Commissioners asked O'Donohue to look into a comprehensive suicide prevention initiative in February after a string of tragedies at a Woodward Avenue shooting range.
In the past six months, two people have committed suicide, and a third person attempted suicide, at Target Sports, a Royal Oak shooting range and gun shop.
Commissioners voted unanimously to direct City Attorney Dave Gillam to craft a new ethics ordinance based on recommendations offered by the Rules Committee, which consists of Mayor Jim Ellison and Commissioners Dave Poulton and Jim Rasor.
Ellison called the Rules Committee's review of ethics "emotional."
"There I was sitting with two lawyers on either side," Ellison said. "My challenge to (Rasor and Poulton) was to write some verbiage that a non-lawyer like me could understand."
Though the discussions were heated, Ellison said when he asked Rasor and Poulton if they could "live with" the final document, they both said "yes."
See the attached PDF for the Rules Committee recommendations.