The Lawrence City Commission expressed enthusiasm at its meeting Tuesday for a new organization that would try to eliminate discrimination from the area.
But the commission may not have room in its budget for a $30,000 request by the Community Task Force on Racism, Discrimination and Human Diversity to create a full-time position to coordinate the organization, the Lawrence Alliance.
Ann Weick, who chairs the task force appointed last year by then-mayor Shirley Martin-Smith, presented the task force's final report to the commission at the meeting. The 12-member alliance core would include members of many sectors of the community, including schools, business and local government.
Most members of the group would be minorities, who Weick said would best recognize the need for change but typically have the least represenation in decision-making.
"INFORMALLY, socially in many ways, it still is very segregated," Weick said of Lawrence. "This approach provides a unique opportunity."
Alliance members would form action groups within their sector of the community to stimulate ideas and action on many fronts, Weick said.
Kansas University, Haskell Indian Junior College and the Lawrence school district have pledged their support to the alliance, although KU alone has committed thus far to a $5,000 funding request for the group.
After Weick's presentation, commissioners shared their enthusiasm for the alliance concept and their reservations about the amount of money requested to create the organization $51,650.
"I WOULD like to see the commission maintain a proactive stance in moving this forward," said Commissioner Martin-Smith.
She recommended the city staff study three funding options full-time, part-time and none at all.
Later in the meeting, when the commission was discussing outside agency funding requests, commissioners agreed to award the alliance $10,000 in its preliminary budget, allowing the group to spend it as it wished.
"It's a good idea, but I don't think we can afford to fund it as a full-time position," Commissioner John Nalbandian said.