Recently, the West Haven City Council voted unanimously to declare racism as a “public health crisis” in the City of West Haven. Below are the comments that I made to the City Council in public session prior to the vote. The comments do not speak in favor of or against the declaration, but to process that the City took to form the resolution and the lack of public health professionals, nor Board of Education representatives on of the resolution committee.
“Greetings Mayor Rossi, Chairman Quagliani and the members of the City Council. I wish you and Mrs. Riccio a happy and blessed Christmas and New Year.
“I am speaking this evening regarding Communication F on your agenda. The communication is from Mayor Nancy Rossi regarding a Public Health Resolution. To be specific, it is regarding a declaration proclaiming racism as a “public health crisis” in the City of West Haven.
“Last summer, the mayor formed a committee to come up with a resolution to present to the City Council that would declare racism as a public health crisis in the City of West Haven. This committee became known as the West Haven Community Alliance. (going forward as WHCA committee)
“The WHCA committee membership is made up of ten members. They are the mayor, four City Councilwomen, the Chief and Deputy Chief of Police, the Chairman of the West Haven Democratic Party and two laypersons, who are a Reverend cleric and the leader of the local Black Lives Matter movement.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee members for their hard work and dedication to their task. I would also like to thank and congratulate Councilwoman Trenee’ McGee for her leadership.
“I attended the Nov. 18 and the Dec. 2 meetings of the WHCA committee. Several Board of Education matters were discussed regarding the racial makeup of faculty members that the Board of Education has on staff. Out of the ten members of the Committee, none of them serve on the Board of Education, nor are employed as educators by the Board.
“To my knowledge, none of the committee members are members of West Haven’s Republican Party. Also, with the goal of the WHCA committee to present a resolution to the City Council asking the Council to proclaim a public health crisis, there is surprisingly no representation from the City’s Health Department, whether it be staff or members of the Board of Health. To my knowledge, there are no healthcare professionals serving on the WHCA committee.
“Having had a long discussion with the West Haven Health Director Maureen Lillis, she suggested to me that I nominate to the mayor the name of Dr. Amid Mohammed or Orange, who is working on a similar resolution in the Town of Orange. Dr. Mohammed also works closely with Director Lillis in the City’s response to Covid-19, so he is very familiar with West Haven.
“In an email to the Mayor a month ago, I made recommendations regarding Dr. Mohammed and adding more diversity to the WHCA committee. A larger Committee would make the goals of the WHCA more successful. As of noon today (Monday, Dec. 28,) neither the mayor, nor anyone from her staff have replied to my email.
At this time, I am asking the City Council to hold off on voting on Communication F until Mayor Rossi has added committee members to the WHCA with a full background of expertise and bi-partisanship to properly give input to the proposed resolution.
“I am also proposing that the final verbiage of the resolution be published in print media and the City website to allow the West Haven public to be fully aware of the wording and allow them to ask questions of the WHCA committee members and their respective City Councilperson regarding said resolution before it is voted on.
“As I stated to Mayor Rossi in my email, I am more than willing to assist her in finding additional WHCA members that are open minded and would be good fits to the task at hand. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time to further discuss diversifying the WHCA committee.
Commissioner Steven R. Mullins