Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission shelves public racism vote

People and in around Dayton are thinking about and weighing in on U.S. District Judge Walter Rice's recent proposal in the Dayton Daily News for the creation of a new civil rights organization in the community. STAFF PHOTO BY RON ROLLINS

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People and in around Dayton are thinking about and weighing in on U.S. District Judge Walter Rice's recent proposal in the Dayton Daily News for the creation of a new civil rights organization in the community. STAFF PHOTO BY RON ROLLINS

Local agencies on the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission board have until October to decide if racism is a public health crisis.

At the board’s last meeting on Aug. 6, a decision was made to table a vote for 60 days on a resolution to declare racism and discrimination as a public health emergency in the Miami Valley region. The board will hear the resolution again at its Oct. 1 meeting and could make a decision.

Brian Martin, MVRPC executive director, who does not get a vote when resolutions are brought to the board, said the main reason for the 60-day delay was because the board felt they needed more time to talk to local officials .

ExploreDayton says racism is a public health emergency

Of the MVRPC members present at the Aug. 6 meeting, 20 voted yes on the motion to table for 60 days and 14 voted no.

The MVRPC published its Miami Valley Equity Regional Profile in July 2017.

“In October 2017, MVRPC launched the Miami Valley Equity Initiative and in 2019, we launched the Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities (ILE),” according to the letter from Martin to the MVRPC Technical Advisory Committee and Board of Directors. “In 2020, we held our first meeting of the Regional Equity Initiative (REI), an initiative that is charged with developing strategies and funding initiatives that reduce racism and increase access to opportunity for all.”

Martin said he is encouraging the board to also take action after MVRPC’s largest government jurisdictions, including Montgomery County and the cities of Dayton, Trotwood, Piqua and others passed or are considering passing resolutions in support of this declaration that racism and discrimination are a public health crisis,

Tom Koogler, Greene County Commissioner and representative for the county on the MVRPC board, was among the majority who voted to table the resolution. He declined comment on his decision.

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Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler. FILE PHOTO

Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler. FILE PHOTO

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Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler. FILE PHOTO

In June, the city of Dayton joined a growing list of U.S. cities and other jurisdictions that have officially declared racism a public health crisis. This month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced an initiative to address minority health and racial disparities among Ohioans magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

ExploreDeWine: ‘Racism is a public health crisis

“In response to the demonstrations and need to encourage progressive policy and institutional change, Boards of Health across the Miami Valley Region, Ohio, and the nation are declaring racism and discrimination a public health crisis,” Martin said. “Racism and discrimination impact African American residents by undermining the achievement of the American Dream and inhibiting access to opportunity that everyone should have available to them.”

Greene County’s representative for Miami Twp. on the MVRPC board, Miami Twp. trustee Chris Mucher, voted against the table.

“It’s a little unusual,” said Don Hollister, Miami Twp. trustee and alternate for Mucher on the MVRPC board. “Partly because there are members of MVRPC such as Dayton and Yellow Springs who have already adopted similar resolutions. And MVRPC for the last couple years has been developing an equity theme within their service. So it’s not just an out of the blue politically correct gesture.”

The next MVRPC meeting is September 3 at 9 a.m. Visit https://www.mvrpc.org/ for information on how to join the video conference call.

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