Mayor Kim Bracey said on Wednesday that she is "very concerned" about the York City Human Relations Commission, whose recent struggles seemed to culminate Monday when no board members showed up for a meeting.
"I will be speaking with the city solicitor to discuss the city's role, and options we might have to help address the matter," Bracey said in an email.
The commission, which handles discrimination complaints, had a scheduled board meeting at 7 p.m., but the six current members did not attend. One member eventually confirmed by phone that the board did not have a quorum, but no public notice was given.
Both Bracey and Stephanie Seaton, the commission's executive director, said that city Human Relations Commission services are being forwarded to the state, meaning local complaints are being fielded in Harrisburg.
And that's a problem, said Seaton, especially as residents struggle through a busy state-level system.
"Certainly people are being hurt by this," she said. "It presents a whole new set of barriers for residents."
The Human Relations Commission is a quasi-city entity, meaning the mayor appoints new board members but does not directly supervise them. The 11-member board has only six sitting members.
In November, that board placed Seaton on paid
Bracey said that spending city general fund money on a non-working employee is a problem. But with February's meeting off, the commission likely won't meet again until March.
Councilman David Satterlee, who questioned the commission's status during last fall's budget process, said problems don't seem to be getting any better.
"It definitely raises questions beyond Stephanie Seaton," he said.
The issue is what city dollars are going toward, said Councilwoman Renee Nelson.
"I didn't want to give them money until they had a decision (on Seaton)," she said.
Councilman Michael Helfrich said he worries about the commission's finances.
"I recognize we're only two months into the year, but according to our understanding they are responsible to do some fundraising," he said. "Without having meetings or an executive director, I am not encouraged to believe that they have undertaken a fundraising strategy."
Seaton said time spent on the sideline is frustrating.
"If you would sit in the office and listen to the calls that come in," she said, "well, there are people out there seeking help and are not able to get it."
Can they do that?
Members of the York City Human Relations Commission board did not show up for the group's regularly scheduled meeting this week, with one member explaining after the fact that the group did not have a quorum.
No board member showed up at the meeting, and the public was not notified of the cancellation.
Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, said the state's Sunshine Act doesn't specifically address procedure for canceled meetings.