Highlands County NAACP President Al Hinson told the Avon Park City Council that the City of Charm needs some help to boost its minority representation on city boards and committees.
At Monday’s city council meeting, Hinson said he was addressing the council on behalf of the NAACP.
He asked his fellow NAACP members in the audience, numbering about 10, to stand up for a moment.
“We are not here to crucify you; we are here to thank you for the job you are doing,” he said.
But as Councilman Garrett Anderson said once, “Why listen to five people when you can listen to 20 or 100,” Hinson said. “We want to be part of that 100 that you listen to.
“Come to us and we can probably get the message out. We want to help you.”
Hinson cited Florida Statute 760.80 on minority representation, which states it is the intent of the Legislature to recognize the importance of balance in the appointment of minority and nonminority persons to membership on decision-making and regulatory boards, commissions, councils and committees.
“We would like to help you with that so that we would have a board, which you choose, that has some minorities on it,” Hinson said. “Regardless what they say about Avon Park, we are still the City of Charm.”
Outside the council chambers Hinson commented, “They are saying that nobody applied for these boards and we think if they would give us the information … we can get it out in our meetings and we can get it out in our churches.”
Hinson said he speaks with City Manager Julian Deleon “quite often and so we don’t really have a problem, the only thing is we don’t have it in writing like when the jobs come open.”
Hinson said they want to know about city job openings and openings on city boards and committees.
“We will do the same thing in Sebring and Lake Placid to see if we can help them get the minorities that they need because Statute 760 states that you need minorities on all your boards,” he said.
In Avon Park there is not a lot of minority representation, Hinson noted, just the Southside Community Redevelopment Agency and maybe none on the other boards.
Avon Park City Clerk Cheryl Tietjen said Thursday that committee openings are listed on the city’s Website and sometimes mentioned at council meetings. There is no formal process to solicit applicants.
She noted most of the members on the South Side CRA Advisory Committee are black and Donald Cummings, who has been on the planning and zoning board since 1990, is black.
The recreation board is short a few members, Tietjen said, but right now she believes two of the four members are black and one is Hispanic.
Highlands Today informed Tietjen that the city’s website did not show a listing of committee or board openings.
At one time it was on the website, but it had to be rebuilt because of hackers, Tietjen responded. It used to be right on the homepage.
“I do need to put that back up,” she said.
Within a couple of hours the city’s website showed the following city board openings: one regular and one alternate on the Airport Advisory Committee, two regular and two alternates on the Main Street CRA Advisory Board and three positions on the Recreation Board, which does not have alternate positions.