Luzerne County’s Diversity Commission dissolved last year because volunteer members complained the group had no clear mission or focus, but county council members say there’s still a need for some kind of countywide diversity organization.
County council plans to discuss the creation of a county Diversity Affairs Advisory Board at tonight’s meeting.
Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck has proposed a board of 12-15 members including representatives who are African-American, Caribbean, Hispanic/Latino, Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American and Northern and Southern European.
The board also should include senior citizens over 65 and residents who are disabled and of various religions, she said. McClosky Houck also wants to have representatives from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
The group would weigh in on county policies and suggestions to promote equal and fair access to public services and address diversity-related matters “that are important to everyone,” she said.
The advisory board may meet quarterly to discuss issues, which would not require a continued funding allocation from the financially strapped county, she said.
“I think we should have some group to act as a sounding board for the county,” said McClosky Houck, who chairs the council committee overseeing outside boards, authorities and commissions.
The new advisory board may have some access to funds because the county earlier this year recouped $16,500 that prior commissioners had allocated to the diversity commission several years ago.
Council members have not identified a worthy cause or program for this funding.
Elaine Maddon Curry, who had served on the county diversity commission before she became a councilwoman in January 2012, has said she believes the money should be set aside for its original purpose promoting diversity.
County Manager Robert Lawton said he is keeping the $16,500 segregated until council reached a decision on how the money will be spent.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council meeting room at the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.