What if every ordinance and resolution considered by Bloomington’s city council had to be scrutinized and debated publicly based on this question: How is this legislation anti-racist?
I think building such a step into the city council’s regular process could complement Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s recent proposed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is to “recover forward.”
The idea is not merely to restore Bloomington’s economic health, but to make it better than it was before. The same goes for two other areas—climate justice and racial justice.
Hamilton’s proposal includes the idea of changing the way Bloomington does things, so that we are combatting racial injustice in a way that reflects community values.
Here’s one way to build a separate step into the city council’s process, so that all legislation gets scrutinized through an anti-racist lens: Add an anti-racist reading to the legislative routine.
Currently, the normal process is that every ordinance must get read twice, at separate meetings, before it is enacted. A resolution currently just needs one reading.
The idea would be to add an occasion designed to discuss the ways the item does or does not serve the city’s anti-racist policy goals—an occasion called the “anti-racist reading.”
For ordinances, the anti-racist reading would be sandwiched between what are currently the first and second readings. For resolutions, the anti-racist reading would come after what is currently the first and only reading.
To engage in that discussion would, I think, require some training, which would equip city councilmembers with some tools that would make that kind of work easier. Continue reading “Opinion | Bloomington city council’s legislative process should require an anti-racist step; training by locals would help”