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Human Rights Commission Members Vow to Refuse Reappointment

By Kerry Longobucco.
Binghamton Mayor Rich David (R) has often clashed with the city's Human Rights Commission -- and recently, David proposed legislation that would completely revamp that committee. On Wednesday, committee members vowed to take drastic action in response.

On Wednesday evening, the city council will vote on a controversial piece of legislation that will shape the future of the city's Human Rights Commission, or HRC. If the new law passes -- all HRC members say they plan to refuse reappointment.

David's proposal would end the terms of all active commission members -- who, according to committee member Carole Coppens, have been serving the HRC since its establishment in 2011. The law would also put all future appointments of HRC members in the hands of the mayor -- pending city council approval.

David's administration says this isn't an effort to dismantle the HRC -- but to move it in a positive, bipartisan direction.

"It was always the mayor's intent to appoint some of the old members to ensure continuity, to have some sort of a good faith effort to bring the community together," Jared Kraham, Binghamton deputy mayor, said. "It's unfortunate that they've chosen not to go along with the mayor's seeking to reappoint them,"

But commission members the mayor's action stemmed from the HRC's push for reforms to the city police department. Coppens said these reforms will make it difficult for the commission to protect and advocate for Binghamton residents.

"We're made to look like we're a bunch of renegade, political, whatever, who are trying to dismantle and make the city of Binghamton look bad in the eyes of the public," Coppens said. "And that is so far from the truth."

It will be up to city council members to either pass, or shoot down, the legislation, at Wednesday evening's meeting.