Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Embracing a diverse community

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau of 2000, the town of Brentwood’s Hispanic population is 583 and that population continues to grow. What better way is there to address the needs of our community than to encourage a resident who is willing to contribute her time, skills and efforts to assist in bridging a gap that the town has not addressed? Sonia Lopez was a great person to help us bridge that gap.

The disrespect shown to Lopez (former council member) by the town’s employee who made the ‘‘reckless and unsubstantiated charges of discrimination” against Mrs. Lopez should not be tolerated under any circumstances regardless of whether they are a council person or a resident.

The mayor and Town Council met with the town’s attorney (executive session – defined as a closed meeting to the public) and determined the appropriate action to be taken. The confidential action was disclosed to ‘‘selected residents” and discussed in an open meeting. This meeting occurred on Nov. 20. Some residents have been misinformed and given misinformation. Whoever released the personnel information from the town was wrong and undermined the trust residents should have in protecting their confidentiality. Personnel actions are not public information!

How can a personnel action be leaked and discussed in a public meeting? Why wouldn’t Ms. Lopez take this personal?

Sonia Lopez was in the process of developing a community outreach plan working with other organizations to promote programs and services for youths and families in the town of Brentwood.

I hope that all residents will review the tapes and⁄or supporting documents that are referenced in the news article [‘‘Brentwood councilwoman resigns from position,” Jan. 17]. I also hope now that this issue has been publicly disclosed we can put it behind us and move forward.

Leadership is about building communities — not dividing them, building partnerships within our communities — not separating them, and embracing all cultures — not just one.

I am honored by the many residents who supported my re-election, and I will continue to serve them and represent my community with the high standards you would expect from any elected official.

To Mrs. Lopez, I ask you to continue to help our town — we need residents like you!

Marlene Robinson, vice mayor, Brentwood