Golden to hire consultant to help it identify racial issues and create equity plan

City seeking consultant that will be able to provide insight into how city can achieve more equity

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/17/21

The city of Golden is seeking to hire a consultant that will be tasked with identifying and investigating racial equity issues in Golden and then proposing solutions. The city says it will then use …

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Golden to hire consultant to help it identify racial issues and create equity plan

City seeking consultant that will be able to provide insight into how city can achieve more equity

Posted

The city of Golden is seeking to hire a consultant that will be tasked with identifying and investigating racial equity issues in Golden and then proposing solutions. The city says it will then use those solutions to devise its own equity plan.

On Feb. 10, the Golden City Council gave city staff the green light to issue a request for proposals from firms specializing in consulting with cities on issues related to racial equity.

The city is asking applicants in that process to supply it with information about how they would investigate racial equity issues, past experience doing so for other municipalities and what kind of information and deliverables it would ultimately provide to the city.

The city suggests several possible ways a firm could help the city achieve its equity goals, including helping it conduct surveys and assessments to identify the extent of equity disparities in Golden and develop a framework for making decisions that prioritizes equity

However, Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz said the city is leaving the requests in the RFP fairly general in order to leave some room in order for the firms making the proposals to “bring their own experience and knowledge to the table.”

“One thing that we know for sure is that we are not experts in the field and that is why we need outside input,” said Councilman Rob Reed. “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

Prior to deciding to move forward with opening the RFP process, the council discussed a memo sent by the city manager suggesting that the council consider the need to ensure that interviews and other material related to employee experiences with racism and related issues be kept confidential.

Councilman Paul Haseman said he felt it would be important for the county to ensure that county employees be able to freely share their experiences regarding issues related to race and equity without documentation of those conversations becoming subject to open records laws.

“The conclusions they draw and the recommendations they make are public, but I would like to be sure that those work papers are private,” said Haseman.

Mary Lynn Macsalka, a lawyer who filled in for city attorney Dave Williamson during the meeting, said the law would not protect such papers unless an attorney was conducting the interviews.

However, Mayor Laura Weinberg argued that the city should move ahead with seeking proposals in order to determine whether such interviews would be necessary at this point and how to legally keep them confidential if they are.

“There is a certain set of expertise out there that works with cities on this and have dealt with municipalities on these situations and in the development of these plans,” said Weinberg. “And I would look to them to say if we are going to tackle this then this is how we would do it versus us trying to anticipate what would need to be done before we have any of that expertise.”

Several councilmembers voiced agreement with that approach. Councilman Bill Fisher later said it will be necessary for the city to embrace the reality that the purpose of such an effort is to confront problems that might exist.

“The whole point of this is that there are going to be some potentially uncomfortable truths that are going to come out of this and we just have to acknowledge that that is going to happen,” Fisher said.

The launch of the RFP process represents the latest step the council has taken to attempt address racial issues in Golden after those issues rose to a new prominence last summer.

Weinberg said that the hiring of a consultant is a relatively unique step that most communities only take when there has been a high-profile incident related to racism in the community and that she was proud of the city for doing so proactively.

A draft of the RFP stated that the city would collect proposals through March 3 and aim to select a consultant by March 23. However, the council agreed to keep the application window open longer after Weinberg suggested that the council do so.

“The expertise in this area has been in very high demand since last summer so this may be a bit of a challenge,” she said. “My preference is that I would rather leave this open longer than only have a small number of proposals to choose from.”

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