It will work with the Md. Commission on Civil Rights.
Baltimore, Md (KM) The Western Maryland Advisory Council held its introductory meeting in Cumberland on Tuesday night. The board will work with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights on human rights issues. “It will casually serve as our eyes and ears in western Maryland all the way to the borders of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia,” says Spencer Dove, the Commission’s Executive Associate.
The panel will have a total 15-members, five from Allegany County, four from Frederick County, two from Garrett County and four from Washington County, says Dove.
The process of putting together this advisory board started after the Commission did some downsizing. “Two years ago, we had to close a number of our satellite offices out in Hagerstiwb, south in Leonardtown, and then on the Eastern Shore in Salisbury due to staff retirements. And all of our functions out there were recalled back to Baltimore,” he says.
But Dove says the Commission didn’t want to lose touch with the rest of the state. He says they borrowed an idea from Pennsylvania’s civil rights commission which uses advisory councils to keep touch with communities around the state when it comes to human relations. “We have a number of advisory commissions throughout the state that are appointed leaders from within those various regions that help to serve as a connection between the official state commission on human relations up there and local communities. So we looked at piloting the same thing down in Maryland,” he says.
Dove says part of the job of the Western Maryland Advisory Council is building relationships. “We are looking to enhance our outreach, our programming out in western Maryland.and we want to partner with the Advisory Council to make that were are getting the absolute most impact for the events we are hosting out there,” he says.
While Maryland is a small state, Dove says each community has its own civil rights issues. “No matter how big the state might be, it’s six-million Marylanders, and every community has their own issues and their own concerns,” he says. “And we have an obligation to do our mission to do our best to assist these communities with addressing for the benefit of everyone involved.”
The Commission calls this a first-ever Western Maryland Advisory Council. Dove says this idea was presented to the Director of Frederick County’s Department of Human Relations. “Frederick County was one of the biggest supporters when we embarked on establishing the Western Maryland Advisory Council,” he says. “Our Executive Director, Alvin GIlliard, reached out to Miles Ward, Frederick County’s Director. He said ‘absolutely, this is a great idea. I’d like to help,'”Dove says.
The Advisory Council will hold a meeting in November to elect officers. It plans to hold four meetings throughout the coming year.
The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights investigate discrimination based on race, color, religious belief, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, physical or mental disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations. Anyone who feels they’ve been the victim of discrimination can file a complaint with the Commission on line at mccr.maruyland.gov. Dove says there is a form which takes 20-minutes to fill out.
By Kevin McManus