City Councilor Says $75,000 Study ‘Uses Racism to Fight Racism’
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Ward Six Missoula City Councilor Sandra Vasecka has been communicating with KGVO News on a regular basis about her opinions regarding actions by the council that she finds concerning.
On Wednesday, following the City Council’s Committee of the Whole, Vasecka pointed out a $75,000 study that purported to point out systemic racism by the city and the council with its methods of staffing.
“In 2020, we the City Council approved a $75,000 LEARN (Listening, Engaging, Action, Reflection, Network) report to study systemic racism within the city in its hiring methods with its staffing methods or within its mission statements and values,” began Vasecka. “I voted against it. Jesse Ramos voted against it, and I believe John Contos voted against it as well. It was supposed to be done in December of 2021, but because of COVID we amended the delivery date and it just came out last Friday.”
Councilor Vasecka said the study was 'absolute nonsense'
Vasecka was crystal clear with her opinion of the final product.
“It’s 148 pages of what I think is absolute nonsense,” she said. “I'm asking questions like, ‘How is this helping the BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) community? And is this leaving some people out? I don't think that it accomplished the intention that the majority of the council wanted it to do. Instead of guiding the city council on how to be less racist in its hiring and all of its methods, all it did was ask a bunch of probing questions.”
Meeting on Wednesday is Tough for Everyone
Vasecka provided just one of the questions that referenced scheduling interviews for committees or employment positions.
“One of the questions I was asked was ‘when are interviews usually scheduled?’ she said. “I mean, if you spent less than five minutes researching you would know that they're always scheduled on Wednesdays. We have our committee meetings on Wednesdays and it is always Wednesdays. Another question was ‘does timing unwittingly privilege some citizens while creating hardships for others?’ Yeah, because it's during the work day on a Wednesday. If you can't carve out 15 to 50-minute interview times to apply for a committee that you want to be on, then you probably can't carve out the time to actually be on that committee.”
Vasecka said one Statement 'Really Started Grinding my Gears'
Vasecka said one statement in the study was particularly objectionable.
“One thing that really started grinding my gears was when they said ‘helps the white understand motivation and intention. Moreover, questioning allows for reflection and creates opportunities to become open. This skill was embodied in their descriptions of calling out communications and interactions that were inequitable, racialized, or culturally insensitive.’ And ‘don't you think that helps the white?’ Isn't that inequitable, racialized, and culturally insensitive? The main thing about this was to help BIPOC community members not feel like their race defines them, but the entire thing was fighting racism with racism.”
The study was conducted by the All Nations Health Center on behalf of LEARN Missoula.
Click here to view the City Council’s meeting on Wednesday with the attached documents and video.
On another note, another topic that Councilor Vasecka brought to KGVO’s attention regarding the dramatic increase in Short Term Rentals, she wrote that ‘no hearing was scheduled and the subject remains in committee’.