LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has been under fire from members of a committee that he originally started.
Schor created the Mayor’s Inclusion Diversity Advisory Coucil in April 2018 to look at racial and diversity issues affecting the city. Then, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, he created another group — the Mayor’s Racial Justice and Equity Alliance.
Members of MIDAC, the original committee, feel like their suggestions weren’t taken seriously — multiple times they say the Mayor took months to repsond or didn’t respond at all.
Now that he’s created a new alliance that has seeming taken priority, MIDAC members are even more frustrated.
“We did feel blindsided by him naming this new alliance that was essentially doing some of the same things we felt we were doing,” said Randy Watkins, chair of MIDAC.
Both groups continue to move towards the same goal but are at odds over how to get there.
“The friction is as a result of the new entity,” said Teresa Bingman, a consultant for Mayors Racial Justice and Equity Alliance. “There was an agreement for the two committees to come together and work together.”
The MRJEA consists of 10 separate committees who told members of MIDAC to reach out to the mayors office if they want to join specific committees. That rubbed many members of MIDAC the wrong way.
“We were here first,” Watkins said. “We were essentially the trailblazers, the mayor has formed this other group…(they should just) automatically include us and that didn’t happen.”
The committee and alliance are separately putting plans together on how to best address race issues in Lansing. The issue? They both are under the impression — or were at one time — that their group will be the permanent fixture.
“The mayore when he announced MIDAC… he said he would make it a permanent commission,” Watkins said. “It sounds like he is backing off of that.”
“To be very frank, in the end, it’s the mayors discretion to determine what’s best for the city,” Bingman said.
Last year, Schor asked Watkins to suspend MIDAC’s meetings and begin the process of merging with the MRJEA. This upset a number of MIDAC committee members and six soon resigned.
Watkins isn’t opposed to the other group, he’s just opposed to not having people who have pushed back against the mayor on it.
“Personally, I think the MRJEA is a good idea,” Watkins said. “But it would’ve been great to see people who were critics of the mayor on the alliance…those who are not politically connected as these individuals.”
He added that he is supportive of the mayor and Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green and for anybody to say otherwise would be wrong.
“I’m not saying anything negative about the Alliance,” Watkins added. “They are graet people and they want to do just work.”
“I believe there is an opportunity for any of the members of MIDAC to contribute moving forward,” Green said. “But this is a hurdle we have to get through moving forward.”