April 27, 2013 in City

GOP censures chair over vote

Steed supported Moscow’s anti-discrimination policy
Associated Press
Housing commission leader resigns

The chairman of Moscow’s Fair and Affordable Housing Commission said he resigned this month over the City Council’s handling of the anti-discrimination ordinance that involved passage without public comment.

Before the ordinance that prohibits housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity reached the council, it was vetted by the housing and human rights commissions.

Ken Nagy worked with fellow housing commission members to come up with proposed revisions to the ordinance and a recommendation to councilors to support its passage.

But the City Council, which has historically taken public comments on contentious issues, pushed the ordinance through April 1 in a room full of residents who had waited more than two hours to give their opinions. Councilor Dan Carscallen said numerous emails sent to the council provided enough positive feedback to support the ordinance without hearing from audience members. It passed unanimously.

“I disagreed with the way City Council handled the passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance in the way two city councilors moved for passage of it and refused for public input, which I felt was very important,” said Nagy, who is also a lawyer.

Mayor Nancy Chaney said she has not formally accepted Nagy’s resignation and hopes to convince him to change his mind.

Moscow-Pullman Daily News

MOSCOW, Idaho – The Latah County Republican Party has voted to censure its chairman for his vote as a Moscow city councilor supporting an ordinance outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

A small assembly of county Republican precinct committee members voted 7-6 earlier this month to censure Walter Steed for his City Council vote, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.

“That policy legitimizes stuff that we don’t agree with, and it forces people who don’t support that kind of behavior to go along with it,” said Gresham Bouma, a committeeman from Viola. “It opens people up to lawsuits that they otherwise wouldn’t be open to.”

The censure follows a no-confidence vote against Steed by committee members two months ago after Steed supported a City Council letter to the Idaho Legislature suggesting ways to prevent gun violence, which committee members viewed as an attack on gun ownership rights.

Steed, on vacation in Europe, has the chairman post through May 2014 and has said he will not resign.

“We’re not happy with the way he’s been handling his responsibilities on City Council,” said Committeeman David Klingenberg, who made the motion to censure Steed. “We have to settle for a vote of no confidence or, in this particular case, a vote of censure. It’s the rules, and we’re governed by them. It is frustrating that he doesn’t want to step down, and he seems to feel that a majority of this group is not important.”

State lawmakers earlier this year denied a formal hearing on a proposal to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s Human Rights Act, following similar action from previous years. That has prompted some cities to create their own ordinances.

Moscow, Sandpoint and Boise in the last 15 months have passed anti-discrimination ordinances for sexual orientation. The Pocatello City Council last week narrowly rejected an ordinance intended to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

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