[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt 1-26-1965. Amendments noted where applicable.]
In the Town of Cortlandt, with its growing cosmopolitan population, varying greatly in race, color, religion, national origin and ancestry, the peace, good order, security and welfare of the town and its inhabitants are threatened by the existence within it of groups antagonistic to one another and prejudiced against each other because of differences of race, color, religion, national origin or age.
The Town Board of Cortlandt hereby finds and declares that prejudice, intolerance and bigotry and the disorder and discrimination occasioned thereby threaten not only the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants but menace the institutions and foundations of a free democratic state. To the end that such prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, disorder and discrimination shall be eliminated, this ordinance is enacted to provide an instrumentality through which the Town of Cortlandt officially may encourage and bring about mutual self-respect and understanding of each other by all groups in the town, eliminating prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, disorder and discrimination, and help give effect to the guaranties of equal rights contained in the Constitution and the laws of this state, and of the United States.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any difference in treatment based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or age, and shall include segregation, except that it shall not be discrimination for any religious or denominational institution to prefer members of its own religion or denomination.
- RELIGIOUS OR DENOMINATIONAL INSTITUTION
- An institution which is operated, supervised or controlled by a religious or denominational organization.
There is hereby created in the office of the Supervisor a Commission on Human Relations. It shall consist of fifteen (15) members, serving without compensation, broadly representative of the religious, racial and ethnic and age groups in the community, to be appointed with the approval of the Supervisor with the advice and consent of the Town Board. One (1) of said members shall be elected by the Commission as its Chairman, one (1) member as Vice Chairman and one (1) member as Secretary. Of the fifteen (15) members first appointed, five (5) shall be appointed for one (1) year, five (5) for two (2) years, and five (5) for three (3) years; thereafter, each appointment to the Commission shall be for a term of three (3) years. In the event of the death or resignation of any member, his successor shall be appointed to serve for the unexpired period of the term for which such member had been appointed.
It shall be the duty of the Commission to:
Foster mutual self-respect and understanding and to promote amicable relations among all racial, religious and ethnic groups in the community.
Make such investigations and studies in any field of human relationship in the community as in the judgment of the Commission will aid in effectuating its general purposes.
Inquire into incidents of division and conflict based upon discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or age and seek to correct the same by recommending to appropriate agencies, either public or private, such actions as may be considered necessary or helpful in eliminating such discrimination.
Conduct and recommend such educational and other programs as, in the judgment of the Commission, will increase goodwill among inhabitants of the community and open new opportunities into all phases of community life for all inhabitants, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.
The Commission is empowered to:
Act as conciliator in matters involving race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or age.
Receive and investigate complaints and initiate its own investigation of racial, religious and ethnic group tensions, prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and disorder and practices of discrimination against any person because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or age, including discrimination by any town official or town agency against any individual, corporation or association, and to develop programs and techniques designed to bring about the elimination of such discrimination.
Issue such publications and such reports of investigations and research as, in its judgment, will tend to minimize or eliminate prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, disorder and discrimination or tend to promote goodwill.
Enlist the cooperation of the various racial, religious and ethnic groups, community organizations, labor organizations, fraternal and benevolent associations and other groups in an educational campaign devoted to teaching the need for eliminating group prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, disorder and discrimination.
Cooperate with federal, state and city agencies, including the local school boards, in developing courses of instruction for presentation in public and private schools, public libraries, museums and other suitable places, showing the contributions of the various races, religious and ethnic groups to the culture and traditions of our city and nation, the menace of prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and discrimination and the need for mutual self-respect and to cooperate with the local Police Departments in developing and including such courses in the curricula of the Police Departments.
Promote the establishment of local community organizations when and where it may deem it desirable, consisting of representatives of different groups in such community, to plan and carry out educational programs in such community.
Create such advisory committees and subcommittees as, in its judgment, will aid in effectuating the purposes of this chapter and to empower them to study the problems of prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, disorder and discrimination in all or any fields of human relationship.
Recommend to the Supervisor and the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt legislation to aid in carrying out the purposes of this chapter.
Submit an annual report to the Supervisor and the Town Board of the Town of Cortlandt, which shall be published and publicized.
The expenses for the carrying on of the Commission's activities shall be paid out of the funds in the town treasury, but the Commission shall, in addition, be authorized to accept contributions from other sources to carry on its work generally, or earmarked for a particular function.
The Commission, after the completion of any public hearing, shall make a public report in writing to the Supervisor, setting forth the facts found by it and its recommendations and shall use its best efforts to bring about compliance with its recommendations.
The service of all other town departments and agencies shall be made available by their respective heads to the Commission at its request, and information in the possession of any department or agency shall be furnished to the Commission when it is requested. Whenever necessary and requested by the Commission, the Town Attorney shall be made available to it to assist in the conduct of its investigations and hearings.
The Commission shall, when requested, act in an advisory capacity to and otherwise cooperate with the New York State Commission for Human Rights wherever possible to effect compliance with state laws.
The Commission on Human Relations herein established shall hold at least ten (10) regular meetings during each calendar year. In addition thereto, special meetings may be held from time to time by notification of each member of said Commission by the Chairman, or upon a written ten-day notice mailed to each member, signed by at least five (5) members, and such notice shall provide for a place and date of such special meeting.
A minimum of five (5) members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of business before said Commission.
The Chairman of the Commission as herein provided shall appoint a Nominating Committee consisting of three (3) Commission members in November 1 of each year, for the purpose of nominating the officers of the Commission, including the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. Said nominating Committee shall report to the Commission as herein established at the December meeting of said Commission, at which time such officers will be elected by a majority vote of those members present. Each officer duly elected shall take his oath of office at the first meeting of the Town Board in January. All officers shall serve for a period of one (1) year, commencing January 1 and terminating December 31 of each year.