Dallas County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved three measures supporting equity, opposing racism and supporting concerns of demonstrators who’ve been marching in the streets.
'Black Lives Matter' is a crusade Commissioner John Wiley Price has waged for decades. Tuesday he reminded his fellow commissioners of the strides still to be made for African American people.
“An African American with a college degree earns what an Anglo with a high school education earns. An African American with the same credit history is four times less likely to acquire a home mortgage loan,” Price said.
Tuesday, he asked the other Commissioners to support his new resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis.
The resolution encourages public health spending and equity training for Dallas County, its community partners, vendors and contractors.
“One of the ways you build that wall is a brick at a time. And you can't use the same mortar, you’re always using, many years ago,” Price said.
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Two doctors supported the claim of a public health emergency, including County Health Director Philip Huang, and Dallas County Medical Society President, Dr. Mark Mark Casanova.
A sometimes Price foe, the lone Republican Dallas County Commissioner, J.J. Koch also supported the Racism measure.
Koch said some people might claim Racism is a moral problem and not a public health issue.
“It’s a moral failing that has multiple spin-offs. It poisons your life. It poisons your happiness and your ability to experience the world that you’re living in and God has given you, 100%. Secondly, it has detrimental effects on people’s health in real, measurable ways,” Koch said.
Koch also had a resolution of his own that many equity demonstrators would support. It asks that all ‘cite and release’ eligible infractions be enforced without jail.
Dallas County officials also ask police not to bring petty criminals to jail right now due to coronavirus. Koch said booking people in jail also wastes time police can spend on bigger things.
County Commissioner Elba Garcia said the others had supported ‘cite and release’ for years.
“Thank you, Commissioner Koch, for bringing this. We never suspected that it would come from you,” Garcia said.
The day after a landmark US Supreme Court ruling forbidding job discrimination over sexual orientation, Commissioner Theresa Daniel offered a resolution proclaiming June as LGBTQ Pride Month.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said this is the time for progress on equity measures.
“We've got to seize the moment now, before people who are allies, but this is not their core issue, focus on something else,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins, the top elected leader in Dallas County government, said he has been talking with police and other officials about more reforms that are not yet ready for public votes.