City Council approves safe city ordinance

  • The City Council approved the safe city ordinance Wednesday at the John Zon Center in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Greenfield City Council takes public comment on the safe city ordinance that was approved Wednesday night during a meeting at the John Zon Community Center in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2019 10:16:27 PM

GREENFIELD — After over an hour and a half of public comments, discussion from city councilors and one standing ovation at the John Zon Community Center, the safe city ordinance was approved Wednesday night.

Councilors Douglas Mayo, Timothy Dolan, Mark Berson, Ashli Stempel, Sheila Gilmour, Penny Ricketts, Norman Hirschfeld, Otis Wheeler, Verne Sund and President Karen “Rudy” Renaud (who proposed the ordinance) voted in favor, and councilors Isaac Mass, Brickett Allis and Wanda Pyfrom voted against the ordinance.

The ordinance affirms that “Greenfield is a welcoming city, which embraces everyone including but not limited to the immigrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker and anyone of good faith and good will who wishes to be a member of our community.”

While it is not the same ordinance that Renaud originally proposed in 2017, which was defeated in a City Council vote of four in favor and six opposed, it is similar. The ordinance prohibits city officials from asking about a person’s immigration status, targeting someone or discriminating against an institution providing refuge to immigrants and their families and taking law enforcement action against someone on the basis of perceived immigration status.

Dolan said he would vote in favor because he felt doing so would keep a promise to his constituents. Still, he said he wasn’t completely satisfied.

“My only complaint is that this doesn’t go far enough,” Dolan said. “I want it to get to point where undocumented immigrants can get their licenses and get auto insurance.”

“It’s not enough to say we’re not racist, we have to actively work on fixing this problem,” Gilmour noted. “We need to do what is in our power. (Approving the ordinance), that’s what is in our power.”

Berson said he wished the council would unanimously approve the ordinance.

“This ordinance states that we as community are standing and screaming at you that we are not going to tolerate this kind of injustice, inhumanity or silent murder,” he said.

Those who opposed the ordinance — Mass, Allis and Pyfrom — qualified that they are not in favor of unfair treatment of people or the current immigration policies.

“I have been a longtime supporter of immigration reform strategy, but one which also enforces the rules of the reform,” Mass said. “You can’t have law and not enforce it, it’s an unsustainable practice.”

Allis said he believes the city is safe, and the ordinance may have unintended consequences.

“I believe ... this ordinance would give people a false sense of security,” Allis said. “If ICE is coming, it’s coming. I believe the only way this issue can be fixed is at the federal level. We’re not going to stop anything the feds do with this ordinance.”

“This ordinance will not stop ICE agents from raiding anyone,” Pyfrom agreed. “We don’t have control over it. We are making Greenfield safe for those already here rather than jeopardizing people’s safety.”

More than 30 people addressed the councilors during the public comment period. Some residents were opposed to the ordinance, others were in favor, and others proposed putting the matter on the November ballot.

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