City Council to see safe city ordinance

Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2019 12:08:13 AM

GREENFIELD – The City Council will be taking up the safe city ordinance after a tight vote at Wednesday’s Appointments and Ordinances Subcommittee meeting.

With three councilors in favor, Shiela Gilmour, Douglas Mayo and Penny Ricketts, one opposed – Isaac Mass, and one abstention by Vern Sund, the ordinance, with some amendments to wording, was approved.

The safe city ordinance that will be in front of City Council is to “affirm 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.” The council’s next meeting is July 17.

The safe city ordinance was proposed once again by City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud.

About 10 people came forward to speak to the subcommittee about their stance on the ordinance.

Resident Tim Mosher said he was against the ordinance passing.

“Safe city is the same as a sanctuary city. We can call it ‘happyville’ — it’s still a sanctuary city,” Mosher said. “I see this as a setaceous and illegal action this town is taking. You’re violating federal law. Are these people you’re trying to protect signing up for service? I doubt it.”

Other residents spoke in favor of the ordinance.

Wendy Goodman said she felt it was important to look at the ordinance from the perspective of someone without privilege.

“This is making a statement about humanity, that we understand,” Goodman said.

Following residents’ comments, the five city councilors gave their opinions on the ordinance.

Mass said he was against the ordinance for several reasons.

“I do think in so far as to state this ordinance sends a poor message to the people who are immigrants, who came here lawfully, waited and did everything necessary,” Mass said. “The encouragement of people coming to the U.S. in an unlawful manner is not the message we want to send. I’m sympathetic to the humanitarian issues at the border and in our own community, respectively, but I don’t think we should say we’re going to ignore the law.”

Mayo said he was in support of the ordinance because it s a humanitarian issue.

“I keep thinking about the Statue of Liberty and what is inscribed on it and what it meant for many generations that crossed the Atlantic legally and the many coming from South America,” Mayo said. “They don’t have that sense of timing – they’re dashing for their lives and they need to be taken care of. This is a humanitarian effort. We’re humans and we take care of people first.”

“I’d like to have everyone going through problems come to the U.S., have a job and help their families,” Sund said. “I just want to make sure that we do what’s best for everyone, not just the 13 people here on the council.”

Ricketts said she was voting in favor of the ordinance as she did in 2017.

“It’s the job to listen to the voters. Everyone sitting here were elected by the people,” Ricketts said. “I’ll be voting yes on this as I did the first time. I did so with lots of information after speaking with Police Chief (Robert) Haigh and understanding what it would mean for the city.”

Gilmour also said she was in favor of the ordinance.

While it is not the same ordinance proposed in 2017 by Renaud, which was defeated in a City Council vote of four in favor and six opposed at an Aug. 16, 2017 meeting, it is similar.

If passed, the ordinance would prohibit city officials from asking about a person’s immigration status, targeting someone or discriminating against an institution providing refuge to immigrants and their families, take law enforcement action against someone on the basis of perceived immigration status and other methods of “maintaining a safe city.”

“Nothing in this ordinance shall prohibit or restrain any city official sending to, or receiving from, any local, state or federal agency, information regarding citizenship or immigration status, consistent with 8 U.S.C. section 1373,” according to the ordinance.

Renaud said she submitted the ordinance because she feels it is as important to pass today as it was two years ago.

“A vocal majority came out in support of the ordinance two years ago,” Renaud said in an interview. “It didn’t pass when many people wanted it to be. The treatment of immigrants has only gotten worse in those two years.”


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