NUTLEY, NJ - Less than a month after the Nutley Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the creation of the Nutley Cultural and Inclusion Council (NCIDC) , Public Affairs Commissioner John V. Kelly II issued a statement to address rumors about the group.
Kelly, who was elected to the Township of Nutley Board of Commissioners in the May 2020 election, did not hold back in referring to the rumors about NCIDC as "FAKE NEWS." In his statement he said, "The misinformation is being spread by a minority with an agenda to prey on people's fears in an effort to derail and falsely define the Nutley Cultural and Inclusion Council before it is even fully established."
Kelly's entire statement follows:
The Mission of the Nutley Cultural and Inclusion Council (NCIDC) is, as it has been since its inception over a month ago: “The mission of the NCIDC is to foster an understanding of diversity and inclusion as a dynamic strategy for community well-being through honest dialog, various initiatives, programs and events, as well as being both a resource and advocate for the same.”
Some in our community would rather sow the seeds of misinformation, prey on your fears, and intimidate participation than engage in honest dialog. This is not an effort to act for the majority because of the minority. The NCIDC was created by a UNANIMOUS VOTE of the Board of Commissioners. It is an effort to empower and enrich our community by sharing unique perspectives and being more inclusive and respectful of all of our citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, or religion.
The misinformation is being spread by a minority with an agenda to prey on people's fears in an effort to derail and falsely define the Nutley Cultural and Inclusion Council before it is even fully established. There is no goal to force the school board to change its curriculum or hire certain teachers, we have no power over that. This is classic fear mongering in an attempt to make people fearful their children will be threatened. There is no plan to fundamentally alter township policies. Rather, if change does occur, it will be because the Nutley Cultural Inclusion and Diversity Council started a conversation within the Township that inspired the community to come together and act to bring about positive changes.
I would like to address each FAKE NEWS rumor in turn.
1) Members were NOT hand selected by me or picked because they knew me. I made an announcement at the Full Board of Commissioners Meeting on June 16, 2020 for individuals to reach out to me or my office if they were interested or knew someone who may be interested in participating in the NCIDC. This call was echoed in many local publications. In fact, over ⅔ of the NCIDC I had never met before.
2) The process to be added to the NCIDC is no different than any other committee in the Township (past or present). There is no special treatment or privilege for this Committee.
3) There is no minimum qualification to join the NCIDC other than being a Nutley resident. We want to be as inclusive as possible so that we have a diverse array of voices. In fact, the majority of the members have lived in town for a DECADE or more. We have voices, whose families have been here longer than my own family. Members come from just about every socioeconomic background, cultural, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Some common themes of the individual members are that many have advanced degrees (Masters level and up) particularly on the topic of the NCIDC, racial and cultural inclusiveness, everyone is passionate about this Town, and have only the best interests of the town at heart.
4) Some think I am not being transparent by having closed meetings. However, this is an internal committee, similar to every other committee in the township (past and present). Internal Committee meetings are not open to the public and never have been. No one is demanding access to any of the other established committees in town (past or present). This really begs the question: why are some crying foul about this committee on the topic of racial and cultural inclusiveness when they were silent for every other committee in the history of the town. It is clear the purpose of this demand for greater transparency is only to intimidate members from participating or speaking up.
5) The first step of the NCIDC was to create the mission statement, and all goals will flow from it. If you hear about the “goals” from someone else, it is a lie in an attempt to silence this committee. No goals have been announced, but will as the NCIDC gains its footing.
6) Some seem to think or are happy to falsely try to convince others that this committee can dictate policy without oversight. Again, like every other committee in the history of the Township, if a recommendation is made, it must go before the full Board of Commissioners for a vote and public comment. The NCIDC has no special privileges or treatment.
7) Some claim the name is not inclusive enough, which given their attempts to intimidate and prevent diversity and inclusion is a laughable claim. The suggestion that the committee does not include nor is welcoming to the disabled community is false. The name is already suggestive of inclusion of citizens with disabilities. Diversity does not run skin deep. Rather, it encompasses individuals from an array of backgrounds, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, national origin, religions and yes that includes those with disabilities.
If anyone needs any further clarity, I am available to address any concerns or suggestions. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 862.333.9515. You can also reach me through the Public Affairs and Health Department.
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