UPDATE: County turns human relations council down - WNCN: News, Weather

UPDATE: County turns human relations council down

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -
Keith Cooper, a major proponent for the commission argued for one. He said in light of recent events he felt there needed to be an organization that could tackle issues between the community and the county.

On Monday, county manager Scott Elliott recommended the board not to approve the creation of such council.
    
Elliott said the benefits didn't outweigh the financial burden it could have on the budget. 

Cooper reacted to the decision. "It's a stupid argument that sounds like something the county manager would say.  It doesn't take one dime to get started. As a matter of fact, even if it took money, if you can’t afford $50 to run off some papers… then something is wrong."

No word yet on how Cooper plans to move forward.

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Pitt County Commissioners decide to delay a vote on approving a new human relations council until they have more research.

Monday night the commissioners decided to ask the county manager to do more research. The manager has 30 days to respond.

Keith Cooper, the Executive Director of the Benevolence Corps is pushing a Human Relations Council. He says its possible the commissioners wanted to delay a vote until after the primary elections. They take place on May 6th.

Cooper hoped for a vote tonight.  Last week the town of Winterville approved adding one and Greenville's had one for a while.

The human relations council would handle complaints between the local government and community.

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Activists are calling upon Pitt County Commissioners to ease tension in the community. For decades cities like Greenville have had a human relations council to tackle issues that came up between local government and the community.

Not too long ago, a commissioner was accused of berating and belittling a citizen. They chose to speak before the county commissioners, 9 reported it on wnct.com  After going back and forth for a month, activist felt it was time to bring about a human relations council.

"It’s not a political issue, it's a human issue." Keith Cooper, the Executive Director of the Benevolence Corps is pushing a Human Relations Council. Its purpose is to tackle tough issues like prejudice, intolerance and discrimination. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel here, we're trying to jump on the existing bandwagon and move Pitt County forward.
     
The council itself is not new. In fact Greenville started their own 42 years ago and Cooper says its time, Pitt County had their own. About a month ago---the Mayor of Grifton, Billy Ray Jackson addressed the board about the comments Commissioner Tom Johnson made to one of his citizens. "If I am correctly informed, he poked her in her chest, ridiculed her."
     
The county says Johnson apologized to Marie Lewis but the board never chastised his actions. As a result, Cooper says he hasn't gotten the proper feedback from candidates and commissioners alike. "Some people tend to put politics above principal. If you do not support human relations then I don't know how you can say you support human rights."

On Monday, the town of Winterville passed a resolution supporting a county wide council. Councilman Tony Moore says it's a no-brainer. “Any time you can bring people together, you come up with ideas and solutions to any problems that might arise, from the youth, to the teenagers to senior citizens. It just makes good sense."
     
The last time a council was proposed to the county was in 1999. Cooper says the movement lost traction. But in light of recent events, he says now is the time to act. 

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