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The following is a weekly update that is sent out via email by Jamie Bova, Newport Mayor and Council Chair.
I’m proud of Newport for the participation and passion that I witnessed yesterday during the Black Lives Matter Rally for Justice and Equality. Thank you to everyone that came out to lend their voice to the cause of justice. Thank you to the Newport Police Department for their professionalism throughout both the march and the rally. Let’s keep building on the tangible energy from yesterday and harness it into real and sustainable change in our community.
This City Council has been taking action to build a more just and equitable Newport:
This week on the City Council docket, there is a resolution that I submitted with Councilors McCalla and Taylor that asks the Council to formally condemn the use of hate speech and that requires that all City employees and the City Council be provided with implicit bias training. We submitted this resolution as a step forward for Newport.
Last week, the Newport Planning Board discussed the formation of a subcommittee to examine if the Board unintentionally permits unfair racial outcomes. I applaud the Planning Board for taking this action.
The City has been working with a consultant group for the past 6 months on the development of the North End Urban Plan. We specifically made sure that a public outreach consultant was part of the team because we know that the North End is a historically underrepresented community. This development process has included extensive public outreach, with multiple public meetings and an online survey that was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The North End Urban will be used a decision-making tool for this and future Councils to shape that section of the City for the future.
The Council is also considering the ratification of a Cooperative Agreement between Newport and Statewide Planning for the purpose of funding the development of the Newport Transportation Master Plan. Transportation access affects people from across Newport and the plan will be developed with maximum community involvement, similar to the process we used with the North End Urban Plan.
I’m asking that everyone in our community stay engaged and keep moving forward, together, for justice and equality. The City Council meets the second and fourth Wednesday of the month to vote on items that define and affect the systems at work in our city. This week, we are considering changes to short-term rental zoning, which affects housing across Newport. We are also voting to adopt the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which shapes everything from education to public safety to summer camp. Building equitable and just systems requires us to pay attention to the details of everything we enact, not just the resolutions condemning racism.
Racism can be defined: “racism = prejudice + power”. As the Council, we hold the power to shape the systems governing Newport, and we have the responsibility to keep prejudice out of those systems. The items that I’ve discussed above are only the beginning of this effort to build equitable and just systems. Progress will take your action and participation: bring your comments to public meetings, vote in local elections, and run for office. Bring the energy of this weekend from the streets into City Hall.
Newport Mayor and Council Chair