Mayor and Council Meeting Minutes – May 6, 2019

MAYOR AND COUNCIL

MAY 6, 2019

Mayor Chris Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:33 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Ellsworth Tolliver and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of April 15, 2019 and the Budget Workshop of April 23, 2019. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of April 15, 2019 and the Budget Workshop of April 23, 2019 as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that total operating funds on hand for unrestricted use was $639,771.82. Restricted funds for the Marina were set aside in the amount of $11,054.42.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills. Mr. Stetson moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

Ms. Ileana Lindstrom of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice and members of STAR (Students Talking About Race) were present to go over their organization. Ms. Lindstrom stated that she was a retired ordained pastor and currently a licensed psychologist in the State of Maryland. She said that she provides a broad range of psychological services, one of which was adults and organizations that seek help in trauma recovery, which includes racial trauma.

Ms. Lindstrom said that in 2017 workshops titled “Undoing Racism” were conducted by the Institute for People’s Survival and Beyond in Kent County and Queen Anne’s As a result of those workshops, the local Social Action Committee for Racial Justice was started and the decision was made to organize an anti-racism movement in Kent County. She said that in the workshops they have learned that the definition of racism is “race-based prejudice plus institutional power”.

The Social Action Committee for Racial Justice determined that they will no longer simply talk about race, but they would act. She said that they are analyzing data about each of the County’s institutions, developing member skills as effective agents of racial equity and justice. They are tracking and monitoring decisions made by elected officials and offering their organization as an ally and resource to all institutions in the communities.

Ms. Lindstrom stated that the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice was created to end the oppression of persons of color in Kent County. They began with a focus on political, educational and criminal justice systems. She said that they were also focused on the community festivals by sharing the history and contributions made by people of color.

Ms. Lindstrom stated that racism is structurally imbedded in every institution in Kent County. The history of racism in the lands of what now is called the USA long proceeds the birth of our country beginning with the first injustices of indigenous people which continues to this day. This July and August will mark 400 years since the first documented enslaved Africans arrived in 1619 in the English-speaking colonies in what would later become Virginia and Maryland.

Ms. Lindstrom stated that racism is a hard system to undo and is destructive to the lives of persons of color. Beginning September 20th and running through September 22nd, the People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond will be conducting an “Undoing Racism Workshop” in Kent County. She asked that people register to take the workshop.

Ms. Lindstrom asked that the Mayor and Council recognize the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice as a skilled and knowledgeable ally and resource for the Town. She said that if the Council was looking for more clarity on the issue of racism she would be more than happy to meet with them.

Mr. Paul Tue, III stated that he was the newly appointed co-chair of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice, serving alongside Mr. Phil Dutton. He said that the youth program called STAR (Students Talking About Race) hit the ground running at Kent County High School and that he was proud of the youth taking such an interest in ending racism.

Ms. Riley Lynn stated that the mission and vision of STAR was to encourage open dialogue by encouraging uncomfortable conversations, forming partnerships and engaging in activism. She said that since 2017, STAR has organized the March for Our Lives in Chestertown, trained in participant action research through the Governor’s Office for Children, presented at Eastern Shore Mental Health Coalition Conference, participated in the MLK Day of Service, assisted with candidate interviews for local elections and were trained on the history of racism, why it persists and how it can be undone.

Mr. Tykee Bryant stated that he sees racism every day in the school and community. He said that black students are more harshly punished for the same behaviors as their white counterparts. Racial slurs are made all the time and the teachers and coaches sometimes turn their heads in silence. He said that Latinos are told not to speak Spanish because it is offensive to those who do not understand their language and it stops them from embracing the American culture. He said that a Latino speaking Spanish will be chastised for doing so, but a non-Latino speaking Spanish is praised and seen as an asset. He said that people should realize how racism is impacting lives.

Ms. Annie Squire-Southworth said that racism is more than hateful beliefs, actions and words. It is seen in differences in pay, housing discrimination, mortgage lending, and rates of incarceration. She said that help from local officials was needed to undo racism and asked that they participate in the racism training. She said that all people are responsible for putting an end to racism.

Ms. Kuiper asked if STAR received training in cultural competency and cultural diversity. Ms. Squire-Southworth stated that the training encompasses both of those topics.

Ms. Lindstrom thanked the Mayor and Council for the opportunity to present and introduce the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice.

Mayor Cerino called on the Town Manager for his report. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Arts and Entertainment District along with Main Street Chestertown have a permit request in for the “Broadway Juke Box Revolution” a theater group who will perform in front of Garfield Center on May 30th. The request was to close High Street between Queen Street and Court Street from 3 pm to 11 pm. The theater group will set up their own stage and sound system. There was a request to waive the open container regulation and for the Town to provide trash barrels and recycling. In case of inclement weather, the show will move into the Garfield Center. Ms. MacIntosh stated that this group toured up and down the Delmarva Peninsula. Ms. MacIntosh stated that she would speak to the merchants so they were aware of the event, but the shops would be closed most of the time they were requesting the street closure. She said that the troupe will begin set up at approximately 4 pm. Ms. Kuiper moved for High Street to be closed to traffic from 3 pm to 11 pm on Thursday, May 30th from Queen Street to Court Street for a performance by Broadway Juke Box Revolution and to waive the open container regulations for from 3 pm to 11 pm, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Blackbird Boutique is having a one-year anniversary on Friday, May 10th. They wanted to close Park Row from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to celebrate the anniversary. Members of the Mayor and Council had been polled and agreed to the closure in between meetings.

Mayor Cerino stated that the Garden Club was seeking a grant for the Good Seeds Project and requested a letter of support which he read into the record. The Council agreed to signing the letter.

Mayor Cerino stated that there was a request for a letter of support from Shore Rivers who was applying for a NFWF (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant for Planning and Technical Assistance, which will be used for stormwater planning at priority locations in the Town of Chestertown. If awarded the grant the funds will be used to lay the groundwork for reducing impervious surfaces and improving water quality in Historic Chestertown. The Council approved Mayor Cerino signing the letter of support.

Mayor Cerino stated that there would be a budget workshop meeting tomorrow, May 7th at 6:00 pm in Town Hall.

Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.

Mr. Stetson stated that on April 16th he and Mr. Foster attended the legislative breakfast at Heron Point where a recap of the legislative session was given. He said that this included all bills that passed in the State of Maryland. Unfortunately, the bill for the Chestertown Hospital (SB1018) did not make it to the House floor for a vote. He said that the excuse for not hearing the bill was that it was late. Mr. Stetson stated that there was one more year to get the bill passed.

Mr. Stetson stated that he attended COG (Council of Governments) on April 18th in Betterton and representatives from all Towns were present except Rock Hall. He said that there were discussions on many topics, including tax rebates or a tax differential.

Mr. Stetson stated that he and Ms. Kuiper attended the Arbor Day celebrations on April 23rd with Ms. Kuiper. This was Chestertown’s 38th year as a Tree City in Maryland.

Mr. Stetson stated that he attended the Kent County Commissioners Meeting on Tuesday, April 23rd where Mayor Cerino discussed a tax rebate or tax differential. He said that Mayor Cerino made a compelling argument for Chestertown receiving one or the other. Mayor Cerino stated that this was the fifth time he asked for help from the Kent County Commissioners. Mr. Stetson stated that Chestertown had a budget workshop meeting at 7:00 pm that same day.

Mr. Stetson stated that the resurfacing of the dog park is almost finished. He said that the Friends of the Dog Park are paying for the project.

Mr. Stetson stated that the Nicholson Landfill had a large drop off for hazardous waste on Saturday, April 27th. He said that there is a hazardous collection once a year on the Eastern Shore and Kent County hosts it every 4 years.

Mr. Stetson stated that 3 of the largest potholes in his ward were filled today. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the street repaving advertisement for the 100 block of North Queen Street will be in this Thursday’s Kent County News.

Rev. Tolliver stated that the Radcliffe School’s 8th grade class did a science project on the Rails to Trails. He said that he would like to invite them before the Mayor and Council to go over the findings of their study on the water quality of the Radcliffe Creek.

Rev. Tolliver stated that the Washington Park playground project was moving forward and there was a community committee that would be responsible for maintaining the area. The residents were excited to see the playground come to life. Rev. Tolliver also thanked the residents of Ward III for keeping their properties looking nice this spring.

Ms. Kuiper stated that Ingrid Hansen, owner of Figg’s Ordinary is applying for a Class B Beer and Wine License. The hearing is in the Kent County Commissioners Hearing Room on Tuesday, May 14th at 6:00 p.m.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the PRIDE event was a special day with good music and inspiring words and speeches. She said that the love, respect and friendship shared on Saturday could teach the world a thing or two.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the Tea Party Festival is still looking for volunteers.

Mr. Foster stated that the legislative breakfast at Heron Point was a good follow-up in terms of learning about the efforts of the Hospital and he thanked the legislators for working on it. He said that the presentation ended on a sour note for him because the delegation made remarks about the environmental groups and how, in their opinion, they were destroying the livelihood of the watermen. He said those remarks disappointed him and were inconsistent with the facts.

Mr. Foster stated that Commissioner Jacob did speak to him after Mayor Cerino made the presentation requesting a tax differential and asked him why the Town sounded angry as they did not know how he was going to vote on the issue. Mr. Foster stated that the anger comes from years of asking and receiving nothing. He hoped that Mr. Jacob would be in favor of the Town’s request.

Mr. Foster stated that the Pride festival was a great time without a single complaint. He said that he did receive complaints about noise from the College campus on that same day.  Mayor Cerino stated that the College event was on private property and had a band with an electric guitar that was loud on Saturday. Chief Baker stated that when that happens the residents should call the police and they will ask that the music be turned down.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any comments or questions from the audience.

Ms. Carol Dobson, a new resident in Chestertown, stated that she was a teacher and a product of the public-school system. She said that she chose to move to this area for several reasons but mainly because she wanted to live in a small progressive community where she could walk and see people that she knew. She said that she believes in life long learning and would like to be an active volunteer for cultural diversity. She said that looking at and learning from the systemic parts of racism was important.

There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:32 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                             Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                                 Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                            Mayor

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