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Human Resources Department

Commission on Human Rights

Work Plan 2012 - 2014

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As outlined in our previous Biennial Work Plan, our prior efforts have been concentrated in three major areas:

  • Strengthening the Commission
  • Outreach to the public
  • Partnerships with organizations and agencies

Each area, while maintaining an individual focus and singular objectives, was also closely aligned with the other two areas so that each major work area supported and benefited from all areas. This was a three-pronged effort. The first was to ensure a body of Commissioners capable of fully supporting achievement of CHR’s goals. The second was to ensure that CHR’s programs were designed and carried out with an eye to delivering value. The third related to the community’s perception of the Commission and its role as a resource to the community.

To operate most effectively, the Commission relies on a full complement of individuals dedicated to furthering the appreciation for and acceptance of diversity. Over the past three years we have grown to our present strength off 13 Commissioners. Our attrition has been due primarily to economic and health concerns. We continue to maintain close contact with the County’s five Supervisors in an effort to encourage effective appointments. Our goal remains a full roster of 15 Commissioners. All Commissioners are fully briefed on their duties and responsibilities, including the Brown Act and mandated Ethics Training.

During this two-year period we continued our efforts to keep both the public and the full spectrum of County Government apprised of Commission activities. In addition to creating and sustaining viable working relationships with County and city officials, we strive to involve ourselves in ongoing community thrusts. These efforts include ongoing participation in Cinco de Mayo celebrations, high school diversity days and numerous other tabling events. Individual Commissioners participate actively in a variety of committees, advocacy groups and other public forums. Specific efforts are outlined in the section of this plan dealing with the efforts of ad hoc committees.

Individual Commissioners are strongly encouraged to regularly communicate with the Supervisor who appointed them. Additionally, Commission Officers maintain both regular ongoing and issue-specific contact with the Board of Supervisors and other appropriate County officials.



In recent months and as part of our strategic planning efforts, Commissioners have raised the issue of further exploring our mission statement to more clearly define its parameters. The Commission is continually asked to address a multitude of issues which arguably are not within the boundaries of our bylaws and mission statement. Those discussions continue, with both philosophical and practical applications being considered. 

As our ranks grew in number it became evident that we would also need a new approach to effectively working toward our goals. Monthly meetings were almost entirely devoted to an overview of current thrusts, the introduction of new speakers and ideas and the normal ongoing business of the Commission. 

After experimenting with several approaches, it was clear that we could best achieve our objectives by introducing broad topic guidelines in the monthly full Commission meeting and then proceeding to detailed analysis and subsequent action through the use of revolving ad hoc committees. This approach has proved to be highly effective and throughout the past year, we have moved through several phases of assessing interest, forming smaller groups, defining specific goals and establishing both timelines and milestones for each ad hoc group. The remainder of this biennial plan will outline the current ad hoc thrusts, with the caveat that other topics may arise in response to community need and Commissioner interest. As this occurs, those topics will be incorporated into our ongoing efforts.

Liaisons with Organizations & Agencies: 

The Commission continues to remain connected to various agencies and community advocacy groups, driven both by the interests of individual Commissioners and the ongoing and evolving needs of the Community. Current liaisons include the following: 

  • Elder Abuse Liaison
  • Family Justice Center Liaison
  • Cinco de Mayo Committee (SR)
  • Disability Issues Liaison
  • Human Trafficking Liaison
  • North Bay Organizing Project – Immigrant Task Force Liaison


Current Ad Hoc Committees 

Junior Commission:

After a slow start, we are rapidly moving forward with our plans for a tri-level Junior Human Rights Commission. Our goal is to establish a Commission at grade school, middle school and high-school levels. In each case, human rights and diversity issues will be addressed at levels appropriate to the age group of the individual junior commissions. Additionally, the high-school level commission will help to plan, recruit and oversee the middle-school commission which, in turn will assist in planning, recruiting and overseeing the grade-school commission. Initial goals are that the high-school level group will be fully operational by January of 2013. Towards that end, we have already begun the process of contacting educational leaders throughout the County. Our first major milestone will be to host a diversity summit in the fall of 2012. We realize that this is a massive project with a scope covering the entire spectrum of young people. It is our belief that the effort involved in this project will bring immeasurable rewards in changing the views, attitudes and actions of tomorrow’s leaders throughout the County. Our efforts will be aided by the support of a Senior Advisory Board composed of community leaders representing all geographic areas of the County.

Congresswoman Woolsey Event:

On May 12 of 2012, the Commission will host what we hope is the first in a series of community forums to discuss issues which affect the lives of Sonoma County citizens. Through the efforts of its officers, the Commission is honored to have the participation of Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey at our premiere event. Our goal is to select panelists with broadly divergent opinions, address those views through guided queries and then open the discussion to the public. Our driving force is the crux of our mission statement - to promote better human relations among all people in Sonoma County through education, advocacy, and by initiating action that fosters the recognition of and appreciation for the diversity of our community.

Rights of Undocumented Workers Ad Hoc Committee:

Goals of the Committee are:

  • Develop a position on the rights of undocumented workers who are contributing to the economy of Sonoma given the absence of federal immigration reform.
  • Follow up on issues where the Commission has taken a stand:
  • ICE deportations of workers and their families
  • Driving privileges
  • Coordinate with other organizations working on undocumented workers’ rights issues.
  • Promote an appreciation of the economic contribution of the undocumented work force and identify employers who are willing to support workers’ rights, especially employers in the key wine and tourism industries.

Economic Rights Ad Hoc Committee:

Goals of the Committee are:

  • Develop a rationale for the principle of economic rights based on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Develop for Commission consideration options for an action plan for collaborating with community organizations to assess and address the status of basic economic rights in Sonoma County.



We continue to experience both ongoing challenges and successes as we move through a cycle of growth in numbers and expansion of our areas of operation. Our Commissioners represent diverse backgrounds, but all bring to the job energy, passion and commitment to the area of Human Rights.

We are in the sometimes stressful, but always exciting position, of being poised to make a visible and meaningful difference within Sonoma County. Our goals are ambitious, but our resolve is equal to the task. We look forward to being able to build on, and add to our current biennial work plan, and welcome the opportunity to report to the Board of Supervisors on the accomplishment of the goals we have set forth.