Funding for women’s commission likely to be cut

by Jordan Green

The Greensboro City Council will seriously consider eliminating funding for the Commission on the Status of Women when it crafts its annual budget next spring, Mayor Keith Holliday indicated in recent statements. The current budget included a 50 percent cut to the commission’s funding, and the council has directed the group to clarify its mission and demonstrate its effectiveness if it wants to continue to receive city support.

“Based on things I’m already starting to predict, the Commission on the Status of Women is going to be right up there for examination for that other half,” Holliday told Chairwoman Jeanne Hudgens at the city council’s Dec. 19 meeting. “From that perspective those marching orders are, I think, going to be pretty clear.”

Hudgens told the council that two of 15 volunteer commissioners will need to be removed because of poor attendance in 2006 and no attendance in the previous year. She also mentioned in her report that the commission has abandoned its monthly Women Improving Race Relations program due to poor participation, but was continuing a reading group. She added that the commission plans to hold a Women of Achievement luncheon in March.

Council members Florence Gatten and Tom Phillips expressed scathing criticism of the commission.

Gatten, an at-large member, called the commission’s lack of leadership “embarrassing and disappointing,” and said, “none of the concerns are addressed.”

Phillips, who represents District 3, said, “I’ve yet to see a single item of substance come out of the Commission on the Status of Women.”

Gatten, Phillips and District 4 representative Mike Barber indicated they would not support continuing funding for the commission. Barber said he has no objections to the group continuing to exist as a non-funded commission, similar to the board of adjustment or zoning commission.

Other council members expressed more sympathy for the commission, noting that many of the members have been recently appointed, replacing others who have resigned.

“I don’t think we need to beat them up because they really haven’t had a chance,” said Councilwoman Goldie Wells, who represents District 2. “Let’s see what they will do. And then when it comes budget time then discuss it again if they haven’t produced.”

Agnes Roseboro, the commission’s paid administrator, said the group has failed to adequately document its successes for the city council, and argued that its efforts often bear fruit in the work of non-city organizations.

“The commission over time since its inception has been charged with identifying the issues and so forth that impact women and indeed impact families, and create a solution for that,” she said. “The solution is often spun off to a nonprofit.”

– Jordan Green