JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville city councilman has introduced legislation to slash the number of people on the Human Rights Commission.
"With 20 people, in an hour you get to speak for three minutes. I don't think that sounds like a very efficient operation,” said Councilman Matt Schellenberg.
Schellenberg has filed an emergency measure to reduce the number of volunteer members on the commission from 20 down to 11.The measure explains it will do so through attrition, no new members will be appointed and no existing members will be reappointed until they get down to 11 people.
So why the emergency?
"I think it could be easily interpreted as a back-handed way to shut down all those nominations," said Councilman John Crescimbeni.
Three Human Rights commissioners are up for reappointment next week, including Parvez Ahmed.
Ahmed, a University of North Florida professor, has generated a lot of controversy since his appointment back in 2010. Some people, including City Council member Kimberly Daniels, have accused him of terrorist ties, which is an accusation that has never been proven to be true.
So is Schellenberg’s proposal just a backdoor way to get rid of him?
“I can't change what they're going to say about me, but I think if they look at the record,” Schellenberg responded.
Schellenberg says his record includes analyzing multiple city commissions and boards for maximum efficiency, including the Human Rights Commission.
"My goal is to make government more efficient, not only for the elected official, but also for those willing to spend their time, efforts, and talents making Jacksonville a better place,” said Schellenberg.
According to Schellenberg, there are three vacancies on the commission and five people with expired terms. He says that means of the three people up for reappointment next week (Parvez Ahmed, Dane Grey, and Susan Harthill) two could be reappointed under his proposal.
This emergency measure is scheduled to be introduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. But Crescimbeni tells Action News he’s planning to ask Schellenberg to table the measure and introduce it as a bill that would go through the normal committee process.
“If it is truly about efficiency, I think that’s a discussion that warrants more than 10-15 minutes at the end of a council meeting,” said Crescimbeni.