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Commissioner, facilitator resign from Iowa City’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission

IC protest 6.22

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) -- Just days after the Chair of Iowa City's Truth and Reconciliation Commission stepped down ahead of a vote of no confidence, a commissioner and the facilitator of the commission have resigned.

Jesse Case, the commission's newly appointed facilitator, resigned Friday afternoon, the day after Royceann Porter stepped down as chair. Porter is staying on the commission as a regular commissioner.

In his resignation letter, Case wrote despite overwhelming support from the City Council and TRC, he could not "in good conscience" accept the position. He says he is not the right person at the right time for the position.

Commissioner Anthony Currin resigned from his position on Sunday, directly citing Thursday's meeting in which Porter stepped down.

"This gives me great sorrow. Because I do not take lightly the full faith and confidence that has been placed in me by such accomplished and esteemed citizens of Iowa City who serve on our City Council," Currin said. "However, after deep soul searching and careful review of the events which transpired during last Thursday’s meeting {3-4-2021}, I can no longer honorably continue to serve out my appointed Commission on Iowa City’s TRC."

Rather than Vice-Chair T’Shailyn Harrington assuming the post after Porter stepped down, the commission elected Mohamed Traore as Chair. That process didn't sit well with Currin.

"(3) Chairs in (7) minutes. At once, I knew the cause behind the vitriol that had transpired in the Commission during the last (12) weeks! We, as a governing body, had been designed WITHOUT rules for governance," Currin said. "This flaw, albeit, a mere oversight, shall be detrimental, the longer the Commission is permitted to operate."

Currin said the TRC should pause their work to create a better system for oversight and better self-governance. He noted Porter's leadership wasn't the problem.

"The bigger problem at hand is the inherent lack of reins with which to lead and a strong necessity for tangible language establishing a reference of oversite from the City Council," Currin said.

The commission was authorized by the City Council in September as a tool to investigate claims of racism, provide reparations for groups that have been discriminated against and do community outreach.

The group has been meeting since late December but commissioners say they have been held up by several arguments.

Both resignations took effect the day they were received. The City Council will determine the next steps in searching for Case and Currin's replacements.

The full text of Currin's resignation letter can be found below:

It is with great sadness, that I inform the City Council of Iowa City that I, Anthony Currin, am stepping down as Commissioner on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Effective immediately. This gives me great sorrow. Because I do not take lightly the full faith and confidence that has been placed in me by such accomplished and esteemed citizens of Iowa City who serve on our City Council. However, after deep soul searching and careful review of the events which transpired during last Thursday’s meeting {3-4-2021}, I can no longer honorably continue to serve out my appointed Commission on Iowa City’s TRC.

The reason for my decision is a simple matter of integrity. I have served on many governing bodies, in Johnson County. But to date, the pinnacle of these endeavors happened when I was chosen to be one of nine Commissioners to serve on the TRC. I must also add that the nadir made itself abundantly clear, last Thursday, when the Commission went through a succession of (3) Chairpersons in (7) minutes. This happened after a meeting, in which, the Vice Chair received well deserved acclaim for having done well at running the meeting. However, minutes later, when Chair Porter stepped down, automatically elevating Vice Chair Harrington to the Chairpersonship, a majority, within the voting body, of Commissioners refused to accept the validity of Chairperson Harrington as the clear line of Succession. A statement of a desire for new leadership was exclaimed! And then the majority promptly proceeded to elect a Chair for the Commission, one, who had been in leadership all along. He was elected the same night that we had voted for chair Porter and Vice Chair Harrington. His leadership role was to monitor and ensure the observance of decorum in conduct and help to maintain respectful interactions and discussions. As I view Chair Harrington in the greatest esteem and was still stunned from the sudden vacation of the Chairpersonship by Chair Porter, the answer was plainly stated and could not be refuted. I was told: “Robert’s Rules of Order were NEVER adopted here; we have NO Bylaws. We can do what we want!” And so, it was done. (3) Chairs in (7) minutes. At once, I knew the cause behind the vitriol that had transpired in the Commission during the last (12) weeks! We, as a governing body, had been designed WITHOUT rules for governance.

This flaw, albeit, a mere oversight, shall be detrimental, the longer the Commission is permitted to operate. The work is too, important and I have so much respect for the ingenuity and enterprise of Janice Weiner and Laura Bergus, who courageously created basically from whole cloth the language of our TRC. Therefore, I can NOT stress strongly enough the urgency concerning the matter of PAUSING this Commission to refit it with tools for oversite and better self-governance, in order that, this vital work go forward, without incident!

Understandably, stops and stumbles will happen on nascent attempts in endeavors on this order of magnitude. But now that you know about the flaws, please understand that these are foundational missteps. They require a full shutdown and reboot in order for them to launch properly. So, again, I have known and worked with Royceann Porter for years and she has done an exemplary job in every role which she has ever undertaken. The problem presented before the Commission was NEVER Chair Porter’s leadership. The bigger problem at hand is the inherent lack of reins with which to lead and a strong necessity for tangible language establishing a reference of oversite from the City Council. This is my recommendation to the City, to which, I urge you to take immediate action, if the TRC is to survive.

Former TRC Commissioner Anthony Currin

Trevor Oates

Executive Producer

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