Although Mayor Michael B. Coleman wrote a letter in support of the Clintonville Area Commission's planned workshop aimed at fostering civility among commission members and the community, the idea of the CAC paying for it is off the table.
Nancy Kuhel, the commission's District 2 representative and head of a civility task force created in June, read Coleman's July 18 letter, then read a statement nixing the concept of publicly funding a $2,000 workshop at last week's monthly meeting.
"I am writing to voice my support for the Clintonville Area Commission's consideration of hosting a civility workshop," the mayor wrote. "Your commitment to do so will strengthen Clintonville as a resilient, mutually supportive and respectful community. I strongly urge the commission to protect and ensure Clintonville will continue to be a place where freedom of expression is protected and divergent beliefs are valued, honored and welcomed.
"As community leaders, you must play a pivotal role in encouraging positive relations throughout our community and beyond. I encourage you to set an example for other Columbus communities."
The concept of the area commission hosting a civility workshop was proposed by a local group of residents called Positively Clintonville, Kuhel said in her report.
"This spring, after much research and discussion with groups across the country, members of Positively Clintonville discussed the possibility of the CAC facilitating a civility-training session to provide a positive learning experience for all of the commissioners," Kuhel read. "Following those discussions, the task force for civility training was created at the June CAC meeting."
Members of the task force explored different approaches to improving civility among commission members and in the neighborhood as a whole, Kuhel said. One would have involved the area commission hosting the training and another would have had Positively Clintonville providing the workshop with financial support from the CAC as well as a grant from the city.
"The task force has determined that these options aren't viable," Kuhel said. "Although the city supports the effort to encourage civility and community building in Clintonville, it is not able to provide full financial support for the training, and the CAC would have some difficulty hosting it on its own.
"The use of funding from other sources than the city and CAC might raise questions of impropriety or ethics issues, because the CAC is not permitted to accept contributions of any kind from outside groups."
Members of Positively Clintonville may still go ahead with civility training for community leaders, including members of the area commission, on Sept. 14 and again sometime in October, Kuhel said.
"I plan to participate as much as I can," Chairman Daniel B. Miller said.
"We do have some identified sources of funding," Kuhel said in concluding her report.
With that, the civility task force was formally disbanded.