Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Call for Diversity Coordinator position in Oshkosh


Dear City Manager, Mayor and City Council Members:

I am writing to urge you to do whatever is necessary to move forward with the development of a Diversity Coordinator in the city of Oshkosh. I don't know if this position would be solely funded by the city, or be a shared position between the city, county and school district. Depending on the vision of what the person in this person would be charged with doing, it might even be funded partially by GO-EDC or some other local economic development organization that would benefit by its existence. My concern with getting too many organizations in the mix, however, is there could then too many "chiefs" to answer to, unless the various entities would have one body to who the person would report to. The various organizations could form a board or coalition to oversee the position, and the diversity coordinator could report to that board. Or something of that nature.   

The City of Appleton has a diversity coordinator and while I don't know exactly how this position is funded or how it is overseen, I believe we could learn much from how they've approached this issue and the position they've created. I further believe this position is one that is overdue in Oshkosh, as we are quickly becoming a diversified community and need to make everyone feel welcome and that they fit, etc. I know that the position of diversity coordinator covers much more than that, but in a nutshell it is about attracting people to this community, being inclusive and making newcomers here feel welcome and that they belong, as opposed to their being given the impression they are somehow second-class citizens or outsiders in our community, simply because they are not from here. 
When I hear comments like those made by Mayor Steve Cummings at a School Board/Council meeting last week - (http://www.oshkoshcommunitymedia.org/board_of_education_stream.htm) (the conversation starts at about the :45:15 mark, but Mr. Cummings specific comments start at approximately the :48:40 mark), that people need to first understand our history and our community - I am not only disheartened and disappointed, but sickened. Yes, knowing about someone and where they're coming from is important, but it is also a long process - one that in many cases is always evolving. But we certainly do not need to understand someone's history in order to make our community inclusive, welcoming and accepting of those who are of a different race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, etc., do we? I think not. I also do not understand how, in a conversation about diversity and being inclusive, Mr. Cummings feels that using language that seems to separate "them" from "us" or "our," does anything at all toward furthering an inclusiveness within our community. Quite frankly, I find that attitude, especially in 2016, shameful.

So I would applaud those council members who voted to make the issue of a diversity coordinator a priority for the city manager in 2016 and I would implore you all as a collective voting body to continue forging ahead in this regard, just as I would encourage everyone in our community or elsewhere to follow the Golden Rule, and treat others - no matter who they are - as they would like to be treated. 
Thank you for your time and consideration.

- Cheryl Hentz 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Eye on Oshkosh bids farewell to OPD Chief Scott Greuel; welcomes successor Dean Smith

The latest episode of “Eye on Oshkosh” in now online. During this hour, host Cheryl Hentz talks with the retiring Oshkosh Police Chief Scott Greuel about his 30-year tenure with the department and what he hopes his legacy will be. Later in the show she speaks with his successor, incoming Police Chief Dean Smith, about his background and where he hopes to take the department during his tenure which begins at 12:01 AM on Jan. 9, 2016. You can view the episode here…https://youtu.be/KcH-IFETOpk.
Best wishes, Chief Scott Greuel, and thanks for your many years of service.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Eye on Oshkosh episode discusses upcoming, free community book read

The latest episode of Eye on Oshkosh is now online. Watch it here to see a discussion of race and racial literacy with the executive director of Fit Oshkosh, Inc., Tracey Robertson. https://youtu.be/6Mevcg1gMQE

During this hour-long show host Cheryl Hentz talks with Robertson about the racial literacy work her organization does and why it's important for a community. She also gives details on Fit's free, upcoming Color-Brave Community Read, in which several community, government, business, education and non-profit leaders will read the nationally-acclaimed book "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates along with other community residents between the Jan. 19, 2016 kick-off and the end of June. Whether You Tube viewers are local (Oshkosh, WI area) or elsewhere, they're all encouraged to read the book along with everyone else.

This book discusses the feelings, symbolism, and realities around being black in the United States, including the history of violence, and unfairness against Blacks. This Read hopes to dispel fears about discussing race frankly and trained facilitators will help guide conversations in a safe, open environment.

The event kicks off January 19, and will be held monthly at both the Oshkosh Seniors Center and the UWO Alumni Welcome & Conference Center.

Join other citizens and community leaders including Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff, Oshkosh Area United Way executive director Sue Panek, Oshkosh school superintendent Stan Mack II, Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings, Oshkosh Common Councilor Ben Stepanek, State Representative Gordon Hintz and Eye on Oshkosh host Cheryl Hentz for this one-of-a-kind Read. To register or get more info call 920-479-5380 or see the Fit Oshkosh Facebook page or the Fit website at www.fit-oshkosh.org. The event is sponsored in part by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, First Congregational Church (Oshkosh), Celebrate Diversity (Appleton), UW-Oshkosh, and the Oshkosh Seniors Center.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Eye on Oshkosh discusses race relations

The latest episode of Eye on Oshkosh is now uploaded to You Tube. Host Cheryl Hentz spends the hour visiting with Lee Sosnoski and Sylvia Carey-Butler about upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. events in Oshkosh and race relations, not only in Oshkosh, but around the country. Check it out.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

City of Oshkosh Extends Police Chief Offer

(Oshkosh, WI) The city of Oshkosh Police and Fire Commission has directed city staff to extend a conditional offer of employment to Dean Smith for the position of Police Chief. Smith is currently the Deputy Chief of the Suffolk, Virginia Police Department.

“I am pleased with the Police and Fire Commission’s decision to extend this offer to Dean,” commented City Manager Mark Rohloff. “The Commission and citizen panels recognized Mr. Smith’s proven record in law enforcement, and his demonstrated commitment to community policing.”

Smith has 27 years of law enforcement experience, with over 16 years as a command level officer. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Herzing University, has attended the University of Richmond’s Professional Executive Leadership School, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

As Deputy Chief of the 250 member Suffolk Police Department, Smith was responsible for his department becoming certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), managed a $3.5 million expansion of police headquarters, and developed as well as implemented their police body worn camera program. He has a wide variety of police operational and command experience, ranging from managing the department’s budget to incident command in catastrophic events such as hurricanes and tornados. He also has built strong ties with the Suffolk community through community policing.

“I am honored to be selected by the Police and Fire Commission,” said Smith. “I am impressed with the professionalism of the Oshkosh Police Department. I also felt welcomed by the community while participating in the selection process. I look forward to working with the dedicated officers and employees of the Oshkosh Police Department, as well as becoming an active member of the community.”

Smith has accepted a conditional offer pending the successful completion of a physical and psychological review. The Police and Fire Commission plans to approve the new hire on December 1, 2015. Smith would then be sworn in by the Commission on January 5, 2016, with an official start date of January 9, 2016. All of the dates listed are tentative and dependent on results of the final hiring processes.

Eye on Oshkosh tapes two new shows just before Thanksgiving

With holiday scheduling and so forth, Eye on Oshkosh recently had to tape new shows in one evening, just before Thanksgiving. But they're both shows worth watching and useful information can be gleaned from both.

First, host Cheryl Hentz spent an hour with Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff about the city budget for the upcoming year and how that will play out in the tax bills property owners will receive in December. They also talked about capital improvement projects, the city's borrowing rate and other city-related topics, including the new police chief selection. The show can be seen here:

In the second show, Hentz talks with Susan Bach from the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau about a variety of things people need to be aware of as they begin their holiday shopping. You'll definitely want to catch this edition before heading to the mall, or grabbing your favorite computing device, if you're an online shopper. Check out the episode here: https://youtu.be/b3Bez8BIF7Y

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Harris to take firm, but common-sense approach in Senate race

In this episode of Eye on Oshkosh, Cheryl Hentz and guest co-host Dr. Miles Maguire, Journalism professor from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, talk to Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris. In the first segment they discuss the 2016 county budget and how it will impact taxpayers when they get their tax bills in December. In the second segment they discuss Mark's candidacy for the 18th Senate District in the State of Wisconsin, an election that will be determined on November 8, 2016. The show can be seen at the following link: https://youtu.be/_J-fnLBtvuc