About That Controversial City Council Meeting

The City Council of Madeira witnessed an outpouring of public opinion
at their semi-monthly meeting Monday night. Over 60 people attended
in person, with more watching remotely via Zoom. Although not listed
on the council agenda, the topic driving the increased turnout became
apparent during community participation. More than 20 people
stepped to the podium to voice their views on diversity, equity, and
inclusion in the City of Madeira.

At issue were comments made two weeks earlier in the council’s Feb.
14 session
. During that meeting, two residents spoke out against
efforts of the Madeira Inclusion Committee and, in particular, the Pride
Picnic. Many attendees at Monday’s meeting questioned the council
members’ response to that inflammatory rhetoric and probed their
support of the Inclusion Committee. A video recording of the session
has been published on the City of Madeira website. (It will be on this
page and includes a content warning.)

Several residents asked directly whether the council was attempting to
walk back their support of the picnic. Others provided personal
testimony about the diversity of their own families and the challenges
they face when attacked or marginalized. A few residents addressed
the economic benefits of diversity in attracting businesses and events
supporting inclusion, such as Intel or the LPGA.

Also among the speakers were residents who said there was no need
for the Inclusion Committee. Some long-time residents said the
community is fine the way it is, and existing charity work or welcome
initiatives are sufficient. Some statements that classify as hate speech
were alarming, including an anonymous remote “hacker” call-in(content warning). The
city said they are investigating, to learn the identity of the person.

The Pride Picnic for 2022 is currently in the planning stage with an
event subcommittee. The same subcommittee coordinated the 2021
Pride Picnic, staffed by volunteers and attended by over 250 people.
The Feb. 14 council packet included a list of brainstorming topics. Two
residents cited these topics as evidence of overreach and called for dissolving the Inclusion Committee.

Jodi Whitted, a member of the subcommittee, also spoke. She said
that no council representative attended the last two meetings.
However, she was instructed to schedule the picnic for a date in June.
“On a personal note, I am saddened that members of this council allow
their community volunteers to be vilified,” she said. “I’m a mom, a
social worker, a neighbor, a friend.” She told the council members they
should decide whether they wanted to be allies for diverse neighbors
and groups in the community.
Council adjourned with no council member making any comment
about the public discussion, hate speech or support of the Inclusion

Madeira Democrats would like to know:
Where does City Council stand on diversity
and inclusion? We urge the Council to:

  • condemn hate speech
  • support the work of appointed volunteers
  • support the Madeira Inclusion Committee
  • live up to the nickname, “the Friendly Town”
  • Do you agree? Share this with friends and neighbors!
  • Write to City Council with this form and let your views be heard.

On Wednesday, this message was posted on the Council website:

“Please be advised that the video of the proceedings of the February 28, 2022
Council meeting contains strong and offensive language. Viewer discretion is
A separate statement from Mayor Hilberg was also linked.

The first part of the statement is excerpted here:

“Dear Residents:
At the Council Meeting held on Monday, February, 28, 2022, over 100 residents
and interested persons, both in person and via Zoom online meeting format,
attended to hear and speak on issues related to the Madeira Inclusion
Committee (MIC). Residents spoke both for and against the activities and
mission of the MIC during the Public Participation portion of the meeting. As
this matter was not on the City Council Agenda for formal discussion, Council is
taking all of the comments into consideration and will discuss the MIC at an
upcoming meeting. This meeting, as with all public meetings, will be announced
on the City’s website when the agenda is posted.”

© Madeira Democrats