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Minorities want spots at public policy table

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Representatives of Salt Lake's minority groups called on the city's elected and appointed officials Saturday to give all communities a place at the public policy table.

In a press conference at the Salt Lake City-County Building, community leaders unveiled a seven-step proposal aimed at making Salt Lake City more inclusive.- Survey city residents to create a database to identify underrepresented groups and establish empowerment and leadership training opportunities.

- Launch a "Know Your Neighbor" campaign as a positive means to build communities.

- Require that before community councils are formally recognized, they reflect the demographics of their neighborhood.

- Challenge Mayor Deedee Corradini and the Salt Lake City Council to establish by ordinance a Multi-Ethnic Diversity Commission as a vehicle to add minorities to all city boards and committees.

- Address concerns about race relations raised by the Youth City Government.

- Recruit ethnic minorities for city employment, including the police department.

- Require sensitivity training for all city personnel and community volunteers.

The proposal, presented by Salt Lake City Councilwoman Joanne Milner, was a response to the mayor's and Salt Lake Police Chief Ruben Ortega's "Community Discussion on Crime," scheduled for Tuesday. The meeting, originally titled a "Hispanic Crime Summit" has angered some Hispanics because only a few, "hand-picked" representatives had been invited to the private meeting.

Others decried the meeting for singling out Hispanics for what is a community problem: crime.

"Crime is a problem we all need to deal with. It is not just a Hispanic problem," said Joan Smith, director of the Utah branch of the National Conference for Community and Justice.

Corradini and Ortega called the meeting after the Salt Lake City Council in a 4-3 vote denied a proposal to "cross-deputize" city police officers to permit them to enforce some federal immigration laws. Some law enforcement officials believe there is a link between illegal immigrants and drug trafficking.

Hispanic groups vigorously opposed the plan, arguing they would be targeted because of their language, origin or appearance.

Tuesday's meeting was called to come up with alternatives, said Corradini in published reports.

"Where do we go from here? It is the Hispanic community that was most concerned about the deputization plan. We are asking `What can we do to deal with the problem in a way that you are comfortable with?' " she said.

Chris Segura, executive director of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, announced that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will conduct hearings in Salt Lake City in November to allow Utahns to air their concerns about discrimination, civil rights and human rights. A schedule will be released this week.