A vote to reappoint Dr. Parvez Ahmed to the human Rights Commission secures his seat, but did little to quell the controversy around the decision.
By a 13-6 vote, City Council voted to reappoint Ahmed to the Commission, for what will be his second term. Councilmen Roy Holt, Robin Lumb, Don Redman, Matt Schellenberg, Clay Yarborough and Doyle Carter voted against it.
Only Lumb spoke during the council’s debate, reiterating his complaint from last week’s Rules Committee meeting that he was deprived the chance to speak with Ahmed in public to clear up some of what has been said against him. The Rules Chair had decided to defer Ahmed’s reappointment pending progress on a separate bill that would reduce the size of the commission, but in a rare move the committee overturned that decision and enough voted in favor of the reappointment to move it forward.
Ahmed, traditionally, would not have to appear for these meetings as a reappointee with a high attendance rate for commission meetings, however he had been asked to come to the meeting by Lumb. Because the reappointment was not supposed to be discussed, he was then told not to come, so he was not present to field questions when the last minute change was made.
After the council voted and a few more legislative matters were discussed, a public comment portion opened and- although they can no longer influence the council vote- many people stepped forward to speak against the reappointment. There were a wide range of complaints, including that people had not received a chance to speak against the appointment. Council President Bill Bishop quickly reminded the chamber that a public hearing on the reappointment has already taken place.
One exchange, between a speaker and Councilwoman Kimberly Daniels, ended with that person calling her vote in favor of the reappointment “treasonous”.
Councilman John Crescimbeni called out one of the speakers who pronounced Ahmed’s last name as Achmed- a mistake that was common through the comments.
Ahmed will now serve his second term on the commission. Dane Grey was also reappointed to the commission. Mario Ernesto Decunto was appointed to his first term on the commission.
A separate bill by Councilman Matt Schellenberg, the one which Councilman Clay Yarborough had wanted to play out before deciding on Ahmed’s reappointment, is still working through council. It would reduce the size of the commission from 20 to 11 members.