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Mayor discusses equal opportunity


March 1, 2013
By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Gregory Neffinger met with Rev. Talbert Swan II on Feb. 20 to discuss equality during the hiring process if the proposed Hard Rock International resort casino comes to be.

Swan, president of the Springfield branch of the National Association for the Advantage of Colored Peoples (NAACP) requested the conference earlier in February.

In his request, Swan said, "I would like to meet with you to discuss how your city can ensure that there is fair representation of citizens of color in any construction work, professional services, contracts and employee hiring should the citizens approve any casino proposal . . . As the branch that represents this region, we hope that it is a goal of your city to increase the pool of minority group members, disabled veterans and women who are qualified to perform the required construction work or professional services should a casino project became a reality in your city."

Neffinger said that the meeting went well and during the course of the conversation, he and Talbot realized that they have many mutual friends.

"It was a very productive conversation. We had a chance to share stories. I'm in favor of increasing minority participation," he said, adding that he grew up among a diverse group of people where no one questioned another's ethnicity.

Neffinger explained that Swan sought the discourse to "advocate for minority representation, hoping to get wording in the host agreement to solidify the inclusion."

He added that the host agreement would be in the best interest of all involved parties.



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In other news, Neffinger has requested that the Public Safety Commission organize an internal investigation into the alleged incident involving Capt. Daniel O'Brien and a woman in police custody during the Big E in 2011.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, which will neither confirm nor deny an investigation, has yet to issue a ruling on the matter, according to the mayor.

O'Brien has remained on paid administrative leave since January 2012.

"We need to move on — we need a resolution," Neffinger said.

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