City does away with contract after residents voice disapproval, many show up to air grievances anyway

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - What started off as a rally to air our grievances turned into more of a revival.

A citizens coalition in Temple, concerned about a contract the city never approved, was out in front of city hall Tuesday night.

“We appreciate the leadership of the Temple city council ... However, every leader who actively brought in this agenda or who passively enabled it to come into our city needs to be held accountable,” said David Newsome, a concerned citizen.

All because of a consulting firm Temple’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission was looking into recommending. The purpose of the recommendation was to advise staff on efforts around those three points; diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I think it just got sideways, real quick,” said Judy Morales, Temple’s mayor pro tem.

It was sideways, because of some social media and other online post the residents noticed from the firm.

What some people on a city commission thought would bring more inclusion instead brought apprehension.

“We just don’t want that agenda pushed in our city, where it would have a negative effect, especially upon our children,” said Newsome.

Many there were also concerned the city was going to use the agency.

But those with the city said it never even came close to being decided on by the city council. Mayor Tim Davis and City Manager, Brynn Myers, even put out a public letter stating they were not going to enter into any contracts.

“But that, again, was not brought to (the council), to even look at,” said Morales. “(The firm’s) message was, I think, totally different than what was expected and what our focus was to begin with.”

On Tuesday night, city officials were going to speak about the potential. But since staff had no intention of agreeing to anything the meeting was cancelled.

But still people showed up to city hall.

“And we wanted to have the citizens that have a voice and they wanted to do their three-minute speech,” said Elena Aydelotte, another concerned resident.

Though the night slowly evolved into a praise-and-worship session.

“We are not throwing out the religious card to you guys,” said Aydelotte. “We are saying, ‘do not push your beliefs on us.”

And though there is no intention of a contract, residents are still unhappy with the commission that brought up the idea of working with the agency.

“We don’t see any reason for (the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission) to be involved in our city whatsoever,” said Newsome.

Though, others with the city said the group bringing up the issue has helped the city decide on what needs to be done. According to the mayor and city manager’s public letter, any efforts related to diversity, equity and inclusion will be handled internally.

“So, we just want to thank the community for doing the hard work and for letting us know how they feel,” said Morales.

KWTX reached out to Nova Collective about the the City of Temple’s decision and sent this statement to KWTX News 10:

“At Nova, we all came into this work through different paths. But all of us have felt called to this work, in one way or another, as our small piece of making the world a better place and uplifting the voices that are so often silenced. We regret that we aren’t able to live into that purpose in this instance.

Our hearts are broken…not because of a contract, a survey, or a client -there will always be more of those - but because of the message that so many community members in Temple have received: The loud, scared voices of a few will dictate the needs of the many.

I want to tell you all a little bit about Nova. Not the fearmongering and hate speech that you might have heard based on a Facebook post from over a year ago. But the true Nova.

Our team is primarily comprised of people of deep faith - many of them specifically Christian or Abrahamic faiths. To a person, they have denounced what has happened in Temple, ostensibly in the name of God, over the past several months. Many of us have children. As you all love your children, we love our own. Fiercely. Desperately. With our whole hearts. Several of our team members live in Texas, Alabama, and South Carolina.

To put a finer point on it, your defamations (and truly, legally, they are defamations) are untrue. Your fear is unfounded.

You fear change, but you must know that God is Change. And God is Love. No amount of pitchforks can stand in the way of that. All of the hate and fear that has been espoused during this process only produces one reaction for us: profound sadness. We have compassion for those of you who truly believe the words you say. We hear the fear in your voices and we can read your version of the truth in your words. We are so sorry you are so afraid. We are so sorry you are pushing away the pain. It breaks our hearts to see you so broken.

Most importantly - to the allies, to the marginalized, and most lovingly to the LGBTQ+ community in Temple, Tx: We love you more than they can ever hate you. You are the beloved children of the God of your understanding. Never doubt that. We will continue to hold out hope that one day your community will hold space for you, will embrace you, and will love you for your whole selves.

Until such time, please take care of yourselves and each other.”

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