LEHIGH COUNTY-Anti-discrimination wording a concern
Business as usual hit a speed bump Feb. 27 when county commissioners attempted to approve a couple of routine professional services contracts. Commissioner Amy Zanelli objected to the boilerplate anti-discrimination provisions of two proposed agreements – one with Election IQ LLC and another with Alfred Yacoub, Esquire for professional services with the County of Lehigh.
Zanelli, elected in 2017 from District 3 to her commissioner office, noted the proposed contracts did not contain language that protects “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.”
Armstrong’s “administrative notice” requires that the new protection language be included in “any contracts or grants issued by Lehigh County Departments, Offices, and Bureaus.”
One commissioner expressed some concern that the two companies have been “working for nothing since January,” and therefore quick approval of the contracts was appropriate. Another noted that Lehigh County “has never discriminated against anyone” in past contracts.
Zanelli argued that failure to have such language acts as a bar to members of the LGBTQ community from going public. She prevailed and the commissioners sent the two contracts back for inclusion of the appropriate changes in protection language.
Commissioner Marc Grammes, in an impassioned statement, supported Zanelli’s objection by describing the discrimination he observed as a Merchant Marine midshipman during his travels in Africa—especially in then apartheid South Africa.
The contract with Alfred Yacoub, Esquire is for legal counsel to defendants charged with indirect criminal contempt for violation of protection from abuse orders in Lehigh County. The contract with Election IQ LLC is for a database used to create ballots used in Lehigh County’s electronic voting machines.
In other business, Lehigh Commissioners approved the sale of 6.3 acres at 749 Route 100 to Landston Equities, LLC for $550,000.
The Commissioners reappointed -Doris Glaessmann to the Election and Registration Commission.