“The conference motto “A Holistic Learning Experience with Culture as the Mediator” conveys the pivotal role of cultural beliefs and practices in health, treatment and prevention.” Executive Summary, Conference for Treating and Counseling People of Color, an International Perspective
Gary Chief of Staff Dayna Bennett poses for a photo in Aruba
July 14, 2017-Conference materials posted online by the organizers of the Aruba conference which was attended by Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson and her Chief Deputy and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and her Chief of Staff make clear that the focus of the conference was for health professionals. The four travelled to Aruba in December 2016 and the trip came to light only after Gary Council Member LaVetta Sparks-Wade and Lake County Council Member Jamal Washington reviewed meeting minutes showing the Township Board refusing to rubber stamp reimbursement for the trip. Despite that refusal, all of the costs of the trip have been paid out of government funds. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson defended her use of government funds for the trip stating that the funds were paid by the federal government (we have requested records on this and hope to have more on it soon). The trip coincided with the 50th birthday of Freeman-Wilson confidante Mary Cossey, who also attended. The obvious question is was this a conference which coincided with the birthday or a birthday that coincided with a conference? The meeting materials may shed light on that question.
You can read the full meeting materials here: http://www.hrdi.org/assets/exec-summary-vision.pdf
According to information from the organizer of the event, “The idea for this landmark event grew from the. . . the need for health practitioners to incorporate culturally specific treatment and healing practices into their work with people of color.” Not one of those who utilized public funds to attend the conference are “health practitioners” so we looked further for information which would indicate that the conference was directed toward a Mayor, Township Trustee or their deputies. “The general foci categories for workshops and plenary sessions are health, mental health,substance abuse, AIDS, violence and education. Specific topics have included traditional healing practices, gender specific treatment strategies, leadership skills in the legislative process, policy development, quality assurance, program development, internationally recognized model programs, research and spirituality”
There is little, if anything, in the conference materials which would suggest that a Mayor or Township Trustee would benefit from attendance.
This is part 3 of a series on the taxpayer funded junket to Aruba taken by Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Please see:
<a href=”http://nwigazette.com/2017/07/15/aruba-conference-had-nothing-to-do-with-being-mayor-or-township-trustee/”>Part 2: Lawyer, Hairdresser, Others Went on Aruba Trip with Mayor, Township Trustee</a>
<a href=”http://nwigazette.com/2017/07/12/breaking-board-questions-kim-robinsons-aruba-trip/”>Part 1: BREAKING: Board Questions Kim Robinson’s Aruba Trip</a>