News Story

Park Board Member Denied New Term After Supporting Diversity, Equity Spending

A member of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks board was denied another term by the Livingston County Board of Commissioners in a 5-4 vote. At least one Livingston county commissioner who opposed Steven Williams says it was because Williams supported the parks system’s initiative to use taxpayer dollars to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

Commissioner Wes Nakagiri says he voted against Steven Williams’ appointment at an Aug. 23 meeting. The reason, he said, was that Williams voted to allocate $125,000 to hire guest speakers that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Williams, he added, also supported giving $6 million in taxpayer funds to the Detroit Conservancy over the next seven years for the same purpose.

Nakagiri said, “I voted against his reappointment due to his support for CRT [Critical Race Theory] and social justice. Other commissioners were equally troubled by the incumbent’s vote to give $6 million taxpayer dollars to a private entity as a means of showing more support for social justice. The incumbent likely would have been reappointed had he not voted in favor of these woke causes.”

The park system has so far paid between $500 and $7,500 for two guest speakers in its DEI Speaker Series. One of the speakers, Heather McGhee, is an author and former president of the left-leaning think tank Demos.

In a YouTube video, McGhee discussed her book “The Sum of Us” with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts. McGhee said that in the past, white people opposed liberating people of color because doing so would come at their expense; and that they used stolen land, stolen labor, and stolen people.

She added, “And it’s just been sort of rehashed and reinvigorated generation after generation by those same forces; obviously, today it is the core of the narrative of the right-wing media and infrastructure and what is the world view of what Donald Trump sees everything.”

McGhee also believes unions lost their power and support among white people when people of color wanted to be included.

The Metroparks described another speaker, Elizabeth Perry, an assistant professor in the Michigan State University College of Agriculture, as someone who would discuss climate change and its “equity considerations.”

Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.