Another HRC member filing complaint against Mackey - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Another HRC member filing complaint against Mackey


SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- Another member of Sioux City's Human Rights Commission is now taking issue with its executive director, Karen Mackey.

This time, Melissa Tjeerdsma says Mackey is discriminating against her, because of her religious beliefs.

Human Rights Commissioner Melissa Tjeerdsma's only been on the board for about six months, and says, in that time, Karen Mackey has created an unnecessary divide among members.

A self-described "conservative Christian," Tjeerdsma says her beliefs have not sat well with Mackey. Tjeerdsma says she's in the process filing a complaint against Mackey with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

Tjeerdsma says, "I have my mind made up that she discriminated against me unfairly. In terms of her and her job status, that I'm staying neutral on."

Tjeerdsma says at Mackey's hearing before board members on August 16th, the director attacked Christians and questioned their fitness to serve.

"Claiming that I've been discriminatory without any fact or without any evidence whatsoever," Tjeerdsma said.

Tjeerdsma voted to keep Mackey in her current position at that hearing, but says events in the past week -- like fellow commissioner Darrel Benson's claims of discrimination because of his disability -- have forced her to come forward. Tjeerdsma says the City Attorney's office pressured her and other members to say nothing against Mackey at that hearing, in order to avoid legal retaliation from Mackey.

Tjeerdsma says, "They have done nothing to protect me against allegations that have been leveled against me."

City Attorney Andrew Mai issued a statement saying, "The City Attorney's Office is not responsible for providing unsolicited legal advice to individual members of boards or commissions regarding their personal liability."

City Manager Paul Eckert says he hopes the city looks into every concern, and continues the commission's work.

"Ideally we can get through this phase and get to a more constructive point for this very important function: human rights in our community," Eckert said.

"I want a fair and equitable solution for everybody and that's the reason I was on the commission in the first place," Tjeerdsma said.

Tjeerdsma says, as a commissioner with specific beliefs, just like other members, she is able to put aside her personal feelings and uphold Iowa law.

KTIV's attempts to reach Human Rights Director Karen Mackey for comment have been unsuccessful.

Online Reporter: Zach Tecklenburg

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