Anti-discrimination wording is concern for commissioner
Business hit a speed bump Feb. 27 when Lehigh County Board of Commissioners attempted to approve a couple of 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, Esq., for professional services with the county.
Zanelli, elected in 2017 to represent District 3, noted the proposed contracts did not contain language that protects “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disability.”
Armstrong’s administrative notice requires 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 Yacoub 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 the county’s electronic voting machines.
In other business, 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.