If the organization charged with investigating allegations of discrimination in York City has unresolved cases going back years, it's not unreasonable to ask, "Why?"

And if the Human Relations Commission wants even more funding from the city, someone is probably going to want to know how exactly it spends its money.

Those aren't shots at the paid investigators or their work -- they're simply questions that need to be answered.

The fact that commission members are among those asking actually adds a bit of urgency to the situation.

It seems at least some of the members aren't sure what the investigators do or how they do it.

During a special meeting last week, York City's Human Relations Commission debated hiring an independent auditor to probe the work done by the commission's two-person investigative staff.

Members of the commission's personnel committee said it appears cases move slowly through the agency, and monthly reports indicate some have remained open for years.

"What that means, we're not entirely sure," Commissioner Tanisha Silvagnoli said.

Never a good sign.

The agency's executive director, Stephanie Seaton, defended her work, saying she emails commission members often but rarely hears back. Seaton acknowledged reports submitted to the commission are not always accurate, but said a docket book maintained at the agency's front desk is public and up to date.


While it's good accurate information is kept somewhere, it doesn't explain why commission members were sent inaccurate reports in the first place.

They should be able to trust that information -- not wonder if they need to trot down to the office and compare it to the docket book.

By the end of the meeting, the commission members split on hiring an auditor, deciding instead to pass a motion supporting members' self-directed education of the agency's internal workings.

That's a good idea -- and probably should have been the first order of business for each member when he or she took a seat on the commission.

Local attorney and NAACP President Sandra Thompson, who attended the meeting, had another good idea.

She suggested the commission, rather than hire an auditor, ask the state's Human Relations Commission or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for a review the agency.

Either one is qualified to judge the local work, Thompson pointed out.

There's no point paying someone for an audit if the commission isn't even sure what its investigators should be doing, much less whether they're doing it correctly.

But it would be nice to have a state commission critique in hand before asking the York City Council for more money.

Such a report would help justify the request, or guide the local commission in making needed changes.