Kenney appoints commission on Asian-American affairs

Mayor Kenney has reestablished a committee on Asian American affairs, hoping the city can better address issues important to Asian communities and enhance their members' social, cultural, and economic status.

"We're about 6 percent of the population here," said John Chin, executive director of Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. and chairman of the new committee. "So I guess, if we're out of sight, sometimes we're out of mind. And I want to change that dynamic."

Former Mayor Michael A. Nutter reestablished a defunct Mayor's Commission on Asian American Affairs in 2009, but the committee had not been active in recent years. The new committee, which held its first meeting Thursday, has 25 members and will be housed within the Mayor's Office of Public Engagement.

Nina Ahmad, head of that office, in a statement said the commission would "play an important role as a conduit" between the community and government while making policy and program recommendations to Kenney.

Chin said the commission intends in the fall to hold a citywide meeting to gather input.

Before then, he said, improving language access will be a key priority. He said the commission could also focus on concerns about recent crimes targeting Asian-owned businesses.

At a Council hearing in October, Southwest Detective Division Lt. John Walker said the police identified 13 such crimes over a three-month period this spring and summer. Also in October, about 700 people held a rally in Center City to decry violence against members of the Chinese American community.

"We cannot let people just use culture and language as an excuse for things not working," Chin said. "We actually have to come up with really creative solutions."

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