Mayor Nutter today announced that attorney Rue Landau would serve as the next executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the city agency that mediates community disputes and enforces civil-rights laws.
Landau, who must also be approved by the commission, has served for the last 10 years as a senior attorney in the Housing Unit at Community Legal Services, representing low-income tenants facing eviction.
She is a former cochair of the Liberty City Democratic Club, an influential political group promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes within the city's Democratic Party.
Landau and Nutter said they wanted to "revitalize" the commission, which has had a low profile.
"Clearly, the Human Relations Commission can play a much more prominent role here in Philadelphia," Nutter said.
Landau said she wanted the commission to adapt to changing civil-rights challenges, such as the targeting of low-income residents by unscrupulous mortgage companies.
She declined to offer an opinion on the Human Relations Commission's highest profile case: the matter of the "speak English" sign at Geno's Steaks. The commission ruled, 2-1, in March that the sign did not violate the city's Fair Practices Ordinance.
The nine-member Human Relations Commission was created in 1951. Nutter said that he would soon name a "significant" number of appointees to the commission, but he noted that he would retain current chairman Rev. James Allen.