Hiring Plan in Works City about to Take Affirmative Action

Article excerpt

Better late than never, apparently.

More than three years after City Hall let its affirmative

action plan expire, the Jacksonville City Council and Mayor John

Delaney are drafting a new measure to take its place.

Officials in a special meeting called by Councilman Warren

Jones this week said they hope the new plan both will improve

hiring practices at City Hall -- eliminating perceived barriers

to more women and minority hires -- and make the city more

lawsuit-proof.

That legal question is not just an academic one, Deputy General

Counsel Steve Rohan told council members.

Five white men who didn't get hired in the fire department have

filed grievances that could lead to lawsuits against the city

alleging reverse racial discrimination.

And, in a separate case, the city recently paid out $27,000 to

a white applicant who was told he couldn't be hired because the

city needed a black person for a certain job in accordance with

the affirmative action plan, Rohan said.

But that plan has not existed in the city since Sept. 30, 1995,

when the original legislation dating from 1976 was slated to

sunset without legislative action. And even when the plan was in

effect, it was never updated.

"It's loaded with goals and statistics that are really

outdated," Rohan said. "We wanted to redraft it and make it

current with what's going on in the workplace now and in the

law."

Jones planned to ask council President Don Davis to appoint a

council subcommittee to study the plan.

"The community is becoming more diverse and we need to have a

process in place to make sure they are treated fairly," Jones

said.

Similarly, Councilman King Holzendorf argued there were few if

any African-Americans in many important city departments and

agencies.

"It [the problem] is in every department," Holzendorf said,

without citing specific statistics.

"We know there are deficiencies across the board, but it's not

in every department," countered Delaney aide Eric Green.

Current employment data provided by city Finance Director Cal

Ray shows 68 percent of the 6,324-employee City Hall workforce

is white, 29 percent African-American, and 3 percent classified

as "other" minorities.

About 25 percent of the county is African-American, suggesting

city government is meeting -- actually even exceeding -- the

general goal of having its employment reflect the community's

racial mix.

However, the kinds of jobs actually held by people of different

races and genders at City Hall still show room for improvement

by affirmative-action standards. White men, who make up half the

workforce, still hold a far greater share of the highest-paying

jobs, which generally are in the administrative, professional

and technical categories, than any other race/gender

combination.

In the top class of administrative officials that include

department heads and division chiefs, for example, 150 employees

-- or 55 percent -- are white men, compared with 65 white women,

32 black men and 25 black females, for an overall white/black

split of 79 to 21 percent. …