Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Employment Plan Earns Council Approval

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Employment Plan Earns Council Approval

Article excerpt

Four years after allowing the last employment plan to expire, Jacksonville City Council members approved a replacement yesterday designed to stress equal opportunity while allowing affirmative action in some cases.

Councilman Lake Ray said the city was trying to encourage uniformity in its hiring, which has prompted lawsuits and grievances alleging both racial and reverse racial discrimination, as recently as last year.

Ray studied the measure, originally proposed by Mayor John Delaney, in a council subcommittee with Pat Lockett-Felder and Reggie Fullwood.

"What we had tried to do was make sure that the city had a standard hiring practice," Ray said, "and to make sure that it had equal representation across the community."

For jobs in which statistics show women and minorities are under-represented --- meaning their numbers at City Hall don't reflect their percentages in the community overall --- the city will take extra steps to recruit, train and promote qualified candidates more aggressively. Each city department also must make quarterly progress reports about their goals.

At present, 56 percent of City Hall's 5,411-employee work force is Caucasian men, with about 1,150 women of all races and 1,200 other minorities.

The city's original plan --- known then as an affirmative action plan ---was approved in 1976 with an automatic sunset date of Sept. 30, 1995. Delaney and his staff finished work on a new measure, with updated goals and statistics, in October 1998, when it was given to the council for study. It was approved unanimously yesterday.

In practice, though, the new plan has been the rule at City Hall since December, when Delaney issued an executive order activating it. The mayor was able to use the new policy prior to council approval because hiring is an executive --- or mayoral --- function. But council approval of the policy as an official ordinance in the city code makes it more permanent.

In other business, the council approved a new 164-acre industrial/commercial park for the Westside. The park at Interstate 295 and Northeast Pritchard Road will include 10 acres for restaurants and hotels, with 80 acres --- or 1.2 million square feet --- of industrial uses. Drainage and conservation areas make up the balance.

CITY COUNCIL AGENDA

A look at some of the items the Jacksonville City Council considered at its meeting :

ISSUE: Flood projects

What it means: The council would authorize the pu rchase of three properties for $360,000 for the Little Pottsburg Creek/Doctors Branch flood control project. …

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