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
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outdated," Rohan said.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
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
Similarly, Councilman King Holzendorf argued there were few if
any African-Americans in many important city departments and
"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
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
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. …