Saturday, January 4, 2014

Upcoming City Hall Matters

On Monday, January 13, the Common Council will hold its organizational meeting. At this meeting, the Council president typically announces the makeup of the seven standing committees: Arts, Entertainment & Tourism, Finance, Fire, Legal, Police, Public Works, Youth & Aging. This year there is a request for a new subcommittee.

On January 1, first time aldermen Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) and Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) wrote a letter to their fellow aldermen, Council president Don Moore, and Mayor William Hallenbeck requesting the adoption of a diversity recruitment policy and the creation of a Common Council diversity subcommittee. Keith and Garriga explain the rationale:
For too long the City of Hudson has suffered with a large disparity in its workforce. There are no minority commissioners, department heads or professionals, and very few minorities on boards and commissions. The few minority city employees that are on the payroll, mostly do manual labor.
In the past, the city has done little to address the barriers, policies and procedures that have prevented Hudson's workforce from reflecting the diversity of Hudson's residents. One example is the inconsistency or complete failure to post available jobs on the city's website, on social media, in the newspaper or with community based organizations.
They specifically cite the lack of diversity in the Hudson Police Department and recommend that the department do direct recruiting "to encourage members of the African-American, Bangladeshi, Latino and LGBT communities to apply to serve the city as police officers." They posit, "Community relations would be drastically enhanced, if the makeup of the police force better reflected the wonderful diversity of our residents."

The responsibilities envisioned for the diversity subcommittee would be to "work toward enhancing recruitment of potential employees, facilitate civil service testing preparation and oversee the implementation of a city-wide diversity plan." The subcommittee would also be charged with "helping to fight nepotism and preferential hiring" on the county level, "which has an even worse record in this area than the city."

The issue of diversity--or lack thereof--among the people employed by the City of Hudson is not a new one. During the mayoral debate in 2011, sponsored by HAALA (Hudson African American Leadership Alliance), one of the three questions asked of the two candidates--Bill Hallenbeck and Nick Haddad--was "How will you address the fact that African Americans are underrepresented in the City's workforce?" At that time, Hallenbeck spoke of the possibility of reviving the 1991 Minority Task Force, and Haddad talked about working with the schools and the community college to prepare people to take the civil service tests required for many City jobs. 

1 comment:

  1. Why prepare anyone for civil service tests "required for many city jobs" when a third option is available that no one ever mentions in campaigns: drop the requirement altogether, at least for department heads!

    Oops, it turns out the city was already doing that - if only on a department by department basis.

    The idea is, in place of technical expertise and merit, traditional political values can control administrative appointments.

    Very Jacksonian ... and all too Hudson.