Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"It's Been a Long Time Coming . . ."

In addition to the article about restructuring HDC , another article that appeared above the fold on the front page of the Register-Star for March 4, 1999, was one with the headline "Task force will publicize jobs for minorities." That article begins:
The Columbia County Minority Task Force is eyeing several initiatives to make minority residents aware of job openings and increase local opportunities.
The panel is chaired by the Rev. Ronald Grant of Shiloh Baptist Church, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Simons, R-Ancram, and Hudson Mayor Richard Scalera. Its mission is "to identify the needs and concerns of minority residents in Columbia County and to sensitize and educate the community to the importance of addressing those needs."
The article reported on a meeting held by the task force, its first public meeting after being in existence for more than a year. The principal topic of discussion at that meeting, according to the article, was "job opportunities for the minority community, especially government positions that require Civil Service examinations." Scalera is quoted as saying, "Eighty percent of our jobs are Civil Service." Ellis Richardson, then chief of the Hudson Police Department, said he would like to see "more active recruitment of minorities for local law enforcement agencies." Rev. Lawrence Lucas, who was then pastor of State Street AME Zion Church, suggested "workshops to help prepare people to take exams."

Fifteen years later, on January 10, 2014, the Register-Star reported that newly elected alderwomen Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) and Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) were "calling for the City to increase the diversity of its workforce, and for the Council to institute a diversity subcommittee to address this." They specifically cited the need for the police department to "better reflect the diversity of the city" and suggested that the department "do direct recruiting to encourage members of the African-American, Bangladeshi, Latino, and LGBT communities to apply to serve . . . as police officers." So far, such a subcommittee has not been formed, although at a meeting earlier this month, Council president Don Moore promised there would be a meeting on the subject "before the end of the month."

The same January 2014 article reported that a suggestion made back in 1999 was going to be implemented. In an initiative attributed to current Board of Supervisors chair Pat Grattan, Hudson Fourth Ward supervisor Bill Hughes had been assigned "to train minorities in taking Civil Service exams." The article quotes Hughes as citing essentially the same statistic that Scalera had shared fifteen years earlier: "Eighty percent of the jobs within the school districts, city, county, and state are Civil Service."

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