Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year from Upper Manhattan

'Tis the season of New Year's resolutions.

We have been impressed by the recent efforts of a number of members of the New York City Council to encourage Mayor Bloomberg to make improving ethnic, racial, and gender diversity within his administration a high priority - in essence, he has received a compelling suggestion for a New Year's resolution for 2009.

The group of New York City Council members wrote an open letter to the Mayor, and it is reprinted below. Its signatories include Upper Manhattan's Inez Dickens, Robert Jackson, and Miguel Martinez. One particular sentence that stands out appears in the second paragraph of the letter: ". . . there is a complete omission of African American men in charge of any high level agency."

We hope that the Mayor will adopt the spirit of the open letter as one of his resolution, and we resolve to support efforts by Mayor Bloomberg to bring ethnic, racial, and gender diversity to his administration in 2009.

Happy New Year.

The open letter follows:

December 16, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

The following is an open letter. We, the undersigned urge you to dedicate high priority to filling the current vacancies at NYCHA, DFTA, HPD, and DEP with qualified and diverse individuals.

On many occasions you have publicly stated that the diversity of New York City is our greatest strength, yet your words ring hollow, as we examine the lack of diversity within your administration. Furthermore, there is a complete omission of African American men in charge of any high level agency. You have four high level vacancies that deal predominantly with people of color. You now have an obligation to ensure that those positions be filled by individuals who represent the people those agencies serve.

By appointing individuals who represent the magnificent mosaic that makes up New York City, the benefits of a diverse workforce are established and recognized. We reject the argument that diversity compromises merit. Diversity and merit can be achieved by casting a wide net to highly qualified individuals, who are often overlooked and/or may live and work in New York’s outer boroughs, people that relate to the concerns of average New Yorkers.

New Yorkers recently voted for Change. This Change was not intended to end on Election Day, nor to rest solely in the White House. This call for Change should also be honored in the chambers, and on the steps of City Hall. As we study the demographic shifts in our City, we urge you to give serious consideration to this letter, and our request for action.

Given the small number of high-level positions currently held by either women, or persons of color in City government, it is imperative that we not only work to maintain those positions, but also work towards taking corrective action to increase diversity throughout your administration.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter, and we patiently await your decisions regarding the appointments.


Letitia James
G. Oliver Koppell
Diana Reyna
Charles Barron
Robert Jackson
Joel Rivera
Leroy G. Comrie, Jr
Miguel Martinez
Larry B. Seabrook
Bill de Blasio
Melissa Mark-Viverito
Kendall Stewart
Inez E. Dickens
Darlene Mealy
Albert Vann
Mathieu Eugene
Rosie Mendez
Helen D. Foster

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