The City of San Diego and the Issue of Race

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By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher

Once again the City of San Diego is waving the flag of equality and calling for fair and equitable treatment of all its citizens. Fourth District City Council Member Monica Montgomery is to be commended for her proposal to create a Department of Race and Equity within the City of San Diego. It is truly hoped that such an idea is approved and implemented for the good of all. But in the interim, let’s take a look at the City’s current track record on some related issues.

The City of San Diego has several Commissions that should already be addressing issues of race and equity. The City has a Race Human Relations Commission. The Commission has members and an Executive Director; members but no staff. At last check, it shared a secretary with the Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention, and both commissions shared space with the Executive Director of the Citizens Review Board. None of these have had staff support or budgets beyond their Executive Director. Then, there is the Citizens Equal Employment Opportunity Commission intended to monitor and evaluate the City’s employment practices and to promote and recruit competent men and women of diverse ethnicity and backgrounds for employment with the city. The City of San Diego also has a Civil Service Commission separate and apart from the County of San Diego’s Civil Service Commission.

All these organizations appointed by the Mayor, with confirmation from the City Council, have done very little to change the many problems within the City of San Diego, from discrimination and inequality in salaries and promotions within the city itself to the treatment of residents by such entities as the San Diego Police Department.

It has been said that an idea is only as good as its implementation. Perhaps the proposed Department of Race and Equity can work where others have failed. If it is to work, what happens to the roles and functions of those entities we have mentioned here who are supposedly already doing the job mentioned? Will the Mayor truly support such a department where he has failed such existing commissions like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has been unable to produce a real report on equity and employment in the city’s current departments and programs? Will the Mayor appoint the necessary staff since this is a proposed department within the existing city government?

This is the same Mayor to whom it was suggested that we create a Department on Youth Employment and Education in the City of San Diego to provide internships for the City’s youth, separate and apart from the Workforce Partnership, as a means of making a line item commitment to youth employment. With just a few months left in office, let’s make sure that whatever the Mayor proposes or agrees to, will last longer than his remaining days in that position.

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