Pittsfield's political leaders seem to be willingly admitting to the city's poor record of recruiting and hiring minority candidates for municipal and school positions. Well, when are the city officials going to look even further into poor minority statistics? Let's look at the number of black-American owned businesses from a Laundromat owner to a sandwich store business owner. They pale in numbers but it doesn't seem to be of great interest to the office of cultural development or other departments in the city.
Since July of 2013 there have been requests to adopt and implement a dormant affirmative action policy, but it continues to sit, remaining dormant. It is the policy of the city of Pittsfield to see that each individual, regardless of his race, color, religious creed, marital status, handicap, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, or source of income shall have equal opportunity in or access to employment, housing, education, recreation and public accommodations; to assure that each individual shall have equal access to and benefit from all public services; to protect each individual in the enjoyment of his civil rights; and to encourage and bring about mutual understanding and respect among all individuals in the city by the elimination of prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination and the disorder occasioned thereby.
This is according to the human rights commission ordinance adopted by the city. But Pittsfield is not even in compliance with its own rules and policies. Let's ask (director of administrative services) Mary McGinnis and Mayor Bianchi -- if Pittsfield really cared about its minority population, how did the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee die to begin with? Let's not say it is because they weren't there, because the mayor was a city councilor and had full knowledge of how the city operated. And to add to injury, McGinnis told city councilors that there has been progress, adding that "We have only just begun to change the culture." What does change the culture mean? Whose culture do we have to change? Is she saying that the culture is to discriminate and not use affirmative action to treat people fairly?
It has been written that "Councilors expressed support for the effort or asked questions about how changes might be implemented." What are we supposed to do as a black community if the white leaders of the city are saying they do not know how to help the black community while the ignorant in the city say, let the blacks help themselves? As soon as the opportunities are equally distributed, made available and open to fairness we will be happy to help ourselves.
My question to McGinnis is, how long does it take to work through 37 pages and pass the policy? It has been over five months, how many more months will it take?
Judy Williamson said there are approximately five African-American and four Hispanic teachers but it is time to address the lack of American blacks working within Pitts-
field that no one is speaking about. As we are looking at Pittsfield as unwelcoming to minority job-seekers we need to look at the unwelcoming attitude in the business sector also. We need to look back at how many black-American business owners have been discouraged from locating or expanding here. Pittsfield's Human Resources Dept. had a direct route for employment opportunities to the black-American community and it dissolved that source, which could have been a real factor in keeping the hiring process transparent.
The Eagle wrote that Bianchi said he believes the city is showing its commitment to affirmative action through the policy and the advisory committee, a group of citizens that will periodically review hiring in the city and help set goals and guidelines for increasing minority employment, but I say to the mayor and the political leaders that a commitment is to pass something. We would like a public date on when the Affirmative Action Policy is going to be passed by the City Council and put into rule as a policy. What are the steps for it to become an actual policy? Is the mayor willing to answer that?
Doreen Wade, who has family links to Pittsfield, is the founder of www.neinformer.net, an online magazine company designed to reach not just the Black-American community but people of color to uplift, educate and inform.