For three years I have expressed concern over the inequity of our board appointment process. For the last year my objections have grown louder and louder. An analysis of our boards and commissions revealed that representation does not fairly take in the voices of young people, minorities, women, and low income individuals. Our policies often reflect the dominance of older affluent white males in local government. We also take no care to prevent active members of organizations that lobby the city from dominating certain boards.
Prior to a closer examination of the process a couple council members made some comments that I found to be incredibly condescending, especially to women. These comments included, “we appoint the best candidates.” And, “our appointments reflect those that applied.” The last comment is double insulting as it exonerates leadership of failing to create a process that brings all voices to the table and upon further review is totally false. The problem appears even worse when you realize that a few boards (Civic Music, Library, Police Oversight) mask the even more disproportionate representation in the city.
This boiled over when the Mayor and City Council passed over several highly qualified and underrepresented women and appointed an unqualified paid lobbyist to the Heart of the City Committee. This failure because more critical when it was revealed that several of the teams competing for the Heart of the City design contract are actually paying the lobbyist on that committee.
As the people of Rochester have been increasingly willing to do they got together and discuss the issues and suggested solutions. I have asked some of these leaders to prepare a resolution that I intend to introduce on May 2. Many of these same people are planning a rally at city hall on May 2, at 6:30 PM. I plan to be there to thank them for their activism.