Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

City Board Diversity Audit

My office, and specifically my extremely capable intern Annie Welch, is in the beginning stages of an important new initiative: a diversity audit of all official City Boards and Commissions. This includes advisory groups like the Citizen's Environmental Advisory Committee, various appeals boards, special service district boards and other groups.

The idea is to do a survey of all members of these boards and commissions to find out how well we're doing at appointing people who match Minneapolis. We're including lots of different demographic data: race, gender, age, geography, disability status, sexual orientation, etc.

The hope is that this information, once we've compiled it all, will give us a 'baseline' against which to measure future efforts to increase the diversity of our boards and commissions. This will fit into the broader, ongoing work of the Coordinator's Office to improve the appointments process to these important facets of the City's community engagement work. I'm hopeful that this will help us move in a better, more inclusive direction, and in the end will improve the decisions made at all levels of City government by including more voices in and viewpoints in our decision-making processes.


At 1:11 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

I would be interested to hear about diversity statistics involving neighborhood organization involvement as compared to the neighborhoods they represent.

I have only attended a couple neighborhood organization meetings in my life, but I have to say that one of the most aggravating as far as "diversity" is concerned was attending a meeting in Whittier, where pretty much everyone was either: (a) white, (b) business owner, (c) middle-aged. There were probably 3 or 4 people like myself who fit into none of those, and even then I am only an outlier because of my age.

What particularly bothered me about this was that those involved in the meeting were by no means any sort of representation of the neighborhood, thus it is hard to say that decisions made in that meeting would have represented actual desires of people living in the neighborhood. I realize this is an issue of getting residents involved, but I have also heard some troubling rumors about other neighborhood organizations in the city that imply that the neighborhood outreach conducted by some in the organizations is shockingly prejudiced.

At this Whittier meeting, I raised the point of following through on improving the pedestrian experience along Nicollet in Whittier by reducing on-street parking in areas where a larger sidewalk is needed, which was basically laughed at by the middle-aged, white business owners who have the convenience of being able to drive everywhere and thus reject anything that would prevent street parking. I can only imagine that actual residents' concerns face similar problems because the neighborhood organization leadership has little perspective on what it is like to live in that neighborhood, or if they do, they probably live in a house and don't understand concerns of renters and those without cars.

Anyway, even if you don't get to looking at neighborhood organizations (I realize the audit is aimed mostly at governmental committees), I would be highly interested in the outcome. I already know what it will be, but having statistics will help prove the point.

Thanks for all your hard work. I wish I lived in your ward to vote for you this upcoming election!


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