Fire Cheif Jackson to Retire
I was very sorry to learn that our Fire Cheif, Alex Jackson, will be retiring. I was looking forward to supporting his renomination and voting to approve his appointment again this year. Chief Jackson has served as Minneapolis Fire Chief since 2008 and has been working for the City and as part of the Fire Department for 27 years. His last day as chief will be February 29.
In the press release he said, “After 30 years of service to the citizens of Minneapolis, including three as fire chief, I have made the decision to retire. Serving as chief of the MFD, as well as being the first African American fire chief in the history of the department, has been one of my greatest achievements and honors.”
Not only am I disapponted because I think he was an effective leader of the department, but also because he is one of our few nonwhite department heads. After recovering from the disappointment of losing him, and learning that the Mayor will be nominating John Fruetel to be the next Minneapolis Fire Chief, I thought it might be interesting to do a more careful look at the diversity of our top City employees, the department heads. Assuming that John Fruetel's appointment is approved (which I suspect it will be) here is my best snapshot assessment of the gender and racial mix of our department heads:
Charter Department Heads (Appointment approved by the Council)
1. Chief of Fire Department - (will likely be) white male
2. Chief of Police - white male
3. City Assessor - white male
4. City Attorney - white female
5. City Clerk - white male
6. City Coordinator - white male
7. Commissioner of Health - white female
8. Director of Public Works - white male
9. Director of Regulatory Services - white male
10. Director of Civil Rights - black female
11. Director of Community Planning and Economic Development - unknown
Other Department Heads
Besides Charter Department Heads, these positions within the City of Minneapolis are considered Department Heads, although they are apponted by the City Coordinator.
1. Assistant City Coordinator Communications Director - white female
2. Assistant City Coordinator Finance Director - white male
3. Assistant City Coordinator Director of Human Resources (HR) - white female
4. Assistant City Coordinator Chief Information Officer (BIS) - white male
5. Assistant City Coordinator Director of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) -white male
6. Assistant City Coordinator Convention Center - white male
Out of 17 positions only 5 are women (29.4% female and 70.6% male), and out of 17 on 1 is nonwhite (5.9% nonwhite and 94.1% white).
This does not reflect the makeup of our city, which is approximately 50% female and, according to 2010 census data, roughly 60% white and 40% nonwhite.
Worse, even recently in terms of recruituing and hiring diversity at the department head level we have stuck out. The last three hires, for example, a new Chief Information Officer (BIS), new head of Regulatory Services, and new Finance director all were white males.
We can and should do better.