While the introduction of another legislative attempt to expand Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance drew the TV cameras Wednesday, another bill designed to remedy discrimination was introduced the same day.
Councilman Garrett Dennis filed Ordinance 2017-16, “encouraging the City of Jacksonville and its independent agencies and authorities under the code to provide positive steps to correct or eliminate the vestiges of any past discriminatory practices and any current potentially discriminatory conditions, whether purposeful or inadvertent, that may have effectively denied full and equal participation by underrepresented groups in the city’s workforce.”
Jacksonville, of course, has a long history of issues with employment discrimination in the workplace, including governmental entities. And the Equal Opportunity/Equal Access program, set up in 2004, was established to remedy those injustices.
However, what Dennis’ legislation would do is offer some concrete steps toward and resources behind those goals.
Dennis’ bill calls for the following: annual reporting to the Mayor and City Council on the progress and state of the Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Program; budgetary line-item for the position of Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Assistant Director; and an “annual review” of “adherence and commitment” to the ordinance by the CEO’s of the city’s independent authorities.
The bill notes that the position of assistant director of the equal opportunity program has been vacant for a long time for budget reasons, which occludes the council from knowing exactly how entities like JEA and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority address these issues.
That assistant director, were the position funded, could ensure that demographic criteria isn’t the reason for hiring, firing, promotion, or lack thereof.
Positioned to monitor how these agencies address diversity goals, the director would be expected to report to council annually. The agencies would also be expected to offer similar reports.