BY JAMES HARPER
Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm said during last week’s commission meeting that when the late Mayor Yvonne Scarlett Golden was mayor from 2003 to 2006 “she addressed the issue of diversity as well as issues of the different camps in the community and how to bring them together.”
He said, “She brought to light what is embodied in every city. That is, the greatness of people who live here without regards to color of skin or station in life. She always found a place for everybody she came in touch with.’’
But under Chisholm’s watch as city manager, who was hired by Scarlett-Golden, Blacks have been impacted when decisions were made to eliminate city jobs.
Overall dip since 2003
An investigation by the Daytona Times also indicates Blacks in general were not hired to replace those who retired or left the city’s staff for other reasons.
The Times has learned that under Chisholm’s watch the percentage of Blacks working for the city has declined. City records show the number of people working for the city since 2003, when Scarlett-Golden was mayor, has dropped from 947 to 768.
The number of Blacks working for the city is now 141 compared to 586 Whites. Blacks make up only 18 percent of the city’s workforce compared to 20 percent in 2003. In 2003, there were 736 White city employees compared to 189 Blacks.
Overall, the number of White employees dropped 736 to 586. Blacks dropped from 189 to 141.
The number of Hispanics working for the city now is 29, 12 more than in 2003. They currently make up 4 percent of the city’s workforce.
Protective services numbers up
Blacks saw the biggest decline in skilled craft workers (2003 to 2013) from 36 down to five. Black paraprofessionals went from 12 to zero. Black technicians dropped from 23 to 11.
Blacks saw a rise in numbers in protective services go from 30 to 49.
The number of Black officials and administrators remained the same at six while the number of Whites rose from 30 to 33.
The number of Blacks working in service maintenance fell from 39 to 33.
The report revealed the change in the number of minorities – Blacks, Asians, Hispanics (which doesn’t include women) – in each city department (2003 vs. 2013).
In the city attorney’s department, the number of minorities remained at two; city clerk’s office went from two to three. In Development Services, minorities dropped from 40 to 34 and the city manager’s office stayed at two. Public Works saw the biggest drop – from 71 to 48. Minorities in the finance department declined from 22 to 13. In the fire department, minorities increased from 17 to 22 while in the police department, the numbers rose from 50 to 56.
‘Back to all-White males’
The declining number of Blacks working for the city became an issue last week at the June 19 city commission meeting when Zone 6 Commissioner Paula Reed said, “When you think about diversity, when you look at upper management, we are back to all-White males.”
“We used to have more people of color and more women who ran the city,” continued Reed, who was reminded that Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson, Community Development Director Emory Counts, City Clerk Jennifer Thomas, and Assistant City Manager Betty Goodman are all Black.
“What about middle management,” questioned Reed to city staff as they called out the Black employees names.
Nothing was said.
Resignation riles Reed
Reed was upset that city employee James Henderson, a Black male in the planning department, was leaving the city for another job.
“I am disturbed we are allowing the only person of color in the planning department that has a degree in planning to actually leave us,” said Reed, implying that something is happening for Blacks to leave the city in disproportionate numbers.
Reed said one of Scarlett-Golden’s initiatives while a city commissioner and then mayor – with the help of former Zone 6 Commissioner Charles W. Cherry, Sr. – “was our city employees (should) reflect what our city looks like.”
“At one point, there was more of a reflection and that has changed more recently,” she noted.
‘Worthy of consideration’
According to the 2010 Census, Daytona’s Beach population was 61,005. Of that number, 58 percent were White; 35 percent Black; 6 percent Hispanic; and 2.3 percent Asian.
Mayor Derrick Henry came to Reed’s defense as uneasiness among spectators became evident as she spoke about the topic.
“(It’s) a little unsettling when we hear we can make improvements,” he said, noting her comments were “worthy of consideration.”
“We want to make sure we are a diverse staff and represent the city we are. We want a high-quality staff, and I don’t think we ever sacrificed that. I don’t think (Reed’s) comments are out of line,” Henry concluded.