NAACP to city: Where’s the diversity?

Branch president wants commission to do full review of hiring and promotion practices

BY PENNY DICKERSON
DAYTONA TIMES

151029_dt_front01The voice of the Volusia County-Daytona Beach branch of the NAACP was robust and firm during the Oct. 21 city commission meeting. The organization’s president, Cynthia Slater, was the first citizen to address the Daytona Beach commission during the public comments segment with a letter that addressed employment equity and diversity for African-Americans and minorities within city government.

Slater wants a full review of minority employees, including hiring practices, terminations and promotions ordered by the commission.

‘Bombarded with complaints’
Slater’s address began as follows:
“I stand before you representing hundreds of member of the Volusia County Daytona Beach branch of the NAACP The branch’s goal is to enhance the capacity of African-Americans and other underserved groups by promoting diversity and inclusion in hiring, equal employment opportunities and career advancement.

“Our organization has been bombarded with complaints from employees from the City of Daytona Beach throughout the years and our legal redress committee has held meetings with the city manager and his administrators with very unsettling outcomes. Therefore, it is with this great sense of responsibility that the organization speak out to what we believe are unfair practices in hiring and promotions within the city.”

Full review requested
The public comments section of each city commission meeting allows any member of the public the opportunity to address Mayor Derrick Henry and the six commissioners. Any item on the “consent agenda” or any other matter that is not on the agenda can be challenged.

With a couple of minutes allotted to speak, Slater’s time was depleted and perhaps the most relevant aspect of her address was omitted – a specific and reasonable review that she expects the city commission to address.

“I am asking that a full review of minority employees including hiring practices, terminations, promotions and the like be investigated by this commission. The NAACP will continue to scrutinize the city’s record on this issue and will present our findings to the necessary authority.”

Preferential treatment?
The NAACP president also cited the following:
Employee opportunities, new hires and promotions are given to those with influence in the city.

They do not always meet the minimum qualifications and the NAACP sees this as nepotism and preferential treatment.

Minority applications fear retaliation if they complain against their supervisors.

Employees have been forced to resign, dismissed or have been terminated because of prejudice.

In her letter, Slater also challenged this city’s statement written on city applications: “Residents in Daytona Beach are given preference in city hiring.’’ She also referred to a resolution adopted by the commission that all department directors are to establish residency in the city.

EEOC complaint filed
On Sept. 24, the Daytona Times reported that Daytona Beach Fire Department Lt. Larry Stoney has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim against the city, citing that he was racially discriminated against when he was denied the appointment of fire chief. A White candidate was selected whom Stoney believes was less qualified.

Among the egregious allegations Stoney cited in a complaint letter were that he had applied and been denied three “chief officer” positions with the City of Daytona Beach. “Two of those positions were filled by less qualified persons,” Stoney’s letter stated.

“The last position I applied for was the Battalion Chief of Administration and Battalion Chief of B Battalion in the operations division, but were given to less qualified Caucasian males that were either drinking and hanging friends with Chief (Dru) Driscoll or worked with him and had both professional and private relationships,” the letter continued.

Black leaders gone
Currently, Whites fill almost 80 percent of the available jobs at the fire department. There are 14 African-Americans employed, three Hispanic/Latinos, and a single American Indian/Native Alaskan works as a driver engineer.

Stoney’s complaint echoes allegations that a litany of African-Americans in Daytona Beach administrative leadership have resigned, retired or been fired since the appointment of Chisholm.

Among those gone are Ricardo Kisner, finance director; Cheryl Harrison-Lee, Development Services director; Dwayne Murray, the city’s first Black fire chief; James Benderson, planner; and Etienne Seales, records manager.

While the municipality is led by Mayor Derrick Henry, an African-American, racial disparity in appointment and promotion appears to be rampant in high-level positions of authority.

The Daytona Times emailed requests to the entire commission for individual responses to Slater’s statement, but received no responses by press time late Wednesday night.

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