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What you need to know for 01/18/2018

Schenectady council to revive Affirmative Action panel

Schenectady council to revive Affirmative Action panel

The City Council will take a new approach to diversifying the city workforce by using a tool that wa

The City Council will take a new approach to diversifying the city workforce by using a tool that was long forgotten.

The city has a moribund Affirmative Action Advisory Board, which the council decided Monday to reactivate.

The board has long been dormant. In 2000, Mayor Al Jurczynski said getting the board going again would be one of the first priorities of his new affirmative action officer. But that was the last mention of the board in the media for a decade.

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said last year’s decrease in city workforce diversity indicated a need to do more.

“I believe this board could be of assistance in that,” she said. “I think it’s a board we need to get running again.”

The rest of the council agreed, but Councilman Carl Erikson warned it might not be easy. The board is supposed to have nine members, making it a large committee to fill.

“Let’s get the word out. Sometimes finding people to sit on these boards is harder than you might imagine,” he said.

The board is so old that the city code calls for members to be appointed by the “chief executive officer” rather than the mayor.

Membership is also very specific. The board must have: two members representing women; one representing Hispanics; two representing minorities; one representing the disabled; and three members who “are sensitive to the problems of intergroup relations and represent various segments of the city.”

There is no reference to a salary; most of the city’s board positions are unpaid.

But the board is given wide powers. It can conduct citywide public hearings on affirmative action issues and can concern itself with “all aspects of equal opportunity” in hiring, employment, promotion, complaints, purchasing and contracting.

The board is also supposed to review and approve the city’s affirmative action goals each year to make sure they are in compliance with federal, state and local laws. The board must evaluate each goal annually and monitor the city’s performance on those goals, as well as recommending changes if needed.

The council also decided to eliminate several other dormant committees, including the Central Park Stage Committee, Tuesday in the Park and Colonial Festival Advisory Committee and the DARE Advisory Committee, on the grounds that none is needed any longer.

Mona Golub organizes Music Haven activities, Tuesday in the Park was canceled years ago and DARE no longer exists.

The council also decided to eliminate several moribund boards that it felt had been replaced by others, including the Economic Development Zone Administrative Board, the Environmental Conservation Commission and the Police Objective Review Committee.

The council must hold a public hearing on those eliminations before taking a final vote.

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