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What you need to know for 01/22/2018

Affirmative action criticism ‘troubling’ to Porterfield

Affirmative action criticism ‘troubling’ to Porterfield

Disagreement over the makeup of Schenectady’s affirmative action advisory board isn’t dying down.

Disagreement over the makeup of Schenectady’s affirmative action advisory board isn’t dying down.

A week after city Councilman Ed Kosiur said too few whites were being considered for the board, Councilwoman Marion Porterfield shot back, calling his remarks “troubling” and saying she heard from many residents who were offended.

“It’s a slap in the face of those who submitted their resumes,” she said.

She added that the whole point of the board was to garner ideas and advice on issues related to women, minorities, the disabled and veterans.

“To minimize the participation of minorities on the board is counter-productive. It doesn’t make sense,” Porterfield said.

She also challenged Kosiur to complain about the racial makeup of every board in the city, saying she had researched it and discovered they were all 50 to 100 percent white.

“If it’s a problem for one board, it’s a problem for all the boards,” she said.

But she added she would rather he just drop the topic.

“I think we should move forward with the resumes” and appoint members, she said.

Kosiur declined to respond.

Last week, he said he was unhappy that only two of the 19 residents who submitted resumes were white.

“I have concerns, obviously,” he said then. “If we’re doing affirmative action, we need diversity both ways. I think we need to have a fair representation across the board.”

The board, which was designed decades ago, is to have one to two members representing minority interests, one to two representing the disabled, two representing women and two representing Latinos, as well as an at-large member interested in diversity. Thus, non-minorities could be appointed to five of the nine seats. Kosiur said having only two white members would not be fair.

He said he wanted Mayor Gary McCarthy to keep accepting resumes for some time before making the nine appointments to the board. The mayor said he would accept additional resumes, but Porterfield wants him to stop waiting and make the appointments as soon as possible.

It won’t happen immediately: McCarthy is on vacation. He has said he plans to appoint members next month.

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