Rudy's Milky Way

An Administration 'Of, For, and By White People' Has No Time or Room for Blacks

Giuliani has hired 1500 investigators to scrutinize the desperate claims of the welfare poor even while he's cut the inspectors and attorneys who insure housing code compliance to a mere 243. He's created a test for homelessness that requires shelter seekers to prove they aren't warehousing castles.

These are the barely noticed racial anomalies of life in Rudyland. They flit on and off our pages and our screens. But they are, in a city where blacks have long since transcended Ralph Ellison's telling title, a constant challenge and concern.

We are a better city than Rudy will let us be. Municipal governments are not corporations judged only by bottom-line stats of tax and welfare cuts. There is a love here he can't feel, one that is not just tough.

Research: David Kihara, Will Johnson, Coco McPherson, Soo-Min Oh, and David Shaftel


The Hit List Five of Rudy's Worst Shots at Blacks

Here are highlights of Rudy Giuliani's record with blacks, minus the familiar issue of police brutality:

Reversing a Historic Tide

The black share of city jobs, as well as the raw number of city workers who are black, has declined continuously since Giuliani became mayor in 1994, reversing a steady trend of upward black employment since the fiscal crisis of the mid '70s. As quiet as it is kept, the city payroll route up the cross-generational career ladder, straddled by black families since the Great Depression, has been pulled out from under thousands of workers in the Giuliani years.

The percentage of blacks in the city workforce has declined from 36.6 percent under Dinkins to 33 percent under Giuliani. This dramatic reduction occurred between December 31, 1993, Dinkins's final day, and June 30, 1997, the date of the most recent data available from the Department of Personnel. While the city mayoral workforce declined by 17,933 positions in that period, black employment dropped a disproportionate 11,267. Though whites account for nearly half the workforce, white employment only dipped by 2802. These figures do not include either the Health & Hospitals Corporation, where layoffs and buyouts decimated a largely black workforce, or other nonmayoral agencies like the Board of Education.

Giuliani's sharply tailored cuts, boosting police and fire while slashing every social service, produced this largely unnoticed interruption of a historical trend. The Department of Social Services alone, the unit within the Human Resources Administration that administers all public assistance, witnessed a loss of 8245 black jobs, with administrators and officials plummeting from 478 to 162 and black professionals dropping by almost 7000 (some of this was attributable to a shift in functions to another agency). The predominantly minority DSS lost 12,722 positions over these four years, while the police department not only gained jobs, but employs 5293 more whites than it did in 1993.

Two and a half years into his first term, Giuliani named his first black deputy mayor, Rudy Washington, ending the longest stint in the modern history of the city when there was no black deputy in the government. No observer of the administration believes that Washington, a onetime hanger-on in Queens Democratic clubs who hitched his star to Giuliani in the 1989 mayoral campaign, has significant policy influence. Blacks hired to fill official or administrative titles in the mayor's office hit 30 percent in 1993, 5 percent in 1995, and 9 percent in 1997; the percentage of professionals dropped from 29 percent to 9 percent over the same four years.

While blacks headed behemoths like HHC, HRA, the Health Department, and Housing Preservation and Development early in Giuliani's reign, housing is now the only unit particularly impacting minorities that is run by a black commissioner. Blacks have lost, however, 348 positions at HPD since Giuliani took office. HRA commissioner Jason Turner routinely appears at City Council hearings without a single black aide among the 10 or so who accompany him— a picture so out of whack it has a '50s air to it. The new black head of the transportation department sits atop an agency that had 234 blacks with administrative and professional titles in 1993 and 38 in 1997.

Color-Blind Name Change

The new city charter drafted under Ed Koch in 1989 attempted to guard against precisely the sort of discriminatory employment practices implicit in these numbers. It created the Equal Employment Practices Commission to monitor city employment. It required every administration to adhere to an Affirmative Employment Plan. But, though no city daily has reported on it, Giuliani refused from the beginning to abide by the plan installed by Dinkins, delayed the introduction of a replacement for more than two years, and then even refused to call his new program by the name spelled out in the charter.

Giuliani calls his version— stripped of all goals and timetables— an Equal Opportunity Employment Plan. EEPC's Abe May, who testified at hearings urging a renaming and other revisions in the plan, said he "can't respond" to the question of whether the plan complies with the charter. Reduced to level­playing-field platitudes, the Giuliani plan does not even require advertising any vacancies in minority newspapers, as Dinkins's did. As vague and unenforceable as the plan is, the administration did not even require agencies to develop their own programs to implement it until July 1997, meaning that no apparatus at all existed for almost the entire Giuliani first term.

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