Annapolis to change hiring plan City is dropping specific goals

April 18, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Annapolis officials are drafting a new affirmative action plan that would emphasize recruiting more women and minorities without setting any quotas.

In updating its decade-old blueprint for a more balanced work force, the city is abandoning specific goals for minority hiring and promotions. The city attorney and administration officials say the 1983 document is outdated and some of its language is illegal after U.S. Supreme Court decisions on minority set-aside programs.

"There have been a lot of changes in the law in the last 10 years," said Jonathan Hodgson, the city solicitor. "What we have now is a draft of a plan designed to ensure fairness."

While Annapolis has surpassed many of its original goals to recruit more women, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, it has fallen short in some departments. Twenty-five percent of the city's top-paid administrators are black, for instance, but only 10.4 percent of the 96 firefighters.

Overall, 26 percent of the city government's 462 full-time employees are women, 30 percent are black, 1 percent are Hispanic and .4 percent are Asian, according to statistics from the personnel office.

According to the 1990 census, blacks make up 33 percent of the city's population of 33,187.

City Administrator Michael Mallinoff boasts that the track record for recruiting and promoting minorities "has been remarkable" under Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins. But some city employees and elected officials say there's plenty of room for improvement.

Women and blacks are largely relegated to secretarial or blue-collar positions, working as clerks, trash collectors or on road crews, said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, who helped the city's police and fire departments file federal discrimination suits in the mid-1980s.

Most of the administrators are white men.

Mr. Mallinoff acknowledges that more steps need to be taken, especially in recruiting and promoting minorities in the police and fire departments. But he points out a number of high-profile, Cabinet-level positions are held by blacks and women. A black woman runs the city's community services program, a black man is deputy chief of the Police Department, and a Hispanic man was recently appointed the economic development coordinator.

"Our hiring practices have been excellent," he said. "If you go down the line, the majority of our new hires have been minorities."

The Fire Department is still under a 1986 federal consent order to recruit and promote more blacks. The order was invoked after four black firefighters filed a suit alleging discrimination in hiring, promotions and testing procedures.

Tony J. Spencer, head of the Black Firefighters Association, said changes have been hard-fought and slow.

"I feel more aggressive measures have to be taken to meet the goals that we should have already accomplished," he said. "We want to continue toward the goal of reaching 25 percent or 30 percent [blacks]. It hasn't been realized."

The new affirmative action plan will continue efforts to recruit minorities and set standards of equal opportunity, Mr. Hodgson said.

An attorney for the Maryland Human Relations Commission said there have been different legal interpretations of the 1990 and 1991 Supreme Court decisions on setting aside contracts or jobs for minorities. Mr. Hodgson said he interpreted the decisions to mean that a city government cannot have race or sex preferences unless there's been a clear pattern of discrimination. Mr. Snowden disagrees and says federal law allows cities to have goals for improving minority hiring.

Some cities, including Baltimore, reviewed their affirmative action plans and found they did not need to make major changes, said Glendora Hughes, the Human Relations Commission's acting general counsel.

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