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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Memo to Mayor Ed Lee Is Laced with Racial, Gender Quotas

Posted By on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Bean counting to achieve diversity
  • Bean counting to achieve diversity

At City Hall, being a black woman who is gay is like hitting a triple word score.

Ensuring that city commissions and boards have just the right mix of diversity is much more calculated than one might think. Based on a memo distributed to Mayor Ed Lee on Jan. 26, city leaders do in fact consider race, gender, and sexual orientation when making appointments to commissions. But they have to -- the city charter mandates that boards and commissions are diverse enough so that they don't look like a company boardroom from the 1950s.

And apparently, city officials have taken to counting the beans to make sure City Hall isn't too white and male.

The memo, drafted by Lee's chief of staff, Steve Kawa, gives the mayor a

long list of upcoming vacancies he will have to fill this year. The

memo provides Lee with the race, gender, and sexual orientation of members on each commission. The memo was obtained by a public records request from Citireport.


instance, if he hadn't tallied it up before, Lee now knows that the Health Commission

has three females, four males, two Asians, two Latinos, two whites,

one African American, and two LGBT members. The Housing Authority Commission has no Asians, and the Commission on the Status of Women has three LGBT members but no males.

Kawa did not return our phone calls or e-mails to discuss the bean counting, but Larry Bush, a local blogger who worked for former Mayor Art Agnos and reported on the diversity issue on his blog Citireport, tells SF Weekly that what is most interesting about this memo is the information that's not there: neighborhood representation.

"An awful lot of what we look at in San Francisco politics is ideological," Bush said. "But it's also good to look at neighborhood representation -- there are parts of the city that have no bench at all."

So then being a black lesbian from Bayview Hunter's Point would be a quadruple word score.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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