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An urgent need for diversity training
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To: Covington City Council: Ladies and gentlemen of the council, we are submitting this letter in response to an article published in the local newspaper and the subsequent blogs attacking the character of an elected official; not only by individuals with opposing views, but also members of the city council itself.

At a time when it seems that there should be a greater sensitivity to diversity (being not only taught but implemented in our society), it appears that there is some confusion as to the differences that exist between cultural diversity and cultural bias or more aptly, racism. After reading the article as posted in the Newton Citizen and Covington News, and the blogs that posted in response, we are of the opinion and greatly concerned that diversity training is not only a good idea but an urgent need.

Her honor, Mayor Kim Carter said, "We as a city government can’t be the safety net for people." This statement seems to be in direct conflict with the exact and expected roles of not just city government but all government: city, county, state and federal. When the constitution of the United States was written, it was to protect or be a protector (safety net if you will) for the constituents of these United States. Secondly, and more to the point, it appears it is the council’s position that they are willing to pass the buck to the federal government when dealing with a local issue. It is not the federal government that hires, fires, and/or promotes in our local municipalities; it is our city and county managers that are ultimately responsible for selection and recruitment efforts.

There have been significant changes to the cultural landscape of our community, both city and county. As I read Councilwoman Williams’ statement, I saw no mention of black or white, I saw no mention of Mohawks although, her statement did address all who are underserved or under represented to make her statement all-inclusive. Is it not the council’s job or sworn oath to perform in the best interest of all its constituents, not just the majority or most vocal?

She did not mention special reparations for a particular race or group. I think what has happened takes me back to an old saying my grandmother would use and that is that ‘a hit dog will holler’. Funny that statement is just truth, and it is when truth speaks to power that power either answers by acceptance and change or it passes the buck; minimizes and/or tries to shift the focus.

If we actually look at the demographics of the city of Covington and Newton County, hiring practices and the current work force show great disparity in diversity. The best person for the job is what we are seeking, but in order to have this we must make the application process available to all constituents; even going the extra mile to reach out to those who may not have the current and technologically advanced access to these available positions. Does this mean that we go and knock on doors to tell people that there are positions available or do we expand the areas in which we post these positions?

In closing, we pose the following questions to this council: What are the intentions of the council to address this issue in our growing and changing community? How does the council plan to implement a program of diversity training in the areas of department supervision and human resources?

We eagerly await your answer.