I went to the Racine Finance and Personnel Committee meeting tonight as a proposal to change the Racine First program (see previous post) was on the agenda. It was quickly decided to refer the matter to the Public Works committee.
Even so, the committee allowed comment from three proponents of the program, all of whom discussed the merits of the proposal without mentioning racial implications.
Then Mayor Dickert chimed in. He noted that the subject would be discussed in greater detail at the Public Works meeting complete with a presentation etc... But what I found most interesting was the mayors emphasis on getting more minority or women-owned businesses in the city of Racine.
The proposal in question says nothing about race or gender. Rather it is about geography. The stated intent is to get more people from census districts 1-5 to get jobs working on city projects.
My understanding with respect to affirmative action is that its purpose is to combat or mitigate the effects of discrimination. My hope is that before requiring contractors to hire people from census tracts 1-5, the city will document the number of complaints and or convictions stemming from Racine's apparently pervasive problem with geographic discrimination. Just how many licensed electricians have been denied jobs because they live in census tract 4? How many experienced carpenters have been shown the door with a "call us when you've moved to census tract 9, then we'll talk."
You see, I just don't believe anyone in their right mind discriminates against tradespeople because of where they live. But perhaps I am just a bit naive. Still, if the city is going to fight censustractism, (or is it geographism, or addressism?) they should at least have to prove that the problem really exists.
And if there are no examples of such discrimination, as I suspect, then there is no reason to create an ordinance to address a phantom problem.