Open Letter To Mayor De Blasio: Why We Won't Wait

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Rev. Dennis Dillon. Activists question mayor de Blasio on lack of top Black appointees


Clergy and community leaders gathered January 1st at Freedom Hall Church of God, in Brooklyn, NY at 5:00 p.m. in a special inauguration prayer service for Mayor Bill de Blasio to raise concerns about the Mayor’s exclusion of Blacks from key leadership roles and the appointment of Bill Bratton as Police Commissioner. The group, organized by community activist and publisher Rev. Dennis Dillon, raised concerns that of the 12 most senior appointees in the Mayor’s inner circle, only 1 of them is Black (8%) – despite the fact that Blacks delivered over 47% of the votes, and issued the following Open Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio:

We are making no broad claims to represent the totality of the Black community, but we must cry foul on our community’s behalf.

The transition is obviously not going well, and we are gravely concerned that our community is not being properly represented and our interests are overlooked.  We are not sure if this is a slap in the face or a stab in the back, but what we do know is that our votes were shoved aside and our overwhelming support for Bill de Blasio got tossed out the window when this transition team went to work on the transference of our city’s operations from Bloomberg to a de Blasio administration.

In truth, Blacks represent far more than one third of this city’s population, and as it relates to total vote count for Mr. de Blasio, Blacks are on top in almost every category.  According to most exit polls, 51% of Whites voted de Blasio, 78% Hispanics and a whopping 96 percent of the Black votes that were cast went to Bill de Blasio.

Yet, of the 12 major government executive jobs appointed so far, only one Black person was appointed, and clearly not in an area that is of pressing importance to our community.  Mr. de Blasio has not even started his term in office, but he is already reneging on his promise to unify the city and pursue equality for all New Yorkers.  By our math, one out of 12 is a little more than 8 percent.  This does not represent our 30 percent population and it clearly does not reflect our vote power.  In fact, this is how the numbers breakdown.  According to most polls, Blacks made up approximately 36 percent of the total 1,020,000 votes cast.

This means that 367,200 Black votes were cast.  With de Blasio garnering 96% of the Black votes, it means that 352,512 votes went to the de Blasio count.  If you do the math, you will see that almost 47% of 752,000 votes are from our community.  Whites, Latinos, Asians and all other races accounted for the remaining 53%, which means that Blacks are the clear, undisputed majority voting bloc.  In fact, with Mr. Joe Lhota’s 250,000 votes, Mr. de Blasio would have easily won the election with Black votes only – and still have 110,000 votes to spare.

As we gear up to move our city forward, let’s correct the injustice.  Equity will not get to the people served if there is impaired equality among the ones who do the serving.  We cannot call on the EEOC to regulate workforce diversity and fairness in Corporate America when imbalance is rampant at City Hall; and we cannot expect the bureaucrats and government executives to diversify their teams when the executive leadership is so far off balance.

We are NOT asking for the 47% representation that we rightfully earned, nor are we asking for the 32% that defines our New York population representation that justice demands.  We are, however, saying that 8% is wrong, shows a tilted scale that cheapens our votes, and leaves us in a quandary.  What happened?  Are we not worthy of senior management roles?  Are there no qualified Blacks in this city that in all the key areas that are trouble spots and sensitive hot button issues for our community, no leaders could be found within our ranks?

Education is a major challenge for Black New Yorkers, and with Blacks representing almost 48 percent of the approximately 1.1 million pupil population, there are obvious concerns.  In September of 2011, the top 8 specialized high schools accepted 5,414 students – yet only 293 (approximately 5.5%) of them were Black.

Health and Human Services is another huge area of concern for Blacks, and so is housing and economic development.  No Black deputy mayors in any of these areas and, to add insult to injury, neither is the commissioner that was selected to head ACS, an agency that shuttles more Black children than any other racial group.

Other than Mr. Zachary Carter, the one Black man hired to keep the Mayor out of trouble and to soften the impact of lawsuits, there are no Blacks in the Mayor’s inner circle.  Not the First Deputy Mayor, not his Chief of Staff, not his Budget Director, not his Chief of Intergovernmental Affairs, and very likely not his Press and Communications Director.

Then, of course, there is the biggest sore spot for Blacks – the appointment of a Giuliani-bred Police Commissioner under whose watch many innocent Blacks were killed by the New York Police Department.  For this very sensitive role, we know for sure that many community leaders and stakeholders wrote letters and made recommendations for this city’s chief public safety executive.  This would have been a good start to, at the very least, acknowledge the support of one community that delivered 47% of the votes.  But now Mr. Bratton is back, and our worst fears may once again be realized.

Very clearly, the tale of two cities continues.  The Black majority in New York is still being overlooked and our votes taken for granted.  We wish we could ask Mr. Bloomberg and his team to stay on for another 30 days and send this transition team back to the drawing board.  But the truth is, what we have is what Mr. de Blasio wants, and once again, Black votes are treated like dry goods in a 99 cent store.  Sadly, it is our pulpits and pews that the politicians come to get them.

We are calling for an urgent meeting with our new Mayor to address these and other concerns. 

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