For the record: The city must do a better job of tracking diversity
Share with others:
In 2006, a young Pittsburgh councilman named Luke Ravenstahl co-sponsored the Fair Representation ordinance, which required the mayor's office to produce annual reports showing various characteristics of the people appointed to city boards, authorities and commissions.
The purpose was to bring transparency to the public record and set a reliable benchmark for the city's diversity efforts. Eight months after it was passed, the law's co-sponsor became mayor. Despite all that, the administration has yet to send its first annual report to council under the ordinance, according to PublicSource, a non-profit investigative news group.
On a related front, city Controller Michael Lamb released an audit Thursday which showed that, while a city commission reports on contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses, the commission does not check later on whether the firms did the work and got paid.
In response, the administration said it has complied with the spirit of the law on the appointees' reports and it condemned the controller's audit as a political attack.
The mayor's office, which says it has race and gender breakdowns for its appointments, points with pride to the fact that blacks, with 26 percent of the population, hold 24 percent of the board seats. Women haven't fared as well, though. With 52 percent of the population, they account for only 38 percent of city appointees.
But the law requires the annual reports to list appointees' age and ZIP code, too -- and the administration said that it doesn't know why the annual reports weren't compiled.
Those reports are sought by the law to ensure transparency and accountability on the city's diversity efforts. Mr. Ravenstahl, who helped push the legislation, should be the first to demand that the city comply -- just as he and his fellow co-sponsors intended.
First Published August 19, 2012 12:00 am