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Disabled Forgotten in Commission Appointments

by Larry Bush on 03/09/2012

in Uncategorized

City report also urges stronger Sunshine on appointees

Disabled individuals serve on only two out of 51 city commissions, according to a recent report from the Commission on the Status of Women. They are the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Mental Health Board.  Figures suggest that about 11 percent of San Franciscans are considered to be disabled.

“Great effort must be invested in identifying appointees with disabilities and appointing individuals with disabilities to commission and boards,” notes the report.

The report, dated December 2011, covers 2011 and is required every two years under a law approved by voters in June 2008. (read report here)

Only one category included in the report fares worse that the disabled: in 2011 there was only one transgender appointee – a member of the Youth Commission — on any board or commission.

The report noted that despite the law’s requirement, a significant percentage of city commissions failed to respond with information on gender, race, ethnicity and other factors considered to be representative of the city.

Only 38 of 51 commissions that reported on its members reported on the ethnicity of commission members.

The report urges action to ensure that the public is provided the information required by law.

“Transparency requirements should be created so that this public information is regularly maintained by each entity and made available to comply with the Sunshine Ordinance and good government practices,” notes the report.

The report also found that there is no easy source of information on what city commissions and boards exist and that information is often out of date.

“Basic information, including what commissions and boards exist and are active as well as the gender, race, and disability status of appointees to these entities, is challenging to access and often out of date,” states the report.

Despite the fact that for the first time the Mayor and Board President are both Asian Americans, the report found that Asian Americans are the most underrepresented ethnic group among mayoral appointees. While Asian Americans make up 33 percent of the city, they account for only 22 percent of appointees. The record for the Board, which appoints to a number of commissions and boards, is even worse with only 14 percent of its appointees from the Asian American community.

Latino representation also falls below the population, with eight percent representation while population stands at 15 percent. Board appointments stand at just five percent Latino.

The African American community, in contrast, has higher representation on boards and commissions compared to their overall population. Among mayoral appointees, African Americans account for 14 percent of appointments but are estimated to be six percent of San Francisco’s population. Among Board appointments, African Americans account for 15 percent of the appointees.

Only Caucasians are appointed in numbers roughly equivalent to their percentage in the population, with 43 percent mayoral appointees against a population of 42 percent. Among Board appointments, 48 percent are Caucasian.

A review of the existing reports for 2007, 2009 and 2011 show a steady increase in appointments of women to Boards and Commissions. The Mayor’s appointees have held fairly stead at 48 percent and rising to 51 percent in 2011, while the Board’s appointments increased from 38 percent to 44 percent – still below full representation of the population. San Francisco’s population in 2011 was estimated to be 49 percent female.

The report further delves into representation by commission, including examining the commissions with the greatest authority and those with the largest budgets.

Commissions with the highest percentage of minorities are the Redevelopment Agency (98%), Fire (90%), Juvenile Probation (71%), and also includes Health (71%), Civil Service (67%), Human Services (60%), and Library (57%).

The Commissions with the lowest percentage of minorities are Small Business (17%), Airport (20%, Public Utilities (20%, Port (40%), Building Inspection (43%), Human Rights (43%) and Police (43%).


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