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Activist Offers Council a Minority-Hiring, Promotion Plan

October 01, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

A minority rights activist, chastised by Glendale city officials in June for staging a racial forum that erupted into violence, has presented the City Council with a plan that he said would increase minority hirings and promotions.

Ray Reyes, head of a new group called Glendale Community Issues, said at the council meeting last Thursday that the city has not hired and promoted enough minority employees to managerial jobs. Reyes then offered six proposals to increase the number of minority managers.

In a 35-minute discussion with council members, Reyes conceded that the number of city minority employees proportionately reflects Glendale's overall racial composition--a goal set by the city's 15-year-old Affirmative Action Plan. But, he said, more minority members should hold managerial posts. Glendale's population is about 76.6% Anglo, 2.9% black, 14.8% Latino, 5.6% Asian and Pacific islanders and 0.2% Native American.

"It is in the area of management that the city has not demonstrated a similar equitable relationship between the work force and the community demographics," said Reyes, who heads a counseling service for low-income and minority students at Glendale Community College.

Councilman Carl W. Raggio told Reyes he would like to meet privately with him and discuss the ideas. However, Raggio warned the Latino activist against assuming a "2-by-4 approach" in presenting the proposals.

"You can work much better if you give us a critique and don't make it a show," Raggio said.

After the meeting, Reyes said he welcomed the opportunity to meet with city officials.

Thursday's meeting was the first time that city officials have spoken to Reyes since June, when he organized and staged a highly publicized racial forum despite widespread urgings against it.

The forum was to have been a discussion between members of Glendale's non-governmental Human Relations Council, then headed by Reyes, and the League of Pace Amendment Advocates. The Pace organization, a Glendale-based white supremacist group, advocates the deportation of Americans not of Western European ancestry. But, as the audience gathered for the June 25 meeting at Glendale Public Library, brawling erupted, forcing Reyes to cancel the forum before it started. One man was bloodied before police stepped in and broke up the melee.

Afterward, city officials and several members of the Glendale Human Relations Council lashed out at Reyes, accusing him of "Glendale bashing" and embarrassing the city.

Reyes, a civil rights activist since the early 1960s, said the criticism reflected a longstanding philosophical rift between members of the Human Relations Council. In July, he and about seven supporters quit the group and formed Glendale Community Issues. Members of the new organization will actively lobby for the rights of minorities and women, he said.

Reyes told City Council members last week that, although he lives in a San Gabriel Valley community, he is interested in Glendale city policies that affect the minorities he counsels.

Glendale's racial policies have come under fire recently. A federal judge ruled last October that the Glendale Police Department discriminated against a Latino officer by passing him up for promotion in favor of less-qualified Anglo officers. This year, three black officers who testified against the department in that trial filed claims of their own against the city, alleging racial discrimination by Police Department employees.

Would Improve Image

An increase in minority members in leadership positions, Reyes said, would improve Glendale's image and signal that the city indeed welcomes minorities, as Glendale officials contend.

But City Council members maintain that, although they would like to hire more minority managers, few minority applicants are qualified for the positions.

"We're talking about a city that has an excellent record" in minority hiring, Councilman Larry Zarian said. But management skills are important, and "we don't want just anybody to rise to the top."

Of the 198 managers on the city payroll, 14 are minority members, Reyes said. City Atty. Frank R. Manzano, a Latino, is the only minority employee in a top-level management position, he said. Jose Feliciano, associate personnel analyst for Glendale, confirmed those findings. To achieve proportional representation, the city would need about 46 minority managers.

Reyes outlined his plan for enlarging the city's pool of qualified minority candidates.

Management Internship

His ideas include a management internship program to train the city's existing minority employees for management-level positions; managerial job announcements in minority publications, and the creation of a committee to annually review the results of such programs. Committee members could recommend improvements to the plan, he said.

Reyes also asked city officials to give more weight to "race, culture, sex, language and age" when considering job applicants.

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