COMPTON — An affirmative action plan that calls for this city to triple the number of Latinos hired over the next five years was presented to the City Council on Tuesday by the city's Committee on Hispanic Affairs.
Only about 50--or 9.7%--of the city's 514 full-time workers are Latino, while blacks represent about 78% of the work force, according to city reports. If implemented by the council, the affirmative action plan for Latino hiring would bring the percentage of Latino workers to more than 27%.
The meeting with the council and the committee, however, ended without a commitment from council members, some of whom openly challenged assertions by Latino leaders that Latinos are not hired and not treated equally by city officials.
"I don't think we have been blatantly unfair to Latinos," Mayor Walter Tucker said.
"If you can show me that any individual is discriminated against," Councilman Maxcy D. Filer said, "I would be the first to object."
Filer said he believes that Latinos get the bulk of the private-sector jobs in the city on construction projects and in factories.
"I grant you there may be a paucity of Hispanics working with the city of Compton," Filer said, "but if you go and look at the factories between Alondra (Boulevard) and Artesia (Boulevard), 98% of those working there are Hispanic."
Martin D. Chavez, a member of the committee who also is running for City Council in the April 18 primary election, said: "What this committee tried to do was identify a place where the city could have an impact on under-utilization (of Compton's Latino population)."
The Hispanic committee, which is made up of Latino leaders and city staff members, was appointed by the City Council to work on Latino hiring concerns. Compton's Latino population comprises about a third of the city's approximately 90,000 residents and has been growing rapidly in recent years.
In 1980, the federal census found there were 17,587 Latinos in Compton, making up 21.6% of the total population of about 80,000. According to the National Planning Data Corp., a private research firm that updates federal census material, the Latino population in the city rose 65% between 1980 and 1988. The firm estimates that in 1988 the Latino population was 29,093.
Remarks Were an Excuse
After the meeting, Chavez, an affirmative action specialist with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, described Filer's arguments about private sector hiring of Latinos as an excuse for the city to continue hiring few Latinos.
Chavez said he does not expect the council to adopt the affirmative action plan soon, given the remarks after the work session, which was held Tuesday before the regular council meeting.
Assistant City Manager Edmundo Sotelo, the city's liaison to the committee and the highest- ranking Latino city employee, said during the work session that the city staff will present the plan to the council within the next two weeks.
Pedro Pallan, president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, said after the work session that he was encouraged. "I think it's positive," he said of the council members' reaction. "I felt very good today because they were willing to meet with us."
During the work session, Pallan spoke about the need for Latino youngsters to have role models. Carrying a copy of the calendar the city publishes each year, he pointed out that the pictures in it portray Compton as a "black city," not as the multiracial, multiethnic city that its officials claim it is. Almost all the pictures in the calendar are of black civic leaders and City Hall employees.