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Minorities Say Pasadena Shows Bias in Hiring

September 21, 1989|VICKI TORRES | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — Discontent over what they perceive as the city's failure in pursuing affirmative action and civil rights, minority activists packed a Board of Directors meeting this week, delivering a list of demands.

In an orchestrated presentation during the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting, seven speakers representing northwest Pasadena usurped the board's agenda to present their own.

The board seemed stunned by the presentation and had little to say in response. But Wednesday, Director John Crowley contradicted many of the activists' claims.

Retiring City Manager

Chief among the demands expressed Tuesday was that retiring City Manager Donald F. McIntyre be replaced by someone skilled in working with minority and ethnic groups.

Mike Milliner, president of the Pasadena Black Municipal Employees Assn., suggested that the city hire an individual with "a proven and verifiable track record in effectively managing multicultural and multiethnic communities in an urban environment."

McIntyre plans to leave in June, 1990, after 17 years with the city. A recruitment team is developing a profile of the ideal Pasadena city manager.

The activists also accused the city of dumping trash in one northwest neighborhood, of preventing minority advancement by hiring minorities as temporary employees, of needlessly dismissing the city's block-grant administrator and of continuing discrimination against minorities and women in city jobs. They also asked for a special census, such as that being done of Armenians, of the city's Latino and black population.

Reverses Seen

"We get the feeling of South Africa in Pasadena, . . . of an 'Old Boy' syndrome," said Manuel Valle. "We see all those things (that) in the '60s, that people died for, going in reverse. We want things to change."

Valle said the concerns expressed this week were first raised at an Aug. 15 board meeting at the Jackie Robinson Center.

One of the issues at that time was the board's July decision to abolish the Community Development Block Grant administrator's job and to transfer the administrator, Doren Wade, to a temporary job. Wade, who is black and who had worked for the city for nine years, directed the distribution of federal funds to social service programs in the northwest community, among his other duties.

Don Wheeldin, chairman of the city's Resource Allocation Commission, on Tuesday called for Wade's reinstatement, a demand made last month by the Black Municipal Employees Assn.

The city's explanation that Wade's job was cut because of budget constraints does not make sense, Wheeldin said.

"Few people in northwest . . . genuinely believe Wade was fired for budgetary reasons," he said. He added that no other issue in the last few years has so troubled the community.

Temporary Jobs

The speakers also complained that black employees have been kept in temporary positions for months. Ibrahim Naeem, director of the Pasadena Foothill branch of the Los Angles Urban League, cited the case of Prentice Deadrick, a 24-month temporary employee at the Jackie Robinson Center, and Eugene Stevenson, an 18-month temporary employee working as a health administrator.

By contrast, white employees receive jobs created especially for them, Naeem said. As an example, he pointed out that after a management audit determined that the job held by Wade's supervisor, David Jacobs, was unnecessary, Jacobs, who is white, was reassigned as administrator of the five-person Risk Management Department, whereas Wade was given only a 90-day temporary post.

Naeem also called for Wade's reinstatement.

Doctorate in Education

Another speaker, Antonia Darder, a Latina, cited herself as an example of the city's failure to seek minorities and women for jobs. Darder, who has a master's degree in social science and a doctorate in education, as well as six years of administrative experience, said she failed to qualify for an entry-level administrative position with the city. She accused the city of having what she called hidden criteria and making behind the scenes decisions that keep out minorities.

Finally, Tim Rhambo, of the Claremont Business Club, displayed photos taken Monday of trash that he said was dumped by city crews on the corner of Morton Avenue and Hammond Street. Despite complaints in August at the Jackie Robinson Center meeting, the problem persists, Rhambo said.

Director John Crowley said Wednesday that many of the protesters' concerns had already been addressed a month ago at the Jackie Robinson Center. He added that the city has made significant progress in affirmative action and has met many of its hiring goals.

"To be accused of falling behind when we are actually setting a standard of performance not reached by many other jurisdictions caused me to be less enthusiastic to some of the things they said," Crowley said.

Previously Aired

The complaints about blacks held in temporary positions were answered in detail last month, he said.

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