YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Does Skin Color Make a Difference?

May 06, 1990

Did Mayor (William) Thomson and City Directors (John) Crowley, (Kathryn) Nack and (William) Paparian use poor judgment? Let's examine the facts:

It seems that Mr. Hawkey has had the support of Mayor Thomson and the three directors for the past several weeks. This same group has not supported Mr. Bond.

Let's look at the qualifications of Mr. Hawkey and Mr. Bond:

Mr. Bond is presently the president of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. He has an impeccable record as county manager of Durham, N.C. He has guided the county from a stagnant economy to a robust, high-tech industrial-based economy. He has an excellent reputation as an administrator throughout Durham and the surrounding areas. There appears to be no discord as a result of his leadership.

Mr. Hawkey's administration has been embroiled in controversy throughout his tenure. He took over a city with serious racial and economic problems. However, very little progress, if any, has been made in any of these important areas. He has been told that he will be "fired" as of May 15 if he doesn't find other employment by that date. He has recently been rejected employment in Anaheim, Calif., and Maricopa County, Ariz.

I ask the question, why should Pasadena hire someone as city manager who has been refused employment by three other cities? It would appear that the mayor and the three board members have clouded vision.

Let's consider what would have happened during the screening process had Mr. Hawkey been black and Mr. Bond white, leaving their respective qualifications unchanged. There is no question, in my mind, that Mr. Bond would have received a unanimous vote of approval. There is also no doubt, in my mind, that Mr. Hawkey would have been disqualified early on in the selection process.

The standard rule of thumb in the hiring process is not to hire when there are too many "red flags" surfacing. The premise being when you see smoke, there is probably a fire. So why should Pasadena take a chance on a questionable candidate when they have an unblemished candidate to choose from?

Mr. Bond is obviously doing an outstanding job in Durham. Why, then, is our mayor so determined to hire Mr. Hawkey, a second-rate administrator from Toledo? Could it be that the color of one's skin really does make a difference? Can Pasadena afford to be divided because our mayor and three board members refuse to objectively review the candidates?

Again, I ask, what if Mr. Hawkey were black and Mr. Bond were white?



Los Angeles Times Articles