Yates: Appoint Black Member to Banks Group

State Rep. Tyrone Yates (D-Walnut Hills) sent letters today to local officials and the Cincinnati Reds owner, asking them to appoint an African American to an advisory group that will help set policies on how to develop Cincinnati’s riverfront.

Noting that 44 percent of Cincinnati’s population is black, Yates stated that the appointment of five white males to fill all of the seats on The Banks Working Group was a “historically and socially important oversight.” Excluding black people from the panel will cause “dashed hopes, missed opportunities for collaboration and participation, and a further feeling of important … stakeholder groups not having a decision-making role.”

Yates sent the letters to Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Hamilton County Commission President Phil Heimlich and Reds CEO Robert Castellini. All three appointed members to the working group, and Castellini is its chairman.

The NAACP’s local chapter, the Baptist Ministers Conference and other groups also have protested the appointments. Because the advisory panel will draft policies about workforce inclusion and minority hiring, an African-American perspective is needed, they said.

In his letters, Yates states that appointing a black member is “a necessary and a right thing to do.”

“Editorials in The Cincinnati Enquirer insist that the best people for the job must be chosen; I fully agree,” the letters continue. “Unfortunately, it is a sad commentary on our city to suggest that almost half of Cincinnati is not qualified to serve. Every public project must have a mix of a diversity of experiences, opinions and talents in order to be successful.”

Mallory, who is black, previously has said he opposed any changes to the working group’s makeup. Cincinnati City Council and Hamilton County commissioners will have final approval on any policies drafted by the working group and will ensure workforce development policies are sufficient, Mallory said.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials created The Banks Working Group in April to quicken the process of selecting a developer. Proposed in 1999, the Banks project has stalled over funding and jurisdictional issues, particularly who will pay for $68 million in parking garages. Sales tax revenues were supposed to pay for the garages but are far below projections.

The Banks will involve $200 million in public funding to supplement $600 million in private investment to develop a vacant eight-block area located just north of the Ohio River.

— Kevin Osborne

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5 Comments on “Yates: Appoint Black Member to Banks Group”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    first, i believe in and support affirmative action.
    but something doesnt set well with me regarding , i guess, dirupting, the working group etablihed.
    i don’t know if it is because a black “representative” made the appointment therefore, if feel difficult to cry fowl. Or if it’s because the city must approve anything they do ( which pretty much makes the “working group” powerless anyway) and the city has adequate miority representation.
    but, it mostly feels like – by making a fuss now – it look and is diingenuous to appoint a minority at this point. I think if they appointed me – i’d tell them to stick it. i don’t want nayone to be a “token”.
    i think if we really want to look at panels, commmittees, commisions, etc – let’s take a look at the make up of those established inthe last few years by Heimlich and see what pattern emerges — that would be a story.

  2. JoeRo Says:

    What about women? Gays? If we’re going to do the tokenism thing, we should have at least 2 women and 1 bisexual on the Working Group.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Oh, but the old white guys have been doing such a great job thus far!

  4. the riverfront advisory committee was diverse. the port authority was diverse. neither achieved anything.

    diversity for diversity’s sake does nothing but let the socially guilty sleep better at nights.

    telling Yates doesn’t suggest who should be added. NAACP folks (sorry I can’t name the president- that office has a revolving door) were on 700 week before last. They won’t suggest names either.

    at least we’re not suffering through jim clingman’s and ken price’s “urban one” martyrdom again (yet).

  5. Margo Pierce Says:

    When people want to get things done in this town, they turn to “business leaders,” as though they hold all the answers. They make money and manage lots of people, so they can do it all, right?

    Wrong. Business has a different set of objectives and responsibilities that frequently run contrary to the role of government. Their priority is making money, not to be inclusive or protect the rights of citizens.

    When you have a rich, past-middle-age, white guy taking over the leadership role of a public project, all you’re going to get is a leadership board made up of rich, past-middle-age, white guys. Why? Because nobody with the ability to appoint a member of the board would be willing to “waste” their appointment on a single African American or woman who wouldn’t be able to stand up against the majority and power of the good-old-boy network.

    It takes balls to stand up and say, “We all need to make sure this group represents the taxpayers footing the bill,” instead of protecting individual turf first. Business leaders don’t have to have that kind of intestinal fortitude in this town; they just have to make the shareholders happy with profits.

    The difference here is the people who are supposed to represent the investors backing city government — our elected officials — are too busy with a pissing contests and jockeying for position to tell the rich, past-middle-age, white guys that people who aren’t rich, past-middle-age, white and male also matter. Without a demonstrated and consistent respect for inclusion and respect for all stakeholders, the white boys are under attack and deserve to be. Change your attitude and performance record, and then you’ll have a reason to say people can trust you.

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