Saturday, September 29, 2012

LEDCO board under fire for lack of racial diversity

View article on Longview News Journal Web Page.
Posted Sept. 28, 2012
By Sherry Koonce 

Longview City Council members appeared to have been taken off-guard Thursday when representatives of the NAACP took the floor in council chambers to ask for more diversity in the board of directors and staff of Longview Economic Development Corp.

The LEDCO board of directors consists of 10 white men. All staff members are white women.

Branden Johnson, president of the Longview Chapter of the NAACP told the City Council that the LEDCO board is not representative of the city’s racial make-up.

“With the growing Muslim-owned businesses, there is no Muslim representation; with the many Asian business owners, there is no Asian representation, the question of Latino representation, if any, has been even more limited,” Johnson said.

“We need a wake-up call to encourage all who do business in Longview to create a climate of inclusitivity and multi-culturalism through cultural responsiveness,” Johnson said.

LEDCO’s board members are appointed by the City Council and Mayor Jay Dean.

The city in December approved its own workforce diversity plan, which is focused more on employment, city spokesman Shawn Hara, said.

“Though there have been topics of diversity for some time, Hara said he was not aware of any previous specific discussion concerning the LEDCO board or any other specific boards.

Mayor pro tem Kasha Williams said the council will take the concerns about LEDCO’s board under advisement.

“We have heard you this evening. We will take this matter seriously,” Williams said.

Dean, along with council members Richard Manley and Sidney Allen, were not present at Thursday’s meeting. Dean was out of town due to a death in the family, and the two councilmen joined the mayor in Louisiana to lend support.

Because a full council board was not present for discussion, District 2 Councilman Gary Smith made a motion to postpone two agenda items: approval of a five-year Capital Improvement Project plan and funding for CIP projects for fiscal year 2012-13 as well as approval of LEDCO’S 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

Because LEDCO’s existing budget has to be adopted by Sept. 30, Smith amended his motion to postpone only the CIP item.

Council approved LEDCO’s $4.9 million budget, which includes $1.3 million in the incentives fund. LEDCO is a government corporation funded from a -cent sales tax revenue.


The following two articles were published in the LNJ related to this story:

LEDCO answers call for diversity, plans to appoint Longview ISD official to board

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 7:46 am, Wed Oct 10, 2012.
By Sherry Koonce

Reacting to a call for diversity on the Longview Economic Development Corp. board of directors, city officials Tuesday agreed to recommend a change in the makeup of the board filled with middle-aged white men.

Longview’s Council Appointments Committee will recommend that former Good Shepherd Medical Center CEO Ed Banos be replaced by Andrea Mayo, a black woman who serves as deputy superintendent for Longview ISD.

Mayo served two previous terms on the LEDCO board.  Banos’ employment at Good Shepherd was terminated Sept. 26. He had held the position since 2008.

“We had a situation about diversity brought up, and because Mr. Banos is out of the hospital now, this would be a chance to do the diversity thing with somebody who is qualified,” District 4 City Councilman Wayne Frost said.

Banos declined to comment on the Council Appointments Committee’s action, but said he was satisfied with his service on the LEDCO board.  Read more.


Longview City Council rejects LEDCO board pick

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 7:46 am, Fri Oct 12, 2012.

By Angela Ward

The Longview City Council voted Thursday to disregard the recommendations of its appointments committee, instead approving the original slate suggested by the Longview Economic Development Corp. to serve on its board of directors.

As it now stands, the board consists of five voting members and five ex-officio members, all of whom are white and all but one of whom is male.

The appointments committee, which consists of council members Kasha Williams and Wayne Frost, on Tuesday had agreed not to accept the LEDCO nominees, instead deciding to place Andrea Mayo, a black woman, on the board in place of Ed Banos. They said the change would provide the board with much-needed diversity as requested by members of the community.

Mayo is a Longview ISD administrator; Banos is former president and CEO of Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Though Frost supported the substitution Tuesday as an appointments committee member, he made the motion at Thursday’s council meeting to instead approve LEDCO’s original slate.

“I second guessed the LEDCO board, and that was wrong of me,” he said during the meeting. “I apologize for putting us in this situation, but I think we need to go with the slate as originally presented to us.”

Williams, however, did not waiver from her original stand.

“This isn’t personal; I have nothing against Mr. Banos. It’s an attempt to diversify the committee, because we had members of the community come to us with concerns about this issue,” she said. “I do not share Mr. Frost’s sentiments. I believe that we, as a council, have the right and sometimes the duty to override committee recommendations.”

Frost, Sidney Allen, John Sims and Mayor Jay Dean voted in favor of the motion.

Williams, Gary Smith and Richard Manley voted against it.

Dean said it is unfortunate the council found itself in the situation.

“One of the problems we often encounter is getting people to sign up to serve on boards and commissions,” he said. “I agree that diversity is good, but there are sometimes situations where we’ve asked people who would increase the diversity of our boards to serve on them and been turned down.”

Smith, the newest council member, said he believed it was important to bring in people with fresh views.

The LEDCO board as it stands consists of voting members Keith Honey, Lester Lucy, Steve Metcalf, Joe Bob Joyce, and Banos. Ex-officio members are Jim Kendrick, Phillip Ford, Dan Droege, Julie Fowler and Paul Stephenson.

LEDCO owns two Longview business parks, and it oversees economic development projects with the aim of creating or retaining jobs in the city, including providing financial assistance and incentives.

It has a nearly $5 million budget, which includes more than $1 million in its incentive fund.

The diversity issue was raised by Branden Johnson, president of the Longview chapter of the NAACP, who urged council members at their Sept. 27 meeting to bring more diversity to the board. He questioned why, with growing minority populations in Longview and the business community, there was no Muslim, Asian or Latino representation on the LEDCO board.  Read more.

Searching for diversity: Minority leaders urge change on Longview boards, commissions to reflect population

Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 7:41 am, Tue Oct 30, 2012.
By Sherry Koonce

From 2000 to 2010, the racial makeup of Longview changed — noticeably. During the decade, the city’s white majority shrank from 70 percent to 56 percent as minority populations swelled.

But a survey of the civic leaders serving on Longview’s decision-making agencies, boards and commissions found a racial diversity more reminiscent of the 2000 population.

After minority leaders recently asked the Longview City Council to make an effort to diversify the racial makeup of standing committees and boards, the News-Journal examined a broad sample of city boards, commissions and committees. The survey looked at race, gender and age of the members. The data was not immediately available because the city does not track the demographics of its appointed representatives.

Because such boards, committees and commissions are fluid — most change annually — the results of the survey reflect a snapshot in time.  Read more.

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