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LA Mayor Signs Order To Reinstate Affirmative Action Pending Voter Approval In November

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today signed an executive order directing the city to:

  • Study racial disparities within local government
  • Prepare an affirmative action plan for hiring and contracting.
After weeks of protests and calls for racial justice following the police shooting of George Floyd, the mayor said city government must confront systemic racism and take the lead to "ensure that the starting line is the same for everyone."
"The system of racism was set up as just that — a system that started with slavery, that continued through Jim Crow, that exists in boardrooms, and in workplaces, it exists in schools, it exists in government and in policies and procedures that have been with us for centuries."

Executive Directive 27 would create a charter amendment "on a future ballot" to allow L.A. to implement affirmative action. The amendment would need to be approved by voters, and if ratified, would allow the city to give preference to minority-owned businesses and other underrepresented groups.
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However, most of the measures spelled out in the directive cannot go into effect without the repeal first of Proposition 209, the voter-approved California ballot measure that effectively outlawed affirmative action in the state.

The state Assembly recently approved a constitutional amendment that would do just that. The Senate is scheduled to take it up on June 25. If approved, the final decision will rest with California voters in November.

The University of California has endorsed the measure, and Garcetti said he would be campaigning for Prop. 209's repeal. He said he wants the city to be prepared to immediately implement its affirmative action plan should such a ballot measure pass in November.

If implemented, Garcetti said, the executive order would:

  • Require every department head and general manager to name a racial equity officer, who will be tasked with developing and overseeing the department's racial equity plan
  • Require racial equity plans to spell out existing policies around recruitment and hiring, training, retention, promotions, and contracting, and describe efforts to attract, promote, and hire from a "robust pool of qualified candidates"
  • Encourage city offices and departments to consider a wide range of factors in hiring, including adversities that a candidate has overcome, the first-generation graduate status in their family, neighborhood demographics and circumstances, and leadership potential
  • Form a racial equity task force made up of the racial equity officers and representatives from the offices of the mayor and city council
  • Require every city employee to participate in annual implicit bias training
  • Create the city's first chief equity officer, a role which will be filled by the deputy mayor of economic opportunity, Brenda Shockley

Garcetti said the city will begin by undertaking "a rigorous study of any disparity in hiring, promotion and contracting, which is required by federal law, prior to implementing affirmative action."

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