In 2005, the Albany City Commission encouraged its taxpayer-funded headhunter to identify city manager candidates not only of a certain race, but of a certain gender. The result: The only black male candidate that the headhunter brought to the table, a small-town Maryland public works director named Alfred Lott, was hired. The rest is history.
After being administered very capably by a black female for eight years, our municipal government has transformed into a criminalized, secretive, spend-happy organization that has little regard for the citizenry it serves. The narrow-minded city manager recruiting process was just the first mistake. The second, greater aberration was the unwillingness (for various reasons, depending on the individual) of the mayor and City Commission members to either replace the city manager or force him to follow the rules and the law.
Interestingly, a race-based headhunting expedition nearly repeated history to Lott’s benefit in Savannah, where six black candidates, including Lott, were among eight candidates identified to the City Council as being worthy of the job. As former headhunter Thomas M. Daniels III of Savannah pointed out in the Savannah Morning News, 95.1 percent of surveyed city and county managers in the United States are white, 2.6 percent are black and 2.4 percent are of other races, so “it follows that the racial breakdown of the search universe for our city manager should have closely mirrored those statistics.”
“Quite obviously, Affion (Public, the headhunting firm) received instructions from the city to deliver an overwhelmingly black slate of candidates. Otherwise, the odds of such an outcome are extremely remote if not impossible …” Daniels said. “A highly educated people and public officials, they’re setting very bad examples for young enlightened blacks who rely strictly on merit and strong work ethics. Rather than burying affirmative action, reverse discrimination against whites, and racial cronyism, the bad examples are promoting it.”
Daniels’ and others’ wisdom and courage – tackling racism is never easy — seem to be catching on.
In Savannah, the good people are vigilantly rising in unison against hiring Lott or any other city manager candidate based on their race. The citizenry instead is insisting that to ensure that government is administered openly, competently and efficiently, the city manager hiring decision be based squarely on merit.
We strongly hope that what is happening in Savannah repeats itself in Albany, so that the decision of 2005 — and the ensuing nightmare — will become a distant memory as quickly as possible.
Great things can happen in Albany, but only with vigilance – by the people and for the people.
By Kevin Hogencamp