Former City Manager & Executive HR Director Speak Out!
City of San Antonio and Bexar County guilty of Title VII infractions against
San Antonio, TX – Last week SA Observer published a story that was provided by a citizen that didn’t want fanfare or attention – and very passionate about “why are black people collectively treated so poorly?” Our story shows a major problem with how the 7th largest US city and how it treats its’ Black citizens. The contributor COULD NOT get the time of day from the San Antonio CURRENT, San Antonio Business Journal or the San Antonio Express News. As I know, those narratives are controlled by white men who control the messaging in a minority majority city. The Rivard Report and La Prensa are Hispanic led, their narratives are towards the interest of Latino people as that is their niche. But what about black people? At the end of the day, the founders and owners of the San Antonio Observer and our older flagship paper the San Antonio Register are black people. As a black newspaper, we fall under the National Newspaper Publishers Association or the Black Free Press, led by former NAACP president, Benjamin Chavis. Our perspective is the ONLY consistent source for Black news in San Antonio.
This highlight made our last week cover> story “Keep Them Out” (read HERE) even
more interesting. We had no formal inquiry from any of our elected leaders as to why this story should be investigated. In fact, the City of San Antonio, stole 1,000 JOBS from Black people based on the law of Affirmative Action. Bexar County is also guilty with at least 500 JOBS that should be occupied with Black people.
Civil Rights Attorney Tess House made a statement that is true,
"each person who feels unlawful discrimination has occurred in their employment with the City may qualify for legal redress. The City should exercise due diligence in addressing these concerns voiced by citizens and taxpayers alike. Our San Antonio economy depends on our citizens being able to have access to gainful employment without restraint. Considering that San Antonio prides itself in being a welcoming community of all cultures, why has San Antonio failed to provide equal opportunity for African Americans to be employed with the City? By neglecting to provide increased opportunities for African Americans in positions of influence with the City, the City becomes complicit in engaging in discrimination against its own people. The City is stronger when all citizens have an equal opportunity to prosper."
Any person who studied law should note that a very sharp and seasoned attorney doesn’t contribute to a story UNLESS there is smoke which indicates there may be fire.
San Antonio and Bexar County is on FIRE with how it treats black people. If you don’t believe our paper, then listen to the words of a former human resources director and city manager, who is brave enough to comment.
Interview with Paulette Owens-Holmes, Former Human Resource Executive Director and Assistant City Manager
Paulette Owens-Holmes has more than a decade of experience and is one of the most well educated and astute people we have had the pleasure of interviewing. Not only is she experienced, but she helps to treat people that are victims of employment discrimination, as she holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology “to help identify the person’s strength” and help the person find out who they are “behind the face” and “behind the mask”. The mask of rejection comes at a much greater experience than all other types of people in Bexar County and San Antonio. While some of you are enraged when Donald Trump says, he would prefer to open America up to places like Norway, than sh*thole places from Africa, what makes any of you think the policies being practiced in San Antonio are exempt from our African-American population being treated as sh*thole people?
When Ms. Owens-Holmes consented to this interview, as a former human resources executive, she was asked IF the article “Keep Them Out” provided to the SA Observer was accurate based on her experiences of seeing the total cycle of recruiting blacks, retaining blacks, promoting blacks, developing black talent, and removing black employees. Paulette Owens-Williams confirmed the article is “totally accurate”.
When asked if the open records information provided to the Texas Tribune, and the source of the methodology of why the complaint is being talked about, she said, “the approach of making these conclusions are very reasonable and deserves investigation by a higher authority outside of the City and County governments, unless they choose to deal with the problem head-on.”
Our readers 100% agreed with the article on social media. Disturbing the political power have not generated any emails or calls for further information, or called for an investigation. In one political ad on Facebook, one candidate running for County Commissioner, boasted the post, and she agreed there is corruption in our government… even more telling she is an employee of Bexar County.
In fact, the news headline that City Manager Sheryl Sculley was just rewarded for her BAD management of Affirmative Action with an extra $75,000 Bonus that accompanies her $450,000 salary. Listen, if the average income for an average family of four people in San Antonio is less than $75,000, as Councilman Brockhouse states, we know the income for black families is much lower. We should all be concerned. Has Sheryl Sculley or even our current Mayor been seen anywhere on the Eastside trying to do anything good for our people? You can answer that question… We point out some things that you should know.
Our City Manager does not have an excuse to why her Human Resources Department has failed. Imagine, if 1,000 Black people had jobs at the same rate as the City Manager’s bonus (not even saying her base salary), this would be $75,000,000. If we add Bexar County’s underemployment of black people, or 500 jobs, and multiplied by the same city manager bonus, collectively black families would have over $112,500,000 annually. Is this something that YOU deserve? YES.
Again, some would say that is radical for black people to feel that you are qualified enough to earn a $75,000 a year check. I would say the figure is modest, as now we have to do more open records requests to see how long, San Antonio, Bexar County and other local public entities have not been compliant with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Each year they fail, the less financial resources that are able to be brought home. The longer this problem goes unresolved, the less income and wealth YOU are able to bring home. Again, what makes Sheryl Sculley so much better than YOU?
Why have our elected leaders NOT said a thing? Title VII provides various reasons why status quo or staying at the same percentage of Blacks being hired by the city and the county is not a legal practice. It is unlawful - "Jim Crow" is not the law of the land.
The City of San Antonio does have a citizen body – the Affirmative Action Committee. The Committee is absent a Mayoral appointment, and out of ten citizens, has one African-American female to handle the burden of requesting for equity and fair treatment of Black people.
Paulette Owens-Holmes believes the psychological impact is damaging. “It’s like putting a thirsty man on a desert without water – it impacts self-esteem.” Programs like My Brother’s Keeper, which was launched by Mayor Ivy Taylor, help men of color to address the issue of underemployment in jobs both public and private sectors. In other cities, like Chicago, MBK have addressed the impacts of the underemployment of Black males. We have not been able to receive comment from My Brother’s Keeper SA or to see what this program stands for.
She continues by saying, “I like the fact you showed Austin. It is our state capital and they are the leaders…”
Paulette believes the coverage shows two things. The first is Affirmative Action is not a priority of the City or County. Second, there are deliberate efforts to keep the numbers at the level of the population. Affirmative Action policy is to repair previous discriminatory practices in employment against racial minorities and even the playing field. The current hiring percentages represents failure. The reason why Austin and other cities are much higher than their natural black populations, is because they have a diversity action plan, and account for the law and the intent of the law.
Unfortunately stories like this, “cause more anger and divides the city.” I don’t know how this happened in this day!” She adds, “The City and County need to develop an action plan to resolve this issue. Even the name Affirmative Action Committee is dated, and refers to quotas. After the Workforce 2000 Study, most progressive places acknowledge diversity and inclusion as the goal which we were trying to accomplish. As a person who led a workforce and as a acting city manager in Texas, I know it takes a special person who understands how to balance the needs of a community. If I were the City Manager in San Antonio, in light of the information presented, I would have focus groups within the community and within the organization, and consultants certified in diversity on the ground to identify and remove the barriers and resistance to change. A survey of all African-American employees would also identify employer tactics used to undermine their longevity. As HR Director at San Antonio Housing Authority, I witnessed too many black people hired on grant positions, moved too frequently to redesigned jobs or restructuring, or reorganization. We are not properly identified in succession planning. Our recruitment efforts are feeble at best. While I was employed there, even though we have some blacks who are hired to be executives or are elected officials, they prove not to be advocates for the masses, but gatekeepers that further limit hiring and promotions. In other words, it is a complex problem.”
When I asked her what should black people in San Antonio do? Her answer, “Continue applying, asking questions, getting your advanced degrees, and being excellent. Above all, this issue is vitally important as this impacts our legacy. Leaving a legacy is very important. What are we leaving to our next generation is critical to our people. In my opinion, the opportunities are less today than the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.”
In closing, Ms. Owens-Holmes indicated “there are African American leaders who are afraid to speak up. They are also a part of the problem. When I was being raised, I was told, when one of us is down, we are all down even when one of us comes up.”
The SA Observer would like to thank Paulette Owens-Holmes and many of you on our social media for addressing the challenges of the City of San Antonio. The coverage continues until we can see a promise for 1500 Jobs for African Americans. Stay in tune on the issue that impacts your family!