Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 21, 2014

HAMILTON: Make black history, instead of just skipping it

Niagara Gazette — When Niagara Falls Chief of Police John Chella retired, fellow citizen and former City Administrator Bill Bradberry and I sent an email to Mayor Paul Dyster asking him to consider interviewing a black police chief to replace him.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I think that current Chief Bryan DalPorto is doing an excellent job. My motivation in asking for such a chief was to remove one more false paradigm that a black would serve a growing minority community better than would a non-minority, and do so with greater knowledge and sensitivity. Citing the evidence of cities with such police chiefs give little support to the paradigm, or mind-set belief, that it would.

In fact, looking at what we have come to know as even black leadership within our own city, the paradigm of blacks on some important boards make little to no positive impact on the outcome for other blacks. Too often, such so-called leaders are co-opted by other board members and their executives, and merely go along to get along. It can be said that they are more of a problem than they are a solution, this because the other board members justify their actions by saying that, “So-and-so voted along with us, so it must have been okay.”

There are many such cases; but the one that immediately comes to mind is the one that occurred during the last city council meeting.

A member of the board of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority appeared before city council to complain to them that there are projects that are going on in the city’s North End that are lacking fair representation in the number of blacks in their hiring ranks. The community is overwhelmingly African-American.

The board member suggested that the city should take some sort of oversight to ensure more representative hiring practices on projects that involve massive amounts of public dollars, and I would also imagine city council approval to move them forward.

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