Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gov. Gregoire Again Misses Opportunity to be Diverse

Governor Chris Gregoire throughout her life has had a problem including African Americans in her rise to lead the State of WA. Even as she prepares to leave the Governor's office she has not done much to improve this problem with African Americans and other non white Washingtonians. Most recently she had the task of appointing three members to the Education Funding Task Force called for by the Legislators. Gov. Gregoire was to pick three members.  The make of the legislature leaves few people of color to choose from due to the small number of non whites currently elected to this body of policy makers. There are several policy advisories that call upon legislators to participate and the few minorities can not serve on all of them. But this is where the Governor has opportunity to make appointments that represent more fully the population and talent within the State of WA. Again, this time she failed. Just a year ago, In the August, 28 2011Seattle Times they reported on her lack of diversity among those hired to advise her.  And,  exactly 7 years prior on August 28, 2004 the same media source reported during her first campaign about her anger when it was revealed she was in 1966,  President of a UW that banned non white and non christian women to join. This did not change during her Presidency.  That is beyond us and her, but her selection of those close to her or selected to advise her as Governor is not.

This is a message I sent to her today after seeing that again she overlooked an opportunity in making her appointments to the Education Funding Task Force. I voted for her in 2008 assuming that time and experience allows growth and wisdom.

August 13, 2012  

Dear Gov. Gregoire,

I was thinking of letting this pass but it is such a clear example of your missing opportunities to be inclusive of our entire state population who elected you.  Being African American, I know that we have been slighted often during your time as our state leader.

Your Education Funding Task Force is without representation from our community. The solutions made by others to pull our children from the bottom of the education heap have failed miserably. Choosing solutions from those who are closest to you without expectation of credible outcomes for our students is a pitiful effort at the least.

The Task Force required State Legislators, as for African Americans and other groups you had no control in that Rep. Eric  Pettigrew being the only African American State Representative can not spread himself across every state problem. So this is where you could have filled the gap but you used your appointing authority to chose three whites. Jeff Vincent, Mary Lindquist and Susan Enfield.  There are within our state African Americans with recent school leadership experience in James Dupree living in Kent WA. And as to financial background there is Mary Pugh of Mary Pugh Capital which like Jeff Vincent manages multiple billions of dollars in assets, and there are many African American and non white teachers in leadership roles. This was your call to make. And as reported by the Seattle Times August 28, 2011 edition you continue to turn a blind eye to opportunity for diversity.  This is an example even after having it pointed out to the public in this article.

I am sharing this with the the two contenders vying to replace you with the hopes that they can promise a more diverse leadership for Washington State. In Seattle non white students are the majority of our school students. I am sure the significance of non white students reigns in other school districts in this state.

As the top Democrat in our state, you have not done a good job of leading our state toward a more diverse and thus creative place to live. Also under you leadership we have have dropped off of the list of good states to live in despite our leadership in many industries. Inclusion in the end results is always the best practice.  


Dawn Mason

Former WA State Representative

The Mary Pugh  mentioned in this letter to her is African American with a financial business as successful as that of Jeff Vincent.   James Dupree is retired and lives in WA State, despite a less than supportive Monroe School Board this is what community and professionals who worked with him and lived in community said about him,  "...solid financial management, improved test scores and more certified teachers in the classroom mean Dupree has earned a chance to continue to continue the work he began four  years ago when he became superintendent."

I am not saying these are the ones that she should have chosen I am just using them to make the point that when looking for the kind of experience that guides fiscal and social policy there is a large pool of competence within the diverse make up of Washington State.

It would be disappointing to me and others if Gov. Gregoire sees my concerns and comments as anything but those of a concerned resident of WA. I have served as a State Representative from the most diverse district in WA, so giving voice to a diverse constituency is always foremost in my thinking and being.  And a leopard does not change its spots. It appears that Gov. Gregoire has not changed hers and surely I have not changed mine.  I love living and working with people that look, think and live differently, yet want the same thing as I and that is opportunity and equity.