A Diversity Disaster

RECEIVED Sat., Sept. 26, 2020

Dear Josh [Rosenblatt],
    My name is Eddie and I work for the Austin Fire Department. I am currently the president of the “League of United Latin American Citizens” (LULAC) a national Latino organization that supports the advancement of Latin American Citizens. I’ve been in the fire service for almost 30 years (23yrs w/Austin Fire). Since the first day I set foot in the Austin Fire Department I noticed the stark lack or diversity.That very obvious lack of diversity is still here.
    Recently I have been having conversations about the lack of diversity in the fire department with Fire Chief Baker. I asked him if he thought we had a diversity problem within the fire department. His answer shocked me … he responded by saying “I do not think we have a diversity problem in our fire department.” I was perplexed for that moment in time. But what he said next was not surprising at all. He then followed up his initial answer with……”I think we have a diversity DISASTER!”
    In working with the fire chief on how we address the diversity disaster we’ve been in for years I ran across an article you wrote 11 years ago [“The Color of Fire,” News, May 13, 2011] about the AFD diversity council/group that our union Local 975 had started. Well, it eventually dwindled away and in a short time was never seen again. I proposed to the chief that we should renew the diversity group. Anyway, my point is that we took all the data you had 11 years ago and compared it to todays minority data…..and no surprise, it is almost the exact minority data you gathered 11 years ago. Yes, there has been absolutely no improvement in 11 years.
    I’d love to talk to you about this and maybe you can write another article concerning the grave minority issues we currently have in our fire department.
Eddie Perez
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