When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel convenes meetings of his cabinet, the racial breakdown of those top aides hardly reflects the diversity of the city they serve. In a city in which no single racial group makes up more than a third of the population, almost two of every three City Hall department heads is white. Of 30 Emanuel appointees to the highest-ranking city government positions, only five are black, and three Hispanic, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows.
"It's abysmal," said Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward -- Hyde Park) of blacks' under-representation in the upper ranks at City Hall. "We have talked about it with the mayor, but apparently it has fallen on deaf ears."
In contrast, Gov. Pat Quinn has tapped African Americans and whites to serve in top state posts at a rate that roughly mirrors the size of their communities in Illinois, though Hispanics are relatively scarce in Quinn's cabinet despite their growing population.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has 15 whites and 13 blacks in the 34 top posts in her administration. As in the Quinn and Emanuel administrations, though, few Latinos occupy top positions under Preckwinkle. She has four Asian cabinet members and two Hispanics, even though Hispanics are four times as numerous as Asians in the county's population.
"We're extremely disappointed," says Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum. "It's really unfortunate that none of our government leaders have proper representation in their cabinets."
This piece was first published in the Chicago Sun-Times.