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Report: City lags in top job postings for Latinos

Dan Atkinson, of the Boston Herald Staff, Friday, June 16, 2017

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Boston is still lagging in Latino leadership roles at City Hall, according to a new report that calls for more Hispanics in power positions, but Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he can’t be entirely responsible for turning the tide and called on community leaders to put forward more qualified candidates.

The Silent Crisis II report, released by the Greater Boston Latino Network yesterday, follows an earlier report on Latinos in government from three years ago and shows some progress, Latino leaders said. But they said the city needs to take more action to get members of Boston’s Latino population — nearly 20 percent of the city — into leadership positions, particularly on boards and commissions that require only a mayoral appointment.

“The city has to do a better job of recruiting people,” Patricia Montes, executive director of immigrant advocacy group Centro Presente. “There are a lot of Latino people in the city that have the capacity and desire to participate and represent the goals of our community.”

According to the report, Latinos across 57 executive positions increased between 2014 and 2017 from five to six. But across the city’s 59 boards and commissions, Latino representation dropped from 28 to 24, with Latinos holding 5.1 percent of all board and commission seats and 7.9 percent of seats appointed at Walsh’s discretion over the past three years.

Walsh said increasing diversity at City Hall remains important and he will look into the decline in board members. He said City Hall needs to take a more active role in appointing Latino members, but that he did not have time to focus on every appointment.

“I’ll make recommendations, but I’m not going to be fine-tuning every single board and commission, I don’t have the time to do that,” Walsh said. “We probably have way too many boards and commissions in the city of Boston, to be honest with you.”

GBLN Steering Committee member Alex Oliver Davila said the organization is linking its website to the city site showing vacancies on boards and commissions, and focusing on boards covering issues such as economic development and housing that were crucial concerns for the city’s increasing Latino population. Walsh said department heads should meet with Latino leaders like the GBLN to get a sense of potential applicants, but that those leaders should have people ready to recommend.

“I think the onus and burden in some cases will fall on the Latino community in providing applicants for those boards,” Walsh said.