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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Diversity Advisory Council? Good luck with that

Published:

Sometimes you can just smell a bad idea, no matter how well-intentioned.

This week, the Hillsborough County commissioners, after spending a year or so thinking and delaying on the idea, decided to seat 22 members of what is going to be called the Diversity Advisory Council.

Like so many noble sounding ideas, this one has the odor of doom already looming over it.

Maybe it’s because I’m not exactly clear on just what it is these people are supposed to do. I mean, do they speak as a body or as individuals each representing an allegedly diverse segment of the population?

I’d love to have been sitting in when the commissioners, or whoever it was that put this thing together, selected the “diverse population” they wanted to have sitting as your diverse representatives.

The categories picked are, as listed: African-American; Caribbean; Far East Asian; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender; Hispanic/Latino; Indian Asian; Middle Eastern; Native American; Northern European; Southern European; People with Disabilities; and (my favorite) At-Large.

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I was a little disappointed to not see my own particular group, the “Baker’s Dozen” blend of more ethnic groups than I can count when looking through the family genealogy. The closest I could find was Native American, having been born on American soil.

Here’s where you could start getting picky. I didn’t see Australians on the list. Maybe I missed it, but they seem to have left out South Americans.

What about those strange people who put beans in their chili?

There is People with Disabilities as a category, but what about people with serious illnesses? They certainly have issues, don’t they?

What about citizens with no insurance? What about seniors trapped in nursing homes or in poor housing making a choice between medications and food?

How about veterans? How about homeless veterans or veterans with mental illness?

I didn’t see lawyers listed as a category, and they are going to need a few hanging around if this group ever gets together to talk about doing something.

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Anyhow, you get the picture.

The county apparently (I say that because I called the office where they are supposed to know such things and they didn’t) tried to fill each category with two people. For some reason they were only able to recruit one person from the Middle East, one Indian Asian and one Native American.

There was only a total of two applicants from northern and southern Europe.

One of those two, by the way, is Terry Kemple. Kemple, who is a candidate for the county school board, has appeared frequently in the news, largely for his opposition to homosexuality.

He has even spoken against having a diversity council, saying in an email that he believes a local diversity council will become a vehicle promoting homosexuality.

I guess it’s too late to go back. The Diversity Advisory Council is a reality, and it probably already has a committee trying to decide what holidays are going to be acknowledged, to avoid offending anybody else on the council. Good luck.

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