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Sean Goldrick Lamont deserves top grade for hiring

January 9, 2019

In his recent column, Hearst Associate Editor Dan Haar reviewed and graded policy prescriptions offered to Gov.-elect Ned Lamont by ad hoc working groups. While generally complimentary, Haar slammed one particular recommendation by one of those working groups — “Women: Hiring quotas for top Lamont appointees.” Pointing out that this is the only group to convene based on identity, Haar wrote that the group’s recommendation that “Commissioner and Executive Branch appointments should be comprised of 50 percent women, with particular attention to women of color, to reflect the state’s population,” was “laudable as a goal, terrible as a quota. It’s demeaning and it’s the wrong way to achieve equality. Grade: D”

“Demeaning”? The “wrong way to achieve equality”? “Grade: D”?

It’s difficult to understand how attempting to fill half of the Lamont administration’s top positions with women is “demeaning.” Nor is it clear for whom it it is “demeaning.” Nor is it understandable why having those top positions staffed by women and minority women to reflect their numbers in the population is “terrible as a quota.” Indeed, Lamont has now named 27 top staffers, of whom 12 are women. Moreover, more than half — 16 of those 27 top hires — are either women, Hispanic, or African-American. So not only has Lamont embraced the goal of diversity, he is taking action to make that goal a reality in his administration. And let’s keep in mind that Mr. Lamont’s first hire was a woman to be his running mate: Susan Bysiewicz for lieutenant governor.

Though he has fallen just short of the 50 percent “quota” so far, Lamont has experienced little difficulty in identifying brilliant, experienced, and highly capable women and minorities to staff Connecticut’s state government. Those top nominees include:

Vannessa Dorantes (African-American woman) — commissioner, Department of Children and Families.

State Sen. Beth Bye (woman) — commissioner, Office of Early Childhood.

Colleen Flanagan Johnson (woman) — senior adviser.

Former Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (woman) — chairman, Connecticut Democratic Party.

Katie Sykes (woman) — director, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection .

Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon (African-American woman) — director, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Maribel La Luz (Hispanic woman) — director of communications.

Melissa McCaw (African-American woman) — secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.

Amy Porter (woman) — director, Department of Rehabilitative Services.

Michelle H. Seagull (woman) — commissioner, Department of Consumer Protection.

Vicki Veltri (woman) — executive director, Office of Health Strategy.

State Sen. Terri Gerratana (woman) — adviser, Office of Health Strategy.

Chief Operating Officer — Paul Mounds (African-American).

State Rep. Chris Soto (Hispanic) director Legislative Affairs.

Jorge Perez (Hispanic) — commissioner, Department of Banking.

Scott Jackson (African-American) — commissioner, Department of Revenue Services.

And far from believing that it is demeaning to hire women and minorities to top positions in government, let’s also keep in mind that Connecticut voters embraced diversity by hiring an African-American man to be state treasurer, an Asian-American man to serve as state attorney general, and an African-American woman to represent Connecticut in the U.S. Congress.

Lamont is making brilliant hires, nearly half of whom are women, and more than half of whom are minorities. He is identifying and promoting the best of Connecticut. Perhaps Haar and Hearst Connecticut Media could explain why they believe women are not qualified to run major departments in our state government. Lamont clearly believes they are, and is putting into action the recommendations of that panel that Haar maligned.

Rather than criticize Lamont for his commitment to diversity, it is long past due for Hearst Connecticut Media to itself embrace diversity, and correct its woeful failure to implement diversity. It is time for Hearst to add women and minorities to its management ranks and to its editorial board that remains almost exclusively white, male, and conservative. It’s time for Hearst to hire journalists of color to report on Connecticut’s communities of color. And it’s long past due for Hearst to add minorities and progressive voices to its almost exclusively white and conservative lineup of columnists to reflect the sentiments and makeup of the people of Connecticut.

Lamont is showing the way forward on diversity; it’s time for Hearst to follow his lead.

Greenwich resident Sean Goldrick is an investment professional who served on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

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