San Fran's election director fired because he’s white
Some of us like to just think the best about our nation, but the honest among us have to admit that we haven’t always gotten it right.
One of the sins of our past is institutionalized discrimination based on the color of one’s skin. As a born and raised Southerner, it’s something I couldn’t hide from if I wanted to.
Luckily, those days are over.
It seems that San Francisco elections director John Arntz appeared to do a satisfactory job running elections for the city. Despite that, though, his contract was not renewed.
Now, contracts don’t get renewed for a number of reasons. Maybe the person wants more money or, conversely, maybe the funding for the job dropped due to budget cuts.
Yet that doesn’t seem to be the issue with Arntz.
In fact, according to one elections commissioner, the problem is that Arntz is white.
Elections Commissioner Cynthia Dai, who voted to not renew Arntz’s contract, said there was no performance-based reason for the commission’s decision. She did not dispute that San Francisco has run free, fair and functional elections for 20 years. Rather, she says, it was time to open up this position to a more diverse field; the city, she said, could not make progress on its racial equity goals without opening up its top positions.
“Our decision wasn’t about your performance, but after twenty years we wanted to take action on the City’s racial equity plan and give people an opportunity to compete for a leadership position,” reads an email sent from commission president Chris Jerdonek to Arntz. “We also wanted to allow enough time for a fair and equitable process and conduct as broad a search as possible.”
It's ironic that “equity,” which is defined as “the quality of being fair or impartial,” is the term also used to justify such an unfair action.
Had there been some issue with Arntz’s performance of his duties, then moving him out in hopes of making room for a minority to fulfill that role might make some degree of sense. That’s particularly true if you’re someone who, like many in San Francisco, believe that things like affirmative action are unmitigated goods.
But Arntz doesn’t appear to have been bad at his job.
On the contrary, it seems most city officials had nothing but positive things to say about his performance. He was let go simply because of the color of his skin.
While I’m not about to pretend that the best person always gets the job, particularly in government, nor that there haven’t been racial injustices in the past, it’s ridiculous to try and atone for those simply by slightly modifying them.
That’s all that’s happening with many of these so-called “equity” efforts.
It’s undeniable to say that denying employment to someone simply because they’re black, Asian, Hispanic, or some other ethnic minority is wrong. It’s a wrong that doesn’t suddenly become “right” because you’re doing it to someone who isn’t a minority.
If there’s some evidence of racial bias in the hiring process in San Francisco, that’s one thing. If it is, remove it and make a point to hire the best person for the job regardless of what ethnicity they claim.
You don’t fire someone who you think has done a good job for two decades just to pave the way for something different.
If you’re going to go down that road, don’t be surprised when the best and brightest aren’t interested in replacing him knowing they could be bounced just as easily.