Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ian K. Kullgren
By Ian K. Kullgren July 13, 2012

Latinos still underrepresented in governor’s appointments

It's been about a year since we checked in on Gov. John Kitzhaber's promise to diversify his staff. Back then he hadn't made all that many appointments given there are about 2,000 members serving combined.

A year later, he's made hundreds more appointments for a grand total of 671, according to his office's latest figures.

As a quick reminder, because this promise isn"t explicit in what it means to "diversify” his staff, we settled on the measurement that the governor would be succeeding if his staff mirrored the overall diversity of the state.

The last time we checked, he seemed to be generally on the track but was falling behind when it came to Latino representation. That still seems to be the case today.

Overall, 79 percent of the governor's appointments identified as white, compared to about 78 percent of all Oregonians (according to Census info). African Americans and Asian Americans represented about 6 percent of the appointments each, which goes beyond their representation statewide (2 and 4 percent respectively). Native Americans represented 1 percent of appointments compared to their 2 percent statewide population.

Finally, Latinos represented 6 percent of all appointments -- statewide, however, people identifying as "Hispanic” make up 12 percent of the population.

As far as gender parity goes, men represented 56 percent of the new members -- the state is nearly evenly divided between men and women.

We recognize that there are varying types of diversity, of course. When we last updated this promise, Kendall Clawson, the governor's director of executive appointments, told us they were also focused on differences in age, socioeconomic background and sexual orientation, among other factors.

Of course we agree that those types of diverse backgrounds are important. But the governor specifically mentioned ethnic diversity, so we'll have to stick with the demographic data at hand.

Where does that put us as far as this promise is concerned, then? Well, the governor's appointments don't match perfectly with the state's composition, but they do reflect a good faith effort. The largest exception, however, is with Hispanic or Latino appointments, which continue to lag in meeting parity with the state. As before, we'll continue to monitor this promise to see if he's able to further balance the ranks of the state"s various boards and commissions.

For now we"ll keep this promise In the Works.

Our Sources

E-mail from Amy Wojcicki, spokeswoman for Gov. John Kitzhaber, July 13, 2012

American FactFinder 2, U.S. Census information, July 13, 2012

Ian K. Kullgren
By Ian K. Kullgren June 11, 2011

Nearly half a year into term, appointments seem to track with state’s diversity

Nearly six months into his third term as governor, John Kithaber has appointed 103 members to the state's various boards and commissions. Now that's just a fraction of the total number of members -- there are some 300 boards in all with about 2,000 members combined. That said, we figured it was as good a time as any to see if the governor was keeping good on his promise to have a "racially diverse” administration.

You might recall that in our first go on this promise (which you can read in its entirety by scrolling down) we found the governor's office staff of 37 did "mirror the overall diversity of the state” with the exception of Latinos, Oregon's largest minority group. In that category alone, he was falling short.

So how do things look on his board and commission appointments. Well, we recently spoke with Kendall Clawson, the governor's director of executive appointments, to find out.

According to her, 23 of the appointments (about 22 percent) went to people of color while the remaining 80 went to Caucasians. In terms of gender parity, 58 positions went to men while 45 went to women.

According to the 2010 Census, about 78 percent of Oregonians identified as white while the remaining 22 percent identified as Latino, Asian, African American, Native American or multiracial.

In that regard, he seems to be hitting the minimum goal we've established that his administration be at least as diverse as the state as whole in order for us to give him credit for his promise.

That said, there are two areas where he's coming up a little short. Of those 103 appointments 7 went to people who identify as Hispanic (7 percent). In Oregon, about 12 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic. Additionally, just under 47 percent of his appointments were women, that figure should be a few points higher to match the state as a whole.

Clawson said that work has to be done in both areas but underscored the fact that the governor has still made significant progress toward his promise of having a diverse, reflective administration. What's more, she said, the governor's push isn't just about head counting.

She said her office makes a point to "really dig deeper into people.”

"We call, and we meet with them, and we ask people, ‘Who are you as a person? What do you have to contribute to this giant community?' "

"We"re talking about diversity of all forms, so it"s not just race and ethnicity.”

It's also, she said, about age, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and other factors.

"I think that's the great part about the inclusion method. No one is off the hook,” Clawson said. "Inclusion is about making sure everybody is included in the process.

"White, black, young, more seasoned, (gay), straight -- whoever -- we want them.”

So where does that put us as far as this promise is concerned? Well, the governor's appointments don't match perfectly with the state's composition -- those who identify as Hispanic are underrepresented, as are woman. That said, the numbers do seem to indicate he"s making progress toward his goal.

We'll keep this promise at its current ranking: In the Works.

Our Sources

Interview with Kendall Clawson, director of executive appointments, June 8, 2011

Interview with Christine Miles, spokeswoman for Gov. John Kitzhaber, June 8, 2011

Ian K. Kullgren
By Ian K. Kullgren March 14, 2011

Team is still coming together but appears to be as diverse as state

Recently, we stumbled across a blog post that took a look at the diversity of the state's agency heads. The numbers were pretty grim. According to an analysis by Tom Cusack, the former Portland director of housing development for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and later the department's Oregon field office director, all of the directors appeared to be white and only a quarter of them were female.

Cusack's analysis wasn't scientific -- he used photos of the Cabinet officials to guess at their ethnic identity and he surveyed only 24 of the most prominent officials. That said, he wondered whether Gov. John Kitzhaber might have a problem similar to that of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was criticized for having an all-white Cabinet.

Now, the parallel doesn't exactly hold up. Kitzhaber doesn't really have a Cabinet in the same way that Kasich does. Also, agency heads carry over from administration to administration, and while Kitzhaber asked those leading the biggest agencies to offer their resignations, it would have been unusual for him to drop several. (As it happened, he axed two of them -- one an ethnic minority and one a woman.)

Still, the blog post did remind us of one of Kitzhaber's campaign promises. Back in August 2010, he told Radio Movimiento that he would diversify his administration. Given that he's been in office for two months now, we figured we should take a look at whether he seemed to be making progress on his promise.

We decided to focus, at least for this update, on the officials that he has been responsible for hiring since taking office -- essentially his office staff -- and to hold off on agency heads and other carry-overs until he has been in the position of having to reappoint them for whatever reason.

We spoke to Frank Garcia Jr., the governor's director of diversity and inclusion. Garcia argued it was still too early to evaluate Kitzhaber on this promise -- "There are still some positions within the staff that need to be filled” -- but he agreed to send us a diversity audit of the 37 people employed in the governor"s office as of Feb. 23, 2011.

According to Garcia's count, 58 percent (21 total) of the employees were female, while 22 percent (8 total) were ethnic minorities.

We asked Garcia what standard he thought Kitzhaber should be held to when he told voters that his administration would be a diverse one. Here's what he said:

"I just think it's an attitude, it's an understanding … it's an appreciation and being intentional about Oregon's demographics,” he said. "Diversity inclusion is really to embrace people from different perspectives, religious philosophies, socioeconomic places.

"I don't know what exactly that looks like” in terms of numbers, he added.

That seemed fair, but the Kitz-O-Meter demands a scale. We thought it over and decided that if the governor's office reflected state demographics, that might be a good starting point.

As luck would have, the 2010 Census numbers were just released. According to those figures, in 2010 about 78 percent of Oregonians identified as white while the remaining 22 percent identified as Latino, Asian, African American, Native American or multiracial.

It seems his office does, in fact, mirror the overall diversity of the state. The staff composition, however, is falling short when it comes to Latinos, Oregon's largest minority group. There is only one Latino working in the governor's office, while Latinos make up 12 percent of Oregon's population.

(Out of 37 employees, 21 were women and 16 were men. In terms or race or ethnicity, three were Asian, two were African American, one was Latino, two were Native American and 29 were white.)

Overall, it appears that Kitzhaber is addressing the issue of diversity in terms of the make-up of his staff. We'll continue to revise this promise as we see Kitzhaber make additional appointments, fill the vacancies left by the two dismissed agency heads and appoint permanent directors in place of "acting” agency heads. For now, we'll call this a promise In the Works.

Our Sources

Latest Fact-checks