Prioritizing Equity Efforts in Marin

Supervisor Katie Rice 

Prioritizing Equity Efforts in Marin

Equity is one of the Board of Supervisors’ “Four E’s” of ongoing priority focus areas: Equity, Education, Economy and Environment. The County’s 5 Year Business Plan adopted in 2015, focused on equity and inclusion. The Board adopted a resolution in 2016 that affirmed those priorities and took a stand against all forms of discrimination and intolerance as the then incoming federal administration ratcheted up racist rhetoric and adopted policy and regulation targeting immigrant communities of color. The County has continued to take steps to build an anti-racist organization through internal systems and practices designed to create a diverse and inclusive organization, and externally through the intentional processes and development of programs and services to shift longstanding inequities that exist in Marin. I provide information below on several current initiatives focused on equity. For more data about equity measures in Marin, check out the County’s equity dashboard.

Of Monuments and Marin: Next Steps for SFD Blvd Discussion

This past June, residents young and old, from different backgrounds and experience, all people who call Marin home -- joined in the nationwide movement to acknowledge and address the historic social and institutional racism, injustice and inequality that persist in our country and county. They called for communitywide recognition that Marin County is one of the whitest, most segregated, most socio-economically disparate counties in the state and nation. They demanded that our public institutions examine and right policy and practices that work against inclusion and racial equity. And they called for the removal of public monuments of individuals associated with slavery and oppression. That call centered around effigies honoring Sir Francis Drake – a statue in Larkspur, a high school in San Anselmo, and a road – Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

To consider renaming a road, or a school, or removing a statue towards addressing historic, structural racism may seem a symbolic act versus substantive action. I would argue that there is a place and need for highly visible, physical, public acts to signal our commitment as a community to the long term, sustained, systems work in the public and private sectors that is needed to make real change addressing historic institutional racism and the glaring inequities that exist in Marin.

I would also argue that whether or not the name is changed, the statue removed, the discussion itself is important in that it provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at the history of this place we live, to consider the message that names (even street names) can send to different people of different backgrounds or experience, and to think about community values in the context of the times we live. And then, to use the discussion and learning to inform action we take as individuals and as a community towards truly making Marin County an inclusive, equitable, welcoming place for all.

In response to the outcry for name-changing, on June 26, Supervisor Rodoni and I, along with council representatives from Fairfax, San Anselmo, Ross and Larkspur (jurisdictions with road naming authority for Sir Francis Drake) joined together as the “SFD Blvd. Working Group” to host a virtual listening session specifically to hear from community members their thoughts, opinions, questions on the subject. And boy did we hear! Click here to view.

More than 300 people participated in the videoconference. In addition, we received hundreds of emails. It was clear from the level of participation, the range of viewpoints, the contradictions and conflicting accounts of the past, that there was a need to learn more about the road’s history, about Sir Francis Drake the man, and Marin’s history as well. And all this, in the context of the racial justice movement of which Marin County had become a part.

 

Fast forward to today: In the months following the June 26 listening session, the SFD Blvd. Working Group partnered with the Marin County Free Library to hold a community learning session (in both English and Spanish) in August to provide perspective/historical account on Drake the man, SFD the road (see Dewey Livingston’s “Sir Francis Drake Boulevard: Road of Many Names”) and the Coast Miwok people. The committee worked with city/town managers to research and gather data on the legal process, potential costs, and other key questions for public agencies, businesses, and affected parcels. See attached for FAQ.

At our last meeting in November, the Working Group agreed the next step needed to be taken up by individual jurisdictions. Each of the five jurisdictions will now engage their respective communities in discussion at the local level. The process will conclude with a public hearing in each jurisdiction to decide whether to rename the road within that jurisdiction. The five agencies agreed to complete this process by March 31, 2021.

I look forward to hearing from you, and welcome your participation in an upcoming community zoom or via email at krice@marincounty.org subject line: SFD.

SFD renaming discussion process/ calendar:

  • January - Zoom Informational meeting on January 25 (6-7pm) for residents/businesses along SFD corridor in the unincorporated area of both the Ross Valley (District 2 – my district) and West Marin (district 4 – Supervisor Rodoni). This “zoom” meeting will include a summary of outreach to date, presentation of the research gathered (e.g. cost, impact to businesses/residents), historical information on naming of road. And provide opportunity for Q/A from residents.
  • February – local community level outreach via “zoom."
  • March – tentative Board of Supervisors hearing on March 9 for discussion/direction on whether to move forward with renaming.
  • April: SFD Working Group members (from those jurisdictions that decide to move forward with a name change) will work together to determine a name selection process. The goal would be to determine a new name prior to the completion of the Sir Francis Drake Improvement Project (fall 2021).

Visit the Marin County Free Library’s Drake Boulevard History Resource Page to review the June 26 listening session as well as online resources gathered by MCFL about Sir Francis Drake, about the Boulevard, and about Coast Miwok history.

County of Marin’s Equity Initiatives

At our December 15 Board meeting, we approved the County’s 2020 Equal Employment Opportunity Plan as well as received an update on race equity planning and implementation.

2020 Equal Employment Opportunity Plan

The County’s efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce are reflected positively in the County’s Equal Employment data from the past five years. This includes an increase of women and People of Color in management and more People of Color being hired and receiving promotions. The data also show that in areas where the County focused its diversity effort (e.g. hiring at upper levels of management), a dramatic increase was made.

The Equal Employment Opportunity data also show the County must improve in certain areas, including a need to retain People of Color and provide greater promotional opportunities for People of Color.

To continue moving forward, the County has put in place many goals, plans and objectives that will make such improvements, including a diversity hiring toolkit, the County’s Racial Equity Action Plan, departmental equity tools, support for affinity groups, mandatory cultural competency training, tuition assistance program and stretch assignment program.

For more information, read the staff report, the 2020 Equal Employment Opportunity Plan and the presentation.

Update on Race Equity Planning and Implementation

In April 2019, Anyania I. Muse was hired as the County’s first Equity Director and began assessing projects, needs, and opportunity gaps within the system. In her update to the Board, Muse discussed internal and external equity initiatives that support the County’s equity goals. Updates included staff employee training and resources and opportunities for Marin residents to get involved in promoting diversity and cultural understanding.

Muse’s work is a direct result of the County’s commitment to the launch and implementation of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) work that led to the County’s initial Racial Equity Action Plan. Muse and an internal equity team will revamp that 2017 plan and address issues specific to County employment, employee relations, training, and opportunity for the advancement of racial equity within the County system.

The County is appointing 15-20 community members to serve on its new Race Equity Planning Committee, which will revise the community-facing elements of the 2017 Racial Equity Action Plan. Convened by the County Administrator's Office, the diverse committee will provide recommendations to the County on how to build an anti-racist organization while advancing equity within the entire county.

Many of the initiatives laid out in the 2017 Racial Equity Action Plan have been initiated, but there is more work ahead. The committee will review the plan and recommend changes considering urgent calls for civil rights, social justice, inclusivity, diversity, and equity in Marin. The committee application period closed on November 30 and the committee will have its first meeting in January 2021.

By creating updated racial equity plans that are inclusive of employees and community, the County formally recognized that that inequities, racism, and disparities persisted within the government structure through the years. The Marin County Office of Equity along with the County Administrators Office has vowed to use new tools to address and rectify longstanding biases, structural, and institutional racism.

For more information, read the staff report and the presentation.

 

Katie Rice Signature

 

Contact Info:

Supervisor Katie Rice

415-473-7825

krice@marincounty.org

www.facebook.com/D2KatieRice

 

District 2 Aides:

Nancy Vernon

415-473-7351

nvernon@marincounty.org

 

Jen Gauna

415-473-6159

jgauna@marincounty.org