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Kudos go out to Mayor Paul Dyster and City Administrator Bill Bradberry on recognizing the need for more diversity in the workforce here. The new administration is emphasizing that need with a promise to vigorously enforce a project labor agreement for the city's new public safety complex on North Main Street that requires subcontractors to hire 10 percent minority workers and another 5 percent women.

That said, however, much more needs to be done. To accurately reflect the city's complexion, at least 50 percent of the workforce should be made up of minorities and women. And as long as we're going to impose standards on private contractors doing work for the city, why not hold the city itself to the same standards?

Currently, only around 8 percent of the city's employees are minorities, which is nothing short of disgraceful.

"Our objective here is to try to counter those forces that are creating the prevailing mindset here where people don't believe that it's possible to make our way out of poverty," Bradberry told the Buffalo News last week.

But that's only a part of the problem. A bigger one, in our view, is a "prevailing mindset" here that has allowed the minority population to descend into a bottomless pit of public housing, welfare and ghetto life.

Most black city workers labor at the various branches of what used to be called the Department of Public Works until former mayor Vincenzo V. Anello destroyed it in an attempt to provide as many patronage jobs as possible for those who helped him in his 2003 campaign.

About a dozen black men work in the forestry, streets and parks departments, with half that number having decades of training and experience behind them. With one lone exception -- a short-timer who circulated petitions for Anello last year -- none of these workers has ever been given the opportunity for a management position.

Why is that? Is it their fault?

We don't think so.

As long as there are decision-makers in this community like former DPW director Dick Lucinski -- who now edits the Niagara Gazette and recently penned an idiotic column suggesting that the pacifist, Nobel Peace Prize-winning American hero Martin Luther King Jr. would today be a member of the war-crazy Republican Party -- the basic problem of race here won't be addressed seriously.

And the city of Niagara Falls needs to get its own sadly neglected house in order so that it can seize the moral high ground in addressing that problem.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Feb. 5 2008