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Latino Daily News

Tuesday July 10, 2012

STUDY:  Not Enough Latinos in Illinois and Chicago Government

STUDY:  Not Enough Latinos in Illinois and Chicago Government

Photo: Illinois Government not Diverse

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Despite the growth in their population, Latinos are underrepresented in important posts in the Chicago, Cook County and Illinois governments, according to an analysis published Monday by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We’re extremely disappointed,” Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum, told the newspaper.

The analysis found that of the 30 top officials named by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his first 14 months in office, just three were Hispanics and five were African Americans.

Municipal departments headed by white appointees manage nearly 80 percent of the city’s 2012 operating budget of more than $3 billion, the Sun-Times said.

Puente pointed out that the Hispanic community grew in Illinois in the past decade while the white and African American populations declined.

“As our population grows, we see the gaps in opportunities become more and more exacerbated,” she said.

In the government of Cook County, where Chicago is located, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle selected Hispanics for only two of the 34 main posts in the administration and named Asians to four posts, even though Latinos outnumber Asians in the county by four to one, the study says.

Hispanics are also underrepresented in the administration of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

“When filling vacancies, Gov. Quinn looks for the best and brightest leaders that reflect the population of Illinois,” his spokeswoman, Annie Thompson, told the newspaper.

She emphasized that the governor works with two Latinos, Gery Chico, head of the Illinois State Board of Education, and Miguel del Valle, who chairs a committee to improve education.

“It’s really unfortunate that none of our government leaders have proper representation in their cabinets,” Sylvia Puente said.

Emanuel’s press secretary, Jennifer Hoyle, said that the mayor “recognizes the importance of a diverse work force that mirrors the diversity of Chicago.” EFE