Prince George's County delegates last week voted unanimously to support a bill that would create a committee to study the hiring, promotion and retention of minorities and women in the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and in the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC).
The park and planning commission is currently operating under an agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requiring that 50 percent of its recruits and promotions must be women or members of a racial minority.
The WSSC has not been working under any hiring or promotion order since November 1980, when it satisfied the EEOC and the courts, and was removed from the terms of a consent decree.
"We want to look at both agencies, to see if there are any problems," said Del. Nathaniel Exum (D-Hyattsville). Exum said his own observations and conversations with employes of the two agencies have convinced him a study is warranted.
Exum and fellow 25th District delegates Francis J. Santangelo and Sylvania W. Woods introduced a similar bill last year. "It just went very bad," Exum recalled. "It got killed in the Senate. That's going to be the danger this year."
While delegates from both Montgomery and Prince George's voted for the bill last year, it was killed by Montgomery senators and never reached the Prince George's Senate delegation. The Montgomery County delegation has yet to consider this year's bill.
The WSSC is supporting Exum's bill "in order to allay any concerns," according to the commission's legislative affairs officer, Vicki Burry. The park and planning commission has taken no official position on the bill.
The draft of a park and planning commission report on progress in the hiring and promotion of women and minorities during 1981, prepared for the EEOC, shows an overall improvement. "I believe that the statistics that are reflected in the year-end report . . . show us progressing toward the goals," commission Executive Director Thomas H. Countee Jr. said last week.
While an increasing number of the 1984 employment goals established under the agreement have been met, the draft report shows, minorities and women in some categories still have far to go. In the Montgomery County Planning Department, for example, the goal for minority officials and administrators has been achieved. But there are still no women in this category, and no women or minorities serve as officials or administrators in the county's parks department.
And while the number of minority employes classified as "professionals" in Prince George's County's parks department last year increased from 25 to 30, meeting the 1984 goal, the number of minority technicians has fallen from the 1974-75 level of seven, to one.
Countee said he hopes to continue the commission's efforts to recruit minorities and women and is asking for $30,000 in next year's budget for this purpose. The commission received the same amount this year for such recruiting.
Roy Hedgepeth, the commission's employment relations and affirmative action officer, said this week there has been "discernable progress" in the hiring and promotion of minorities and women, but noted there are "still some areas of concern" and said "a little more intensive effort" is needed.