CFER Criticizes Irvine Mayor’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Resolution as Potentially Unconstitutional and the Resolution Community Input Process as Undemocratic

For Immediate Release

January 28, 2021

SAN DIEGO, CA – January 28, 2021- Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) sends an open letter to Irvine Mayor Farrah N. Khan and the Irvine City Council regarding the newly adopted “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” Resolution. CFER welcomes open dialogue and constructive engagement with Mayor Khan and the Irvine City Council to discuss legal ways for Irvine to address existing disparities and improve the city’s practices to serve its dynamic residents.

While CFER applauds Mayor Khan’s commitment to “ending racial and other disparities”, we are alarmed by the Mayor’s requirement for the city government to develop “measurable equity goals and outcomes” in hiring, promotion, and contracting. Under the current State Constitution Article I Section 31 (a), public agencies including City of Irvine are prohibited from granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment and government contracting. Diversity and outreach programs are only legal if they are inclusive of all races, ethnicities and genders. Mayor Khan’s Resolution would potentially violate this constitutional principle of equal treatment and even translate into quotas in its implementation which are illegal on the federal level as well. At the same time, by only consulting one particular racial group, the community input process leading up to the Irvine City Council’s adoption of the Resolution did not observe the principles of democratic procedures or fair representation.

Incorporated in 1971, City of Irvine has grown from a small town of 10,081 residents to a vibrant locality of 281,707 citizens from all racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. The city’s diverse population is 48.8% white, 41.2% Asian, 9.7% Hispanic, 4.9% multi-race, and 2.1% black. Over 41% of Irvine residents are foreign born. As of 2012, Irvine-based firms were 40.4% minority-owned and 30.7% women-owned. More than 68% of the city’s adult residents are college educated. Irvine’s biggest employer— University of California, Irvine, boasts an excellent profile of racial diversity in students and faculty. All statistical data points to the fact that Irvine is already diverse and inclusive. Efforts to further improve diversity at the city level should recognize existing gains and offer practical policy solutions rather than operating under the nebulous presumption of sustained “systemic racism and racial inequities”.

In CFER’s open letter to the Irvine Mayor in the spirit of collaboration and dialogue, Frank Xu, CFER president, wrote: “to combat stubborn disparities requires stakeholder collaboration, careful deliberation and legal compliance. Therefore, CFER urges your office to take proactive actions to ensure your practices are consistent with the California Constitution and relevant state and federal laws.”

Contact:

Wenyuan Wu

wenyuan.wu@cferfoundation.org

(786) 393-8028

About Californians for Equal Rights (CFER): CFER is a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and advance the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment. www.Cferfoundation.org.

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