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St. Pete employees get reminder about city's new vision after revelations about racial tension in some city departments



ST. PETERSBURG | Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin issued a memo to all employees this week in the wake of stories in the Tampa Bay Times about racial tension among employees, most noticably in the Stormwater Department, where a white supervisor spray-painted the back of a black worker's back and made reference to the Klu Klux Klan.

Tomalin began her letter, which went out Thursday, by reminding people of the city's new vision, unveiled when Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration took office this year. One of the chief values, Tomalin said, is diversity and inclusiveness.

"Recent media coverage regarding race relations among our team presents an opportunity for us to affirm our commitment to a culture of inclusivity where everybody is treated with dignity and respect," Tomalin wrote.

On Sunday, the Times chronicled the story of a black worker whose white supervisor spraypainted his back, an event came to be known as the "KKK incident." But past and former city workers told the newspaper the incident is just one of the frustrations of many black employees within some city dapartments.

Union officials have been pressing the city for months to do a cultural climate study of the city's workforce, and on Thursday, administration officials said that will happen. Workers will also be getting sensitivity training in the coming months.

"The Mayor's expectations are clear. Discrimination against any person for any reason is unacceptable," Tomalin's memo reads. "The City's policies have long reflected zero tolerance for discrimination. The Mayor is committed to the assurance that all of our practices deliver on that promise."

Everyone who works at the city is accountable for that, Tomalin said. (Read the entire memo here.)

[Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2014 6:18pm]


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