Dear Editor:

The Internet is truly illuminating. While surfing my Facebook page, I came across this nugget, posted May 13 on the PA Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs’ profile:

Dear FB Family, our page will soon be taken down. As of the close of business 5/13/11, the staff has been relieved of duty. It has been a pleasure working on your behalf over the years.

In a separate email from GACAAA: Please direct any communication that you would normally send to our office to Luke Bernstein, deputy chief of staff. Luke oversees the Office of Public Liaison. According to page E2.1 of the governor’s budget proposal: “The Office of Public Liaison provides advocacy services for the commonwealth’s Latino, African-American and Asian-American communities. The office also advocates for women and girls.”

If I am reading it correctly, I am led to believe that all of the Governor’s Advisory Commissions as well as the Pennsylvania Commission on Women have been eliminated and now come under the purview of the Office of Public Liaison.

Putting aside my knee-jerk conspiracy theory response, I would assume that consolidation is a budgetary function, although I doubt that the specific needs of four distinct constituencies can be effectively addressed in the one office charged to recognize and promote the public advocacy of issues that affect every resident of the commonwealth.

Additionally, in light of this merger of the advocacy needs of every state resident, I assumed that there would be a wide range of ethnic and racial diversity of reflected in the make up of the governor’s cabinet and executive staff. I was exponentially wrong.

Going strictly by the posted photos on the governor’s website, two of the 24 cabinet positions are held by Blacks—Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel and Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner. The executive staff is even more disturbing.

The lone Black member (Brian K. Westmoreland) holds the esteemed position of personal assistant to the governor (not to be confused with the executive assistant to the governor)—the brother is essentially Corbett’s bodyguard.

Is the public aware of this situation? Is it possible to bring this attention of the community? The prospect of living under this kind of state government through 2014 does not bode well for the well-being of Black folks in this Commonwealth. I shudder to think what will trickle down from the top.

C. Denise Johnson

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