Futility of “Colorblindness”: Red Cross Poster Associated Negative Connotations to Nonwhite Characters; Mere “Apology” Insufficient

The Washington Post reported on the following story. A user of a pool looked at an American Red Cross poster and felt uncomfortable because the characters that displayed the so-called uncool pool behaviors were generally nonwhite. The posters were created by the American Red Cross and distributed. Seemingly, throughout the process, no one noticed this particular issue.

American Red Cross former pool safety poster; photo of poster taken by Margaret Sawyer

The response from the Red Cross was unsurprising, denying racial “intent” and promising to correct the situation. However, the situation is not overt discrimination but the formation of mental negative connotations and then representing those negative ideas with nonwhite characters or people.

A quote from Reverend Thomas Merton’s book, “Seeds of Destruction” (Letters to a White Liberal), page 19-20, demonstrates the weakness of reliance on claims of lack of “intent”:

We have been willing to grant the Negro rights on paper, even in the South. But the laws have been framed in such a way that in every case their execution has depended on the good will of white society, and the white man has not failed, when left to himself, to block, obstruct, or simply forget the necessary action without which the rights of the Negro cannot be enjoyed in fact. Hence, when laws have been passed, then contested, dragged through all of the courts, and finally upheld, the Negro is still in no position to benefit by them without, in each case, entering into further interminable lawsuits every time he wants to exercise a right guaranteed to him by law.

(Note: Emphasis, above (in bold), the blog author’s.)

A mere “apology” is insufficient to address this issue. The negative associations in the poster (and elsewhere in the culture of the United States) will have to be unearthed, raised to the sunlight, examined, and dealt with totally. As seen with Antonin Scalia (1936-2016), the United States’ cultural practices need much attention and correction in order to be truly inclusive of all people.

The work of Jane Elliott is a good start to begin the inquiry.

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Federal Reserve Board: Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress, June 2016

Monetary Policy Report, June 2016

The Monetary Policy Report hearings were held on June 21 and 22, 2016.

Monetary Policy Report (June 2016):  http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/files/20160621_mprfullreport.pdf.

U.S. House of Representatives U.S. Senate
June 22, 2016, 10:00 a.m., House Financial Services Committee June 21, 2016, 10:00 a.m., Senate Banking Committee
Press release: http://financialservices.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=400784 Press release: http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=AE3F42A6-5EDC-4B23-ABE1-0A182114B3B4
Testimony: http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/testimony/yellen20160621a.htm

Federal Reserve Board: H.2 Release for Week Ending June 11, 2016; H.4.1 Release (Balance Sheet) for Week Ending June 16, 2016

The Federal Reserve Board (Board) publishes a weekly digest of its activities on its website. The digest is called the H.2 Release and is published every Thursday. The release for the week ending June 11, 2016, is below.

H.2 Release–Actions of the Board, Its Staff, and the Federal Reserve Banks; Applications and Reports Received

Category Action Taken
Bank Holding Companies Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Inc., Tokyo, Japan, and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited — to acquire shares of Marubeni Rail Transport, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire Midwest Railcar Corporation, an Illinois corporation.

-Approved, June 9, 2016

 

Banking Supervision and Regulation Resolution Plans — joint letter with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to 84 foreign banking organizations with limited U.S. operations reducing the informational requirements of their resolution plans in December 2016, 2017, and 2018, subject to certain conditions.

-Approved, June 3, 2016

(A/C)

 

Extensions of Time Resolution Plans — determination, jointly with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to extend to July 1, 2017, the 2016 resolution plan filing date for four foreign banking organizations (Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, and UBS AG), under the Dodd-Frank Act.

-Granted, June 7, 2016

 

Forms Forms — final Board review to extend without revision the Recordkeeping Requirements Associated with the Interagency Statement on Complex Structured Finance Activities (FR 4022).

-Approved, June 9, 2016

 

Forms — final Board review to extend without revision the Request for Extension of Time to Dispose of Assets Acquired in Satisfaction of Debts Previously Contracted (FR 4006), Stock Redemption Notification (FR 4008), Notice Claiming Status as an Exempt Transfer Agent (FR 4013), Investment in Bank Premises Notification (FR 4014), and Reports Related to Securities of State Member Banks as Required by Regulation H (Reg H-1).

-Approved, June 10, 2016

Personnel Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation — appointment of Ryan Lordos as deputy associate director and Donna J. Webb as assistant director.

-Announced, June 8, 2016

 

Management Division — appointment of Tim Markey as assistant director.

-Announced, June 8, 2016

 

Enforcement First State Bank of Warner, Warner, South Dakota — written agreement dated September 16, 2010, terminated June 7, 2016.

-Announced, June 9, 2016

 

Federal Reserve Board: Balance Sheet (H.4.1 Release)

The Board publishes data of factors affecting reserve balances. The digest is called the H.4.1 Release, and they are published every Thursday (or the next business day if the publication date falls on a federal holiday). The release for June 16, 2016, is below.

[Note: The blog will cover the line titled “Total Factors Supplying Reserve Funds.”]

H.4.1 Release–Factors Affecting Reserve Balances

Total factors supplying reserve funds (as of June 15, 2016): $4,518,442 (in millions of dollars). (On September 26, 2007, this amount was $900,473 (in millions of dollars)).

(See the release for further information.)

Federal Reserve Board: Monetary Policy Report Congressional Hearings to be Held June 21 and 22, 2016

Monetary Policy Report, June 2016

The Monetary Policy Report hearings for June 2016 will be held next week.

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

June 22, 2016, 10:00 a.m., House Financial Services Committee

June 21, 2016, 10:00 a.m., Senate Banking Committee

Press release: http://financialservices.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=400784

Press release: http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=AE3F42A6-5EDC-4B23-ABE1-0A182114B3B4

General Accountability Office: The So-Called Performance Audit Is a Weak Analytical Tool; Continued Use Is Offensive to the Taxpayer

The General Accountability Office (GAO), one of the legislative agencies, produces so-called performance audit reports on governmental operations. If these reviews were limited to the strengths of accountants and auditors–financial statements and financial records–the agency would do well.

When accountants and auditors venture into non-financial operations and dare to offer opinions through so-called performance audits, the weakness of the agency is made manifest. This weakness leads to damaging, reckless, and information-free yet jargon-filled reports. (Note: I have found similar results with some reports of some Inspectors General offices.)

Performance audits evaluate evidence against stated criteria, such as specific requirements, measures, or defined business practices. This definition of performance auditing is consistent with international auditing standards.

The Washington Post published two exasperating columns based on this flimsy GAO report, GAO-16-520R, Federal Workforce: Distribution of Performance Ratings Across the Federal Government, 2013.

The GAO report writers stated on page 1 and 2 that Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) asked the GAO to review the performance management systems across the 24 Chief Financial Officer Act agencies. (See Pub. Law. 101-576, sec. 5.) The GAO’s “review” approach was to complete a performance audit listing the results of the implementation of the agencies’ performance management systems, specifically how many employees got each rank level.

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This methodology made the resulting report useless, uninformative, and damaging to civil service employees burdened with unfair ratings, managers, agencies or any combination of the previous three factors. Notably, the report failed to do the following, at a minimum:

  • The structure of each of the agencies’ programs were not reviewed.
  • The evaluation as to how the agencies programs satisfied the merit principles was not done.
  • The academic research reviewing performance management is nowhere in the report.

The agency goes through great effort to support the status quo and uses only its own research to support its findings. This error is produced by the myopic methodology for the report.

The methodology is the most important part of any GAO report as it governs the method that the report would be put together. However, it also is the greatest weakness of the report as it excludes any finding that does not fit the methodology. As a result, GAO performance audit reports are not truly investigatory but rather a fancy way of self-congratulating the report writers’ “intelligence”.

The painful side effect of such a limited “review” is that civil servants who suffer unfairness are ill-served by such a report. An example is the painful, waste-of-human-resources manner that the Federal Reserve Board (Board) (not a CFO Act agency, but its operations serve as an example) does its performance management system, the so-called PMP.

The Board, using “rank and yank” policies fires a percentage of staff every year through targeting some employees with low ratings. Such low ratings place these employees on a list to be fired. Before losing the position, the target is offered a settlement agreement, in which severance is offered and, most importantly, the low rating is raised to satisfactory level. In exchange, the target is asked to release the agency from any legal claims of liability.

In this way, the Board can publish numbers showing that all employees got satisfactory or above ratings, while simultaneously covering up its firings.

Thus, the weakness of the GAO’s performance audit method is demonstrated with these facts from the Board, and shows the GAO as an impotent, insular, ineffective, and insulting-to-the-conscience agency when it does work in the performance management area.

I continue to be unimpressed and disgusted with the GAO; I will not give credibility to any of its work unless serious improvements are made in its reporting operations. Namely, extensive research and analytical work product that considers all facts and possibilities, not just proving an insular hypothesis.

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Federal Reserve Board: H.2 Release for Week Ending June 4, 2016; H.4.1 Release (Balance Sheet) for Week Ending June 9, 2016

The Federal Reserve Board (Board) publishes a weekly digest of its activities on its website. The digest is called the H.2 Release and is published every Thursday. The release for the week ending June 4, 2016, is below.

H.2 Release–Actions of the Board, Its Staff, and the Federal Reserve Banks; Applications and Reports Received

Category Action Taken
Bank Holding Companies BNC Bancorp, High Point, North Carolina — to acquire Southcoast Financial Corporation, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and thereby indirectly acquire Southcoast Community Bank.

-Approved, June 1, 2016

 

 

Forms Forms — initial Board review to extend with revision the Uniform Interagency Transfer Agent Registration and Amendment Form (Form TA-1).

-Proposed, June 2, 2016

 

Regulations and Policies Bank Premises Investments — (1) revision of the Board’s policy on investment in bank premises by state member banks, and (2) commitment relief for FirstBank, Lakewood, Colorado, to retain certain bank premises in accordance with the policy revision.

-Approved, June 2, 2016

Insurance Activities — publication for comment of (1) advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding capital requirements for supervised institutions significantly engaged in insurance activities and (2) proposed rule to apply enhanced prudential standards for systemically important insurance companies.

-Approved, June 3, 2016

 

Enforcement Broadway Financial Corporation, Los Angeles, California — cease and desist order issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision dated September 9, 2010, terminated February 5, 2016.

-Announced, May 31, 2016

 

Federal Reserve Board: Balance Sheet (H.4.1 Release)

The Board publishes data of factors affecting reserve balances. The digest is called the H.4.1 Release, and they are published every Thursday (or the next business day if the publication date falls on a federal holiday). The release for June 9, 2016, is below.

[Note: The blog will cover the line titled “Total Factors Supplying Reserve Funds.”]

H.4.1 Release–Factors Affecting Reserve Balances

Total factors supplying reserve funds (as of June 8, 2016):  $4,509,262 (in millions of dollars). (On September 26, 2007, this amount was $900,473 (in millions of dollars)).

(See the release for further information.)

U.S. Judiciary: Calls for “Judicial Independence” Must Be Matched with Expectation of Judicial Responsibility and Accountability

Background: This blog has not covered the events of a sexual assault that occurred on the campus of Stanford University. The suspect, Brock Turner, was found guilty of the charges. The victim presented a 12-page victim impact statement during the sentencing. The judge, Aaron Persky, himself a Stanford graduate and former university athlete, rendered a sentence, which now has been subject to critique.

[Note: Brock Turner’s father’s (Dan Turner) made a statement before the court: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/06/father-stanford-university-student-brock-turner-sexual-assault-statement.]

Issue: In response to the public critique of Judge Persky, a California lawyers association, the Santa Clara County Bar Association, issued a statement reported in the Washington Post, which acknowledged the public’s right to critique but was concerned how the debate did not include acknowledgement of judicial independence as an essential piece of a stable rule of law.

The SCCBA recognizes and supports the public’s right to comment on issues of public interest, including the proper adjudication of sexual assault cases and the fair and equal treatment of all who come before the courts. The SCCBA does not itself comment on rulings in individual cases to which it is not a party or amicus, and it, therefore, will not state a position on the Turner sentence.

However, the SCCBA also recognizes the importance of judicial independence, a principle that has not featured prominently in the national discussion to date. The judiciary plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law in our society and constitutional system. Judges have a duty to apply the law to the facts and evidence before them, regardless of public opinion or political pressure. In that role, judges provide an important check against other political forces. If judges had to fear direct, personal repercussions as a result of their decisions in individual cases, the rule of law would suffer. These principles date back to the founding of our nation and are a bedrock of the United States and California Constitutions.

My response is the following–there is judicial independence that should be respected by the people; however, there is an equally heavy expectation on lawyers and judges–that the laws be fairly administered. It is weak to place all demands on citizens while at the same time excusing the legal profession and the judiciary from accountability and responsibility to the legal system. The Santa Clara County bar statement woefully ignored this vital point.

[Author’s note-June 13, 2016: The San Diego County Bar Association also neglects judicial responsibility and accountability expectations from its statement.]

A simple throwaway line–well, that’s how the law goes–when there is a decision that the public does not like (when in fact it is a human being that determines the decision (the judge)) is a weak and unacceptable position. When a judge fails to be responsible to the high expectations of his or her public office–and to the legal system itself–there seems to be little to no recourse for the citizen to pursue. Such a one-sided judicial system, focused solely on the exercise of its own power, therefore, can become immune to its own responsibility to the rule of law and to the people living in the country.

I would like to see bar associations consider these latter points than just tossing out “judicial independence” rhetoric.