Tuesday, June 30

Disparate Impact At Work And On The Highways

What a lousy day for hoping to reduce disparate negative impact on not-privileged communities of people.

  1. First we've got the Supreme Court saying that you can only magically predict, by squinting your eyes really hard and concentrating, during the "test design" phase of employee promotion test design whether or not that test will have disparate impact. If the results of actually trying it out on your employees show that you designed it wrong, no starting over! You have to keep using it!

  2. Then there's bad news I got on getting disparate impact considered in transportation offices around here.

    • It's easy to figure out the racial & income composition of houses & businesses that're sitting on the ground, standing still in a neighborhood. And it's precedented, when thinking about building a brand new highway through a previously unbroken neighborhood, to presume that people moving on that highway's general occupancy lanes will have roughly average racial & income composition.

      It's both easy and precedented to calculate what income & racial composition a highway (presumed average-composition) would take quality of life away from in this situation.

    • But it's harder to get the racial & income composition of people moving on an existing highway's bus-only lane. And it sounds like you'd have to convince a lot of engineers and geographers and managers and other functionaries that it could be good enough math (good enough to at least run the calculations once and see what you get, anyway) to make the presumption of "roughly average" racial & income composition in an existing highway's general occupancy lanes. For some reason, for this comparison, you might have to talk them out of the idea that they'd have to first measure such things to see if it actually works out to "roughly average."

      Which means that it's neither easy nor precedented to calculate what income & racial composition it would take quality of life away from to convert bus-only lanes to general occupancy lanes.


    Not to mention, as I've heard is usual, people considered about disparate negative impact (in this case, me) are waaaaaaaaaaaay behind the bureaucratic process.

    I finally got a phone number and had this conversation today--about a year after I heard that the process might be influenceable. And now it's not really. The only factors they're considering (TOTAL number of bodies getting down the highway, safety in number of crashes vs. where to go when you crash, etc.) are so far "considered" that they're in final report stage.

I'm not sure whether to push to get what I consider important considered by the departments in charge of this highway segment.

And what I REALLY am at a loss for, not having much activist experience, is who to reach out to for advice. Super-experienced transportation justice advocates from all over the country? Local bus riders who don't have any more lick of experience than me, one at a time, on my bus?

(Would love advice if you have any. Thank you!)

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