Today I’d like to delve a bit deeper into the data that I first presented in part 1. To ensure that the sample sizes were large enough, and not just the aberration of small commissions, I chose to look only at the commissions with at least 4 members. You may be surprised by what the data reveals, I know I was.
I want to offer a few caveats – I made assumptions about folks’ genders based on their first names. While it’s certainly not 100% accurate nor good practice, the city does not seem to collect any data on gender or race when it comes to commissioners, so I worked with what I got. I also did my best to ensure that no identifying data would be presented, even though all of this information is public in one place or another.
- Ward 2, 3, and the gerrymandered student Ward 8 have the lowest number of commissioners, while Ward 1, 4, and 5 have the highest.
- Ward 2 and 3 are represented on less than 50% of all commissions, while Ward 8 has barely any representation. Wards 4 and 5 are represented on 3/4ths of all commissions.
- There are more commissioners living outside Burlington than from half the city’s individual wards, Wards 2,3,7, and 8.Note: Ward 0 denotes commissioners who live outside Burlington.
- Burlington’s gender demographics are 51% female to 49% male, yet 34% of commissioners are female and 66% are male.
- While 65% of commissions have more males than females, only 35% of commissions have more females than males.
- The commissions involving business, development, financials, and housing skew heavily towards males, with over 80%.
- Housing Board of Review, Design Review Board, and Retirement Board have combined 19 males on the boards and 0 females.
When we look at the commissions involving finances and development, the disparities are even starker:
By Home Owners and Renters:
- Although 60% of Burlington residents are renters, only 14% of commissioners are renters.
- Nearly as many commissioners live outside the city than are renters in the city.
- Burlington’s median assessed value of a single family home is $234,200. 75% of home-owning commissioners, or 65% of all commissioners, own homes valued about the city median.
- Every commission had a higher average home value than the median.
- While 100% of commissions have homeowner representation, only 40% have renter representation, and only 25% have very low income renter representation of any kind.
- 30% of commissions have representation from outside Burlington.
- While 100% of commissions have more than 3 home owners, only 5% of commissions have more than 3 renters.
- Overwhelmingly, over 44% (Business/Real) of commissioners work in the fields of law, housing, development, business, and finance. These are jobs that tend to pay much more than a livable wage.
- Nearly 10% (Community/Social) of commissioners work in education, social work, community mental health, politics, or community organizing.
- 1 student (UVM) was on any commissions, and they were a graduate student. No undergraduate students, who number over 12,000, have any representation on any boards or commissions.
- 11.4% (Government) of commissioners work for either the city or state.
Note: One person worked in UVM real estate, and others worked as real estate and/or business lawyers. They were counted in all applicable groups.