In 1981 Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri signed an executive order to increase the potential of minorities and women to share in basically construction projects.
In the year of 1981 Allegheny County Commissioners, Chairman Tom Forester, Dr. Cyril Wecht and William Hunt approved a MBE/WBE/DBE program designed in theory to improve the opportunities of minorities and women to share in Allegheny County contracts.
In January 1996 for the first time in more than 60 years two Republicans, Larry Dunn and Bob Cranmer, were elected majority Allegheny County Commissioners. The minority commissioner was Democrat Mike Dawida. Under Dunn and Cranmer’s leadership the Allegheny County’s MBE/WBE/DBE program for the only period of time in the county’s history was a viable, functioning and financially productive program—four years out of 32.
In the year of 2003 the first Allegheny County chief executive, James C. Roddey issued an executive action that stated Allegheny County will take certain good faith measures pertaining to the county’s standing policy promoting fairness and equity in construction, goods and services contracts. Roddey also redirected the MBE/WBE/DBE’s priority to certification.
Executive orders highlighted the general problems and reasons that minorities and women were unable to secure contracts, but unfortunately the reasons and problems were never corrected and in 2013 minorities and women are still confronted with the inability to secure contracts. There is a false perception that local government continues to perpetuate and that is to always discuss construction contracts. In the early days of the Civil Rights Movement Blacks did focus on construction, because we had no idea of the unbelievable staggering sums of taxpayers’ money being spent on professional and goods and service contracts.
As I prepared to write the upcoming series of columns I was reminded of the tremendous and important pioneering role President Richard M. Nixon played. President Nixon was first in the history of this country to not only recognize, but implement methods of affording Black Americans genuine opportunities to share in the American Dream. The majority of people don’t know that President Nixon requested legislation to extend the Equal Opportunity Commissioners to the state and local level, and he mandated that all federal contractors must comply with equal opportunity employment laws. The president established the Office of Minority Business Enterprise and Black Capitalism, and instituted mandatory set asides for Black business with the government and that action led to an increase with the federal government by a 1000 percent. Subsequent columns will expose the limited opportunities for local MBE/WBE/DBEs.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)