These contracts are major contracts some exceeding a million dollars. Do these contractors even have an office in Allegheny County? In my personal opinion it borders on criminality when so many are denied an honest chance to participate in the American Dream.
There was a period of time that the government was able to use set asides to enable some with a legitimate chance at a contract, but it was declared unconstitutional. Next was the term best faith effort and that gave the giant contractors a green light to deny almost anybody by simply stating we put forth our best effort and were unable to find anyone. They award you a contract and you are unable to secure a bond or funding and they simply state we provided them with an opportunity and they were unable to perform, and they get away with it because those allegedly responsible simply don’t care.
I have been informed that there are about 1100 persons in Allegheny County registered as MBE/WBE/DBEs. Let us assume that is accurate, then I wonder why less than a hundred have ever had a contract, and it generally is the same persons who receive contracts. I wonder why. Don’t you?
In February 2013 Governor Corbett released a report awarding $16 million for six local projects, and in the very near future he would release an additional one hundred and nine million dollars for an additional 54 projects. That is a total of one hundred and twenty five million dollars. This is our money, taxpayer dollars. These funded projects usually hire people, in theory, who are to make sure that Blacks and women share in the contracts and after every job completion the figures are astounding, because they somehow reflect a percentage that’s questionable. If every certified company were awarded a contract it would not equal the statistics that are published. Almost everyday these individuals contact me and others and 99 percent of them have no contracts and never had one.
I attended a yearly affair a couple of weeks ago that in theory gives those in attendance the impression they can be afforded an opportunity for a contract. At least 30 individuals said to me that they come not expecting anything, just hoping.
Why is the MB/WBE/DBE program so dismal, can it be changed, who is responsible for these flawed programs? If it can be changed, when will it be changed, who will change it, what will it take to change it? These answers will be provided in future columns.
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)