Tampa Disparity Study: CONTRACTS Hurt Minorities & Women by Mitch E. Perry

05/04/06

According to the findings of a study released today at the City Council meeting, the City of Tampa does NOT award enough contracts to minority and women-owned businesses.

The study was conducted by the Oakland, California based Mason Tillman Associates.They looked at contracts awarded by the City from October of 2001 to September of 2004….Because Mayor Pam Iorio wasn’t elected until March of 2003, the study effectively looks at the last 2 Administrations record on hiring women and people of color, along with former Mayor Dick Greco’s tenure.

Eleanor Mason Ramsey is the President of Mason Tillman Associates. She gave a Power Point presentation to the Council this morning (roll tape#1 o.q.�and by women�)

Tampa created the Women/Minority Business Enterprise Program, also known as the “Wembe� program, back in 1991 to provide equal opportunites for those bidding on city contracts.

The study found that more than 46 percent of available construction vendors were considered minority or female owned – but only 23 percent of those companies received Funding from the city.

Eleanor Mason Ramsey from Mason Tillman Associates discussed just one of the many recommendations her group had for the City to improve their minority contracting (roll tape#2 o.q.�smaller parts�)

Other recommendations include awarding all small contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses or those with a similar capacity; and requiring all city departments to comply with minority contracting requirements.

Gregory Spearman is the Director of Purchasing with the City. He told the City Council that the City has been successful working with Prime Contractors then working with minority subcontractors, and said there was really only 1 element that the City currently lacks (roll tape#3 o.q.�regarding outreach�)

City Councilman Kevin White said the results confirm the criticism of the WEMBE program over the past few years. (roll tape#4 o.q.�why should we push the edge of the envelope�)

In reviewing the raw data provided in the disparity study, Councilman White said he believes in statistics, and said in this case, they do not lie (roll tape#5 o.q.�only 4% awarded�)

White also said he believed there should be some incentive with large firms to partner with smaller, minority run firms.

Joe Robinson is an engineer who has railed for years against the City of Tampa for not giving his firm any business. He said the study confirms his complaints over the years(roll tape#6 o.q.�discriminated against�)

Robinson, who has been an unsuccessful candidate for various political offices over the years and is running again next year for City Council , said his firm has had a contract with the City over the past years, and never received anything.. And he said his firm has lost close to a quarter million dollars because of that (roll tape#7 o.q.�and able�)

But Robinson said his firm has made over a million dollars as a subcontractor, but just not as a Prime Contractor, with the City.

Ultimately, the Council then voted to change the Executive Order regarding minority contracting into a Ordinance, and in a separate motion, had the city’s legal department review all of the recommendations in the study and determine which ones can be implemented.

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