DISPARITY IN CONTRACT AWARDS, THURSDAY, 4 MAY 2006, Stan Davis

05/05/06

Lead:

The City of Tampa and the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority were told something this week that they already knew. They paid $221,000 to find out that Minorities and Women weren’t being awarded their fair share of government contracts. The question right now doesn’t seem to be why, but rather what are they going to do about it. Stan Davis reports.

[Running Time: 4:05]

Story:

[roll tape…]

[Actuality 1- Kevin White- “… Eleven point zero eight African-Americans… huge disparity to me�]

That was councilman, Kevin White, speaking last night to a small group of business people interested in the results of the Mason Tillman & Associates Disparity Study commissioned by the City of Tampa and the Hillsborough Aviation Authority.

As WMNF reported last night, the Tampa City Council—acting on the recommendations that followed an 18-month, $$221,000 study –passed an ordinance, Thursday afternoon, to improve the awarding of contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women. But first, they’ll set up a task force to decide which of those recommendations will be adopted, and to what degree.

Dr. Eleanor Mason-Ramsey, a nationally-recognized leader in Disparity Studies, presented an abbreviated version of her firm’s findings for the third time, Thursday night. WMNF asked her, just what “disparity� is, and what exactly her study boils down to…

[roll tape… ]

[Actuality 2- Dr. Mason-Ramsey- “…Disparity is a term… beyond the scope of what we examined.�]

The city wanted to explain why it took so long to begin eliminating its biased bidding process, and why—in tandem with the Aviation Authority –it spent $$221,000 to be told what it already knew. Darrell Smith is the Chief of Staff for the City of Tampa…

[roll tape…]

[Actuality 3- Darrell Smith- “… You might ask… and be legally defensible…�]

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority—the group that runs Tampa International Airport –partnered with Tampa on this study. They also fall short on contract awards to minorities and women. Louis Miller, Executive Director of both the airport and Aviation Authority, promised action. He talked about what his Board of Directors plans to do. He held out a carrot as well…

[roll tape… ]

[Actuality 4- Louis Miller— “…we have agreed… million dollars�]

One woman in the audience was not from the business community. Dr. Carolyn Hepburn Collins is a member of the Executive Committee of the Hillsborough County NAACP. She was concerned that perhaps the data provided by Mason Tillman & Associates might still be skewed against minorities, particularly African-Americans…

[roll tape… ]

[Actuality 6- “…What has happened with the concept… consultants come back with us again �]

Right now, though, the City of Tampa and the Aviation Authority plan to organize some committees, look again at what they already know, and decide what to do next.

For WMNF, I’m Stan Davis

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