10/25/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Last year, an analysis of the city of Tampa’s minority contracting practices revealed that the city fell short in hiring minority and women owned businesses for major contracts.

Mayor Pam Iorio's administration has been working since that time to produce an ordinance to address those disparities that could withstand a constitutional challenge.

The city’s Minority Business Developer Greg Hart made a two-hour presentation today. He said a key part of getting an effective program together was a way to develop a comprehensive data system. He calls the new program the Diversity Management Initiative (DMI).

The study was conducted by the Oakland-based Mason Tillman Associates. It compared the availability of businesses in the marketplace to how much work they received from October 2001 to September 2004.

City Attorney David Smith said he has studied Supreme Court cases extensively dealing with issues on minority contracting.

Smith said that study showed a disparity in prime contracting – but since the city had never previously reported such a disparity, data is critical to implementing a program before going about listing hard numerical goals to achieve fairness.

Although he wasn’t with the Council when the disparity study was initially released, Councilman Thomas Scott has been the strongest member pushing the city follow through on crafting a solid ordinance.

Scott took exception to the fact that a series of questions he had submitted to city staff had been not answered in writing to him, but upon hearing the answers, he said the ordinance still needed a lot more work.

Scott questioned whether all of the administration’s work was really amounting to solving a disparity problem.

John Dingfelder also had a number of questions about the ordinance as proposed. He also had questions of when such a program would actually begin.

City officials said a committee led by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and other administration officials would gauge how well the program is working. Several council members questioned that arrangement.

Councilwoman Mary Mulhern said that there should be a sufficient number of women and minorities on that board.

The Council will revisit the issue in a subsequent workshop in a few months.

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