Thursday, November 29, 2018

Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors

by Rod Williams, Nov. 29, 2018 -Yesterday, Mayor David Briley proposed a new aggressive affirmative action program for minority and women contractors doing business with the city. He called it "leveling the playing field."  The proposal from the mayor is presented to the council as  BL2018-1419 which will be on first reading of the council on December 4th.

This proposed legislation follows the release in September of a disparity study that found that there were "statistically significant disparities,"  "likely caused by the race and/or gender status of firm owners."

Anytime there is a recognition of a racial disparity in employment in a specific field, or in-school suspensions of Black children, or traffic stops by police, or incarceration rates, or college admission rates, the official explanation is that it must be that Blacks are discriminated against. It must be because of the race of the person who is a member of the under or over represented group.  No one has the courage or common sense to say that maybe the Black person is less qualified, or commits more crime, or is a greater disciplinary problem in school.

I am not for a moment suggesting racial inferiority. It is not racial; but cultural. The Black segment of our society is, for the most part, disadvantaged.  A legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Great Society created a society of poverty, crime, welfare dependency, and destruction of the family.  A person born in a public housing project to a single mother where there are few positive roll models, does not develop the values and habits of successful people. In school they are more likely to be disciplinary problems, they are less likely to excel in school and more likely to go to prison.  The fact that they are disadvantaged and disparities exist, I do not think can be attributed to White people discriminating against Black people. At one time, that no doubt was a cause, but I just don't believe racial discrimination is any longer a significant factor in racial disparities. I certainly don't believe it is a factor in Black-owned firms getting fewer Metro contracts,

In Metro, firms owned by African-American received 5.54% of Metro funding spent on construction contracts, when 10.10% of available construction firms are owned by African-Americans. No one asks if the African-American firms, were as experienced, as financially stable, as qualified, or had as many satisfied customers as European-American firms. It is just assumed that if 10.10% of the firms are African-American, then 10.10% of the awarded contracts should go to African-American firms.

Bill BL2018-1419 calls the racial and gender disparity in Metro contracts "discrimination." That is a non sequitur. It does not follow that disparity exist and therefore discrimination is the cause. This illogical construct is the norm in today's society.

The bill calls for creating, "a non-mandatory annual aspirational percentage goal for overall MWBE  (Minority or Woman Owned Businesses Enterprises)  Prime and Subcontract participation in Metropolitan Government contracts."  Every year a report will be presented to the Council showing what progress has been made in reaching this goal.

One would be foolish not to know that in reality this is a program of quotas and reverse discrimination. If you are a Metro official awarding contracts knowing you are have an "aspirational" goal to meet, you will bend over backwards to make sure a MWBE firm gets the contract. Better qualified majority-owned firms will be passed over to select a minority-owned firm.

I fully expect this to pass the Metro Council.  This may be one of those issues in which there is no use taking a stand against it. A council member may reason, it is going to pass anyway and rather than having to defend yourself against charges of racism for opposing it, it may be better to not pick a fight and go ahead and vote for it.

The courts have wrestled with this issue of racial disparity and how to address it for decades and still are.  There is currently a case working its way though the courts involving Yale University’s admissions practices following accusations that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants so they won't be over represented in the student body.

In general, courts have ruled that discriminatory quotas are not appropriate but outcomes cannot show great disparity and "goals" are Ok to reduce the disparity.  In other words, there is a fine line to walk and to reach the desired racial balance outcome, policy makes should avoid making reverse discrimination obvious and should not admit to having quotas. Metro's ordinance was created following the recommendations of a firm that knows how to craft these type programs so they will thread the needle and pass constitutional muster.

For more on this story follow this link, this link, this link and this link.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

1 comment:

  1. A couple of corrections. The study is not just based on the possibility of current discrimination, but also the current effects of past discrimination e.g.A legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Great Society. Also the study didn't just look at a simple disparity, it also conducted a regression analysis to see if factors like size of firm, number of employees, education of owner,# years in business, etc. could explain the disparity. Also, aspirational goals are not mandatory. They express what % should be expected given the % of minority and women owned firms that are qualified to do the work. Subcontracting goals also allow good faith efforts to use women and minority owned firms.