|Austin punishes black business
owner for NOT accepting
News Release Dec. 22, 1998
Campaign for a Color-Blind America
Contact Marc Levin (713) 626-0943
Today, the Campaign for a Color-Blind America expressed its deep disappointment at federal
Judge Sam Sparks' dismissal of a racial discrimination suit filed against the City of
Austin by an African-American BBQ seller who was improperly fired for not agreeing to
accept special treatment based on his race. In a case that has raised the interest of the
U.S. Senate, Mr. John Goode, the owner/operator of Mr. Bones BBQ, filed suit on March 6,
1998 against both the City of Austin and its contractor Fine Host Corporation for a
wrongful and unfair dismissal that has left him destitute.
Mr. Goode sold BBQ and other products to patrons of Palmer Auditorium, the Austin
Convention Center, and the City Coliseum in Austin, TX during special events from 1989 to
1996. In the Spring of 1996, the Austin City Council passed an affirmative action plan
which required minorities seeking contracts or subcontracts to fulfill specific
requirements in obtaining certification as a minority owned business. There were no such
requirements, to our knowledge, for white contractors and subcontractors doing business
with the City.
John Goode declined to certify
himself as a minority owned business because he felt his BBQ could stand on its own merit
and he did not want any special treatment on account of his race. He simply wanted to be
included in the 75% of subcontractors who didn't have to prove minority status.
However, in an August 2, 1996
letter to Mr. Goode, Fine Host Corporation terminated its contract with Mr. Goode stating,
"Due tot he lack of proof of M/WBE certification with SMBR (formally known as the
Office of Minority and Business Affairs), and the fact that we do not show an application
pending from Mr. Bones BBQ, nor do they show Mr. Bones BBQ as having ever been certified
as a Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise, we cannot continue this business
relationship." They go on to state that, "Our commitment to the City of Austin
is to do our best to maintain a 25% concession percentage with certified minority/women
owned business enterprises. In order for your partnership to be included in our percentage
you must be a certified M/WBE with the City of Austin department of Small and Minority
In other words, Goode was penalized
for not accepting the "benefits" of affirmative action. He could have easily
been included in the 75% of the remaining contracts, but he was never given that chance.
As a result, Mr. Goode lost his business, his house, and now has nothing. Mr. Goode has
even testified about his case before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. However,
despite this overwhelming evidence of racial injustice, Judge Sparks flippantly dismissed
this very serious case. Keith Lauerman, an attorney representing Mr. Goode on a pro bono
basis, said he is "I am very
disappointed with Judge Sparks' decision and am currently working on a motion to
reconsider which I will file within ten days."
Campaign for a Color-blind America
Executive Director Marc Levin said "I am profoundly disturbed that Judge Sparks would
dismiss this case and, thereby, deny Mr. Goode the opportunity to present his evidence at
a trial. I am simply stunned that, in the face of the tremendous amount of evidence
of insidious racial discrimination against Mr. Goode, a federal judge would not even allow
the case to go to trial. I hope that, for the sake of Mr. Goode and in the interest of
equal rights and due process under the law, Judge Sparks will recognize his error and
allow Mr. Goode to have his day
in court before a jury of his peers." The Campaign for a Color-Blind America is a
501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose Board includes nationally prominent civil
rights activists, social scientists and legal scholars. The goal of the organization is to
challenge race-based public policies and educate the public about the injustices of racial
preferences. Since 1993, the Campaign has challenged racially gerrymandered voting
districts throughout the country and race-based admission policies in public schools.
Please contact Marc Levin at (713)
626-0943 or by portable phone at (713) 906-1833 with further questions or to arrange an
interview. Attorney Keith Lauerman can be reached at (512) 502-9964 or at Lauerman@aol.com .
Campaign for a Color-blind America Contact Information: www.equalrights.com
Attorney needed to continue
John Goode litigation!
News Release Dec. 31, 1998
Campaign for a Color-Blind America
Contact Marc Levin (713) 626-0943
An attorney is urgently needed to assist John Goode on a pro bono basis in the appeal of
his racial discrimination suit. Mr. Goode had his subcontract to sell BBQ at municipal
facilities in Austin, TX terminated solely because he refused to certify himself as a
minority owned business after the City Council passed an ordinance in 1996 requiring that
25% of city contracts and subcontracts go to certified minority owned businesses.
Mr. Goode, an African American, did not want special treatment on account of his race and
did not want to deal with the paperwork involved. No certification process was required
for white business owners to compete for the other 75% of the contracts and subcontracts.
On March 6, 1998, Mr. Goode brought
a racial discrimination suit against both the City of Austin and the contractor Fine Host
Corporation for this racially discriminatory termination. Unfortunately, federal Judge Sam
Sparks, the same judge who dismissed the Hopwood suit, has dismissed this case. To add
insult to injury, Sparks ordered Mr. Goode to pay $6,800 in legal fees for the city and
the contractor, which he cannot afford.
Keith Lauerman, the attorney who
has represented Mr. Goode pro bono in this matter, filed a motion with Judge Sparks to
reconsider on December 29, 1998, but he is unable to handle the appeal due to constraints
on his time and resources. Notice of appeal of this case to the 5th Circuit must be given
within 30 days of the decision, which was issued on December 14. We are not sure whether
the motion to reconsider stops the clock on this deadline.
This is a crucially important case
both to Mr. Goode, who has been left destitute as a result of this quota, and to advancing
the cause of a color-blind society. It is the first case I know of where an
African-American plaintiff has challenged racial quotas and, as such, it has generated a
great deal of media attention. Following the dismissal, articles appeared in the Houston
Chronicle and Dallas Morning News and I appeared on a talk radio program Midland, TX to
discuss the case. It has also been front page news in the major black newspaper in Austin.
We cannot allow Mr. Goode to be
denied his day in court by a left-wing activist on the bench. Mr. Lauerman is more than
willing to assist the attorney handling the appeal. Please contact the Campaign for a
Color-Blind America if you are able to help Mr. Goode appeal this unique and very
Marc Levin, Executive Director
3935 Westheimer Suite 300
Houston, Texas 77027
Office Phone: (713) 626-0943, Portable Phone: (713) 906-1833
Fax: (713) 626-1264
Update Jan. 15, 1999
In a tersely worded order issued on January 7, 1999, federal Judge Sam Sparks refused to
reconsider his decision to dismiss Mr. John Goode's lawsuit. The order was in
response to a motion to reconsider filed by Mr. Goode's attorney, Mr. Lauerman, on January
5, 1999. Despite acknowledging that even more evidence by Mr. Goode was presented in
the motion to reconsider, Judge Sparks adamantly refused to reconsider his decision to
deny Mr. Goode the right to a jury trial in this important case.
Campaign for a Color-Blind America Executive Director Marc Levin said "I am
profoundly disturbed that, in the face of the tremendous amount of evidence of insidious
racial discrimination against Mr. Goode, a federal judge (Sparks) would not even allow the
case to go to trial. The Campaign for a Color-Blind America is now exploring the
possibility of appealing this case to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans. We
currently have attorneys with extensive appellate experience reviewing the documents in
this matter to pinpoint what legal grounds might exist for an appeal."
Please contact Marc Levin at (713) 626-0943 or by cellular phone at (713) 906-1833, or by
email at RACEBLIND@aol.com, with further questions
or to arrange an interview. Attorney Keith Lauerman can be reached at (512) 502-9964
or at Lauerman@aol.com .
Update Feb. 5, 1999
|Houston, TX (Feb. 4, 1999) - Today,
the Campaign for a Color-Blind America announced that notice of appeal to the U.S. Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals has been filed in the racial discrimination suit brought against
the City of Austin by an African-American BBQ seller who was improperly fired for not
agreeing to accept special treatment based on his race. In a case that has raised the
interest of the U.S. Senate and generated national publicity, Mr. John Goode, the
owner/operator of Mr. Bones BBQ, filed suit on March 6, 1998 against both the City of
Austin and its contractor Fine Host Corporation for a wrongful and unfair dismissal that
has left him destitute.
In a tersely worded order issued on January 7, Judge Sparks refused to reconsider his
decision to dismiss Mr. Goode's lawsuit. Sparks insisted that Mr. Goode be denied the
right to a jury trial in this important case.
Marc Levin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Color-blind America said, "I am
glad that we are able to assist Mr. Goode with the appeal of this groundbreaking case. It
is unbelievable that someone would be fired simply for not agreeing to be categorized on
the basis of their race. Having already overturned Judge Sparks' dismissal of the Hopwood
suit, I am confident the Fifth Circuit will find this case to be a no-brainer and order it
reversed and remanded for trial."
Edward Blum, Chairman of the Campaign for a Color-blind America, added, "In addition
to his opposition to racial classifications, Mr. Goode also did not want to certify
himself as a minority business because of the tremendous amount of paperwork and
disclosure of personal and financial information required. Thus, his case clearly
demonstrates how "affirmative action" programs designed to help minorities have
actually imposed a special and unfair burden on them. Moreover, this is a landmark case in
that it is perhaps the first time ever that a minority has mounted a legal challenge to
racial contracting quotas."
The Campaign for a Color-blind America also announced today that Georgia attorney Gary
Gerrard, who has extensive appellate experience, will be handling the appeal. Levin
commented, "Austin attorney Keith Lauerman has put a tremendous amount of time and
effort into this case and will continue to be involved. With Mr. Gerrard's appellate
expertise on board, we are confident Mr. Goode will continue to receive outstanding legal
For information on the appeal, attorney Gary Gerrard can be reached at (706) 743-8989 or
by email at TSENECA@aol.com. For information on the
legal proceedings in the case up to this point, attorney Keith Lauerman can be reached at
(512) 502-9964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Story of John Goode,
by Marc Levin, Jan. 1999 (dead link)
"Why me? What racist act have I been guilty of to suffer this injustice?
It was the same reaction displayed by countless others who have been the victims of
reverse discrimination." An excellent semi-biographical account of the tragedy
and circumstances leading to John Goode's ruin at the altar of racial quotas. The
City of Austin cut off Goode's livelihood because he is a black man who refused to certify
himself as a "disadvantaged business enterprise". Goode says "I am
definitely and openly a black conservative. I see a lot of social programs as doing
more damage than good. The only blacks that seem to benefit from affirmative action
are upper-income black professionals' children". (Heterodoxy, Dec. 98/Jan. 99
Affirmative Action Breaks Mr. Bones
"If one refuses to hire or contract with someone because he's black, that's
discrimination. But if one cancels a contract because a black person refuses to become a
government-certified minority-in-need, that's called affirmative action. Outraged?
Consider the case of John Goode, the former owner of Mr. Bones BBQ in Austin,
Texas." (Reason Magazine by Michael W. Lynch)