City Contractors in Illinois Not Preferred
Chicago initiative nears a conclusion
Sub Head: "Contract
program is ruled illegal"
Excerpted from the story by Eric Ferkenhoff of the Boston Globe
"CHICAGO -- Almost 20 years
ago, Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor, decreed that a share of all city
contracts be set aside for minorities and women.
Chicago's set-aside program, as it is known, has been called into question after a federal
judge ruled last week that the program is illegal because, among other things, it amounts
to a quota system.
judge, James B. Moran, stayed his order for six months, meaning that the program can
remain in effect until early summer while city officials work on amending it. The ruling
marks another blow to government set-aside programs ... as courts question the programs'
" 'The judge
ruled the city program cannot stand,' said Tim Conway, a lawyer who represented the
Builders Association of Greater Chicago, which brought the suit against the city in 1996.
'Formulistic percentages cannot survive strict scrutiny.'
"Under Chicago's program, 25 percent of city contracts are allotted to minority-owned
firms; 5 percent go to women-owned companies. The suit focused on contracts for the
construction industry -- which, the judge agreed, is dominated by white men -- but the
ordinance covers all city contracts, from food vending to ambulance services.
"In his decision, Moran cited several flaws in the city's program.
"He said the city was too generous in setting a ceiling on revenues for qualified
companies. The ceiling, $27.5 million, meant that too many rich and established companies
would qualify, he said.
"Also, Moran said the city had set quotas, not goals; had erred in making the program
permanent; had not been flexible in granting waivers when a qualified minority- or
women-owned firm could not be found; and had not evaluated the wealth of company owners to
make sure the program helped the disadvantaged.
"Conway said he had read Moran's ruling as a death knell for the city's set-aside
program. 'I don't know what the city is going to do, and I don't know what the city
could possibly do,' to make the program constitutionally sound.
"But city officials noted that Moran stopped short of striking down the law, instead
giving the city six months to rewrite its ordinance."
"A number of programs across the country -- in Richmond, Atlanta, Philadelphia,
Michigan, Tampa, and Hillsborough County, Fla., -- have been struck down by the courts.
And in California, voters endorsed a measure that reduced the level of set-asides, halving
the goal of 20 percent to 10 percent for minority contractors.
"In 2000, the program for Cook County (which includes Chicago but is a separate
entity) was ruled unconstitutional because it did not gather the necessary evidence to
show that discrimination existed and that the program was needed. That suit also was
brought by the Builders Association of Greater Chicago. Still, Moran said he thought
the city had to do something to ensure participation among minority- and women-owned
businesses. 'The city has a compelling interest in not having its construction
projects slip back to near-monopoly domination by white male firms,' he wrote.
Last known link to the Boston Globe story:
Last known printer friendly link to the Boston
Minority firms out in the cold [Too
[This Chicago Sun Times story begs the question: In
the face of illegal racial and gender discrimination against businesses owned by
"white guys", why wouldn't white guys be motivated to set up 'shell
corporations' with their wives in order to reap landfall business for persons of the
"right" color? Read this story, and weep for the Constitution.]
"The January storm that buried Chicago in snow and snow-removal bills was a $52
million windfall for 349 private contractors, but minorities were the caboose on the gravy
train, records show.
"Minority truckers received just $3.4 million in direct payments from the Daley
administration--6 percent of city spending for the snow emergency. Total spending on
minority firms rose to 18 percent when subcontracts were factored in.
"Female-owned businesses fared better, with $11.5 million in prime contracts, $1.4
million in subcontracts and 24.8 percent of the citywide total. An exhaustive audit was
conducted to prevent a repeat of the Blizzard of '79, when illegal dumper-turned-FBI mole
John Christopher submitted phony snow-removal bills. "Many of the majority
contractors have sold their companies to their wives and daughters, and they're the ones
who are actually getting the minority work," said Ernest Brown, president of Black
"[Also, an evil white, male contractor] John Duff Jr. allegedly retained
operating control over Windy City Maintenance, while placing the company in his wife's
maiden name." [Duh! Who wouldn't? If a white guy is excluded from
Chicago business because he his white and male why wouldn't he set up a shell
corporation with his wife to take advantage of this form of reverse discrimination by
(Based on Chicago Sun Times story 09/13/99 by
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Daley, Jr. Buys Minority Business Votes with
"On Wednesday, Mayor Daley [Junior] picked up the endorsement of minority
contractors, including the Black Contractors United.
"More than a dozen contractors or representatives of minority contractors
organizations praised Mayor Daley, saying he has opened business and hiring opportunities.
Ernest Brown, president of the Black Contractors United, said the mayor had gone further
than expected. "We have been working with the mayors administration. I can
truthfully say they are sincerely working with us, doing things I didnt think they
would do...I am satisfied that the mayors staff is doing everything we want them to
do to help increase the numbers," Brown said."
(Based on the MSNBC story by Dick Kay, posted
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END Illinois City Contracting: Racial Quotas