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Government and People
|Remarks of Robert Green, III
President and Chairman
National Association of Minority Contractors- District of Columbia Chapter (NAMC-DC)
District of Columbia City Council
Ballpark Omnibus Financing and Revenue Act of 2004, Bill-15-1028
I appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of the National Association of Minority Contractors- District of Columbia Chapter (NAMC-DC). As the District of Columbia City Council considers legislation to provide for the financing and construction of a new baseball stadium, it is our genuine hope that any legislation relating to baseball promote significant inclusion of minority developers and contractors.
The National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) is a nonprofit trade association that was established in 1969 to address the needs and concerns of minority contractors. While membership is open to people of all races and ethnic backgrounds, the organization's mandate, "Building Bridges - Crossing Barriers," focuses on construction industry concerns common to African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. NAMC's membership base includes general contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, manufacturers, suppliers, local minority contractor associations, state and local governmental organizations, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals.
As currently drafted, the legislation is silent on issues of minority inclusion. If the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission is charged with management of stadium development, the stadium construction would be subject to the city’s very weak Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Program. We have expressed concerns about the management and statutory authority of this program in the past. These concerns persist. We urge the City Council to address these concerns prior to the passage of any legislation on public financing of a baseball stadium.
The Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (LSDBE) Program is a grossly insufficient vehicle to ensure minority participation. As a result of a very weak minority business program, minority businesses are in a state of crisis! Here we find ourselves again hearing promises of minority business participation with no substantive protections in place to provide assurances that these promises are any more than the lip service we have heard prior to approval of previous big-ticket projects. Before we were asked to support the Gallery Place Project, we were promised that there would be strong minority business participation. That promise was broken. When the mega convention center deal was touted as an economic boom to the city, minority contractors and developers were promised significant participation. Guess what? These promises were also broken. This list of projects, promises, and disappointments goes on and on and on. At some point, we have to demand that things be different. That point is now!
The city’s current “minority business program” is called the Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Program. The program provides modest point preferences for local or small or disadvantaged businesses competing for low bid contracts. Of course, as the city has recently discovered, many of their contracts are not competitively put out for bid. Moreover, many development and general contracting deals are awarded based on subjective factors that negate any bid preferences, effectively eliminating any benefits of the LSDBE program.
The most gapping hole of the LSDBE program is that eligibility for the program is absurdly broad. In fact, the mega firms Arnold Porter, Arent, Fox, Kitner, Plotkin & Kahn, and Hogan & Hartson are all certified LSDBE’s according to the program website. Riggs Bank, Akridge Management, Tishman Construction, PN Hoffman, and Tompkins Builders are also LSDBE’s. So you can see why we are less than excited about hearing about any LSDBE participation goals. There is no requirement or even a likelihood that of any significant participation of minority contractors, developers, bond counsels, or architectural businesses in the baseball project.
Considering the history and lingering effects of discrimination in this city, NAMC-DC is particularly concerned with African American participation levels. We have asked the city to conduct an independent diversity audit to determine exactly how limited African American participation has been in this city’s economic boom. Virginia, Maryland, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, and Philadelphia have all conducted reviews on their programs and found African American participation as low as 1%. These governments have acknowledged the failure of their minority business programs and reformed them. They have developed solid programs that meet Constitutional scrutiny and deliver on promises of inclusion. It would seem that if minority business participation were a serious goal for this city\rquote s leadership, then the same process would be occurring here before the city would make a $500 million commitment to Major League Baseball.
The NAMC-DC Chapter urges the Council to amend this legislation by adding language that provides for the following:
We look forward to working with the City Council and the Office of the Mayor in perfecting this proposed amendment language. Please feel free to contact me if I can provide any additional information or guidance.
Robert Green III
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