Angry New Yorker

Friday, January 28, 2005
The City Council Continues Its Unbroken Pandering Streak

Demonstrating once again that the city council, led by Gifford Miller looking out for number one first, foremost and forever, panders to any group imagining itself slighted or neglected in NYC, the council put out a news release earlier this week, on Jan. 25, entitled "WOMEN AND MINORITIES ARE NOT GETTING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF CITY CONTRACTS - Study Finds Gaping Disparities In Awarding of City Contracts, Council Will Push For Changes in Current Contract Procurement Practices." The entire press release is available as a PDF here and the 295-page, $1 million report that is the subject of the release, City of New York Disparity Study, (hereinafter "Study"), is available as a PDF here.

Pause a moment to consider the press release's title and how much it reveals about NYC liberal politics. First, there's the matter-of-fact statement that a business is entitled to a "fair share" of city contracts simply because its owned by either a woman (which last time we checked was most definitely not a minority) or a minority.

But if there's any doubt as to what Miller & Co. are saying, this paragraph on the first page of the three-page press release, dispells all confusion:
“New York City has been too wrong for too long. They’ve been practicing a type of segregation that would warm the heart of arch segregationists of the past. This study [ed. note - "City of New York Disparity Study", available as PDF here] will go a long way to end this great crime against the people of New York City,” said James Sanders, Jr., [Councilman and] Chairman of the Economic Development Committee. “Behind these sterile statistics lie dreams deferred, job possibilities people may have had and hope denied. Our job at the Council is to make sure that New York City stays the eternal City of hope. I call upon the Mayor not to quibble with the statistics, but to join us to end this great crime.”
Excuse me? Sanders, who is black, is pandering to his constituency in District 31. But he's not alone. Others jump onto to the panderwagon:
“It is clear from this report that all New Yorkers are not given their fair share when it comes to City contracts. The City must aggressively do what it can to address the disparity in the issuing of City contracts when it comes to minority- and women-owned businesses,” said [Council member, District 16] Helen Foster Co-Chair of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “In order to correct these disparities the leadership of City government will have to make a commitment to resolving the problem.”
The bulk of the remaining two pages consist of other politicans jumping onto the panderwagon with such blitherings as "[t]his study demonstrates just how far we have to go before the City can claim it’s really on the side of promoting business and opportunity among all New Yorkers,” and "[]i]t is no secret that African American and Hispanic men and women in New York City have been underrepresented in the work force.”

Perhaps the statement that comes closest to some objective truth, however, is
“Women and minority business owners deserve and should rightly expect that the opportunity to do business with this City will be decided fairly and impartially. Not based on the color of your skin or who you play golf with, but whether your business is competent and able to do the job.
Council Member Yvette Clarke has one thing right. Getting a contract should be based on skills and ability, NOT one's skin color. Funny, though, as Council Member Yvette Clarke then goes on to demand legislation that would make skin color a basis for getting a contract. No one noticed the irony before the release went out, however. And, of course, she wants a new "institution or office" set up to oversee this.
"I am calling for my colleagues in the City Council to immediately pass legislation— and for the Mayor to agree with—that creates a permanent institution or office that ensures that the essence of the Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprise program is integrated into all facets of the City's economic development environment, including the Department of Business Services, the Economic Development Corporation and NYC & CO,” added Council Member Clarke."
The press release then offers legal rational for such a proposed program, stating
Under two US Supreme Court decisions, a city can put such an affirmative action program in place, if a disparity study, such as this one, demonstrates that MWBEs have not been awarded their fair share of contracts (See City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. [1989] and Adarand v. Pena [1995].)
Hmmm... what do these cases actually say? Well, Adarand was all over the place, as the syllabus for the case notes:
O'CONNOR, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion with respect to Parts I, II, III-A, III-B, III-D, and IV, which was for the Court except insofar as it might be inconsistent with the views expressed in the concurrence of SCALIA, J., and an opinion with respect to Part III-C. Parts I, II, III-A, III-B, III-D, and IV of that opinion were joined by REHNQUIST, C. J., and KENNEDY and THOMAS, JJ., and by SCALIA, J., to the extent heretofore indicated; and Part III-C was joined by KENNEDY, J. SCALIA, J., and THOMAS, J., filed opinions concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, J., joined. SOUTER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG and BREYER, JJ., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER, J., joined.
Not exactly a crystal clear position from the Supremes on this... but at the same week that Miller & Co. are pushing for special preferences for women and minority-owned business enterprises (aka W/MBEs), he criticizes the Mayor's budget because "NYC has lost 200,000 private sector jobs under this Mayor." Excuse me, Mr. Miller, it's the anti-business, anti-competitive, regulate-everything legislation passed constantly and regularly by the city council that bears major responsibility for the city's ongoing job erosion.

The study itself, although less incendiary than the city council's press release, does laughably contain a section titled "Good Old Boy’s Network", Study at 9-20, and surprise, surprise cites unions as part of the problem:
"Trade unions were also reported as barriers for M/WBEs in New York. Trade unions both train and place apprentices in jobs. In the construction industries, many companies use trade unions as their principal employment agencies. Contractors inform the union of the number of personnel and trades required for a particular job, and the unions, in turn, notify their members about openings. This procedure is significant in terms of the difficulties faced by minorities entering the craft unions because it sets up multiple barriers to employment. First, individuals must be apprenticed and allowed to gain the experience required for journeyman status. Then they must be admitted to the union. As a union member they must be referred out of the union hall when jobs are available. Then, they must be selected by the construction company for regular work. Unions are therefore able to exercise substantial control over the industry’s labor supply, thus determining if and how minorities and women participate in the marketplace. Therefore, many M/WBEs expressed their reluctance to joining them."
Study at 9-61

Unions, the source of the left's power and glory, are "barriers for M/WBEs in New York"? How can that be? (insert sarcasm here). The report considers Caucasian female business enterprise owner to be disadvantaged in this city. So, in short, everyone EXCEPT for Caucasian males are disadvantaged apparently in New York City.

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