Maynard: Music City Center contracting process needs teeth

Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 6:55am

Members of the Metro Council want to make sure women and minorities are not being left out of the Music City Center project.

Mayor Karl Dean said 20 percent of spending on the $635 million downtown convention center should go to businesses owned by minorities or women or to small businesses.

According to a report given to the council’s Black Caucus on Tuesday, 28.3 percent of the $18 million already spent has gone to those three types of companies. But only 5.7 percent has been paid specifically to minority-owned businesses and less than 2 percent to companies has gone to firms owned by women.

Councilman Jerry Maynard said Metro Development and Housing Agency and the Convention Center Authority should develop a corrective action plan now to punch up the numbers for women and minorities.

“I’d like to have the authority establish a committee whose sole responsibility it is to make sure that we have inclusion in the spending of dollars,” he said. “That leadership needs to come from the authority. The MDHA has done a fine job of tracking and reporting that information. The problem is the information is not good.”

Maynard said the MDHA needs to add “teeth” to its diversity policy.

“The MDHA needs to say to every contractor that when you submit the request, if you haven’t met those good-faith requirements, we won’t pay your request or we’ll hold back your money,” he said.

Maynard said contractors that repeatedly and egregiously fail to meet the standards should have their contracts revoked.

“If there’s a pattern … we need to take that contract back,” he said.

Roxianne Bethune, who is heading up MDHA’s diversity effort, said it may be a little early to raise the alarm.

“The concern expressed is that currently the minority businesses are at 5.7 (percent) in pre-construction phase and architecture. We are hopeful and confident that the project will get to that 20 percent as it moves along,” she said.

Maynard said that recognizing the problem early — and taking early action — is vital.
“Eighteen million is 18 million,” he said. “We need to look at dollar one all the way through the project. Every time contracts are awarded — whether it’s for PR or design or legal work — … there’s expectation that they have that inclusion,” he said.


21 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 11/5/09 at 6:33

They are acting like this has already been approved.

If they count (as you should) the money they already gave to Gaylord they spent/gave away 100 million already.

By: harley96 on 11/5/09 at 6:44

Heres a new idea. Lets give contracts to the best contractors,with the lowest bids

By: Knofler on 11/5/09 at 7:06

The problem is they need to stop handing out contracts based on race. If the Prime Contractor is white, he must first offer sub positions to "minorities"(blacks), he cannot dismiss subs based on credit, qualifications or for the simple factor they do not carry the proper insurance. Having worked for a black contractor, I have gotten to know most of Nashville's Black contractor and they all have sinilarities. 1) Lack of ability to manage money 2) Lack of ability to properly manage a business 3) Racist, this is based on how they treat their subs. If the contract were awarded based on qualifications the public would get a better product, there would be fewer cost overruns. ANY business doing business with the state or fed gov should have to go through an independent audit, to ensure the are financially sound BEFORE being given our tax dollars. But hey, let's keep rewarding ppl for bad behavior. Anyone remember the Clifton Ave Homes ??? Corner of I40 and I440, sat unfinished for the past 2 yrs, minority contractor (was the prime) took off with money and materials and left them unfinished, Yea for our tax dollars, we get to pat for it twice.

By: Camp on 11/5/09 at 7:11

Why Councilman Mayanrd's proposal doesn't make sense: You may not have qualified DBEs for every phase of work. Especially at this stage of the game where you are essentially indesign mode - you can't just award the architecture portion to a DBE. It's important that it be designed by the best this town has got. When actual construction starts (yea, it'll happen) you'll see the contractor going out and finding those qualified DBE subs. I have no doubt.

I personally despise the DBE requirements. Often prices are higher as a result, and I know it is well-intentioned, but I so often see a black man or white woman put in charge that are unqualified. To the black man or white woman that is qualified - they often would win the bid regardless. Maybe I should just give up and put all my business in my wife's name...

By: NewYorker1 on 11/5/09 at 7:35

It would be insulting to me to receive a contract just because I'm black or female. I would want my company to receive work because we are the best qualified for the position. What an insult to minority-owned businesses.

If you can't get a contract because you are the most qualified company for the job, then perhaps you shouldn't be in business.

By: Dragon on 11/5/09 at 8:09

We must have the "teeth" to enforce these
We will discriminate based on race.
We will discriminate based on sex.
It's not fair that only qualified companies are awarded contracts.

By: Time for Truth on 11/5/09 at 8:20

An obvious solution is to just not build it. That would solve all the problems this white elephant has already caused for the city.

By: Dragon on 11/5/09 at 8:21

TfT - you said "white" elephant.


By: xhexx on 11/5/09 at 8:47

Having to give a percentage of the project to less qualified contractors JUST because they are owned by a minority or a woman ends up with shoddy construction and cost overruns. This affirmative action crap needs to stop.

By: Time for Truth on 11/5/09 at 8:56

lol Dragon. 'Gender-neutral and racially mixed elephant' didn't quite get the point across.

By: FAMUAce on 11/5/09 at 9:10

While I understand the frustrations with the minority/ DBE procurement process by many folks, it is extremely naive to believe that all minority firms are unqualified. That seems to be the tone that many of the posters this morning are taking. For every unqualified firm, there are two or three extremely qualified firms who are being excluded from the process. Procurement is almost solely based on being a preferred vendor and getting on that RFP distribution list. Sometimes if a firm doesn't have the proper connections, then it is excluded.

By: localboy on 11/5/09 at 9:20

Just give the minority firms that do have previous experience a bigger slice of the pie...

By: Dragon on 11/5/09 at 10:15

Giving less qualified minority firms a "bigger slice" will increase costs, including cancelling contracts and rebidding. Where is the line-item for the cost of implementing this diversity policy?

By: NewYorker1 on 11/5/09 at 10:42

America's ways and business culture is already imploding. Sometimes it's best to stand back and wait.

By: Knofler on 11/5/09 at 11:19

FAMUAce sorry I don't share you sediment. There are very few if any "qualified" minority contractosr, however there are several qualified "women" contractors. The language in the state bidding agreement agreements states you cannot say no to a sub-contractor if they are a minority, based on bad credit, poor workmanship or inability to do the job, i.e. no tools, if they do not have the proper insurance you must provide it for them. That is total BS, so I must hand hold a deadbeat, pretty much do everything for them, micromanage there work so it is done correctly AND provide them WC and GL. Keep in mind they mean black minorities, hispanics understand there are requirements, ins, tools and working capital.

By: NewYorker1 on 11/5/09 at 11:34

Knofler, wow. I hope you have facts to back up your statement that there are no qualified black own contractors. That is a really ignorant statement to make and exactly what I would expect in the south. I know many many successful and well qualified minority business owners. Furthermore; the current economic conditions of the United States tells me that there are a lot of unqualified non minority businesses out there as well. The current economic conditions of the United States was NOT caused by black minority own businesses. The 10% unemployment rate in the United States today was NOT caused by black minority-owned businesses. Go figure.

By: NewYorker1 on 11/5/09 at 11:44

Can somebody PLEASE tell me the race of the men running AIG, Chrysler, General Motors, Bank of America, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

By: NewYorker1 on 11/5/09 at 12:01

All I can say is that I hope I live to see the day when China and India are the worlds super powers and call all the shots. I'm so tired of Americans thinking they are superior to other races and cultures.

By: govskeptic on 11/5/09 at 6:00

Men that put their business in the wife's name and claim
minority ownership is the biggest scam going in this type
contracting. New Yorker I admire your announcing your
hatred of the American way of thinking, Unfortunately
those thoughts are shared by far too many in this city
and in some of the highest offices in the land. We shall
struggle on to do the best we can to keep the country
above water in a sea of arising debt.

By: Knofler on 11/5/09 at 8:10

WoW NewYorker1, move what else is there to say. If you have are oppressed and do not like the freedoms that you are afforded in this country, move. The WW2 Vet across the street from me would probably split your head for such an assinine comment. If you will read BOTH of my comments you will see, but I doubt comprehend, I am talking about Gov contracts as related to the article. Read comment no1, I worked for a black contractor for some time, I KNOW what is and what isn't. Gov't contracts should go to the best qualified PERIOD. Just for you NewYorker1, you seem a little slow, that means 1)No law suits 2)No Liens 3)No tax isuues 4)properly licensed 5)proper insurance 6) in GOOD standing with suppliers, 7)ability to handle scope of work 8)independent audit and contractor expense to ensure they economically viable. Race and Gender should have no bearing when tax dollars are involved. Thanks for playing:)

By: Time for Truth on 11/5/09 at 9:40

NY1, shame on you for not sharing Knofler's 'sediment'. And he is calling you slow? I love it when the ignorant bigoted right attempts to sound intelligent.

What should happen at any level of contract bidding that involves our tax dollars is a thorough vetting of any contractor involved. Local governments have certainly been screwed enough times by white-male-owned contractors and usually somewhere buried in the mess is a 'bubba deal' involving at least one politician. So hearing about one black contractor that made somebody mad or defaulted on a project is just another general contractor dealing with government story, not an indictment of minority contractors.

We will all be thoroughly screwed by this current convention center project. Not because minority contractors are involved. Rather because the powers that control the mayor are so intent on slipping this by the citizens at all costs that they will be sloppy and negligent and will take whatever shortcut they need to to get concrete poured before the electorate and Metro Council wake up.