The Way Dallas Certifies Minority Contractors Is a Sucker's Game, News Shows

Categories: Schutze

fool.jpg
Wickipedia Commons
From time immemorial, someone has played the fool. Apparently now it's us.
Ed Timms and Kevin Krause had a great story in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday about a local agency that certifies businesses as minority or women-owned. The North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency seems to be sort of the same outfit as something called All Temps 1 Personnel.

The agency was set up to rule on whether companies are really minority or women-owned, but its entire staff is provided by All Temps.

All Temps, wouldn't you know, has had no problem getting certified as a minority-owned company and no problem getting local government contracts, $30 million worth in the last 10 years. Timms and Krause ran down other minority-owned staffing companies who couldn't get certified to save their lives. Some just gave up.

Let me run it by you again. Local government in Dallas County, very much under the influence, not to say the thumb, of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, sets up a certification agency that serves as the gateway for local minority government contracting. Krause and Timms found other cities in Texas that did their own certifying, but, no, we needed a special outside agency for that.

So our local outside agency somehow becomes the Siamese twin of a for-profit staffing company. The outside agency certifies its twin, the staffing company, as minority-owned up one side and down the other, and the twin runs out and gloms on to a rich stack of contracts. But other minority companies that are potential competitors to All Temps come along, foolishly take this for a straight-up process, apply for their own certification, and their records keep getting lost, surprise, surprise.

Racial discrimination in business and in public contracting has been a serious problem in the past. It's reasonable for communities to want to cleanse themselves of that issue. But Dallas has a particular problem. Somehow the whole business of minority contracting here has wound up having the exact opposite effect of anything that could have been intended. The way it works here, hard-working honest companies get shut out, and the scammers rush in.

Six years ago when Commissioner Price was engaged in his partially successful campaign to sabotage a huge industrial project in his own district called The Inland Port, he demanded that the main developer, The Allen Group, provide a list of all certified minority subcontractors it used in businesses in California. Those businesses were unrelated to Allen's Dallas operation, and the demand had no basis in law.

I called the Allen Group to ask what they were doing about Price's demand. Richard Allen, head of the company, told me he wanted to cooperate but could not. He said he could not provide a list of certified minority subcontractors in California because he didn't have any. I asked why.

He told me that, first of all, as an Anglo, he was in the minority in his part of California. Secondly, he said, virtually all of the subcontractors his company used in construction were Latino. Every one. But not a single one of them had ever signed up for minority certification. I asked why.

"They don't want to mess with it," he said. "They just go out and do the work."

Reading Timms' and Krause's piece Sunday, I wondered how many more strong minority companies we might have in the Dallas region if the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency had never been formed. And now that we see how it works, I wonder how much longer we are expected to stand here like suckers and not say anything.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
89 comments
leftocenter
leftocenter

How is is legal to even ASK about the racial makeup of the business you are hiring?  I understand it's supposed to be about the ownership of the business, but it still sounds like something you shouldn't even ask about.

Has this practice ever been challenged in court?  It may sound good on paper to support "minority owned" businesses, but in practice it's impossible to do it  -- way to easy to manipulate many different aspects.

Has this ever been tested in the courts? 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Institutionalizing racism to thwart societal racism is moronic.

ruddski
ruddski

I wonder if the people who come up with these set-aside programs hire their help, choose their friends, or pick their neighborhoods based on race, rather than the usual factors.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Contractors, minority or otherwise, don't bid on government jobs unless they have to.

And most don't.

Whites must prove they aren't racist while all the other must prove they are.

rclegg
rclegg

The way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating -- not by setting up a system to start discriminating in the other direction. 


After all, why do race, ethnicity, and sex need to be considered at all in deciding who gets awarded a contract?It's good to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin, or sex.  You can do all that without "certifying" anyone.


And this means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either--whether it's labeled a "set-aside," a "quota," or a "goal," since they all end up amounting to the same thing.Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it breeds corruption (see this article) and otherwise costs the taxpayers and businesses money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it's almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981 and this model brief: http://www.pacificlegal.org/page.aspx?pid=1342 ).


Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.


WylieH
WylieH

Here's another fun article that appeared in the Dallas Observer over 20 years ago!  It describes the efforts of a successful black businessman to lease space for a book store at DFW Airport.  He was hamstrung and sent packing, tail between his legs, because he apparently failed to cut off a piece of the action for the correct local guys.

Even today, that appears to be the way things work at DFW Airport.  If you operate a successful national retailer that wishes to lease space at DFW, I've heard you are "guided" to a short list of well-connected political insiders with minority certification status and are made to understood that the only way you will be allowed to lease is if you figure out a way to cut one of them in as a partner... and, guess what, the proposed partners are frequently short of cash required to buy in.... lol.... so.... I dunno, somehow they end up as partners anyway.

How are Eddie Bernice Johnson's "investments" in DFW Airport concessions performing these days, by the way?

WylieH
WylieH

Here's a fun article to read about a minority contracting joint venture set up by Joe Alcantar (current chairman of the City Plan Commission) and Richard Knight (former City Manager).... they've done really well.  DISD, City of Dallas, Omni Hotel, DFW Airport... they've managed to find all kinds of work.


Used to (maybe still do?) office out of Jack Matthews' development Southside on Lamar.


http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2003/06/09/story7.html?page=all




bettyculbreath
bettyculbreath

Jim you know Dallas as I do this is nothing new.I remember when they removed the certification process from the NTCOG and formed this new agency.I think the first Director was named Stevenson he got in trouble and went to jail or something don't remember all but they are funded by government in North Texas someone should have know about this or did they and just looked the other way. 

WylieH
WylieH

Another fun fact--- every year, the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency  hosts a festive, black tie "Gala."


Various member governmental entities pay big bucks to serve as "sponsors" and buy tables for ten--- for governmental employees, contractors, who???


Here is a list of the governmental entities that sprang for big sponsorships last year (it's fun to spend taxpayer money on black-tie galas!):


City of Dallas

City of Ft. Worth

DFW Airport

Dallas County Community College District

Tarrant County College District

DART

The T

City of Arlington

NTTA

Tarrant Regional Water District


More interesting are some of the private sector entities that bought sponsorships. ;)

mcdallas
mcdallas

Just how close is the JWP link?

Anon
Anon

Ok, I went and read the DMN piece, and their editorial. One obvious question wasn't answered there, or here. What local governments currently use these services? Have any ever stopped using these services, and if so, when and why?

James080
James080

Another question to consider for a future column JimS, is why is Dallas is employing so much of it's workforce through temp agencies? Is it merely to create profits for favored minority employment agencies, or is city staff, and the department heads, incapable of managing actual employees? Why is Dallas outsourcing so much of its (unskilled?) labor needs?

wcvemail
wcvemail

@leftocenter  
And the very meaning of "minority" is in question, as per the story from the developer of the inland port about minority contractors in SoCal, where Caucasians are now the minority. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski  

For the racialists, there are no other factors.

ruddski
ruddski

@rclegg

And, the bureaucracies created to administer these programs, like most bureaucracies, become in time self-serving.

No-one whose livelihood depends on supposedly righting a past wrong has any interest in declaring that wrong sufficiently righted and putting themselves out of a job.

When the legal BAC for driving is at .0000%, will MADD disband?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bvckvs You do realize, of course that JWP, and the Certifying agency that is the subject of the article, are in no way beholden to the Mayor, right?  City/county, different jurisdictions, different entities, anything?

ruddski
ruddski

@bvckvs

From what I've read, it's similar to the way the IRS handled conservative not-for-profit groups.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WylieH I thought EBJ's concession playground was Love Field.  Is she likewise entwined in DFW?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@WylieH  

I'll put up with a lot of shortcomings in goverment, for example, sloth, indifference, incompetence; but, I draw the line at corruption as at that point it is no longer a government but a criminal enterprise.

GatoCat
GatoCat

@bettyculbreath  The words in your comment suggest that you have something important to say. I wish I knew what it is. Unfortunately, you seem to have missed the elementary school teaching on how to punctuate. Please learn how to use commas, periods and capitals to help readers with the flow of your written thoughts.

WylieH
WylieH

@Anon  Here is the list of governmental and quasi-governmental entities that are members and "oversee" the entity's operation:


City of Dallas

Dallas County

DISD

Dallas County Schools (don't get me started, this is a real government entity separate from DISD that operates school buses and squanders money in various ways- HQ is in Oak Cliff)

Dallas County Community College District

DFW Airport

NTTA

City of Ft. Worth

City of DeSoto

City of Irving

City of Lancaster

City of Mesquite

Irving ISD

Ft. Worth Transportation Agency (the "T")

Tarrant County College District

Tarrant Regional Water District


Oddly, three private companies are member entities, as well.  I'm not sure why, however.


Austin Industries

Baylor Health Care System

the joint venture building the LBJ Express and new Tarrant County toll road.



ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@James080 One big reason is that it illegal to employ illegal aliens.  Hire the temp agency and pay them as a vendor, and that problem is solved.  As a bonus you get a nearly unlimited supply of labor at minimum wage, when you otherwise might pay substantially more.

WylieH
WylieH

@James080  Take a look at the City of Dallas contract to provide the hourly employees who ride on the back of the garbage trucks....

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  Again, bullshit.  

Minority content requirements are for gov't contracts, not for every business.  Businesses voluntarily adopt minority content targets because of their own attitudes and goals.

ruddski
ruddski

@holmantx

Of course, but are their distribution of spoils reflected in personal choices I listed?

I suspect not, even the Reverend Jackson admits to crossing the street.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@ruddski  

At that point, there will still be drunk driving accidents, at which point MADD will start pushing for restrictions on the sale of alcohol, which will have as its endpoint an amendment to repeal the 21st Amendment and reinstate the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.

Which is their goal, anyway.

WylieH
WylieH

As of a few years ago, EBJ also owned equity interests in multiple retail concessions located at DFW Airport. I know that some of them were being impacted by the TRIP (terminal retail improvement program); not sure of the current status.

Last time I reviewed it, it looked like her DFW holdings were actually worth more than her Love Field holdings.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@wcvemail  

Who was the former city manager Hicks hired to develop South Dallas after winning approval for the American Airlines Center?

No quid pro quo, of course.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@GatoCat @bettyculbreath  
I'm inclined to give Ms. Culbreath a pass on punctuation these days, since she's 72 years old. However, that's the same style she's used in 40 years of gadflying in and around city government and regional boards like the DFW Airport board, in which her communications were part of Dallas' representations to the entire world.

She's managed to tread a line of pretending to be against cronyism and set-asides -- witness her comment that "someone should have know (sic) about this or did they and just looked the other way" -- despite the fact that she's been an integral part of the entire, corrupt process for decades.

Yeah, she ran against JWP once after supporting him for years, so what. She still gets her appointments to "go along" boards and bodies and plays the game. She's part of the problem, hypocritically so.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@WylieH  

I imagine that Austin Industries belongs as it is a road construction company as well as a building construction company.


The joint venture for the LBJ Express, see Austin Industries.


BHCS, well that one is interesting.  I wonder what the connection is?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  Most temps are 1099.  Liability is liability, doesn't matter if the offender is a temp or an employee.

The biggest motivator is where the cost hits your balance sheet.  Contractors and outsourcing hits as an expense.  That means Uncle Sam covers a percentage of the cost for you.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  Bless your heart!  You really think you are smarter than everybody else, don't you?

Why you hating on Texas being a bilingual state?  Isn't it kinda against Progressive dogma to support English as a national language?

So, you think that the National Government imposed minority content laws on Texas.  Gotcha.  I guess you would be OK with violating the Constitution that way if it had really happened.  (Hint:  Texas has their own minority content requirements for state contract.  So does Dallas County.  It's not a national requirement.  That whole intrastate commerce thing...)

Lemme know when you start being so smart.  I kinda wanna see that.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  If I misunderstood your comment, I sincerely apologize.

I read your statement to say that the wise government functionaries dictated minority content laws to the business community to correct racial laws.

My comment was in response to that interpretation of your comment.  If my interpretation is incorrect, please clarify for me and, again, I apologize.

timdickey
timdickey

@holmantx @wcvemail  At 500K a year! That was the late John Ware's reward for somehow managing to cut the City Council out of weighing in on an arena deal that was ABSOLUTELY more "policy" than "management", and should have been in the City Council's purview all along. After all, it was a decision about how to appropriate new tax revenue under the Brimer Bill--totally a policy question. Kirk and Ware buffaloed a weak City Council into giving up their power.

WylieH
WylieH

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @WylieH  But why do these private companies need to participate in funding the certification agency?  That's a government function... it would be a bit like Crow Residential funding part of the cost of the City building department, no?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@Montemalone  Both temp agencies and contracting firms employe people.  Typically, however, they only employ the higher end of their resources.  Many jobs are filled as a "temp to perm" and reality is that most temp workers are unemployable due to one fatal flaw or another.  Contractors are another story entirely.  Typically, they have targeted high end knowledge such as development, tax or engineering and the ones I know enjoy going from company to company.  Still, many of them are 1099 to their contracting company and have set themselves up as LLC's.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  You are so full of shit.


Both temps and contractors are non-payroll workers.  From an IRS perspective there is minimal difference.  "Temporary workers" are also known as time and material workers, "Contract workers" are also known as scope of work workers.  There are rules that say you can't treat them as employees.


In reality, companies treat both of these as employees by the way they manage them and relate to them.  It has nothing to do with political party, it is just poor people management.  Unless you think Microsoft and GM are "Republican" companies, as they are the two most visible companies who got hit with the lawsuits.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @PlanoDave@bvckvs 

Temp agencies employ people. They withhold tax and FICA and may or may not offer access to insurance. When you hire a temp you are really renting someone's employee. 

A contractor is a different animal.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@PlanoDave @bvckvsAren't there even more tax advantages than that?  If a temp is a 1099, aren't they responsible for their own payroll and full ss tax, as well as their income tax?

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...