Force of contract law needed to ensure Black contractors/workers for stadium
Action: $34 million contract awarded September 28, 2012, by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (FSFA) and the Minnesota Vikings, their largest stadium contract to date, to HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, Dallas, Texas (they did stadiums for the Colts and Cowboys). My concern is not the sucking sound of Minnesota money being deposited in Texas banks: Money follows expertise, not geography, and Minnesota has not kept up.
Concern: as of this writing, still no stadium equity plan as called for in stadium legislation. When I talked with HKS people at their exhibit at the Metrodome, September 7, 2012, I asked them if they used minority subcontractors. They said yes. I asked for an example of who and on what project. They could give none.
Question: Is the equity plan delay on purpose to give contractors an excuse for not hiring African Americans, as the stadium legislation section 473J.12 only states: “make every effort” to include minorities?
Action: Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority’s Resolution 2012-8, in August, listed 34 contractors approved for contract services. Not one is African American.
Concern: failure so far to include African Americans as contractors and laborers in stadium construction, including professional, technical and expert service (PTE) contracts. This is not a call for quotas, set-asides or racial featherbedding. It is a call for merit-based non-discriminatory inclusion (whether qualified African Americans are from Minnesota or not). The 21st century Tea Party, as the Boston Tea Partiers of the 18th century, want no taxes without representation. Blacks paying taxes used in Minnesota’s big projects but Blacks not getting hired is discrimination (taxation without representation).
Ray of hope: the report (http://hometownsource.com/2012/09/28/minnesota-sports-facilities-authority-and-vikings-hire-architect) that HKS has pledged “to work with a local architectural firm for a portion of the design and has committed to hiring 19 percent targeted businesses — 11 percent minority and eight percent women-owned firms for portions of the contract. The $34 million contract for design services includes fees for subcontractors.”
At the October VSC meeting, Keith Baker said that the 19 percent came from the Equity Plan. But, there is still no monitoring plan and when asked to see a copy, it could still not be produced.
Question: What does “minority” mean? The stadium bill (No. 2958, 2nd [and final] Engrossment — 87th Legislative Session, 2011-2012), discusses “minorities” but doesn’t include “African Americans.” The African American former head of the city’s Civil Rights Department infamously said Minneapolis could hire “minorities” without hiring a single African American.
Goals: 1. HKS keeps its pledge;
2. HKS (and the general contractor, when picked), stipulate how many “minorities” will be African American by percentage;
3. Compliance monitored in real time with real reports, such as uniform collection of award data, uniform collection of subcontracting data, monitoring of actual use and payments, reporting of actual African Americans by name, dates, and hours worked, and
4. Provide monthly public updates on hiring compliance of African Americans.
Action: $50 million to be deposited by Minnesota Vikings to stadium construction fund, as designated by stadium legislation, even before the state and city make deposits.
Question: Does the city of Minneapolis have its $150 million stadium contribution; is it scheduled and in the pipeline?
Question: How will Minneapolis pay for the real cost over 30 years to city taxpayers: $890 million (Star Tribune, May 1, 2012), and who gets all that additional $740 million, including interest money?
Question: What part of the distribution of the people’s stadium dollars can African American contractors and laborers expect?
Concern: need to place equity plan under contract law instead of under “best effort.”
Question: How can one expect African American hiring without placing hiring by contractors under contract law?
Question: How can there be African American and other minority contractors of record when the City purposefully delays the mandatory equity plan and the State remains silent?
Concern: taxation without representation. The Sports Facilities Authority is to report to a special Minnesota legislative commission by January 15 of each year. I don’t know what questions the legislative committee will ask but I do know that under the legislation there was a specific provision, Subsection 9, that “the authority may conduct research studies and programs, collect and analyze data…and conduct all necessary hearings and investigations in connection with its functions.”
Question: If it doesn’t get hiring compliance, will it conduct such hearings and investigations?
Historic precedent opportunity: the HHH Metrodome put African American hiring in the contracts. Will the authority prevent stadium hiring discrimination against African Americans by also putting African American hiring for the building of the peoples’ stadium in the contracts?
Concern: So far the authority has chosen not to do so, while State and City remain silent.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.