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Black businessman John Goode was doing a fine business until Austin told him he needed to get a "minority owned business" certificate.  He refused, and Austin closed his business!

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Case 12 - Austin, TX Refuses to do Business with Black Vendor!
Updated March 16, 2000

Racial Preferences Cost!

John Goode sold BBQ at venues in Austin, until the city told him he had to register as a 'disadvantaged' business!

(Dec. 31, 1998) - John Goode, who is black, had been successfully selling BBQ at various venues in the City of Austin since 1989 under contracts and subcontracts with the city.  In 1996 Austin passed a law requiring minority-owned businesses to obtain an official certificate from Austin certifying the business as minority-owned.  John Goode refused, and lost his business!  Also see update:  Feb 5, 1999, below.

GO:  John Goode's discrimination case. Austin to Black Businesses:  Get a minority certificate or get out!

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Austin punishes black business
owner for NOT accepting
racial set-asides!

News Release Dec. 22, 1998
Campaign for a Color-Blind America
Contact Marc Levin (713) 626-0943

          Today, the Campaign for a Color-Blind America expressed its deep disappointment at federal Judge Sam Sparks' dismissal of a racial discrimination suit filed against the City of Austin by an African-American BBQ seller who was improperly fired for not agreeing to accept special treatment based on his race. In a case that has raised the interest of the U.S. Senate, Mr. John Goode, the owner/operator of Mr. Bones BBQ, filed suit on March 6, 1998 against both the City of Austin and its contractor Fine Host Corporation for a wrongful and unfair dismissal that has left him destitute.

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          Mr. Goode sold BBQ and other products to patrons of Palmer Auditorium, the Austin Convention Center, and the City Coliseum in Austin, TX during special events from 1989 to 1996. In the Spring of 1996, the Austin City Council passed an affirmative action plan which required minorities seeking contracts or subcontracts to fulfill specific requirements in obtaining certification as a minority owned business. There were no such requirements, to our knowledge, for white contractors and subcontractors doing business with the City.

          John Goode declined to certify himself as a minority owned business because he felt his BBQ could stand on its own merit and he did not want any special treatment on account of his race. He simply wanted to be included in the 75% of subcontractors who didn't have to prove minority status.

          However, in an August 2, 1996 letter to Mr. Goode, Fine Host Corporation terminated its contract with Mr. Goode stating, "Due tot he lack of proof of M/WBE certification with SMBR (formally known as the Office of Minority and Business Affairs), and the fact that we do not show an application pending from Mr. Bones BBQ, nor do they show Mr. Bones BBQ as having ever been certified as a Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise, we cannot continue this business relationship." They go on to state that, "Our commitment to the City of Austin is to do our best to maintain a 25% concession percentage with certified minority/women owned business enterprises. In order for your partnership to be included in our percentage you must be a certified M/WBE with the City of Austin department of Small and Minority Business Resources."

          In other words, Goode was penalized for not accepting the "benefits" of affirmative action. He could have easily been included in the 75% of the remaining contracts, but he was never given that chance. As a result, Mr. Goode lost his business, his house, and now has nothing. Mr. Goode has even testified about his case before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  However, despite this overwhelming evidence of racial injustice, Judge Sparks flippantly dismissed this very serious case. Keith Lauerman, an attorney representing Mr. Goode on a pro bono basis, said he is "I am very
disappointed with Judge Sparks' decision and am currently working on a motion to reconsider which I will file within ten days."

          Campaign for a Color-blind America Executive Director Marc Levin said "I am profoundly disturbed that Judge Sparks would dismiss this case and, thereby, deny Mr. Goode the opportunity to present his evidence at a trial.  I am simply stunned that, in the face of the tremendous amount of evidence of insidious racial discrimination against Mr. Goode, a federal judge would not even allow the case to go to trial. I hope that, for the sake of Mr. Goode and in the interest of equal rights and due process under the law, Judge Sparks will recognize his error and allow Mr. Goode to have his day
in court before a jury of his peers." The Campaign for a Color-Blind America is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose Board includes nationally prominent civil rights activists, social scientists and legal scholars. The goal of the organization is to challenge race-based public policies and educate the public about the injustices of racial preferences.  Since 1993, the Campaign has challenged racially gerrymandered voting districts throughout the country and race-based admission policies in public schools.

          Please contact Marc Levin at (713) 626-0943 or by portable phone at (713) 906-1833 with further questions or to arrange an interview. Attorney Keith Lauerman can be reached at (512) 502-9964 or at Lauerman@aol.com .

Campaign for a Color-blind America Contact Information:  www.equalrights.com


Attorney needed to continue
John Goode litigation!

News Release Dec. 31, 1998
Campaign for a Color-Blind America
Contact Marc Levin (713) 626-0943

          An attorney is urgently needed to assist John Goode on a pro bono basis in the appeal of his racial discrimination suit. Mr. Goode had his subcontract to sell BBQ at municipal facilities in Austin, TX terminated solely because he refused to certify himself as a minority owned business after the City Council passed an ordinance in 1996 requiring that 25% of city contracts and subcontracts go to certified minority owned businesses.

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          Mr. Goode, an African American, did not want special treatment on account of his race and did not want to deal with the paperwork involved. No certification process was required for white business owners to compete for the other 75% of the contracts and subcontracts.

          On March 6, 1998, Mr. Goode brought a racial discrimination suit against both the City of Austin and the contractor Fine Host Corporation for this racially discriminatory termination. Unfortunately, federal Judge Sam Sparks, the same judge who dismissed the Hopwood suit, has dismissed this case. To add insult to injury, Sparks ordered Mr. Goode to pay $6,800 in legal fees for the city and the contractor, which he cannot afford.

          Keith Lauerman, the attorney who has represented Mr. Goode pro bono in this matter, filed a motion with Judge Sparks to reconsider on December 29, 1998, but he is unable to handle the appeal due to constraints on his time and resources. Notice of appeal of this case to the 5th Circuit must be given within 30 days of the decision, which was issued on December 14. We are not sure whether the motion to reconsider stops the clock on this deadline.

          This is a crucially important case both to Mr. Goode, who has been left destitute as a result of this quota, and to advancing the cause of a color-blind society. It is the first case I know of where an African-American plaintiff has challenged racial quotas and, as such, it has generated a great deal of media attention. Following the dismissal, articles appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News and I appeared on a talk radio program Midland, TX to discuss the case. It has also been front page news in the major black newspaper in Austin.

          We cannot allow Mr. Goode to be denied his day in court by a left-wing activist on the bench. Mr. Lauerman is more than willing to assist the attorney handling the appeal. Please contact the Campaign for a Color-Blind America if you are able to help Mr. Goode appeal this unique and very important case.

Marc Levin, Executive Director
3935 Westheimer Suite 300
Houston, Texas 77027
Office Phone: (713) 626-0943, Portable Phone: (713) 906-1833
Fax: (713) 626-1264
RACEBLIND@aol.com
www.equalrights.com


Update Jan. 15, 1999

          In a tersely worded order issued on January 7, 1999, federal Judge Sam Sparks refused to reconsider his decision to dismiss Mr. John Goode's lawsuit.  The order was in response to a motion to reconsider filed by Mr. Goode's attorney, Mr. Lauerman, on January 5, 1999.  Despite acknowledging that even more evidence by Mr. Goode was presented in the motion to reconsider, Judge Sparks adamantly refused to reconsider his decision to deny Mr. Goode the right to a jury trial in this important case.

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UP:  Dec. 31, 1998 Report.
NEXT:  Feb. 5, 1999 Update on John Goode.
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          Campaign for a Color-Blind America Executive Director Marc Levin said "I am profoundly disturbed that, in the face of the tremendous amount of evidence of insidious racial discrimination against Mr. Goode, a federal judge (Sparks) would not even allow the case to go to trial.  The Campaign for a Color-Blind America is now exploring the possibility of appealing this case to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans.  We currently have attorneys with extensive appellate experience reviewing the documents in this matter to pinpoint what legal grounds might exist for an appeal."

          Please contact Marc Levin at (713) 626-0943 or by cellular phone at (713) 906-1833, or by email at RACEBLIND@aol.com, with further questions or to arrange an interview.  Attorney Keith Lauerman can be reached at (512) 502-9964 or at Lauerman@aol.com .


Update Feb. 5, 1999

Houston, TX (Feb. 4, 1999) - Today, the Campaign for a Color-Blind America announced that notice of appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has been filed in the racial discrimination suit brought against the City of Austin by an African-American BBQ seller who was improperly fired for not agreeing to accept special treatment based on his race. In a case that has raised the interest of the U.S. Senate and generated national publicity, Mr. John Goode, the owner/operator of Mr. Bones BBQ, filed suit on March 6, 1998 against both the City of Austin and its contractor Fine Host Corporation for a wrongful and unfair dismissal that has left him destitute.

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          In a tersely worded order issued on January 7, Judge Sparks refused to reconsider his decision to dismiss Mr. Goode's lawsuit. Sparks insisted that Mr. Goode be denied the right to a jury trial in this important case.

          Marc Levin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Color-blind America said, "I am glad that we are able to assist Mr. Goode with the appeal of this groundbreaking case. It is unbelievable that someone would be fired simply for not agreeing to be categorized on the basis of their race. Having already overturned Judge Sparks' dismissal of the Hopwood suit, I am confident the Fifth Circuit will find this case to be a no-brainer and order it reversed and remanded for trial."

          Edward Blum, Chairman of the Campaign for a Color-blind America, added, "In addition to his opposition to racial classifications, Mr. Goode also did not want to certify himself as a minority business because of the tremendous amount of paperwork and disclosure of personal and financial information required. Thus, his case clearly demonstrates how "affirmative action" programs designed to help minorities have actually imposed a special and unfair burden on them. Moreover, this is a landmark case in that it is perhaps the first time ever that a minority has mounted a legal challenge to racial contracting quotas."

          The Campaign for a Color-blind America also announced today that Georgia attorney Gary Gerrard, who has extensive appellate experience, will be handling the appeal. Levin commented, "Austin attorney Keith Lauerman has put a tremendous amount of time and effort into this case and will continue to be involved. With Mr. Gerrard's appellate expertise on board, we are confident Mr. Goode will continue to receive outstanding legal representation."

          For information on the appeal, attorney Gary Gerrard can be reached at (706) 743-8989 or by email at TSENECA@aol.com. For information on the legal proceedings in the case up to this point, attorney Keith Lauerman can be reached at (512) 502-9964 or lauerman@aol.com.


Links:

The Story of John Goode, by Marc Levin, Jan. 1999 (dead link)
          "Why me?  What racist act have I been guilty of to suffer this injustice?  It was the same reaction displayed by countless others who have been the victims of reverse discrimination."  An excellent semi-biographical account of the tragedy and circumstances leading to John Goode's ruin at the altar of racial quotas.  The City of Austin cut off Goode's livelihood because he is a black man who refused to certify himself as a "disadvantaged business enterprise".  Goode says "I am definitely and openly a black conservative.  I see a lot of social programs as doing more damage than good.  The only blacks that seem to benefit from affirmative action are upper-income black professionals' children".  (Heterodoxy, Dec. 98/Jan. 99 Issue)
[former link **http://www.frontpagemag.com/het/levin2-23-99.htm]

Affirmative Action Breaks Mr. Bones (1/27/99)
          "If one refuses to hire or contract with someone because he's black, that's discrimination. But if one cancels a contract because a black person refuses to become a government-certified minority-in-need, that's called affirmative action. Outraged? Consider the case of John Goode, the former owner of Mr. Bones BBQ in Austin, Texas."  (Reason Magazine by Michael W. Lynch)
[link http://www.reason.com/opeds/lynch012799.html ]

 

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.