|NEWS Coverage: Newest First
Pittsburgh: [Set-Aside] policy lacks
oversight, council hearing told (06/28/00)
"Business owners and city and county government officials at the afternoon meeting
[of the City Council] all acknowledged problems with the set-aside programs, from sham
contracts to haphazard certification procedures. But few knew a sure-fire way to correct
them, noting the programs have been deeply flawed for years.
"Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey suggested the city and county start with a
study of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the region to discover just how many
there are. The city-county percentages set for contract participation -- 25 percent for
minority-owned and 10 percent for women-owned businesses -- could be unrealistically high,
Roddey noted, "inviting abuses" of the process.
"Yesterday's meeting was called by City Councilman Jim Ferlo on the heels of a
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation of participation in Plan B contracts." [Plan B is the umbrella name for the construction of stadiums for
the Pirates and Steelers and expansion of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
--Editor] "[The Post-Gazette
investigation] showed that at least a third of the $117 million in stadium and David L.
Lawrence Convention Center contracts that went to the minority- and women-owned businesses
was passed on to firms owned by white men, or to companies that no longer qualify as
disadvantaged under the certification process the city-county Sports & Exhibition
"Minority and women business owners complained that oversight of set-aside policies
is confusing, and some prime contractors keep them from growing by holding payments for
services they've completed and by pressuring them to take payoffs.
"City and county officials said their oversight is constrained by conflicting laws
and certification procedures: City, county, state and federal rules on the programs all
differ in some ways.
"Stephen Leeper, executive directory of the sports authority ... admitted some
difficulty with knowing how much minority- and women-owned firms are being helped by Plan
B, but still said "there are a lot of firms getting a lot of business [at the
stadiums] that are legitimate minority businesses."
"Murphy's communications director, Doug Root, said the mayor has consistently tried
to improve [minority] participation in contracts since taking office in 1994, and last
year coordinated an effort to enroll and train thousands of city residents in building
trade jobs." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/28/00, by Timothy McNulty)
Pittsburgh: Plan B minority hiring falls short
"The [Pittsburgh] Sports & Exhibition Authority is not meeting goals for minority
hiring in Plan B projects.
"Of the $354 million in Plan B contracts awarded, minority-owned firms have received
only 20 percent of the targeted 25 percent goal. Plan B is the umbrella name for the
construction of stadiums for the Pirates and Steelers and expansion of the David L.
Lawrence Convention Center.
"The lagging minority participation comes as the FBI investigates the Allegheny
County Minority, Woman and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise office (MWD-DBE), one of the
agencies that certifies minority businesses. County Executive Jim Roddey asked the FBI to
investigate the agency's certification process after finding alleged improprieties.
"Conversely, women-owned firms have received 14 percent of all contracts awarded -
above the 10 percent goal set for those companies, Sports Authority documents show. The
contract data is accurate as of May 15 and was posted on the authority's Internet site.
"The [Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition] authority adopted city of Pittsburgh
guidelines for awarding minority- and women-owned businesses 25 percent and 10 percent of
public construction projects, respectively.
[The Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority does not guarantee minimum contract
participation by white, male-owned firms and in fact specifically excludes white,
male-owned contractors from both the 25% minority-owned contractor target as well as from
the 10% woman-owned contractor target. No similar exclusions are applied to
minorites or women. --Editor.]
"Three of the four local companies - Contract Management Services, Anlyn Corp. and
CFC-3 Management Services, hired to oversee minority participation in the Plan B projects
- did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
"Eustace Uku, owner of Exico, the company overseeing minority participation in
construction of the Steelers stadium, said his project's minority participation levels are
"around the goal ... a little above." [Uku did not offer any observations
regarding participation by white, male-owned contracting firms. -- Editor.]
"Authority documents show about a 22 percent participation rate for minorities and a
16 percent rate for women for the Steelers stadium.
"Gilbert Berry, a consultant for Global Consultants, an Irwin-based construction
management company certified as a minority contractor, said he has not been informed of
job openings on the Plan B projects or informed of potential work opportunities. The
companies hired to oversee minority participation are supposed to notify [minority]
contractors of opportunities to work on the Plan B projects. Aside from the Steelers
project, Contract Management Services oversees the PNC Park project, Anlyn Corp. oversees
the convention center expansion and CFC-3 Management Services was hired by the authority
to oversee all of the projects." [Apparently, no company has been hired by
Pittsburgh to oversee non-minority, white male participation in the Plan B projects.
"[Authority spokesman Greg Yesko] said the authority is awaiting the results of a
study headed up by city Councilman Sala Udin of the availability and qualifications of
minority firms in the region. It also is looking forward to improved minority
participation in projects after the proposed merger of the city and county's minority
enterprise offices, he said." [Apparently, no one from the authority is
monitoring the availability and qualifications of firms owned by white males.]
"A spokesman for Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said the city is committed to improving
efforts to reach minority and female contracting goals." [No similar goals were
mentioned regarding non-minority or white, male-owned contracting goals.]
"A spokeswoman for county Executive Jim Roddey declined comment because the executive
had not yet seen the authority's numbers." (From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
06/22/00, by Christopher Davis, Jim Ritchie and Dave Copeland)
Pittsburgh: Merger to create new [racial]
review commission (06/22/00)
"[Pittsburgh City] Councilman Sala Udin hopes a [race-based] commission created under
the new Pittsburgh Works legislation will serve as the main agency for making sure
minorities and woman get a share of county and city contracts. "My hope is when they
discuss merging, they will agree to both appoint members to the new commission and
authorize the commission to review both county and city contracts for contracting and
employment considerations," Udin said Wednesday.
"Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey have announced
plans to merge the city's Office of Business and Employment Opportunities with the
county's Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise office. City Council
members approved Pittsburgh Works on Tuesday. The legislation calls for the creation of
the Equal Opportunity Review Commission, which would replace the mayor's minority and
women review committee.
"The commission is supposed to oversee the Pittsburgh Works and make recommendations
on what to do to companies that don't comply [with racial and gender contracting goals].
The Pittsburgh Works legislation mandates that firms who enter into contracts greater than
$200,000, in which the city is a party, must provide 35 percent of the jobs to city
residents. Out of that 35 percent, the legislation encourages a goal of 25 percent
minorities and 10 percent women." [Pittsburgh offers no similar job or
contracting guarantees to white, male-owned firms.] (From the Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh: Board won't vote to back minority
jobs item (06/21/00)
"A controversial measure calling for the Pittsburgh school board to encourage
contractors to hire members of a black workers' union appears to be dead on arrival.
"Some [Pittsburgh school] board members opposed the resolution because, they said,
the district already has a policy that mandates minority participation in construction
projects and the board should not favor one labor organization over any other.
"Our job as board members is not to be getting work for people, but educating the
children," board member Darlene Harris said. "I don't remember this
ever being done for any organization," Harris said.
"But school board member Randall Taylor said the resolution would have required the
district to do nothing more than support the inclusion of black workers at school district
job sites. Nothing in the resolution would have required contractors to hire members of
the union, Taylor said. "I think that minority and low-income workers should
be working in this city and maybe this will spark that bigger debate," Taylor said.
"Existing school district policy requires that 15 percent of workers on construction
sites be minorities and that 2 percent be women, said Curtis Walker, director of the
district's office of equity, compliance and community relations." [The school
district offers no similar percentage guarantee to white, male-owned workers.
"Contractors that do not comply [with the district's race and gender goals] are
barred from bidding on future projects, Walker said. "I believe our oversight
in the school district is every bit as lax as the oversight in the city, around the
stadiums," Taylor said. "The school district may possibly have to be a pioneer
in correcting what is going on."
"Taylor referred to alleged pass-through schemes involving contractors hired to build
the new baseball and football stadiums on the North Side. In the purported
pass-through schemes, jobs are awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses. Those
businesses don't perform the work but take a percentage of the contract in exchange for
passing the work on to other contractors that do not meet affirmative-action
goals..." [Note that other contractors that do not meet affirmative-action goals are
typically white, male-owned businesses who do not hire the racially-correct number of
minorities and/or women. --Editor.]
"Calvin Clinton Sr., president of the African American Workers Union ... [said that]
in a district where a majority of students are black, more black workers should be hired
on district construction sites..." (From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
06/21/00, by Jonathan Potts)
Pittsburgh: Contractor audit
gears up - Disadvantaged certification is focus (06/20/00)
"State Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr. is completing a performance audit of
procedures used by the state Department of General Services in certifying minority- and
women-owned businesses. The agency's certification is supposed to ensure that
disadvantaged businesses are legitimate and have the ability to perform the work they
contract to do." [The fact that "majority" businesses owned by white
males have always been subjected to the same criteria was not addressed by Mr. Casey, nor
did he address the obvious question of how "minorities" could have escaped the
same standard scrutiny traditionally applied to "majority" firms. --Editor.]
"Two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that federal agencies were
investigating whether contractors working on PNC Park, the new Steelers stadium and the
David L. Lawrence Convention Center violated the law by using sham companies to meet
set-aside goals aimed at giving minority and women-owned businesses an opportunity to work
on the projects.
"... the Post-Gazette reported that at least a third of the $117 million in contracts
that went to minority and women-owned businesses for the stadiums and convention center
through March was passed through to firms owned and managed by white men or to companies
that no longer qualified as disadvantaged under certification rules.
"... the Post-Gazette series included an interview with Cheryl Williams of Swissvale,
a former employment opportunity specialist with General Services. She claimed she lost her
job after complaining to superiors that there were few checks and balances in the
certification process to ensure that women- and minority-owned businesses were
legitimate." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 06/20/00, by John M.R. Bull)
fancy-free shilling for affirmative action (Posted 06/29/00) (dead
" ... Inquiring minds want to know if the awarding of stadiums work to women and
minority contractors employed improper sleights of ``pass-through'' hands. The real issue,
however, is that such preferences have no business in the business of public works
"... Not only do these practices, in the guise of ``affirmative action,'' increase
overall costs and the likelihood for manipulation, machination and just plain
skullduggery, they are the antithesis of the meritocracy for which preference pimps so
compassionately say they are pushing. ... One of the more egregious examples can be found
in the Ford Foundation's 1999 annual report. So proud is this philanthropic leftist of the
missive ``We Need Affirmative Action,'' it has extrapolated the tome into an 11-page
booklet being distributed nationwide this month.
"It is a classic case of liberals playing footloose with basic facts and shilling for
a fancy-free and revisionist interpretation of American history. ``How does society ensure
fairness where much unfairness reflects longstanding, systemic discrimination?'' asks Ford
Foundation President Susan V. Berresford. Affirmative action is her answer. Never mind
that the wildly perverted program, spawned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was expressly
designed to address specific past acts of discrimination and not be a blanket ``remedy.''
"... Three ``beliefs'' shape her view: ``First, affirmative action is consistent with
U.S. values and ideals.'' ... ``My second belief is that societies need to explore and
understand the origins of inequality and address them with long-term and evolving
affirmative action in different sectors,'' ... offers her third ``belief'': ``Affirmative
action often works best when it includes incentives, goals and time frames.'' ...
" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / TribuneLive.com, posted 06/29/00, McNickle)
[former link: *http://www.triblive.com/opinion/mcnickle.html]
calls 'pass-through' pacts 'a sham' (06/13/00)
(PITTSBURGH) "'Pass-through' contracts that flow from minority and women businesses
for stadium projects to firms owned and managed by white males are 'a sham' that threaten
the economic vitality of the black community, said Pittsburgh NAACP President Tim Stevens.
Supported by at least seven other Allegheny County chapters of the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People, Stevens last night said he is backing County
Executive Jim Roddey's proposal to seek a federal investigation into the construction
...[S]aid Stevens, 'we cannot allow minority-owned brokers and supplier companies to
simply pass along contracts to white-owned businesses.' ... " (Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, by Ervin Dyer, 06/13/00)
county certification, [minority] firm gets OK from state (06/09/00)
"In June 1997, the Allegheny County Department of Minority and Women's Business
Certification denied Tri-City Steel Inc.'s application for certification as a woman-owned
company capable of installing concrete reinforcing bars on major public projects.
"Certification Consultant Carl H. Brown said the company's owner, Donna M. Altavilla,
was not eligible. 'I have determined that woman-owners did not demonstrate the
knowledge, education, and/or experience to conduct the day-to-day management of the firm,'
"Donna M. Altavilla and Kim Altavilla were listed as president and
secretary-treasurer of the firm, but Brown determined it was, in fact, operated by Frank
Altavilla, a 40-year veteran iron worker who was listed as superintendent of the jobs the
"The women -- Altavilla's wife and daughter-in-law -- had no experience in the rebar
business, Brown said.
"In an appeal, the company expressed "severe disappointment and
frustration" over the denial and said both Donna and Kim Altavilla had day-to-day
management responsibilities for the company, sometimes working 10-12 hours a day,
sometimes without pay, to make the company work.
"On Aug, 29, 1997, an Allegheny County Certification Appeals Board upheld Brown's
findings, stating neither Donna Altavilla nor Kim Altavilla have real and substantial
control of Tri-City Steel Inc.
"Yet on the Steelers and PNC Park jobs, Tri-City has re-emerged. It has contracts
totaling $2,624,432 for rebar and related work. All of it is credited toward the
Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority's woman business enterprise goals on the job.
"... Two-and-a-half months later, John R. McCarty, deputy secretary of administration
at General Services, reversed the denial "on a condition that the male signature be
removed as an authorized signer for your company bank accounts."
"So Tri-City finally got its certification, even though almost nothing of substance
had changed from application's earlier denials." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
06/09/00, by Bill Moushey)
FBI to look at stadium
"The former chief of a county agency that certifies businesses as being owned by
minorities and women said Wednesday he is "glad" County Executive Jim Roddey
asked for an FBI investigation into the certification program. 'It should have been
done years ago,' said Louis "Hop" Kendrick.
"Roddey said the alleged improprieties were uncovered after he took office in January
and named Cameil Williams to succeed Kendrick as director of the Minority, Women and
Disadvantaged Business Program. 'She wasn't sure it was all legitimate,' Roddey
said of the certifications the office had issued.
"Kendrick, who was fired in December, claimed he lost his job because he was a
supporter of Roddey's Democratic opponent for county executive, Dr. Cyril Wecht.
"Roddey yesterday would not pinpoint which companies or individuals he asked the FBI
to review, but he said the federal agency has opened "an active file," thereby
starting an investigation of the office of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business
"We found that there were a lot of things that we thought were improper," Roddey
said. "We're really not at liberty to say because we thought these things could be
criminal. We're going to let the FBI determine that."
"Kathleen Kerr, the owner of a Coraopolis-based steel fabricating company, said she
was contacted by U.S. Postal Service inspectors after she filed state and federal lawsuits
claiming she lost out on work building the city's two new stadiums after she refused to
take part in a so-called "pass-through" scheme. In a pass-through scheme,
which authorities say is illegal, a female- or minority-owned company is paid not to work
on a project, but is listed as a contractor or subcontractor.
"Shortly after taking office in January, Roddey said he found the county program was
not following rules and procedures for awarding minority certifications. It also lacked
proper record keeping and controls and did not visit job sites to ensure that minority-
and woman-owned companies were actually doing the work they were hired to do."
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 06/08/00, by Dave Copeland and Christopher Davis)
Pittsburgh: Officials may scrutinize [minority]
venue construction contracts (06/08/00)
"State lawmakers and Allegheny County Controller Dan Onorato are considering
inquiries into potential abuse of construction contracts that already are under federal
"State legislators are especially concerned about the possible misuse of contracts
associated with the expansion of the state-owned David L. Lawrence Convention Center and
two new sports stadiums. The Sports & Exhibition Authority will own the stadiums,
which are benefiting from $150 million of state construction money.
"Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey said yesterday he asked the FBI to investigate
the county's office of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.
"Kathleen Kerr, the owner of a Coraopolis-based steel fabricating company, said she
was contacted by U.S. Postal Service inspectors after she filed state and federal lawsuits
claiming she lost out on work building the city's two new stadiums after she refused to
take part in a so-called "pass-through" scheme.
"In a pass-through scheme, a female- or minority-owned company is paid to do no work
on a project, but is listed a contractor or subcontractor.
"The office of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certifies
companies as being owned by minorities and women, making them eligible to compete for work
on public projects that is specifically set aside for such firms. Roddey said he found
apparent irregularities in the office after becoming county executive in January."
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 06/08/00, by Jim Ritchie)
claims sham work on stadiums (06/07/00)
"PITTSBURGH - Federal authorities are investigating whether contractors building
stadiums for the Pirates and Steelers used sham companies to meet goals aimed at giving
some construction work to firms owned by women and minorities.
"The investigation apparently was spurred by state and federal lawsuits filed in
February against the Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority and two steel companies
with whom the authority contracted to build the stadiums, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Kathleen Kerr, owner of Industrial Fabricating Systems Inc. of Coraopolis, claims in
the lawsuits that the companies, Hirschfeld Steel Co. of Irving, Texas, and Wilhelm and
Kruse Inc. of Rankin, Pa., demanded that she participate in an illegal pass-through
"In such a scheme, a minority-or woman-owned subcontractor agrees to take a token
payment and takes public credit for doing a certain portion of construction work that is
actually done by another contractor.
"Kerr claims the pass-through schemes were a ruse to make it appear that the
authority had met its goal of using minority contractors for 25 percent of the stadium
work and women-owned companies for 10 percent." (The Philadelphia Daily News,
06/07/00, via Associated Press)
How to Hire Racial Numbers
for City Construction (03/21/99)
"Downtown Pittsburgh is on the verge of another building boom. With the
construction of two stadiums, a new convention center, at least one hotel and revamped
retail space, the Golden Triangle and its environs will soon be overrun by building-trades
"Unfortunately, if current patterns hold up, not many of them will be Pittsburgh
residents and not many will be African Americans. Yet, in this city (as in most others),
unemployment is higher than in adjacent communities.
"Four years ago, the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research
released a study that described a depressing situation for black workers. It reported that
blacks in Pittsburgh have among the highest unemployment rates and the lowest labor-force
participation rate of 50 of the nation's largest cities."
Absent from this study, and from the policy discussions in Pittsburgh relating to job
guarantees for minorities, is any discussion of qualifications, prior experience, or other
legitimate business reasons that minorities are not "well represented" in the
trades in this city! Nor is there any serious mention of the assumed rationale that
successful, white, male contractors should bear the brunt of bringing these inexperienced
trad workers "up to speed"! (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 03/21/99)
Guarantee for Minority Set-Asides on Stadiums (01/26/99)
Pennsylvania quota-mongers were beside themselves in announcing an unholy coalition to
guarantee contract set-asides for minority businesses pertaining to any stadium
construction in this state. The gleeful officials failed to mention the
constitutional violations involved in denying any portion of this work to 'white-owned
"State Rep. William Robinson has drawn support from two minority groups for his
efforts to ensure that blacks get a share of the work on any new stadium construction in
Pennsylvania. Last night, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western
Pennsylvania and the National Association of Minority Contractors/Black Contractors
Association said they were backing Robinson's legislation, which would mandate that blacks
be hired for a portion of the work.
" 'This is an opportunity for African-American businesses and professionals,'
said Doris Carson Williams, president of the commerce organization. 'In the previous
Renaissance, African-Americans weren't chosen [to participate] to full capacity. This
time, we're looking for more of a role for women and minorities.' "
"Robinson, D-Hill District, and state Rep. Andrew Carn, D-Philadelphia, are
co-sponsoring a package of bills that would attach minority hiring requirements to any
state money for new stadiums. At least $150 million in state funds are being sought for
the two Pittsburgh stadiums." (Post-Gazette, 01/26/99, by Ervin Dyer)
1/3 of Pirates and Steelers Stadium Contracts for Minorities (01/26/99) (dead link)
"Three Pittsburgh consultants will ensure that businesses owned by minorities
or women get more than a third of the [stadium contracts] pie, a redevelopment official
said Monday. Mulugetta Birru, executive director of the Pittsburgh Urban
Redevelopment Authority, introduced the consultants yesterday at a meeting of the African
American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
on the North Side.
" 'We have an opportunity to kick the door down and open it up for all [racial]
groups that have not been included in Allegheny County history,' said county Commissioner
Mike Dawida, advocating the inclusion of minority contracts in the stadium development.
"Clarence Curry, of CFC3 Management Services, has been hired by the Pittsburgh
Stadium Authority to oversee the $809 million plan to build new stadiums for the Pirates
and Steelers and expand the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. As part of
resolutions crafted by the redevelopment and stadium authorities, Curry will see to it
that 25 percent of the work on the stadiums and convention center goes to minority
business owners, and that 10 percent is awarded to women-owned businesses, Birru
said." (Tribune-Review, 01/26/99, by David R. Eltz)
Contractors Excluded from $200 Million in Contracts
Black-owned construction firms are being given an exclusive guarantee of over $200 million
in stadium construction contracts, and they won't have to worry about competition from
white firms, according to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials.
The racial guarantee represents 25% of the total project budget. Women-owned firms
are guaranteed at additional 10%, or $80 million, in contracts. White, male owned
firms are restricted to competing for the remaining $520 million. The minorities and
women are free to compete for any or all of the $800 million in contracts!
Pittsburgh has offered no similar competitive protection to white, male owned construction
Pittsburgh's man in charge of buying the stadium sites and demolishing the old buildings
is Stephen Leeper, who has publicly gone on record promising 25% of the work to
black-owned firms. Clarence Curry, former head of the city's Minority Business
Enterprise Review Committee, is in charge of ensuring that $200 million goes to
blacks. Leeper and Curry publicly depend upon the NAACP, the African-American
Chamber of Commerce, and the Black Contractors Association for advice and guidance in
awarding the contracts to black-owned firms. No mention has been made of seeking
advice from any organizations representing white contractors. (Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette, 01-13-99, by Tom Barnes)
[ link http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/19990113stadiums6.asp
Reading - Racial Cronyism:
Pittsburgh's racial quota mania has been under fire for years due to the racial cronyism
and corruptinon the race-based program invites. But the State of California leads
all other states in its intransigient efforts to enforce racial quotas in spite of passage
into law of Proposition 209 which which mandates an end of racial preferences. (See
Sacramento and San Francisco, below.)
On top of that, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission has released a report which strongly
encourages states such as California, Washington State, and Pennsylvania to continue their
use of dicriminatory racial quota programs regardless of applicable state law, democratic
voter initiatives, or the rampant corruption that such programs invite. (See U.S.
Civil Rights Commission, below.)
Utility Sued for Racial Contracting Set-Asides (June 20, 2000)
Francisco Set-Aside Corruption Investigated by FBI (March 16, 2000)
Right Commission Tells States to Continue Racial Set-Asides (April 12, 2000)
Make another contracting selection,
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