Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council OKs Bill on Small Business; Some Express Concerns That Minority Participation Goals Were Extended Only Four Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council OKs Bill on Small Business; Some Express Concerns That Minority Participation Goals Were Extended Only Four Years

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY KELLI PALKA and DANA TREEN, The Times-Union

After months of debate, the Jacksonville City Council voted 14-4 Tuesday night for a new plan for awarding city contacts to small businesses.

This plan sets aside 20 percent of all city contracts for companies that qualify as small businesses under the new city law. But for the first four years, the participation goals currently in place for minority and women-owned businesses will remain.

Among a dozen public speakers, several minority contractors said the new plan was an improvement, though there was a concern that four years was not a long enough transition.

The Rev. George Harvey Jr. of Mount Charity Baptist Church said African-Americans who will be affected by the plan have disproportionately suffered from inequities.

"Do all you can to ensure justice," he told council members before the vote.

The plan was one of Mayor John Peyton's goals for his first year of office. Earlier in the year, Peyton put together a committee to study the issue and make recommendations for a new plan. Councilman Lad Daniels, who was council president at the time, tasked a council committee to also review the issue.

In addition, a group of white and minority contractors, along with African-American pastors, worked together to propose their own deal. Few of those details ended up in the final bill.

Daniels said Tuesday the bill would improve the likelihood of minority business success.

"What we're doing is making it easier to do business with this city," he said.

Council members Lake Ray, Faye Rustin, Glorious Johnson and Daniel Davis voted against the bill.

In back and forth discussions that brought up injustices and slavery, Ray questioned if the program would be effective.

"Does this really solve the problem or does it keep the problem going? …

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