Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bosley Orders Review of Firm's Minority Status

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bosley Orders Review of Firm's Minority Status

Article excerpt

Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. on Tuesday ordered an internal review of how the city gave preferred status for minority contracting work to a firm owned by the father of one of Bosley's assistants.

"At that time we can determine if any additional action is necessary," Bosley said.

The mayor denied that the company got favorable treatment from his office.

"That is not the way we do things in this administration," Bosley said. "I certainly did not have anything to do with the certification; no influence whatsoever."

The review will focus on whether the firm - Climate Engineering Corp. of Webster Groves - really qualifies for minority status. Some local minority contractors and one former city official have raised questions about whether Climate is run on a day-to-day basis by blacks and whether it has made too much money to qualify.

The program for businesses operated by minorities and women is aimed at helping disadvantaged companies.

Climate, a mechanical contractor said to earn $10 million annually, employs 100 workers. Harold Antoine Sr. owns 51 percent; his son is Harold Antoine Jr., an aide to Bosley.

The elder Antoine has another job: general manager of the Human Development Corp., an anti-poverty agency that administers $13 million a year in federal funds.

Climate's minority status rests largely on the company's being owned and managed daily by Antoine, a black man who bought it with two white employees last year.

Some local minority contractors say they're worried that if Climate keeps its minority status, it will take a big bite from the 25 percent of city contracts set aside for such firms.

The minority contractors aren't the only ones finding problems with Climate's status. Brian Murphy, whom former Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. appointed as the city's minority compliance chief, delayed Climate's request for minority status last summer.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Debby Silverberg, president of a local flooring company, said she was incensed that the city granted Climate the minority status despite its $10 million-a-year revenue. …

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