Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bosley's Role: Back Women, Minorities Mayor Defends Push for `Cultural Diversity'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bosley's Role: Back Women, Minorities Mayor Defends Push for `Cultural Diversity'

Article excerpt

Trying to rebut criticism of how he is running the city, Freeman Bosley Jr. said Tuesday that his role as the first black mayor is to bring more minorities and women into the business of making St. Louis work.

"It's easy to be critical," Bosley said in an interview in his office on the second floor of City Hall.

In the interview, Bosley defended his actions that include:

Giving a quarter of city supply contracts to minority-owned firms. His critics, including several aldermen, say the move violates a Supreme Court ruling that bars giving contracts simply on the basis of a minority status.

Firing 40 firefighters believed to live outside the city. "I'm a firm believer that anybody at the public trough should live in the city," he said.

Failing to sign 13 bills and allowing them to become law without his approval. That slip came just months after he signed a burglar-alarm bill that he said he wanted to veto.

Bosley said that as the city's first black mayor, he wants to give minorities a chance at city business. In September, he ordered the city's supply commissioner to push firms bidding on contracts to split their jobs with minority firms.

"Being the first African-American mayor, part of my job is to work on issues of cultural diversity and inclusion for those people who have an ability to participate," Bosley said. "I think that minorities and women have long been qualified to do a lot of things and, for whatever reason, they were generally not given the opportunity."

Even though Supply Commissioner Roy Mackey has notified bidders that minority participation is a requirement, Bosley said firmly that the move is merely a goal.

Such a requirement would violate the U.S. Supreme Court's 1989 ruling in the City of Richmond vs. Croson. That decision held that such practices are discriminatory to white-owned firms. The decision requires cities to first prove discrimination and then to determine if there are enough minority firms to fulfill those goals.

Bosley said a new city study by Jones and Strong of Atlanta, which costs $462,000, is tracking both issues. He said he has seen the study but will not make it public for at least two weeks. …

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