Most Popular Stories
Discover News By District
Saldaña, Garcia to present scorecard today Armed with its own scorecard of the citys record, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce plans to make its displeasure with the City of Austins progress in meeting its goals on awarding contracts to minority- and women-owned business enterprises ( MBE/WBE) at todays meeting of the Councils MBE/WBE Subcommittee.
Hispanic Chamber Board Member Paul Saldaña and former Mayor Gus Garcia plan a presentation to the subcommittee pointing out that, according to the city’s own numbers, it has failed to meet its goals in several categories over the past four years.“With the growing number of minority and women-owned businesses in the greater Austin area, our community and members are prepared to assume a leadership role in helping to shape the local economic landscape of our city,” Saldaña wrote in recent letter to the city. “We cannot however be successful, unless we have the full participation and support of governmental agencies such as the City of Austin.“ Saldaña and Garcia will quote from a chart the Hispanic Chamber put together, showing that from 2002 through March 2005, the city has failed or is failing to meet its MBE/WBE participation goals, in some cases by a substantial margin. For the three full years and partial 2005, the city did not meet its average goal of 11.75 percent MBE participation or 12 percent WBE participation, according to the Hispanic Chamber. MBEs and WBEs did do well above the stated goals in two categories, Construction and Professional contracts. For example, in 2004, MBEs were awarded 16.47 percent of the $262 million available for construction contracts, beating the city’s goal of 12.90 percent. Likewise, in the same year, WBEs received 14.07 percent of the construction contracts, with a goal of 12.60 percent In 2003, the city awarded MBEs 21.9 percent of some $95 million available in professional contracts, with a goal of 16.50 percent. WBEs also exceeded the goal for that year, getting 20.8 percent of the contracts with a goal of 14.20 percent. But the Hispanic Chamber’s numbers also show that in some categories, the city falls far below its goals in all the years charted. For example, in Commodities, the city’s MBE goal is 3.50 percent and WBEs is 6.20 percent. In 2003, those numbers were 1.65 and 3.05 percent, respectively—the highest numbers of the four years studied by the Hispanic Chamber. Council Member Betty Dunkerley serves on the City council's MBE/WBE Subcommittee. Prior to her election to the Council, Dunkerley served as an assistant city manager and oversaw a minority hiring programs. Dunkerley noted that contracts in each of the areas highlighted–construction, commodity, nonprofessional and professional services–is awarded in a different way. "There are not many subcontracting opportunities in commodities or nonprofessional services, " she said. The city is required to take the low bid for commodities, construction contracts and non professional services, she said. Professional services contracts are awarded as a result of requests for proposals or qualifications. Dunkerley also pointed out that the percentage of contract funds being awarded to women construction contractors in FY 2004 was more than double the amount awarded in FY 2002 and FY 2003. The reason that the city was able to improve its performance in the construction arena with respect to women and minority contractors, she said, is because of the large number of subcontracting opportunities. "We continue to try to find ways to create opportunities for women and minority vendors," Dunkerley said, “even though we fall short." She pointed out that the city has goals rather than target numbers it is required to meet. Such a scheme would not pass muster under various state and federal laws. Board members of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) could be asked to vote next year on a preferred land use scenario for long-term growth. Instead of a preferred list of specific projects like the agency’s traditional 25-year plan, the “preferred growth concept” would be closer in format to the vision statement adopted by Envision Central Texas. The population and land-use scenario could then affect the agency’s next 25-year plan, scheduled for adoption in just under five years. “I think what we’re doing is basically moving that land use scenario from a technical staff process, which is what’s been done in the past, to a more open public participation process in trying to determine what the growth pattern will be in the year 2035. Groups such as LiveableCity and Envision Central Texas have done a lot of that,” said CAMPO Executive Director Michael Aulick. “We’ve been looking at what other MPO’s (Metropolitan Planning Agencies) across the country have been doing as best practices.” When putting together the CAMPO 2030 plan for specific roadway projects, the agency extrapolated future demand based on documented historical trends. “That forecast is based on trends that show mostly low-density development happening on the fringes of Austin, with obviously some of that occurring over the aquifer,” said CAMPO Senior Planner Stevie Greathouse. “So in order to start looking at a different system, you really need to start looking at different demographics as well.” Greathouse pointed to national studies showing that adopting guidelines promoting dense, mixed-use development along with mass-transit can reduce the number of miles an average driver travels each year. “Our model,” she said, “is not sensitive to changes in land use. We still continue to assume that the average distance that folks travel will be the same regardless of what the land use looks like, and that the average number of people who ride a bus or walk or drive would look the same.” CAMPO’s Technical Advisory Committee is convening a Growth Subcommittee this month to begin work on a selecting a consulting firm to help develop a new growth concept. The full CAMPO Board could vote on that consultant in February of 2006, which would be followed by a series of community workshops over the summer and the approval of the concept by CAMPO by the end of the year. “We need to look at land use as a way to reduce vehicle miles traveled,” concluded CAMPO Executive Director Michael Aulick. “All large MPO’s are dealing with this problem.” ©2005 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved. Pierce files designation of treasurer . . . Place 6 candidate Darrell Pierce has a pair of well-known Austinites to keep track of his campaign donations. Former Mayor Lee Cooke and former Mayor Pro Tem Charles Urdy will share the job. Pierce, the owner of SNAP Management Group, told In Fact Daily that he has won the support of every living former Place 6 Council member since Berl Handcox (1971-1974). Political consultants Peck Young, Albert Black and Jack Goodman are serving as advisers to the campaign and Wardalee Belvin will do fundraising . . . Changing her name . . . City Clerk Shirley Brown is now officially Shirley Gentry. She married Rob Gentry this weekend in Las Vegas. Best wishes to both of them . . . Wynn fundraiser tonight . . . There will be a fund-raiser for Mayor Will Wynn from 5:30-6:30pm today at 219 West . . . Meetings . . . The Council Public Health and Human Resources Subcommittee meets at 2:30pm in Room 1101 at City Hall. Following that meeting, the Council's MBE/WBE Subcommittee meets at 4:30pm in room 1101 at City Hall (See story above.) . . . The Planning Commission meets at 6pm in the Council Chamber at City Hall . . . The Water and Wastewater Commission meets in a special called meeting at 2pm at Waller Creek Plaza . . . The Travis County Commissioners meet at 9am in Commission Chambers at 314 W. 11th St. . . . The Williamson County Commissioners meet at 9:30am in the Pct. 3 JP Courtroom on Inner Loop Dr. in Georgetown . . . His day in court . . . Austin State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, the plaintiff in a case challenging the state's 2003 redistricting plan, says he's gratified but cautious about the case going to the Supreme Court. He said he the court will "either reinstate the 2001 map or send this map back to the legislature with orders to start over. But, given that this is a very political court, we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope they don't use this as an opportunity to set a precedent that says no amount of political chicanery is too much when it comes to redistricting." . . . Kim meets with Barton Creek group . . . Council Member Jennifer Kim met Monday with members of the Save Barton Creek Association in a wide-ranging conversation that included water rights, SH 130 development and AMD's planned office development over the aquifer. In response to a question, Kim told the group that she neither endorses nor opposes the AMD project, but was strongly encouraged by several members to publicly remind AMD of the city's stated goal of having no major employers locate over the aquifer. She did say that she would consider asking the city manager to study the cost and complexity of implementing the recently developed Regional Water Quality guidelines and said she was particularly interested in its proposal of transferring development rights to protect sensitive areas. . . . Chandler Road change . . . Williamson County Commissioners plan a public hearing today over a proposed name change for Chandler Road to University Road. Several groups have opposed the change, citing the cost involved, but several commissioners feel that the change will reflect recent changes in that part of the county. . . Get one for the kids, too . . . Independent candidate for Governor Kinky Friedman began running TV ads in the state's largest media markets on Monday, touting the Kinkster's new "Action Figure" doll, which comes pre-loaded with a slew of campaign slogans and other quips from the candidate. Just pull the string and cover your kids' ears. You can have you very own copy for just $30. Check out his campaign website for details. . . And finally . . . The Bond Election Advisory Committee Public Hearing originally scheduled for last Thursday will be at 7pm tonight at Town Lake Center, 721 Barton Springs Road, Room 130.
Join Your Friends and Neighbors
We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?