Rally slams Schaefer over blocked minority contracting study Black firms seek more state work

February 08, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

A group of black business people rallied outside the state office complex on Preston Street in Baltimore yesterday, criticizing Gov. William Donald Schaefer for what it said was his refusal to fund a study of the state's dealings with minority contractors.

"Hey, hey, what do we say, Schaefer's got to pay," chanted about 20 demonstrators, organized by the Metropolitan Maryland Association of Minority Contractors.

The group contends that black business people have gotten less than 1 percent of the state's business over the last four years, in spite of a state law that sets a goal of awarding 10 percent of the value of state contracts of $100,000 or more to minority businesses, association President Robert Clay said.

But even the law setting the nonbinding goals is set to expire next year, said Mr. Clay, who owns a Baltimore land development and construction firm. He said the study is also needed to protect the law against possible constitutional challenges by nonminority firms claiming that discrimination against minority businesses is a thing of the past.

The 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case of City of Richmond vs. J. A. Croson Co. "said you can't do a [minority contracting] program unless you do a study" that shows minority business people continue to suffer effects of discrimination, Mr. Clay said.

A 1991 Maryland law, passed in response to the Croson decision, requires that the study be finished by this November.

Mr. Clay contended that the state Transportation Department was ready to select a contractor to do the study, but Mr. Schaefer cited budgetary reasons for refusing to sign a contract.

Page Boinest, spokeswoman for the governor, confirmed that Mr. Schaefer asked that a motion to award a $750,000 contract to a New York firm to do the study be tabled by the state Board of Public Works on Jan. 26. But she said the issue was that Mr. Schaefer wants to narrow the scope of the study and wants researchers to find out how the goals program has helped minority businesses.

"It's simply a question of them revising the proposal," Ms. Boinest said. "He certainly is committed to doing the study. There's no question about that."

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