Too much money for 1 minority business

By Sherri L. Jackson

Publisher of The Light,

In February 2009, Mayor Jaques Roy maintained that Von Jennings, his assistant in charge of devloping and implementing a program designed tohelp minority-owned businesses acquire city contracts, was failing at her job.

In November 2009, it appears Roy is suggesting that the city’s program is working too well. Alexandria Fairness, Equality, Accessibility and Teamwork, or AFEAT, is the program for which I am speaking.

You’ll remember that Roy claimed that Jennings was not doing enough to  make sure people of color had an opportunity to do business with the city.

Therefore, I’m in complete shock that the mayor, or someone who is in his inner circle, is claiming that $71,000 is too much money for any one minority business owner to receive for work done with the city.

That’s the only excuse I can muster up to justify the reasons behind the argument that the Council, specifically Council President Myron lawson may have unlawfully spent more than $70,000 with Boutee’s Catering of Alexandria, who is ready, willing and able to do business with the city.

Come on people! It’s not like all of the money was spent so that the Council could party into the wee hours of the night every week.

The taxpaying public benefitted from money spent. More than $6,500 went toward the Louisiana Municipal Association convention. Another $8,500 was allocated to feed the Grambling State Univerwsity band during February’s  Mardi Gras parade, and nearly $10,000 went for the December 2008 City Council inauguration.

It seems to me that the rules keep on changing. When minorities meet the cirteria to do business with the city, it seems that getting too much business was never a part of the deal.

I’ve always said that it’s easy to talk about the rules and the proper bidding process when it comes to people of color. The majority don’t make the rules for themselves. They make the rules so that they can enforce them when it’s convenient.

Yes, $70,000 sounds like a lot of money. It sure does when it does not happen every day. Besides, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands upon thousands of dollars that other businesses have been receiving since the City of Alexandria was incorported in the early 1800s.

One Response

  1. Dear Sherri,

    I can assure you that Mayor Roy does not believe and has never implied that the A.F.E.A.T. program is working “too well,” whatever that is intended to suggest.

    The program is working very well, to be sure, and the City has made tremendous progress in expanding opportunities for small, emerging, minority and women-owned businesses; indeed, Roy’s program has tripled, if not quadrupled, the business the City conducts with minority-owned businesses during the last three years and is very close to meeting A.F.E.A.T.’s initial aspirational goals. Those are the facts, despite what his opponents imply, and I’m certain this information could be provided to you more definitively, if you cared to request it.

    I am not sure who, exactly, you believe to be in the Mayor’s “inner-circle,” but I have never heard or read anything from anyone in the Mayor’s administration that even implied the story about catering bills was actually about the City’s “business” with minority-owned businesses. I know the Mayor considers Ms. Boutee to be a friend and a talented chef.

    You’re making a bold allegation here: You’re suggesting that the public outcry over exorbitant City Council catering bills (a 400% increase) during a down-turned economy, an expense you suggest could be unlawful, has been defined by the Mayor and members of his “inner-circle” (despite the fact that he has the most diverse administration in the history of the City) as a symptom of his Diversity in Action program, the first ever in the City, somehow working “too well.”

    With all due respect, that is ridiculous and a complete fabrication, among other things, and again, I am certain the facts could be easily discovered by anyone who bothered to take more than a glancing look.

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