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Orange County Focus

FULLERTON : Subcontractor Policy Debated by Council

September 09, 1993|WILLSON CUMMER

The City Council debated Tuesday whether to end its public policy of encouraging contractors to employ minority, female and disabled veteran subcontractors.

Councilman Chris Norby, whose wife is Chinese, condemned a clause in a city work contract that strongly urges participation of minority groups in city projects.

"I think there are too many racial quotas," Norby said. "Such preferences I think are demeaning to the real accomplishments that people have made."

Norby's comments came during a council discussion of a $150,000 consulting contract for a study of development plans for the city's train station and surrounding area. The council voted 4 to 1, with Norby opposing, to begin looking for a consultant.

But after the meeting, council members disagreed on whether they had decided to remove the contract section that calls for affirmative-action efforts on behalf of minority-, women- and disabled veteran-owned businesses. The section calls attention to state goals for minority-owned business involvement in projects.

"There's no reason for us to change the language in any of our contracts," Councilman Don Bankhead said Wednesday. He said he favors encouraging minority-owned businesses to apply for work with the city.

But Councilman A.B. (Buck) Catlin said he thought the council majority had made a decision to remove the affirmative action language from that document and others in the future. "I think we'll drop it out of those that are drawn out of the general fund," he said.

Most jobs that use state and federal money must contain guidelines to increase minority-owned participation in projects, Redevelopment Director Gary Chalupsky told the council.

"I think the construction industry is pretty much in tune," said Engineering Director Robert Hodson, adding that he does not remember a bidder ever having been rejected because of a lack of minority subcontractor involvement.

"We find that we do get the contractors going out there and attempting to solicit proposals from minority subcontractors," he said.

Hodson and Chalupsky said Wednesday that they believe the council majority did ask them to remove the language from the contract.

Bankhead said he will speak with Mayor Molly McClanahan to make sure the city keeps the minority participation clause in the train station contract.

McClanahan said she is determined to keep the language in city contracts.

"All you have to do is talk to women engineers, who are really a minority. They generally tend to get overlooked," McClanahan said.

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