The City Council will consider today whether companies that do business with the city and need subcontractors must attempt to hire minority-owned firms.
Councilman Chris Norby condemned an affirmative action clause two weeks ago when the council was discussing a contract for development of the train station. That clause tells contractors to "make every effort to include" businesses owned by minorities and women. It also requires bidders to explain any rejection of proposals from minority subcontractors.
"This policy, which the staff has used, does put a little burden on the contractors," Norby said. He also said that racial quotas detract from the achievements of minorities.
"We want to make sure that the bidding process is open," said Mayor Molly McClanahan, who supports having an affirmative action policy that would apply to all contracts with the city.
McClanahan said the policy, which would be derived from state and federal contracts, would work to encourage minority participation.
Norby said he wants to replace the current policy with a new one stating: "Bids shall be rewarded without regard to race, sex, religion or disability."
The city has always operated that way, according to engineering director Robert Hodson. He said he has never known a contractor to be rejected because of a lack of minority subcontractors.
The council also will consider a plan by the Bicycle Users Subcommittee to create 78 miles of bike routes. Some of the routes would be along city streets, but 19 miles would be off-street bike trails.
Council and city staff members said they wonder whether residents will turn out at today's meeting to complain about the Police Department's use of pepper spray to disperse 300 students at a rally last week.
City Atty. R.K. Fox said no one has filed any claims against the city for damages suffered during the melee.
"We had a few protesters make complaints at the front desk," said Lt. Jeff Roop. He said that is not unusual when officers make arrests at a rally.