Rev. Jackson to Lead Effort Seeking More Work for Black Contractors

Demetrius Patterson, Chicagodefender.com, July 17, 2006

In an effort to gain some parity in the issuance of government contracts, Rainbow PUSH Coalition President Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and group of minority contractors announced Saturday that they will be filing a lawsuit against the city, Cook County and the state.

With hundreds of millions of dollars awarded this year alone in the city, county and state governments, Jackson said that simply not enough has been done to award minority contractors their fair share of the business.

“When you see the lack of state, county and city jobs going to minority contractors, there are patterns of denial that violate equal protection under the law,” Jackson told the Defender Sunday. “There are also signs or racism toward minority and women contractors, and there are signs of corruption.

“We must now review a process (of awarding contracts) through the court of law. The governor, the county commissioners and the mayor are not protecting our rights.”

As an example, Jackson said Chicago contracts awarded to African Americans dropped to 9 percent within the last year.

In Cook County, prime contracts awarded to minority business enterprise contractors and women business enterprise contractors dipped 17 percent from 26 percent since the county’s set-aside program was rendered unconstitutional in 2000. And contract numbers for minority and women construction contractors are even more drastic, Jackson said, dropping from 23 percent to 1.7 percent.

On the state level, the state has awarded $600 million for the Dan Ryan reconstruction project, but African Americans have only been rewarded about $40 million worth of contracts for the project, Jackson said. Women received about $29 million and Hispanics received about $13 million.

“When you look at that, and the fact that we are locked out of the trade schools and out of the unions, lack of such prime jobs creates high unemployment, a low tax base and high crime rate in our communities,” Jackson said. “We are being trapped in the politics of economic scarcity.

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