Joe Guillen, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 28, 2009
Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones pledged this morning to vote against all future requests for county assistance to fund private construction projects until the county passes legislation to encourage minority hiring by contractors.
Jones’ declaration ignited a heated debate during this morning’s board meeting during which the commissioner accused the county prosecutor’s office of not pursuing the issue.
“There doesn’t seem to be the conviction,” Jones told David Lambert, chief of the prosecutor’s civil division that represents commissioners.
After the meeting, Lambert defended his office, saying federal and state laws prohibit counties from imposing race-based hiring programs of the kind demanded by Jones.
Jones, who graduated from Harvard Law School, said the resolution would not mandate minority hiring quotas, which would be unconstitutional. He added that requiring compliance with the county’s SBE program also is not unconstitutional.