Minority Contractors Halt City Project

Matt Flener, KXAN-TV (Austin), April 30, 2010

African American and Hispanic contractors in Austin said the city is not including them in big projects in town.

Thursday, they pitched a major protest in front of the Austin City Council more than a $67 million Austin Energy project.

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But Mele [said Austin Energy Deputy General Manager Cheryl Mele] and other Austin Energy staff faced major resistance from the Austin City Council Thursday.

“I don’t believe it’s appropriate to award this today,” said Austin Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Martinez.

Martinez and council member Sheryl Cole led a postponement of the contract because both the African American and Hispanic Contractors Associations in town felt they were left out of the $67 million contract.

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Austin has a law on the books saying contractors have to meet certain goals to include minorities, women and small businesses in construction projects in town.

The groups said no participation goals were met by the contractor, DPR Construction.

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So the council will keep the existing center in Downtown Austin at least until Austin Energy staff comes back with more answers by May 27.

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And that future Austin Energy building will sit in East Austin waiting to include more people to remodel it.

“I think today was a win for the entire city,” said Fuentes.

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