One of the most important business press conferences occurred on March 9, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas at the Atlas Body Shop. Atlas Body Shop had been denied repeatedly in their contracting attempts with Bexar County.
The first ever Report Card was issued in front of a full room and San Antonio’s news media to account for16 Public Agencies that receive tax payer funding by leaders of the chamber of commerce, Neighborhood First Alliance, LULAC and the Fair Contractors Coalition. Under the direction of TC Calvert Sr. and Ramiro Cavazos, the group rallied their protest under the Fair Contractors Coalition or FCC umbrella.
“It was the first time I have seen the Alamo Asian Chamber, San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber, the Alamo City Black Chamber, to include the Christian Chamber, come together and advocate for full accountability of the spending patterns of our public agencies” said Chairman of the Christian Chamber Michael Berlanga.
The stakes are pretty high to publish this type of report. According to organizer, TC Calvert, the FCC believed the agencies were “all guilty of discrimination practices within contracting. We have seen this stuff before, and now we need to see change.” It was noted by several speakers, “the Report Card is a living document” which mean agencies can improve.
TC Calvert Sr., the beloved community organizer of Neighborhood First Alliance, stated he had the pleasure to work with tree shakers. Tree Shakers are defined as people who put the mission first and will shake apple trees so fruit will fall to the ground for the people. He continued in his motivational sermon to state the audience had apple pickers too. He defined apple pickers as the ones who play it safe and would clear the ground of the fruit of those skilled at shaking trees. He asked “what are you, an apple picker or a tree shaker?” He commended his partner, Ramiro Cavazos, President and CEO of San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for being bold in their stance to do the right thing.
Photos by Janice Evans, Eva Leigh Photography
Not surprisingly, Bexar County was named as the agency that was on the center of the bull’s-eye for change. Calvert stated clearly, he didn’t like giving his son, County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, Jr. a failing grade. He stated that Judge Nelson Wolff, Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez, Paul Elizondo, and Kevin Wolff need to wake up as we want to know what Bexar County is doing to fix the disparity that exist in county contracting. Audience participants polled by the Observer showed there was great dissatisfaction of Bexar County for refusing to participate in the survey. An unidentified participant stated “it’s time for Judge Wolff to step down if he cannot get his commissioner’s court to act appropriately. Discrimination in business is a huge allegation for Bexar County.” Just to note, in the last Bexar County Disparity Study, discrimination was overwhelmingly supported. Perhaps this laissez faire attitude is why the Spurs Sport & Entertainment deal for a new AT&T Center has been mismanaged and policy not enforced by Bexar County. Bexar County fails to provide accountability to the minority business goals discussed over a decade ago on the East Side.
The Observer reported out of $460,000,000 spent by the City of San Antonio in 2016, not one dime of $20 Million was spent with a Black business in the category of Goods and Supply. The Observer said “SHOCKING”, however the various directors spend as they see fit without seeing tax payers as real, diverse working people.
The ISDs or Independent School Districts escaped the journalism of every reporter connected to the historic event. The News (Channel 4, 29, TPR Radio, and Express News) failed to document the Report Card “F grades” received by our education agencies. The community leaders were quick to note that when bonds are being solicited for support, ISD are not shy to ask you for millions of dollars to support their bond projects. It is also a trend for the ISDs to use the same large white companies, especially in construction, to build new additions without ever thinking about subcontracting with minority firms. One attendee stated, “In the North, the tax money is recycled in non-minority hands as the absolute rule.”
If you missed the historic event, you can watch more below. We launched a separate column called the Report Card to see what the 16 agencies are going to do to improve their scores and commitment to our community. You can find the Report Card Column
by clicking HERE.