The Fair Contracting Coalition worked for 6 years, primarily with the Hispanic Chamber, on the historic report card released March 9, 2017. This is a nation's first report card issued to the leaders of public supported agencies based on how well they worked with small, minority, women and Veteran businesses. Attending and bravely addressing the audience at the report card event included representatives and CEOs from the San Antonio Housing Authority (Grade B), VIA (Grade C), and University Health Systems (Grade F).
Despite the fact, the chambers all receive membership and sponsorship support from the majority of the public agencies; they boldly stood together and told the truth. The truth may hurt, but it appeared on this day, the participants stood unified in their message that there is so much more the public agencies can do and should do to support their majority minority business community.
F grades or failing grades were received by half or 50% of the agencies to include: Alamo Community Colleges District (again not a surprise, as the Observer has targeted the Chancellor Bruce Leslie as the major reason for failure), San Antonio ISD, Texas A&M San Antonio, University Health Systems and Edwards Aquifer Authority.
The other failures for declining to participate and being “non-responsive” were the North East ISD, North Side ISD, and Bexar County. Christopher Herring, the Chairman for the Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce called this non-responsive position “unacceptable”. He stated, “All publicly supported agencies should be transparent, and should want to comply with the request to give more information.” During the closing of the press conference, the audience started strategizing to which Board of Trustees they should meet with to tell them they were personally disappointed in their decision.
The big winner was Port San Antonio with an A grade. Brooks City Base and the San Antonio Housing Authority received a B grade. As it pertains to the City of San Antonio, who we also give a hard time received a B grade. Michael Sindon, Assistant Director of the Economic Development Department spoke to the fact the city went from only 10% spend to Small, Minority, and Women, Business Enterprise in 1991 to 45% in 2016. While he cited overall improvements, we found the trends supported improvements for Hispanic and Asian businesses overwhelmingly as the reason for the growth. Black businesses, under the 12 years of Sheryl Sculley as City Manager have the worst ever record low spending and represented 1% of the total spend in 2016. (Thank-you for all your feedback to the last two weeks of coverage – so many of you knew it was Skim Milk bad, but never thought one San Antonio Spur player – Danny Green - made more than all Black businesses combined for 2016 with the City of San Antonio).
SAWS, UTSA and VIA Metropolitan finished with a glowing C. Jeffrey Ardnt, President and CEO of VIA, talked to the audience and stated that purchasing a few buses at a heavy price tag lowered his numbers and overall letter grade. He said he expected to increase his score next year for sure.
The sole D grade was owned by the CPS Energy, the largest municipally owned energy company. While CPS Energy has a rich history of participation on chamber of commerce boards, their low grade was by no means marked higher or influenced. In fact, Chairman of the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce, Deborah Omowale, reported at press time that CPS Energy contacted her chamber this week and indicated the CEO, Paula Gold-Williams would be responsive to understanding and discussing ways for her agency to improve.