The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce (OAACC) and Post News Group joined with District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor to host a town hall to discuss ways to mitigate local contracting disparities.
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, and the staff of District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife also joined the town hall meeting to add their support for full implementation of the plan to bring a more equitable distribution of the city’s contracting dollars.
A direct response to the city’s 2017 Disparities Study, conducted by Mason Tillman Associates, showed more than $56M in lost contract dollars for the Black community during the five-year study period. The purpose of the town hall was to receive community input on potential solutions, including Taylor’s Local Business Empowerment Through Contracting (LBETC) Resolution & Ordinance.
While the resolution was passed unanimously during the Council’s meeting on January 12, questions of financial and operational impact delayed the ordinance’s second reading to this week’s council meeting. Co-sponsored by District 7 Councilmember Treva Reid, the ordinance was also unanimously approved by the councilmembers present in a 7-0 vote, following immense public support mobilized by OAACC President Cathy Adams prior to and during the council meeting.
Taylor thanked the OAACC and the many groups and individuals who urged transparent and regular public reporting of all contracts, even those that are awarded at staff’s discretion for amounts less than $50,000 without council approval.
Taylor said quick action is required because, “Our local diverse business owners are currently missing out on millions of dollars in city contracting opportunities. There is still much work to do moving forward.”
Paul Cobb, publisher of the Post, said “We will regularly publish the names and amounts of all contracts awarded to companies and individuals. With diligent monitoring we can reverse the drain of Oakland’s tax dollars and reverse the cashflow characteristics to help create jobs for Oakland residents.”