Saturday, August 25, 2012

Amos Brown Seeking Answers On Indy's MBE Contracts

The administration of Mayor Greg Ballard claims it has awarded contracts totaling nearly $500 million to minority-owned business enterprises. Radio talk show host Amos Brown has been doggedly trying to pry out of the Ballard administration a breakdown of how that money was spent among different minority groups. Remarkably, city officials responding to a public records request from Brown claim that the the city does not track how much was spent by group, including African-American, Asian and Hispanic. Brown is convinced the city is hiding something from the public in the numbers. Because many minority-owned businesses doing business with the city are also state-certified, Brown searched the state's records and uncovered some anomalies he described as follows in a column he writes for the Indianapolis Recorder:
I downloaded the State of Indiana’s database of certified minority-owned and women-owned businesses. The database is very detailed and includes the classification for the race and/or ethnicity of the 51 percent-plus owners of those certified businesses. Of course, those Indiana certified businesses are also certified by the City of Indianapolis.
The state’s minority business database contains at least 592 African-American-owned businesses – from all around the state, but mostly from here in Indianapolis.
Examining the database, I noticed a few weird things.
An alleged minority-owned business which touts on its website that it is “a minority owned company whose combined heritage goes back over 80 years” is nowhere to be found on the roster.
I found another major business, that has received tens of millions in city contracts, certified as a minority-owned business. But the owner’s race/ethnicity is listed as “Other.”
To my knowledge, the owner of this major contracting and developer business is not African-American, not Asian, not Hispanic, not any race or ethnicity delineated by the federal government or Indiana state government qualified to be a certified minority business enterprise.
The business Brown describes as receiving "tens of millions in city contracts" that has been certified as a minority-owned business by the state under the category "Other" is likely Ersal Ozdemir's Keystone Construction since that is how his minority certification is shown on state records. Ozdemir is a Turkish immigrant. So why would his business qualify as a minority-owned business? In my past research I uncovered the fact that Turks might qualify as minorities for contracting purpose depending on which part of the country they're from. Some parts of Turkey are considered to be part of the Middle East and thus are accorded minority status. It's really splitting hairs and is just further proof of how nonsensical MBE classification has become. Brown is going to try to find the number he wants by requesting every contract included in the city's $500 million figure it says was spent on minority businesses and cross-referencing them with the state's records.

Minority contracting is one of the most abused and corrupt areas of public contracting. Many minority-owned contracts are total shams. Persons who supposedly own a majority interest are mere pawns for politically-connected non-minorities who are simply looking for another leg up over competitors in the public bidding opportunities. The FBI has uncovered this happening with some frequency in Chicago. It happens here in Indiana as well. It's just not investigated. Indiana also doesn't limit minority preferences to disadvantaged businesses. DLZ, an engineering firm that lavishes campaign contributions on politicians all over the state of Indiana and which does business all over the Midwest, is a perfect example. It's classified as a minority business because its majority owner is Asian-Indian, but it is in actuality more advantaged than many non-minority owned engineering firms. Granting preferences to businesses like DLZ or Mays Chemical, which is owned by Bill Mays, is a total sham. These businesses have sales reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars a year. If they can't stand on their own reputation after growing into businesses that large, then something besides the owner's status as a member of a minority ethnic group is wrong.


patriot paul said...

This is an example where we should already have the info via the self-proclaimed 'watchdog' of the failing Indianapolis Star. Won't hold my breath.

Unknown said...

"... further proof of how nonsensical MBE classification has become..."
That is EXACTLY correct! WHY does a certain percentage of contracts HAVE to be awarded to MBE's?
Is that more "entitlements" that were "found" in the Constitution? Why doesn't each company just BID what they can do, and let the job to to the winning bidder.
All of this POLITICAL CORRECTNESS crap is KILLING this country.
My wife owns her own company. It is a "100% female-owned company. But we CERTAINLY do not feel we are "ENTITLED" to any special consideration because of that.
We want to be selected because of the QUALITY of WORK we do, NOT WHO or WHAT we are.

I know said...

Can you say fast three times.....Good Ole Boys, Good Ole Boys, Good Ole Boys?

Amos needs to look at the MBE requirement for Good Ole Boys and he will see where the contracts go.

Welcome to the Indiana sham...nothing new on the state level either.

Citizen Kane said...

When I tell people that Keystone is an MBE firm, they first look at me weird, then they start to appreciate why I've always claimed that MBE/WBE is such a fraud. I always tell people that Erzel is claiming Asian or maybe it is just anther of the many ongoing frauds. Either way it is ridiculous.

And affirmative action in general is designed to simultaneously being patronizing (as liberals like to be) and pointless, as they the vast majority help those who don't need the help. For example, just from a lifetime of observation (it would be interesting to see some stats), those helped most by college admission preferences are the already advantaged black students from two-parent families (think those living in Fishers, Carmel and the outer townships, not the IPS kids of single-parents.

I also see plenty of women become the head of the certain companies (and in some cases they appear to actually be an active participant) only because they would be stupid not to do so because of the WBE designation.