More teeth needed in minority participation ordinance

April 16, 2015

The Milwaukee Department of Administration Office of Small Business Development Committee, chaired by Second District Ald. Joe Davis, Sr. held a hearing Monday at City Hall to address the city’s current unenforceable ordinance (Chapter 370) requiring minority participation in city projects utilizing public funds. Committee members pictured (l – r) are: Ald. Tony Zelenski, Ald. Willie Wade, Ald. Joe Davis, Ald. Russell Stamper, II and Ald. Jose Prez.


By: Steve Waring
Special to the Milwaukee Times

Vendors doing business with the city of Milwaukee will be reminded that they are required to utilize certified minority-owned small businesses as subcontractors if they use public funds. The decision will also include informal, unannounced inspections of construction sites and another attempt by the Common Council to implement a currently unenforced ordinance requiring minority participation in city projects utilizing public funds. In addition, all city department heads will be expected to utilize minority businesses.
The decision was announced at the conclusion of a regular meeting on April 13 chaired by the Hon. Joe Davis, Sr., of the Department of Administration Office of Small Business Development, one of the permanent boards of the Milwaukee Common Council. Mr. Davis is also Alderman of District 2. His announcement was made following testimony by Nathan Conyers, one of the founders of The Milwaukee Times Weekly Newspaper.
During his testimony Mr. Conyers referred to Chapter 370, an ordinance which was approved in 2012 and which among its requirements includes one requiring the city to allocate approximately 6 percent of annual construction funds to certified minority-owned firms. The ordinance was quietly abandoned a few months after it was passed when it was determined to be too difficult to enforce.
“Today I would be interested in learning what the council has been doing to develop a more effective version of Chapter 370,” Mr. Conyers said… “I believe that the program has failed and will continue to fail until you as aldermen put some teeth in [the ordinance] and let people know you mean business.”
The renewed pledge to tour the construction sites and make another attempt at passing an enforceable version of Chapter 370 came from Alderman Davis, who told Mr. Conyers that he would personally be making surprise inspections to various city construction sites, and that the Milwaukee Common Council would also begin compiling a comprehensive list of all spending on outside services by sub department managers.