Convention Center & Charity Should Contracts Should Be Let to Black Companies
By Jeff Thomas
The Convention Center Hotel and the redevelopment of the Charity Hospital site in New Orleans have the potential to transform our city into the greatest place to live for all of us. These two projects will transfer over a billion dollars of public money into the hands of private citizens. This transference will create generational wealth that can be used for more development in our city. For centuries in our city, 99.9% of generational wealth transforming government contracts issued by the city of New Orleans have gone to white people. And for centuries New Orleans’ black communities have been plagued by inequity, inequality, crime and rampant poverty. This is no coincidence.
Trite is the expression – The definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing yet expect a different result. Equally tiresome is the saying that poverty is the root cause of criminal activity. Despite our claims of full comprehension of these maxims, we continue to lock black people out of contracts that can transfer generational wealth into the black community. This creates a generational poverty.
We use disguised rhetoric to uplift people who have long benefitted from government largesse as competent and experienced yet vilified the poor and claim they lack the qualifications to participate in major economic development projects. Again, for the last 300 years in New Orleans, 99.9% of major economic development projects have gone to white people.
Let’s examine what happened when lightning struck, and African Americans were granted generation changing government contracts. The garbage contracts received by Richard’s Disposal and Metro Disposal were described as fraudulent and corrupt, and we were sternly warned of the dangers involved in allowing unqualified people handle trach pick up was both preposterous and irresponsible. The attempts to smear the good names of two of our city’s most reputable and respected businessmen was spectacular. We were told that we’d see trash in the streets and people might die. Instead, these two companies have served our citizens extremely well and continue to expand business in the black community.
The Convention Center wants to give away nearly a billion dollars to developers who have done nothing to uplift the majority community in our city. Under their watch poverty has risen. And you know too well the effect of poverty on crime. And the same is true for the developers of the Charity site.
Since these projects will be the recipients of New Orleans based tax dollars, let’s grant the contracts based upon the diversity of the city. So, 65% of the value of the contract will be placed with a qualified African American company and 35% will go to the white company. Your own bias has probably kicked in and you are thinking, “What African American company can be expected to be able to handle this much money and successfully complete either of these two projects? The propaganda machine is cranking up now. “We just cannot find any qualified company!” or “Expecting a small inexperienced company to successfully complete these projects would just be setting them up for failure and these projects can not afford to stall or fail.”
“At the end of the day, this board has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of the city of New Orleans to give this project to a company that has a demonstrated capacity to fulfill this contract.”
You see that is the definition of insanity.