Disparity study talks continue with Augusta commissioners

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News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013

Commission seal

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta commissioners are set to discuss the disparity study at Tuesday night's meeting. The study found what some call discrimination against women and minorities on city contracts.

Some commissioners don't know where to start, while others have their own idea.

"When you ask staff, we get the runaround. We're told it's only as good as the data I get," said Commissioner Joe Jackson.

A judge barred Augusta commissioners from using race or gender programs in the procurement of contracts in 2007. One year later, the disparity study collected data and found minorities and women were awarded only 3 to 8 percent of contracts.

"Any time there is some sort of discrimination, we ought to want to solve that," said Commissioner Marion Williams.

This email could have the answers. DBE Director Yvonne Gentry recommends the city attorney go ask the judge to reverse his decision using the current information.

"I don't know, it's hard to tell. The judge may decide I need six months or a year. He could say I need eight months worth of data," said Commissioner Corey Johnson.

Augusta commissioners could also decide whether to allow the CSRA Business League in on the job. The nonprofit wants to certify companies at a cost of $175,000.

"It bothers me that you have commissioners doing business with the city, and they're sitting there voting, barring other small businesses from doing the same thing," said CSRA Business League CEO Ellis Albright.

Commissioner Joe Jackson says recent talks about the difference between directors and coordinators relates to the study as well. The rules call for one director to head Equal Employment Opportunity and Disadvantage Business Enterprise, but Augusta has two.

"Now we can amend our charter with eight votes, change the charter or follow the charter," Jackson said.

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