Commissioners feud over disparity, discrimination

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email

A non-profit has been trying to make a deal with the city of Augusta to send more work to small and minority businesses. Augusta Commissioners turned down the CSRA Business league proposal.

It's an issue that's become racially and emotionally charged. "It bothers me that you have commissioners doing business with the city, and they're sitting their voting, barring other small businesses from doing the same thing," said CSRA Business League CEO Ellis Albright.

He is talking about commissioners Wayne Guilfoyle, Joe Jackson and Grady Smith. He's concerned because those three voted against working with his company to find ways to increase business with women and minorities. All this following a disparity study that shoes Augusta could be doing more.

"This has nothing to do with the disparity study. The disparity study is done within the city. Have any of my colleagues reached out to talk about this no," said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

"Clearly people don't want to have a discussion about real issues. If we continue in denial, we won't get to the bottom of the issue," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

The issue is the discrimination against women and minorities found on city contracts, according to a 2009 disparity study. A judge stopped the city from using a race or gender program and that's where Mr. Albright comes in.

"We want to be a certifying agency. We want to insure and be the agency that allows everybody to be get contracts in the city of Augusta," said Albright.

The vote to allow Mr. Albright and Russel to talk about the one year $175,00o plan failed 5 to 4. The vote also failed to receive the presentation.

"I voted to adjourn, because we were at each others throat on a few issues," said Commissioner Grady Smith.

Mr. Albright says the back and forth is alright, as long as commissioners do the right thing and bring his company on board.

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