The City Council Committee on Contracts voted unanimously to approve a bill that would amend the New York City charter to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) to procure city contracts. The unanimous approval from the committee bodes well for the bill’s passage, although Rev. Jacques Andre De Graff, who is helping lead a coalition of M/WBE businesses that support the legislation, was merely “cautiously optimistic”. De Graff is still concerned that some people view the legislation as a “social program.”
“It is not a social program, I have to continuously repeat that because a lot of folks don’t get that,” De Graff said. “One thing we don’t want to do is lower qualifications. What we are asking to do is [for the city to] be inclusive in [their] outreach to qualified firms, nothing more nothing less.”
De Graff also noted that the rebuilding centered around Hurricane Sandy has added an element of urgency for M/WBE groups to be involved in the recovery efforts.
“Sandy, when you have a declaration of emergency in city and state you suspend a number of regulations and aspirations, so M/WBE goals get suspended in emergency declarations,” he said. “It gives the city greater incentive and motivation to include [M/WBEs] in the rebuilding and recovery, not only in the rapid repair [program] but in the dollars to come.”
A spokesperson for the City Council said the bill will be voted on by the Council at 1 p.m. today.