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“The NAMC has taken the path of least resistance in developing a hard-line approach in dealing with the continued catastrophic breakdown of the organization. Special interests, have patronized it members by providing celebratory rhetoric which misleads members to think Contract Compliance is in place and “working,” when in fact the organization is able to meet in the middle of the day during a work hours. If in fact, Contract Compliance were working on a Federal, State and Local level, the NAMC members would be too busy on the jobsites to stop, gather and complain.”
Let’s keep it real…
One of Minnesota’s most heinous violators in Contract Compliance is the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Even with federal regulations, CFR 46-Part 26.1 – that details the objectives Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program that “federally” ensures nondiscrimination in the award and administration of DOT-assisted contracts in the Department’s highway, transit, and airport financial assistance programs; and to create a level playing field on which DBEs can compete fairly for DOT-assisted contracts, the 17 year trend of failure by MnDOT has not been addressed with the means of strategic, covert information targeting and protest by the NAMC.
Secondly, the City of Minneapolis, Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), have been able to “waltz” by contract compliance through the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, whose contract compliance manager, and outgoing MDCR director have be overly lax in being a voice for the community of minority contractors. Newly appointed MDCR director Velma Korbel, might be able to “re-arrange” process and personnel to stop the ongoing awards of non-compliant city contracts going out the door of city hall.
(Above: MDCR employee talks about lack of leadership in the department.) Millions of dollars every year are lost for minority contractors from MnDOT and the City of Minneapolis, due to the “look the other way” process.
The National Association of Minority Contractors has been mute, even under the leadership of now state representative Bobby Jo Champion, who served as executive director of the organization before being elected as state representative (58B).
What will it take, besides an “Act of God” to correct the abandonment of process?
In a letter sent to Salah Tarrah, Lennie Chism, Sharon Banks, Anita Bellant, Elizabeth Campbell, Arlene Elamin, Tim Wagner, Mark Cooper, Jason George Louis King, and Wanda Kirkpatrick – a member of the NAMC speaks candidly about what needs to happen and his suggestions for solutions.
The letter to the President of the NAMC reads (unedited):
As a voting member of the NAMC I found yesterdays meeting very serious, very intense, and very disrespectful to our members, and guests, and to you as well and I will tell you why.
I am a third generation African American construction worker making the transition from heavy equipment operator to owner, and in building my organization I don’t have to tell you how much work is involved, you and the members already know. We have to fight and struggle with the powers that be and then come home (THE MEETING) and have to fight with each other just ain’t gonna work, and you already know that again. Together we stand and divided we fall, many motto’s of unity but they don’t mean a thing if we can’t make them work for us.
Those two Black men in the back of the room Lennie Chism and Donald Allen are leaders in the Black community who say what needs to be said, they ask the tough questions, and they dare to hold organizational and political leaders accountable for their actions. These men are cut from the old Civil Rights Leaders cloth because they remember how hard it was for our families in this country, and in our neighborhoods no matter where you were from, it was the same! Some of those Black leaders names you may know by heart and others we will never know there names but they fought, lived and died not only for Blacks but for all races who were being down trotted, kept back, stepped on, lynched, killed, set on fire, bombed, raped and everything else you can stand to remember, and what some would say at will and those responsible were never even held accountable to this day and given the thumbs up for job well done!
Now we’re in what some want to believe a new era of history because a few have gotten educations, jobs, homes in the suburbs, wealth and doing well know, but that’s not for most, that’s only for a few, and I do mean a few!
What kills me is when a man like Salaah an immigrant can stand up in our meeting and make such ugly, harsh, combative remarks to the point where it seemed like he might even attack the Black men mentioned earlier, is outlandish, insulting, disrespectful and everything else, he even yelled in a disrespectful insulting tone at you, the President of the NAMC!
Salaah didn’t get to where he is because he is so handsome or brilliant he and others like him got to where they are off of the hard work, labor and sacrifice of my people…Blacks, the American Indians, the Hispanics, the Asians, and yes, Whites who knew that the way we all were being mistreated was wrong, and change had to take place or else, it all was going to burn down.
I don’t know if you can really remember back to when you were building your organization, and I don’t know if you had some cash flow but for me I have gotten to where we are by creative means and by not taking the advice of the Salaah Tarrafs, the Tim Kennedys-MEDA, the Elizabeth Campbells-Ryan Companies, I don’t take their advice for a lot of reasons, mainly because they can’t comprehend nor understand the passion and dedication that people like me have when doing what we do! You would think these people would be encouraging you on, offering real assistance to help you get up and going like the Anita Bellants of the world, but by design they feel compelled to talk to you out of it! By design they choose to spin you, see if you will falter, send you to someone who they dam well know can’t help you cause they need some help too, and ain’t got it like they use too!
This is what the Salaah’s of the world do, then stand up and insult two intelligent, articulate Black men who I and others like me, consider to be Giants and Heroes in our community, because they challenge and stand up for us when nobody else will, they stand up and fight for us when we are too tired because we usually busy building our organizations, and they, Lennie Chism and Donald Allen are the ones who will fight for our causes when no one else will, not even the Urban League and NAACP!
The real shame is that these guys ain’t striving to be millionaires!!! They really don’t do it for the money, they do it because they really, really love their people and communities and want to see some real change, just not lip service! One of our Great leaders Fredrick Douglas said when asked what should we do when confronting the White man and holding him accountable to the promise of the American dream he said “Agitate, Agitate, Agitate”! Fredrick Douglas was a Presidential advisor on Black affairs in America.
Carlos, I have talked to some contractors Black, White, Red and everything in between and they say to me that I must be crazy starting up at a economic time like this, because when we started it was economically nice out here! I say, I’m a real entrepreneur, I have no where else to go but up, and I have chosen what I will be doing when I return back to God, and that is creating and building something, contracting and doing business, this is what I have done my entire life!
The fight and the struggle will always be for all of us, and as far as I am concerned those two men should be given honor ray associate memberships for the work they put in advocating for us, because when then win for one of us they win for all of us!
I won’t be as disrespectful to tell a President what to do as my brother Sal aah did the other day, but I will suggest this, we have got to get stronger and place key strategic pieces in place to hold the powers that be accountable for their actions, make them share the wealth, include us, offer us a seat at the table of brotherhood!
And let me say to those who advised me not to create my organization, I forgive you and hold no grudge against you, because some of us see the glass as half empty and some of us see it as half full and if any of you would like to take a change of mind and heart and offer some real assistance and advice my ear and door is open.
Visit my new website and look at what one of your newest members who hasn’t even gotten his first contract is doing, support me, help me get a Mentor- Protege relationship so that I can create jobs and opportunities in our communities!
Lynwood C. Smith
(507) 536 – 7667 office & fax
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Several local non-profit organizations have been awarded funding in the past to address the issues that Mr. Smith has. Some of the organizations have employees on the NAMC board in a hunt for funds, spite the NAMC.
More to come….