Women and minority policy idling

The City of Rockford’s proposed women and minority procurement policy remains at the committee level. City of Rockford Legal Director Patrick Hayes said the city’s Codes and Regulations Committee intended to get the policy to the council floor during the June 5 meeting.

But, Hayes said, since more changes than anticipated were made, Committee Chairman Ald. Frank Beach (R-10) said it needed to go through the normal channels and be read in at the June 12 meeting.

Ironically, Ald. Ann Thompson (D-7), the policy’s champion, moved to scuttle the document because of the changes, according to Ald. Patrick Curran (R-2). Thompson said Curran was responsible for the changes.

“(He) was making changes while he talked,” Thompson said.

Curran said he only advocated two changes to the policy. He said the 25 percent minority and 5 percent minority participation goal was eliminated. Instead, Curran said, a goal would be instituted after the policy’s effectiveness had been monitored for a year.

He also said charging the equal employment opportunity officer with the task of recruiting and mentoring minority businesses was wrong.

“We are not in the business of social engineering,” Curran said.

He also said that would duplicate services already available in the community. Curran said Rock Valley College has a business incubator. The college is home to the Rock River Valley Entrepreneurship Center.

She said Curran’s actions differed from his comments during the May 29 city council meeting.

“The record shows he had only one change,” Thompson said.

The proposed policy was sent back to committee during that meeting, after Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey cast the vote that broke a 7-7 tie on Curran’s motion at that meeting.

“I would like to eliminate all the numbers,” Curran said, before making the motion.

He said eliminating the numbers would help avoid any scandals. Curran cited newspaper articles about Chicago-area companies using minorities as fronts. He said he wanted to ensure qualified businesses receive city contracts.

Thompson wasn’t pleased about the policy’s setback or Curran’s part in it then.

“You would really have to consider the source,” Thompson said, referring to Curran’s motion.

She alleged Curran was attempting to “avoid minorities.” Thompson’s allegation didn’t shock Curran.

“That wouldn’t surprise me at all,” he said.

But Curran said he’d let it go in one ear and out the other.

“I’m just not the kind to get intimidated by comments like that,” he said.

Thompson is facing controversy of her own, stemming from a partnership with Sjostrom & Sons to supply it with concrete for the Winnebago County Justice Center construction project. Her company was awarded the bid in December 2004, and completed the work in May 2005.

According to Thompson’s Economic Interest Statement, filed March 22, her company cleaned for the Rockford Public Library. But, according to the local daily, the statement failed to note her contract with the Winnebago County Forest Preserve. She also did not state the county jail contract.

From the June 7-13, 2006, issue

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