May 12, 2000

Padres Strike Out

"Former City Manager Jack McGrory's Business Outreach Plan for PADRES and Minority Business is business as usual"

With loud fanfare Jack McGrory, now CEO of the San Diego Padres, recently announced an outreach goal of 20 percent participation with the Historically Underutilized Business Enterprises (HUBE) and Emerging Business Enterprise firms (BEF), in the PADRES downtown BallPark & Redevelopment Project. In what looked awfully similar to the City of San Diego's failed "outreach program," McGrory introduced the PADRES plan to increase minority (Mexican & Black firms) percentage of the construction contracts. What McGrory is served up is a `curve ball' that may look good, but that will bite you in the end.

He is offering up the same failed mechanisms that he served up as City Manager for the City of San Diego! The impression that the PADRE organization is trying to foist on the people of San Diego is that the Padres are breaking new ground in attempting to reach a goal of 20 percent participation.

The City of San Diego, at one time, had an affirmative action program in place that had set-aside goals between 20 percent to 30 percent of the city's contracts. In 1993 the Associated General Contractors, with little opposition from the city, destroyed the City's Equal Opportunity Program, claiming the program amounted to an illegal quota system. Since that time minorities have seen their share of contracting opportunities drop below 1% (one percent). Initially, in response to the declining numbers of minority contractors in City projects, the City created a mentoring program with the Latino Builders Industry Association and the Black Contractors Association. There were also technical assistance and on-the-job training programs created. And of course, there was the Turner Construction Co., program that was supposed to ensure minority participation with the Convention Center project. All these programs failed! They were short on substance and lacking in political will to make them workable. Faced with these embarrassing numbers, the San Diego City Council made another half-hearted step to address this issue. The City Council approved an outreach program to examine large contracts to determine how much work can be done by small subcontractors. General contractors who bid on city work would then be graded on their efforts to recruit small subcontractors.

Since the Padre Ballpark falls under the umbrella of a large construction contract the Padres were obligated to seek out the participation of subcontractors i.e., minority contractors. The Padres `Joint Venture contractors': Douglas E. Barnhart Inc. of San Diego; Nielsen-Dillingham Inc., with offices in San Diego; and Clark Construction Group Inc., Bethesda, MD, have deflected the issue by creating a Ballpark Outreach Team and a 12-member Business Outreach Advisory Committee and have announced a goal of 20% participation - of course there is no guarantee, no penalty if the goal of 20% is not reached, all the Padres need to show is an effort to "outreach" to minority contractors. The effort is "to look good" but offer nothing of substances. The "Joint Venture Contractors" want 100% of the contracts even though they are obligated to have equal opportunity when PUBLIC FUNDS ARE USED!

Minority Contractors/Business are right back to where they started in the `60s. It is clear little has changed, the San Diego establishment has learned very little from the past. There is little sincerity to become a society of inclusion rather than exclusion. Minorities, in most aspects of their lives, are still on the outside looking in.

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