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Huge Racial and Gender Disparity in BART's Contracts; More on 4/9/09 Board Meeting...
While African Americans make up 8.01 percent of available construction contractors, they were only awarded 0.28 percent of contract dollars; Asian Americans 10.98 percent availability, 0.30 percent awarded, Hispanic Americans 8.08 percent availability, 0.79 percent awarded, Caucasian Females 6.87 percent availability, 3.11 percent awarded, and Caucasian Males 65.71 availability, 95.32 percent awarded....
BART Releases 2010 Budget, But Board Doesn’t Debate Its Merits
by Matthew Roth on April 10, 2009
Discussion of BART's Availability and Utilization Study, which examined racial and gender disparity in BART's contracts for construction and professional services (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, or DBE goals) was only slightly less eventful. The study found that when BART had DBE goals in place from 2002-2006, they failed to award construction and professional services contracts in accord with the demographic availability of contractors. Over the past two years, when BART suspended its DBE goals, the results were much worse.
While African Americans make up 8.01 percent of available construction contractors, they were only awarded 0.28 percent of contract dollars; Asian Americans 10.98 percent availability, 0.30 percent awarded, Hispanic Americans 8.08 percent availability, 0.79 percent awarded, Caucasian Females 6.87 percent availability, 3.11 percent awarded, and Caucasian Males 65.71 availability, 95.32 percent awarded.
The study recommended that BART re-instate DBE goals immediately, and among other long term goals: improve district wide communications with DBEs, develop BART Staff DBE program training, implement prime, sub awards, and bidders tracking, and publish enhanced bi-annual DBE utilization reports.
BART Director James Fang criticized the study, which took over two years to complete and cost the agency nearly half a million dollars, for only completing analysis of construction contracts and some service contracts, but failing to address procurement. Fang said he couldn't endorse the recommendations of the study if it failed to include procurement and to more completely analyze services, despite warnings from staff that any delay on endorsing the study's recommendations for racial and gender screening would mean that projects like the Oakland Airport Connector would go to bid without the higher standard.
A member of the public became so enraged with Director Fang he suggested Fang "should be taken out back and beaten with a rose bush" for being racially divisive (the man was African American, Fang is Asian American). After a heated back and forth, order was finally restored to the meeting and the Board voted 7-1 to endorse the recommendations of the study.
Visibly exhausted Board directors tabled discussion of the budget, but released staff's proposals to the public and set a date for a public hearing on May 28th. Final adoption of the budget is expected on June 11th.
Staff proposed many options for eliminating the budget deficit, which would be $54 million this year and $249 million over four years without action by the Board, most notably a 10 percent fare increase (up from 6.1 percent already approved) effective July 1st, service cuts across the system, and revising BART's East Bay parking formula to extend a daily parking fee to every station where parking is currently free, except for Hayward, Oakland Coliseum, and North Concord.
This packet of proposals would still leave a deficit of $23 million. Other remedies proposed by staff that will be discussed at the next Board meeting, could include:
* Cut 50-100 additional positions ($5-10M)
* Eliminate mid-day Richmond-SF and Fremont-SF service ($2-3M)
* Higher fare increase across the system: 15 percent instead of 10 percent ($8M)
* Increase minimum fare from $1.50 to $1.75 ($14M)
* Increase Transbay surcharge 10 cents ($5M)
* Increase SFO Premium fare by $2.00 ($7M)
* Parking: increase fees, market based ($0.5 - 3M)