The Salem transit agency has unsuccessfully sought to attract minority and women-owned businesses to share millions in contract work. Now, the agency's leadership is embarking on a sweeping review thats an early step in making its operations more equitable.
A Cherriots bus on State Street outside the Oregon Capitol (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
The Salem Area Mass Transit District awarded just a single contract to a company owned by a woman or minority in its most recent reporting period, well short of its own goal to see that such businesses get a share in millions in government spending.
Agency leaders point to a small pool of minority and women-owned businesses as well as there being less work and outreach because of the pandemic as reasons why it only met 16% of its contracting goal.
Between October 2019 through September 2020, Cherriots awarded 248 federally funded contracts for services and goods that totaled $1.5 million, according to a Dec. 29 internal memo provided to Salem Reporter. For that period, Cherriots had a goal of awarding $173,430 to disadvantaged business enterprises, certified as small for-profit companies that are owned by women or minorities.
During that period, Cherriots awarded one contract to one of these businesses: Marco Ideas Unlimited, a woman-owned business in Portland, paying $28,583 for uniforms.
Agency leaders have since launched a top-to-bottom review last year with the aim of meeting contracting goals while making overall operations more equitable.
Can we do better? said Chi Nguyen, a director on the Cherriots board and chair of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. I think we can, and we will.
The federal Transportation Departmentstarted the disadvantaged business enterprise programin 1980 as a way to increase the participation of minority and women-owned businesses in federal contracting.
State and local transportation agencies that receive money from the department are required to establish goals for contracting with disadvantaged business enterprises. The federal government doesnt penalize agencies that fail to hit their goals if they are trying.
Dan Knauss, Cherriots manager of procurement and contracts, explained that Cherriots goal is based on the number of expected projects and the number of disadvantaged business enterprises based in the Salem area or in nearby counties.
The memo blames the shortfall partially on the pandemic, which scuttled an in-person training and delaying or canceling planned projects. Thats meant less overall work companies had a shot at landing. Knauss said one notable project Cherriots had to postpone work on was the new South Salem Transit Center because of a dispute with a property owner. Final costs for the project werent finalized.
That one project made up the lions share, said Knauss.
Knauss said there were other large projects that were canceled. Additionally, Cherriots had to delay a contract for a survey of riders, delayed because not enough people were riding buses because of Covid, among other projects.
He said Cherriots contracted with Brown Contracting for a project at the Keizer Transit Center and the company subcontracted with two disadvantaged business enterprises, CBK Constructors LLC of Canby and Pac Green Landscape of Woodburn, paying them $62,371. But those payments recorded during the most recent reporting period didnt count toward Cherriots goal.
The memo states that the agencys potential pool of disadvantaged business enterprises is relatively small and outreach events were canceled because of the pandemic. Knauss said Cherriots has attended trade shows remotely this year and is preparing to distribute its outreach brochures to recruit more interest among businesses to share in the transit districts business.
But he said disadvantaged business enterprises tend to be smaller and the requirements for government contractors can seem daunting.
Numbers provided by Cherriots show it hasnt met its disadvantaged business enterprise goals going back four years.
In 2019, it awarded $85,445 about half its goal and in 2018, it awarded $8,000 towards a goal of $50,505. For 2017 and 2016, the agency didnt give any contracts to disadvantaged businesses.
Cherriots now has a goal of awarding disadvantaged business enterprises 2.49% of the $3.3 million worth of projects it has planned for fiscal years 2021 through 2023..
The Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs declined to comment for this story. Salem Capitol Connections, a group that helps connect small businesses to government agencies, didnt respond to an email seeking comment.
Ian Davidson, Cherriots board president, said he wants to improve the agencys contracting with disadvantaged business enterprises. He pointed to documents showing that disadvantaged business enterprises were solicited for projects but ended up not bidding, which he said could point to other issues that stymie their participation.
He said that Cherriots is hiring a consultant to conduct an equity analysis. The consultants work is being finalized but will evaluate how Cherriots operates internally and with the community, he said.
Im really interested to get that critical feedback to start closing gaps, he said.
Last June, the board created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as Cherriots accelerated its plan to broadly address inequities in its operations.
Nguyen said the review will highlight some of Cherriots sausage-making," exposing dominant cultural artifacts that continue to allow oppression. She expects the consultants findings will present clear actions for the transit agency.
A small business owner herself, Nguyen said shes been struck by the lack of diversity in the pool of contractors. She also wonders if the process intended to boost contracting with disadvantaged business enterprises is itself a barrier.
You go through all the hoops and that doesn't guarantee you a contract, she said.
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or[emailprotected]or @jakethomas2009.
WE GET SALEM THE FACTS.Covering your community with care and depth. Salem Reporter - fair, accurate, independent.Subscribeand support our essential local service.
Read the original post:
- US broadcaster urged to expose Chinas oppression in Tibet - The Tribune India - January 25th, 2022
- Its time for the SADC region to hold Zimbabwe to account - Al Jazeera English - January 25th, 2022
- What's Next for the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act - The Dispatch - January 25th, 2022
- Art exhibit at Heartland Community College showcases oppressed lives of women in Iran - CIProud.com - January 25th, 2022
- Affirmative Action Without Racial Preferences - Reason - January 25th, 2022
- Myths of the past no longer represent modern world - Alton Telegraph - January 25th, 2022
- The Olympic Games Return to China, in a Changed World - The New Yorker - January 25th, 2022
- The US Betrays Its Heritage by Threatening World War III Against Russia and China - PRESSENZA International News Agency - January 25th, 2022
- The West is Waging War on the Sudanese Revolution - Novara Media - January 25th, 2022
- Government agriculture seminar based on ethnic cleansing, war crimes and human rights abuses - thedailyblog.co.nz - January 25th, 2022
- How Ending Expectations That Adults Work For A Living Erases Dignity - The Federalist - January 25th, 2022
- WATCH: The View mocks RFK Jr. and anti-mandate rally in DC - Denver Gazette - January 25th, 2022
- 'I went to prison for gluing my face to the M25 and I'd do it again' - My London - January 25th, 2022
- Amy Wax and the Problem of Right-Wing Double Standards on Immigration - Reason - January 25th, 2022
- UP elections: BJP banks on welfare plans to win SC votes - Hindustan Times - January 25th, 2022
- EXPLAINER: Different mindsets of Mayor Mike, Guv Gwen on using vax cards against the unvaccinated. But could any LGU defy central government policy?|... - January 25th, 2022
- Letters to the editor for Monday, January 24, 2022 - News-Press - January 25th, 2022
- BOOK REVIEW: THIS EARTH OF MANKIND (1996) BY PRAMOEDYA ANATA TOER THE AWAKENING OF A NATION ENSLAVED IN ITS OWN LAND - Asia Media International - January 25th, 2022
- Speaker affirms Dr. King's message; 'Now is the time to stand up against injustice' - Williamsport Sun-Gazette - January 25th, 2022
- Look back at the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu - Action News Now - December 27th, 2021
- Brothers Offer New Perspective on Maternity and Family With Parallel Mothers - Yahoo Entertainment - December 27th, 2021
- Apartheid in the Holy Land Middle East Monitor - Middle East Monitor - December 27th, 2021
- PPP cant make Sindhs residents its slaves, say PSP and ANP - The News International - December 27th, 2021
- 'My wife, my sons and my daughter all drowned. They left because life here is so bad with no electricity, no jobs and no salary' - Morning Star Online - December 27th, 2021
- Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression | TheHill - The Hill - September 5th, 2021
- China's oppression of Tibetans serves as warning to Taiwan: Exiled Tibetan official - Devdiscourse - September 5th, 2021
- Oppressed Tibetans are warning to Taiwan: Tibetan representative - Focus Taiwan News Channel - September 5th, 2021
- OPINION | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Were delight to read | Sacrifices public good | Have to accept reality - Arkansas Online - September 5th, 2021
- Taliban Expected to Announce New Government in Afghanistan - International Christian Concern - September 5th, 2021
- What the winner of this election must do about China, Meng and the two Michaels - Maclean's - September 5th, 2021
- Does the US have any real leverage over the Taliban? - Yahoo News - September 5th, 2021
- What is Owed - The Nation - September 5th, 2021
- The Taliban get a Chinese friend - The Sunday Guardian Live - The Sunday Guardian - September 5th, 2021
- [Visual History of Korea] Worlds first case of press oppression - The Korea Herald - September 5th, 2021
- Guest View: Rise of the Taliban and defeat of the U.S. - The Register-Guard - September 5th, 2021
- The unjust war in Afghanistan and the continuing people's struggle against oppression - Davao Today - September 5th, 2021
- Afghanistan and the colonial project of feminism: dismantling the binary lens - EUROPP - European Politics and Policy - September 5th, 2021
- Political thought The threat from the illiberal left - The Economist - September 5th, 2021
- Critical race theory bans in schools are making teaching harder - Vox.com - September 5th, 2021
- Afghanistan. Google blocked the accounts of the ousted government employees. The Taliban sought to reach them - MoviesOnline - September 5th, 2021
- Government should urgently take appropriate actions to protect women and children - BusinessGhana - September 5th, 2021
- The Repeat Patterns in the Afghanistan Conflicts - The Citizen - September 5th, 2021
- Many eligible Indigenous voters struggle with whether or not they will go to the polls - Turtle Island News - September 5th, 2021
- UP election 2022: Oppression of Dalits, Brahmins to be BSPs key poll plank - India Today - September 5th, 2021
- Biden Can't Pressure Taliban Without Hurting Thousands of Afghans Left Behind - Foreign Policy - September 5th, 2021
- Connecting the Dots with columnist John Bos: Is racism systemic? - The Recorder - September 5th, 2021
- Ahead of his times - The Statesman - September 5th, 2021
- In the Shadow of 9/11 - The Nation - September 5th, 2021
- Careless Whispers: Parallels of civilian informants in social media user-reporting policies, but govt must walk a tightrope on this - The Financial... - February 10th, 2021
- Oppression against us attracting international attention: Farmers - The New Indian Express - February 10th, 2021
- Turkish authorities arrest 65 revolutionaries in a bid to break the backbone of the growing anti-government resistance - Morning Star Online - February 10th, 2021
- Protests in Tunisia conjure images of the past and questions about the future - Atlantic Council - February 10th, 2021
- Will Not be Cowed Down by 'Oppression', Says VK Sasikala; To Engage in Active Politics - The Wire - February 10th, 2021
- When Narendra Modi Exhorted 'Andolanjivis' to Rise Up Against the Government in 1974 - The Wire - February 10th, 2021
- The White Tiger tackles class struggle in the era of globalization - Johns Hopkins News-Letter - February 10th, 2021
- Opinion: Politics should not distract the church from its mission - Online Athens - February 10th, 2021
- Huawei's situation won't get any better with the Biden administration - Android Central - February 10th, 2021
- Spains enhancing ties with Turkey can only serve to strengthen Erdoans oppressive rule - Ahval - February 10th, 2021
- Designating the Proud Boys a terrorist organization won't stop hate-fuelled violence - The Conversation CA - February 10th, 2021
- This week in history: February 8-14 - WSWS - February 10th, 2021
- Sisters of the Good Shepherd are united with the people for the future of Myanmar - Malaysian Christian News - February 10th, 2021
- OPINION: PS 90's Future Belongs To The People Of District 40 - BKLYNER - February 10th, 2021
- 'PF's divide and rule schemes' The Mast Online - themastonline.com - February 10th, 2021
- Truth telling and giving back: how settler colonials are coming to terms with painful family histories - The Conversation AU - February 10th, 2021
- World must pressurise India to hold plebiscite - The Nation - February 4th, 2021
- Black History Is About More Than Oppression (Opinion) - Education Week - February 4th, 2021
- My family was part of the Cummeragunja walk-off decades ago. Sometimes I wonder if anything has changed - The Guardian - February 4th, 2021
- Democracy, Violence, and the Legacy of the American Revolution - History News Network (HNN) - February 4th, 2021
- OPINION: The Words That Kill Rivers - Pagosa Daily Post - February 4th, 2021
- Sundance 'Judas And The Black Messiah' Review: A Relevant Film About The Oppressed Fighting The Oppressor - Mashable India - February 4th, 2021
- Priest says thousands of refugees in Tigray deported to Eritrea - Angelus News - February 4th, 2021
- How should history be taught, and who should decide? - Times Record - February 4th, 2021
- After decades in the grip of oppression, family has the promise of hope with Christ and pregnancy help - Pregnancy Help News - February 4th, 2021
- Biden's pro-immigration agenda is more expansive than Obama's, but it has drawbacks - USA TODAY - February 4th, 2021
- The GameStop Saga Is Not the Revenge Against Finance We... - Truthout - February 4th, 2021
- 'The burka initiative defends the dignity of women' - swissinfo.ch - February 4th, 2021
- Call BlackLine: Community Care and Liberation on Speed Dial - The River Newsroom - February 4th, 2021
- When Violence Is Used To Teach A Lesson: A Day In The Life Of A Dalit-Adivasi Woman - Youth Ki Awaaz - February 4th, 2021
- On the frontline: How the government has made BAME lives dispensable - Varsity Online - January 5th, 2021
- Turkish politics and discussions on Islamic headscarf | Daily Sabah - Daily Sabah - January 5th, 2021