Publisher’s Note: Advocate! Resist! Call Your School Board about unbid contracts

Advocate! Resist!
By Ronda Watson Barber – publisher

When was the last time you attended a public school board meeting or city council meeting?  Have you written or called your elected officials to voice your opinion on issues of importance to you, your business or community?  If not, why? Your vote and tax dollars matter. Your civic responsibility is more than voting or paying taxes.  It is important that you actively advocate for the betterment of the collective community.  Do you volunteer for a cause you care about? Do you donate to time or money to an issue that impacts your neighborhood or family?  Are you holding elected officials accountable? Are those that are elected to represent you acting in your best interest or are they taking their marching orders from lobbyists and big dollar donors?  Are those elected to represent you looking out for you or are they in public service to enrich themselves or further their political careers?  We are supposed to advocate for what is right and resist crazy!

I have been reading reports in the Columbus Dispatch on big contracts that have gone unbid in Columbus City Schools.  I am a bit surprised.  For a school district that not too long ago was under scrutiny for lack of transparency and a data scandal, these major unbid contracts play right into that old pattern and culture of perceived deceit.  Are high dollar unbid contracts good? Is someone receiving benefits for the unbid contracts?  The Dispatch recently reported that a company which has paid out over $60 million in fines to the federal government and an Ohio school district for bad business practices was recently awarded an unbid roofing contract.  The report said that district officials were aware of the lawsuits and fines when the contract was awarded. Strangely, past reputation and past activities didn’t matter.

I am not certain what is going on in the purchasing practices of Columbus City Schools.  OhioMBE has reported on the district’s failure to meet 20 percent LEDE purchasing goal for the last four years.  We have put a spotlight on the observed biases Black-owned businesses endure when attempting to obtain contracts.  Perhaps it is time for Black-owned businesses in Columbus to advocate and resist.  Newspapers and civil rights organizations can’t do all the work to remedy the issues that affect our businesses and economic opportunities.

I strongly encourage you to contact to Columbus City School Board and voice your opinion. Advocate! Resisit!

Gary L. Baker, II – Board President – Phone: 614-365-5790 –

Michael Cole – Board Vice President – Phone: 614-604-8871 –

Eric S. BrownPhone: 614-477-3528 –

Shawna GibbsPhone: 614-365-5790 –

Mary Jo HudsonPhone: 614-560-9692 –

Dominic ParettiPhone: 614-735-5200 –

Ramona R. Reyes Phone: 614-986-7214 –

It can’t continue to be business as usual.  Now is the time to Advocate and Resist!

Just my thoughts…rwb

Printed in OhioMBE – June 15, 2017