By Ronda Watson Barber
As we embark on the annual celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy of inclusion and civil rights. I am writing to the elected Columbus City School Board to express my extreme displeasure with the decision by Alex Trevino, director of Capital Improvements, to discontinue publishing contracting opportunities from his department in OhioMBE. OhioMBE is Ohio’s largest Black-owned business newspaper. We publish contracting opportunities on-demand to our 10,00+ online subscribers. Contracting information is distributed on a weekly basis to our subscribers. Information is forwarded to businesses’ inboxes. Black vendors don’t have to seek out opportunities. OhioMBE has created a unique niche in providing access to contracting opportunities to small and minority owned companies. The 912 Group publishes OhioMBE. The 912 Group is LEDE certified by Columbus City Schools.
Trevino’s decision seems to have been made after my vocal negative critique of the unsafe and unhealthy conditions of classrooms as reported by both the local and national media during the August teacher strike.
Alex Trevino’s decision directly opposes the district’s diversity and inclusion efforts. He is being retaliatory and petty and is abusing his power. His actions are creating yet another barrier for Black businesses to procure contracts. He is spending tax dollars not his personal funds. Is his department above being criticized? The Columbus Dispatch has negatively reported on building conditions. Has Trevino stopped advertising with the Columbus Dispatch? Are there different standards for Black media versus white? In essence, he stops doing business with a Black-owned company, that assists Black-owned businesses to get access to contracting opportunities, because of public records requests and advocacy. His solution for Black-owned businesses is to visit the district’s website for contracting information. Many small contractors don’t have the staff, time, or resources to visit websites on a regular basis when seeking contracting opportunities.
In my opinion, Alex Trevino and his supervisor Maurice Oldham are continuing the systemic racism that has been a barrier for Columbus’ Black businesses to participate in the district’s purchasing scheme.
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just my thoughts…rwb