By Ronda Watson Barber
What is it with white folks responsible for distributing tax-payer-funded construction documents? Why are they resistant to making the documents available to Black contractors? I get push-back regularly.
I operate a virtual construction plan room for the Ohio Business Development Center. The plan room provides small and minority-owned businesses access to construction documents. Placing construction documents in the OBDC Planroom assists organizations in meeting their good-faith contracting efforts, particularly organizations that receive tax dollars. We receive documents from local construction companies, the City of Columbus, Franklin County, and the Columbus Airports.
Columbus City Schools has been barred from utilizing the services of my plan room as their white staff is regularly rude and disrespectful, without penalty. A white project manager yelled at me when I pointed out an error in a set of documents on behalf of a Black LEDE vendor. The director of Capital Improvements, Alex Trevino, dared to tell me to “pay attention” at an event the district contracted with me, and he refused to post bid opportunities from his department because I criticized him publicly. Talk about petty. Talk about a power trip. Talk about no accountability. Talk about continued institutional racism and inequities. District leadership and the elected board have been aware of the situation since early 2023, and nothing has changed. What plan has the district implemented to provide Black LEDE vendors with access to contracting documents and opportunities as directors can openly violate the district’s equity policy? How can directors make departmental policies that negatively impact Black vendors without penalty?
The another entity is now on my list. I received an email questioning the practices of the OBDC plan room. I found the email troubling and condescending. They can post documents in my plan room at no cost. I received an apology, but I questioned why you inquired about how OBDC distributes documents. Were inquiries made to the white-operated membership-driven plan rooms? They want to ensure that at least one planroom offers all contractors free-of-cost documents. Isn’t that special? Are they asking the white plan rooms to allow Black vendors who are not members access the documents for free? The caucasity.
Black people pay taxes. Black people vote. Black vendors should have easy free access to government-funded projects. Anyone in organizations that claims to support diversity, equity, and inclusion should find the above-mentioned practices troubling.
Solve Black problems. Get Black votes!
Just my thoughts…rwb