On November 24th, a town hall meeting held by the City Council discussed how Local Law 129 affected the development of Minority Women Business Entrepreneurs (MWBE). Asian-American and Hispanic business entrepreneurs, along with civil rights representatives, all agreed that there has been discrimination and unequal treatment in receiving government contracts. Asian Americans and Hispanics urged for unity in pushing the government to revise the law. Furthermore, they hoped that John Liu, the newly elected Comptroller, will investigate closely the inequitable distribution of government contracts.
According to John Liu, equitable distribution of government contracts will definitely be his priority once his term starts and will examine closely the government contracts for minority women businesses. He will also push to revise the law so that Asian women entrepreneurs will get a fair treatment.
Under Local Law 129, the City Government must allocate a percentage of government contracts to certified minority women business entrepreneurs. In the 2009 budget year, the New York City government bought $134 billion worth of professional services, equipment, construction, and merchandise. $12 billion of that budget was for MWBE. However, Asian women business entrepreneurs only received $1.38 billion of the budget, which represented only 1 percent of government contracts. Meanwhile, Asians represent 12 percent of the city’s population, and 25 percent of MWBE are Asian.
Moli Sui and Henry Chan, from the Asian MWBE Association and who provide legal services to MWBEs to get certified, said that the inequity of Local Law 129 comes from the fact the there are quotas for African American and Hispanics MWBE, while there is none for Asian MWBE. According to Chan, while Asian MWBEs actively bid for government contracts and participated in networking activities, they did not receive a single contract this year. All 50 members under Asian MWBE faced the same obstacle.
Frank Garcia, who represented Hispanics MWBE, voiced the same concern. He felt that Hispanic MWBEs also received unequal treatment and declared that the government report indicating the statistics for Hispanic MWBE contracts is not correct. Hispanics and Asian MWBEs in the Bronx area are thinking about joining the coalition and inviting public officials to join them to push for equitable distribution and treatment. They all hope that the Comptroller will conduct a thorough investigation of the matter.
Shan Liu, World Journal, 25 November 2009. Translated from Chinese by Connie Yik Kong.