Bexar County, Failing Black Businesses
Bexar County Manager David Smith, two days ago pens his letter suspending the over $1.5M of support to build capacity for Black businesses. This money was to be managed by the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce and the Black Contractors Association. Smith cites the chamber doesn’t have the capacity to manage the money authorized by the Bexar County Commissioner’s Court.
In my opinion, when Dr. Eddie Kirby became the Chairman of the chamber, we witnessed the corporate mistakes of a chamber run by a public agency employee. The SA Observer reached out to him immediately after he became chairman to get his perspective on how was he going to run one of the oldest Black chambers in the nation. As a honorary lifetime member of the chamber, we called because we understand the concerns of Black business owners. To date, I have not received a call from the new chairman. This greatly concerns me. Now I clearly see why the second black chamber is needed. The corporate folks don’t understand we live and die by our business success or failure…this is not the same as punching the clock and getting a CPS Energy payroll check.
I will say that the news over the last two days portrayed the chamber as not being responsive to the many questions that were presented when the story broke. But the chamber isn’t the only culprit. The Bexar County SWMBE Committee, under Renee Watson’s leadership seems to (after reading the other reports online) have had a major conflict with the actions of County Judge Nelson Wolff’s office, who initiated the grant for the Black Contractors and the Black Chamber. We are not stupid! The SWMBE Committee lobbied to undermine the support of the Black Business community and that is where we also need to be mad about. They boasted about having eight businesses in their mentor-protegee program where the funding could go to. The chair of Bexar County SWMBE, Chris Fobrich, who was appointed by Commissioner Kevin Wolff, gloated about undermining the Black Business community. Apparently, he doesn’t know what’s going on within our Black community. With our previous news reports, Bexar County has failed Black Businesses in contracting with less than 1% going to Black businesses. There are a lot of guilty hands in play – why would we think the SWBE office can produce a different result considering the long problems identified by the Fair Contracting Coalition. We reported Bexar County broke the law and refused to report through the Open Records Act of the data that was requested over seven years. This story is horrible at best.
We will follow-up with the complete story over the next few weeks but our community should know the County screwed us yet again…and the diversity committee has done the same.
Vote at the ballot box for change. The political lies we are subjected to is ridiculous, but someone said very predictable. If you are Black, you get screwed. And to our Black chamber, I hope you realize that we are Black. We are not gaining anything by saying the grant designed to improve contracting disparity is for every minority group. Every minority group, under your definition, can do the job of the chamber. Why do they need you? If the focus is and should be on Black, then be proud and say so!
I heard Hispanic Contractors Association were complaining about the support the Black Chamber and Black Contractors were receiving support. How they undermined the deal, and the civil war within the county, the Black Business community again screwed and left to figure this mess out by ourselves. There is no commitment to Blacks in San Antonio or Bexar County!
The County Manager should be protested for his decision. He has not helped the Black business community one bit to date! We should all be upset, especially as the NAACP National Convention just packed bags and left our city! I guess the packing of the bags was the signal that we can further disrespect you!