A Rush To Judgement or Reorganization of Alamo Colleges???
The San Antonio community has become aware of the recent tragic story of the San Antonio Housing Authority's 19th Annual Golden Gala. The event was held on December 16, 2016 at the Freeman Coliseum. According to the published SAHA contract, the event supported 1,000 senior citizens with a free holiday meal and celebration. At the conclusion of the event, there were 60 plus illnesses identified. The City's Metro Health conducted a swift investigation and report was finalized and issued to the public on January 9, 2017.
The disturbing news received before the Metro Health report announcement was Alamo Community Colleges District (ACCD) terminated their very long relationship with Diehard Catering on January 6, 2017.
How did the Alamo Colleges reach their decision prior to the City's investigation closing? Was this a rush to judgement before the facts were sorted out?
**Special Report Video for a further look into The Golden Gala**
Many in the community know, the lead Chef of Diehard Catering is an alumni of St Philip's College - one of the Alamo College campuses. This has been the Alamo Colleges boasting point, especially encouraging the youth on the East Side of San Antonio to possible career choices. The Texas Association of African American Chambers of Commerce commented the decision seems to be premature, however typical. "We find Black owned businesses are not prepared to match the response of large corporations and clients with significant resources. This decision is premature considering no reports were issued. We engaged Councilman Alan Warrick to request to see the Metro Health report and saw clearly the Metro Health report was not finalized when Alamo Colleges leaped out to terminate their relationship with DieHard Catering."
On the surface Alamo Colleges response could be linked to the various news reports or another outlook is Alamo Colleges has been working under a major storm cloud to relinquish the control over the various campuses. Is it possible their contracting decision was to enable the independent colleges to make their own decisions on who they hire and use. Perhaps this will also impact their accreditation issues especially as the community demands St Philips College retain their Historically Black & Hispanic College designation.
When we interviewed DieHard Catering, it was not revealed to them specifically why the catering contract was threatened to be cancelled on March 5, 2017. We contacted Gary O'Bar, Director of Purchases and Contract Administration for Alamo Colleges of his decision. We are not certain this decision was downward directed from the Chancellor or if was the decision of the Mr. O'Bar.
The irony of this contract issue is that we can interpret this decision in a number of ways. The facts and inconsistencies of the early incident reports have changed significantly from what was reported in December 2016.
Certainly the community talk reminds us how small, minority, and Veteran owned businesses are fragile to any bad press. It would seem more responsible for Alamo Colleges to have waited for the Metro Health report and for some confirmation that the allegations were in fact all true. We also know that Alamo Colleges can terminate without ever telling us why. If the decision was based on the Alamo Colleges enabling their schools to conduct their own contracting, there was no such reference in the termination letter sent to the lead chef. Without comment from Mr. O'Bar we cannot tell. Again, this is another embarrassing stain for Alamo Colleges as they were the first to terminate the caterer - their very own.
Factually, DieHard Catering was retained by the City of San Antonio to cater and serve at the 2017 MLK March - DV Tent. US, State and City leaders lined up to eat Diehard's food on January 16th, with full knowledge of the December San Antonio Housing Authority mishap. As the San Antonio Mayor and City Manager did not react with cancelling DieHard's relationship, it also signaled to many, the Metro Health Department's report was not at all conclusive to the initial allegations.
It is our duty to follow the alt news published by reporting the facts. It appears the reaction of Alamo Colleges was premature and did not factor in the written Metro Health report as it was issued after the decision to terminate. We believe it is an even worse signal to small, minority and Veteran owned businesses that due process may not be on their side when trying to prove their innocence.
The African American and Hispanic community on the East Side near St Philips College were disturbed with their local hero and alumni being "railroaded" - a term they used openly at the MLK March. This railroading is at the expense of preserving the reputation of the San Antonio Housing Authority, who to date, has not discussed the matter openly.
With everything ACCD has been through, why would they react in this way and manner? Does the ACCD feel their independent decision to terminate a community chef has no impact on how community perceives them or St Philip's College? What does this signal to the other community colleges?
DieHard Catering is scheduled to lose their number one contract on March 5, 2017 and the rippling effect may put this company out of business. DieHard employees mostly residents from the East Side community are in jeapodardy of losing their jobs.
The Metro Health Report issued by the City of San Antonio, failed to discuss the role of SAHA with the food service at the event. How did SAHA maintain the food appropriately after DieHard Catering delivered the food to them at 2:30PM? Who was responsible for the reported late serving at the SAHA event? What steps were taken to ensure the food was maintained and heated to the proper temperature? Perhaps San Antonio Housing Authority's decision to use volunteers, was the worst decision and situation that cannot be investigated thoroughly. Were any of the volunteers ill and passed the staph infection? How did volunteers receive the proper training to prevent passing germs and disease? Why SAHA would not spend the money to enable the caterer to do the entire job is disturbing. It was reported to the Observer, there were at least 20 SAHA employees and volunteers who served the 1000 elderly but the Metro Health report didn't discuss in any manner who the food managers were on site. It was also reported the food was served at least an hour late by SAHA.
The community demands full accountability. The next part of this story will focus on the leaders of SAHA and Metro Health who formed the report and the various details and aspects of the issue not covered to date. We will continue to monitor the contracts of DieHard Catering to understand how businesses, organizations, and educational leaders make their decisions. In this case is there a premature rush to judgement?