Some City Council Members Balk At $450,000 "Disparity" Study

Study Proposed By Multi-Cultural Affairs Office

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some City Council members are balking at a $450,000 "disparity" study sought by the city's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

"I would have to think long and hard before I voted for that," Councilwoman Marti Rutherford said.

Another council member, Dan Page, said, "That's a lot of money for a study. It made my eyes get big."

Councilman Manny Rico said, "I think we just need to implement the laws we have on the books."

Jacqueline Strong Moss, who heads the multicultural office, said the study is needed so the city can have the data to know how to deal with current forms of discrimination.

She said, "The discrimination today is not the same as our grandfathers'. Today it's a lot more subtle."

She said the study "will give us real numbers about real problems."

It is proposed that the study be carried out by a minority firm - Griffin & Strong. She said the firm did a similar study for Nashville, though it was not this extensive.

The study would include two parts:

-A community assessment study that will provide "both qualitative and quantative data from a socio-economic perspective that will be used to drive the work of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and its advisory board."

- A minority and women-owned business contract participation study. Phase two "would determine the availability of ready, willing and able minority and women-owned businesses to participate in city of Chattanooga contracting opportunities." Phase two is undertaken "if the phase one analysis reveals underutilization of minority and women-owned businesses, and would include analysis of the reasons for the underutilization through the use of public hearings, surveys and personal interviews."

Ms. Moss said much of the funding needed for the study is in the current budget.

She said requests for proposals were received from seven firms.

She said it is expected that on the community assessment study that Griffin & Strong would subcontract it out to UTC, which would work with the Community Research Council.

The study was discussed at an afternoon meeting of a committee of the City Council. The discussion ended when Councilman Leamon Pierce, a supporter of the study, got up out of his chair. He said, "We didn't have this much discussion on the dog issue."

The council is set to vote on whether or not to approve the study in two weeks.

Griffin & Strong has been in business since 1992. One of its principals is attorney Rodney Strong (not the Rodney Strong who is an attorney and judge candidate in Chattanooga).

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