City Council Defers Action On $450,000 Disparity Study

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The City Council on Tuesday night deferred action on a controversial $450,000 disparity study.

Jacqueline Strong Moss, director of the city's new Office of Multicultural Affairs, said data from an intensive study is needed to combat local racial and gender disparities.

But Councilwoman Marti Rutherford said the city was footing the whole bill and "my constituents would run me out of District 6 if I voted for this study the way it is."

Councilman Jack Benson said other cities have done similar studies "for a lot less money." He said, "I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I voted for this."

Councilwoman Sally Robinson called for the deferral, noting that Councilman John "Duke" Franklin was absent.

Ms. Moss said the study was an outgrowth of an African American Summit arranged earlier by several black council members, including Councilman Franklin.

Councilman Benson said he had never seen a request for proposals that listed the cost in it - up to $450,000. He said it was understandable that all the proposals were in that price range. The Atlanta law firm of Griffin and Strong was chosen.

Council Chairman Leamon Pierce responded, "It's nothing out of the ordinary. It's nothing out in leftfield."

Attorney Rodney Strong of Atlanta, no relation to Ms. Moss, was present at the council meeting. He said federal and state agencies are increasingly requiring such detailed information. He said there could be savings to the city by opening up the bidding processes to additional firms.

Councilwoman Rutherford said sponsors of the study needed to get part of the funding from local universities and the private sector.

The study is currently set up so that UTC and the Community Research Council do part of the work and get part of the payment as subcontractors. David Eichenthal of the CRC spoke in favor of the study, saying it would find out "whether and what kind of issues are out there to be addressed."

Dr. Tommie Brown, state representative, also spoke in favor.

Ms. Moss said officials here expected the study would cost more than $450,000. She said the group was planning to ask foundations to provide the extra money had it been required.

She said Griffin and Strong carried out a $300,000 disparity study in Nashville that was not as extensive as the planned Chattanooga one. She said a study in Memphis cost $900,000.

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