The debate over a Minority and Women Business Policy in Rockford has been heating up for weeks. One specific proposal has been in and out of committees not to mention part of heated discussions on the council floor. After all that run-around a final vote was expected Monday night.
There was a vote taken, but that vote sent the Minority Procurement Policy back to the Codes and Regulations committee. Alderman Pat Curran made the recommendation.
Curran says, "The rational on why I have concerns is the potential for scandal, fraud, fronts whatever the words might be."
Many minorities have been avid audience members at Rockford City Council meetings and say behind the smoke and mirrors lies discrimination.
Pastor Kevin Dismuke says, “That's what it boils down to. I don't want to point fingers but there is a need for inclusion."
Alderman Ann Thompson brought the policy to the council about four months ago. The policy has changed several times but the latest policy shot down would mean the city would buy 25 percent of its goods and services from minority owned businesses and 5% would come from businesses owned by women.
Andy Campos is a minority contractor. He says, "We've been walking forever to get this point. We're asking for your help. We're asking you to assist us."
But Curran questions the math and that added up to some name calling among council members.
Curran states, "Ask any alderman and they will say it will work without numbers. Ask the Mayor he’ll say the same thing.
Ask Alderman Thompson and she says, “I gotta have the numbers. If I don't get the numbers Pat's a racist. That doesn't make sense. I know what I am and I am not a racist."
All names aside the council is clear on this. All are in agreement that a Minority Business Policy needs to be in place.
The policy will again go back to the Codes and Regulations committee. Alderman Curran is going to suggest that no numbers be attached to the policy for at least a year. Then the city could start at maybe five percent and work up to a number like 25 percent.