Mike Kueber's Blog

January 17, 2013

The city of San Antonio considers a return to quotas

The San Antonio Express-News reported today that the city of San Antonio is considering a return to quotas (racial, ethnic, and gender) in awarding contracts.  According to the city’s economic-development director, Rene Dominguez, the city will resort to quotas only if its new affirmative-action initiative fails.  How does San Antonio define failure?  Currently, only 19% of city contracts go to minority- or women-owned businesses, while the city has an objective of 29%.

The article in the Express-News raises so many objectionable issues that one hardly knows where to begin.  The biggest objectionable issue is the law.  Many years ago the United States Supreme Court abandoned quotas as a constitutional means to address past discrimination, and it currently is considering whether to similarly abandon affirmative action.  Yet, despite this precarious legal status, the San Antonio City Council cavalierly adopts an affirmative-action initiative and talks about resorting to quotas.

The next most objectionable issue is that San Antonio’s affirmative action is granted to everyone except white, non-Hispanic males, who comprise less than 15% of San Antonio’s population.  So-called minorities comprise almost 75% of San Antonio’s population, and to make the coalition even bigger, it adopted white women.  This makes political sense (right out of the Obama playbook in getting the 99% to raise the taxes on the 1%), but it makes the legal defense even more precarious.  Wouldn’t it make more sense for the city to advocate for, and reach out to, all disadvantaged businesses, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender?     

The third objectionable issue is that the city’s plan implies that everyone who is not a white-Hispanic males cannot compete on a level playing field with white, non-Hispanic males.  This is not only divisive, but also demoralizing – in the words of Bush-43, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

The major driving force advocating for quotas is the Fair Contracting Coalition (FCC), which consists of the NAACP, the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce, the Alamo Area Chamber of Commerce, and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  (Where is the SA Women’s Chamber; perhaps they don’t want a quota.)  The name of the FCC could have come from the pages of classic dystopian novels 1984 or Atlas Shrugged because the coalition is for anything but fair contracting.

A pro-quota activist, Lou Miller, extensively quoted in the Express-News predicted that affirmative action would not be enough and quotas would eventually be needed:

  • Twenty years ago, African-Americans were receiving zero percent of the contracts from the city, and now it’s still less than one percent….  Segmentation would be the better tool used to clear up discrimination.”

Unfortunately, the Express-News reporter failed to follow-up on Miller’s allegation of discrimination.  I would have asked what and when.

I’m not sure where the term “segmentation” came from (Miller and the city use it), but the article defines it as “a method that would consider each racial and ethnic group separately and set hard goals for awarding contracts to each.”  I don’t know how that is different than a quota.  If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck….

The article concludes by suggesting that the FCC might have a strange political bedfellow because the city’s large contracting vendors do not sound averse to quotas.  According to the EVP of the Associated General Contractors (AGC):

  • We are sympathetic to the FCC’s concerns.  If the city wants to have a race-based procurement program, that works if you do things correctly.”

Anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged would not be surprised about the FCC and AGC getting into bed together.  Big government and their big vendors often unite to stifle competition and the free market.  ObamaCare is a great example of that. 

The free market and a meritocracy are anathema to big government and its big vendors.  





  1. Makes our move to Fredericksburg seem that much smarter…

    Comment by Q — January 19, 2013 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  2. […] in January this year, and I blogged about it shortly before getting into the council race.   The blog entry was based on two articles in the Express-News that described not only the Council’s first step of […]

    Pingback by Race-conscious contracting by the City of San Antonio | Mike Kueber's Blog — June 30, 2013 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

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