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Monday, May 5, 2008

University Hospitals, where minority contractors are screwed once again

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2008 at 5:00 AM

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Port Authority inspector Bon Dean long ago fingered Granger Trucking as a minority front company.
Mayor Frank Jackson won kudos earlier this year for helping broker a deal with University Hospitals that was supposed to give more work to black builders. The healthcare giant, which is planning $730 million worth of construction projects over the next three years, agreed to set aside 20 percent of the work for Cleveland residents, 15 percent for minority companies, and five percent for companies owned by women. Sounds fabulous, right? Finally, after years of being shut-out on job sites, legitimate black contractors would get a piece of this lucrative pie... Alas, like many of Jackson’s touted accomplishments, this one looks suspiciously like business as usual. Black contractors familiar with the project say it’s not as rosy as it sounds. Many small black-owned outfits are non-union, but in order to get work at UH, they must partner with larger, union contractors. That means the union companies are still calling the shots and getting most of the money. “The deal was horrifyingly bad,” says Richard Jones, a local activist for Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “It’s just almost impossible for a legitimate black contractor to get involved.” So far, contractors say much of the work has gone to Independence Excavating and its favorite “minority” partner, Granger Trucking. Granger is technically headed by Charles Jackson, who is black. But a Port Authority monitor discovered long ago that Jackson’s simply lending his color to Frank Bianchi, president of C&K Trucking. The two companies, Granger and C&K, share office space, and Granger has been known to use trucks supplied by white-owned companies [“Lone Ranger,” April 11, 2007]. Plus, Granger’s not really in need of a boost from a minority set-aside program. It’s been raking in city contracts for years -- from Hopkins airport to the RTA and the Cleveland Museum of Art. So why, exactly, does this company need another handout, Mr. Mayor? – Lisa Rab
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