Saturday, March 14, 2009

6541: Diversity Homerun.

From The Miami Herald…

Marlins vow aid to blacks

By Jack Dolan

Saying the move was about inclusion not politics, Marlins President David Samson signed a promise Friday to spend at least 15 percent of the team’s budget for a new ballpark with black-owned businesses.

The compact, signed with local black leaders, also commits the Marlins to make “every reasonable effort” to spend 15 percent of the post-construction operating funds with black-owned businesses.

“We are Miami, we are diverse. If you don’t like it, move,” Samson said during a signing ceremony at Jungle Island, eliciting the morning’s biggest round of applause.

Also signing the deal: Victor T. Curry, president of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP, and Bill Diggs, president of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, which represents black-owned businesses.

“For so long, promises have been made to the African-American community, and these promises have been easily broken,” Curry said. “Today, the Marlins have kept their promise.”

First, the Marlins must win approval for the proposed $639 million stadium, parking and public works plan from the Miami and Miami-Dade commissions.

More than 80 percent of that money would come from county and city coffers—a commitment of public funds that has raised controversy.

“This is not about a vote,” Samson said after committing money from the Marlins’ $120 million share of the deal. “We do not operate for the purposes of getting a vote.”

No city or county commissioner attended the event.

Under the pending government contracts—which are separate from Friday’s compact—minority-owned businesses are already promised 6 percent of stadium-related architectural and engineering fees, 9 percent of construction contracts and 6 percent of goods and services contracts. Businesses owned by Hispanics and women also qualify for set-asides.

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