A black contractors' group has lost its challenge to the city's minority certification process that benefited a former assistant city manager who once oversaw the program.
The city's rejection last month of a complaint filed by the Austin Black Contractors Association allows former ACM Rudy Garza to keep his certified status as a minority business owner. Garza retired from his work with the city in June, formed an engineering firm with prominent business owner Paul Bury in July, and received minority business certification from the city in September.
Deputy City Manager Michael McDonald reviewed the complaint and notified the contractors' group and Garza of his findings in a Dec. 13 letter. He wrote that he had denied the challenge based on documents and other information put forward during a Dec. 7 informal hearing over which he presided. But he offered no other explanation, except to list the names of those who attended the informal gathering: Garza attorney (and son of former Texas House Speaker) Pete Laney; Deputy City Attorney Anne Morgan, and Assistant City Attorney Cindy Crosby. McDonald followed up with a Dec. 14 letter stating, "No further appeals or action will be accepted or taken on this matter."
A phone message left with a representative of the contractors association had not been returned at press time.
Until December 2011, Garza supervised the city's Small and Minority Business Resources Department, which manages the certification of minority- and women-owned businesses. The city department was established in the late Eighties to ensure that historically disadvantaged businesses would be able to obtain a fair share of the city's contract work. The contractors' group questioned whether Garza should be considered "disadvantaged" given his inside knowledge of City Hall, as well as his salary at the time he left the city – $194,293, according to the public employee salary list posted on the Texas Tribune website.
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