Naked City

Off the Desk

They broke ground this week on the whopping Computer Sciences Corp. complex downtown amid a respectable throng of well-wishers and business boosters chomping on barbecue under steely skies. But hey, you should have seen the nerve-jangling damage control going on in the hours leading up to Tuesday's big sendup -- all to ward off a planned 1,000-person-strong demonstration in protest of the embarrassingly low number of minority and women contractors working on CSC's project. So the public never saw any protest signs blaring the message that CSC stands for "Can't Stand Coloreds," thanks to a flurry of back-and-forth faxes and phone calls from the mayor's office to CSC officials, and from council members to CSC, followed by another round of phone calls to protest leaders. "We were going to show up with bulldozers and tractor trailers," says Frank Fuentes, who heads both the local and national chapters of Hispanic Contractors. "We wanted to expose CSC's practices, but in the interest of the entire community, we decided to back away." That CSC is building on city-owned property makes the minority contractor flap an especially sensitive issue. In fact, CSC's overall attitude on the whole minority and women contractor matter has been less than cooperative, says Paul Saldaña, aide to Council Member Gus Garcia. "This is a $70 million project, but [minority and women contractors] will be lucky to get $300,000 to $400,000 worth of work out of the deal," Saldaña says. This won't be the last we'll hear on the matter. Council Members Garcia, Willie Lewis, and Beverly Griffith will air their own concerns on the contractor issue at today's council meeting, Thursday, March 2. This hot potato is set for 6pm...

And if all that CSC/city hall construction isn't enough, we may be seeing yet another drastic change a few blocks away, now that Intel Corp. has narrowed its land search to one site: the yet-to-be developed Museum Park property at Fifth and Nueces. If the chip king goes ahead and inks a deal on the site, it would make land owner Scott Young a happy fellow, as he's long had his hopes on a tech company settling on the property. Earlier this week, Young waited in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant and pondered the metamorphosis of Museum Park, as seen through the eyes of the downtown development community. "First, it was considered too far from Congress [Avenue], so the big law firms started gravitating toward the CarrAmerica building," he says of the new 6th & Guadalupe high-rise catering to the starched-shirt set. "And then as downtown continually evolved, all of these positive things started happening." By that, he means that as available land became scarcer and scarcer, interest in his property grew in tandem. "We're very, very pleased Intel is considering us," Young says. Local enviro leaders are also claiming a coup on this front because Intel's broker, Trammell Crow, had originally tried to steer them to prime spots atop the Edwards Aquifer. SOS Alliance leaders then set to work "educating" Intel officials on the ways of Austin politics (a move that no doubt irked Trammell Crow), and Intel apparently took those lessons to heart...

Former Cowboy Thomas Henderson, whose 17-year-old California felony conviction has rendered him ineligible to run for City Council, is seeking a pardon from California Gov. Gray Davis to ensure his eligibility to run for public office in the future. Henderson has mailed letters to supporters asking them to send letters in favor of the pardon. Henderson says all the letters must be filed with the guv's office by March 6. So is there a chance Henderson can score a pardon before the March 22 council filing deadline? Stay tuned.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

computer sciences corp., frank fuentes, minority and women contractors, CSC, gus garcia, beverly griffith, willie lewis, sos, intel, scott young, museum park, thomas henderson

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