Business as usual in our city changes

Business as usual in our city changes when we take deliberate actions to change the status quo. The city’s spending panel — which hands out millions upon millions of dollars to government contractors every week — had an opportunity today to invest in the diversity, equity and inclusion that will drive better outcomes for our city. Instead, in a vote of 4-1, my vote being the only dissenting one, the Board of Estimates rejected the opportunity.

For four months, I have pushed the administration to reach for equity before waiving minority- and women-owned business participation on a lucrative, longstanding contract with Motorola to ensure ongoing telecommunication between our emergency responders was not disrupted. As city leaders, we have pledged to our residents time and time again that we will improve the city’s patterns and practices related to government contracting.

Still, despite our ongoing conversations, promises of equity, pledges to reimagine the role government can play in closing the racial wealth gap in our city, we are once again in the same position as we’ve been for decades.

The administration brought this telecommunications contract back to the Board of Estimates one day before it expired without the analysis my office asked for months ago. This time passed and we continue to have meager goals for minority- and women-owned business participation and one day left to approve the contract or risk interruption to critical communications our first responders rely on.

As chairman of the board, I am deeply troubled that the administration with its control of three out of the five votes steered the process to force approval today. We had a chance to hold our city to a higher standard.

This may look like one vote on one contract, but this stand is about changing the way this board operates. We must put actions behind our promises, so we stop perpetuating the systemic problems that have resulted in the inequities that hold our city back. 

This is our chance to take a reset. Things have to drastically change. I am willing to do the work. Going forward, I am calling on the administration to change its practices, to never again wait until the last minute to bring contracts before this public body and to create a process of awarding contracts centered on equity.

Baltimore, we must expect more.

Watch the full Board of Estimates meeting here

Nick J. Mosby

Baltimore City Council President

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