Study Reveals Discrimination in Contracts Granted by New York City
Last week, New York City Council members released the results of a study which determined that the city has not been granting a fair amount of contracts to women- and minority-owned businesses. The study, commissioned by the council and conducted by Mason Tillman Associates, showed that out of $18.8 billion worth of construction-related and goods and services contracts, businesses owned by white males won 71.5 percent of the city’s contracts, while such businesses comprised only 43 percent of the contractors available, the Associated Press reports.
The study showed that women-owned businesses won only 3.2 percent of the city’s contracts, though they represented 21.5 percent of available contractors. Black-owned firms won only 1.7 percent of the city’s contracts, though they represented 16.7 percent of available contractors, according to the AP. The New York Daily News reports that City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) said the title of the study should be “People of Color and Women: Do not Apply in New York City.”
The study examined the city’s contracting over five years, from mid-1997 to mid-2002. During this time, Rudolph Giuliani held the office of mayor of New York City, until current Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in early 2002, reports Newsday. While mayor, Giuliani eliminated many of the advantages that had previously been afforded to women- and minority-owned businesses, including a 10 percent price preference for such contractors, the AP reports.
City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) was reported as saying in the New York Daily News that the study’s “embarrassingly unacceptable numbers” will be used to push for change. The study can be used to provide evidence of on-going discrimination, something that US Supreme Court precedents have required of state and local governments in order to justify the implementation of affirmative action in granting contracts.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .