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What you need to know for 08/22/2017

Good-faith mistake, or something else?

Good-faith mistake, or something else?

Editorial: Mixed bag on affirmative action in Schenectady

It's OK for Schenectady residents to be a little confused when it comes to the word Carver . The community center of that name for many years has been working with black kids, while the construction company of the same name has been avoiding working with black subcontractors -- even when their contracts with the city called for it.

Not long ago, Carver Construction was resisting the idea of working with minority subcontractors altogether. Why should we, its president asked, when we have the ability to do all the work ourselves? The company blatantly skirted the minority requirement by writing the ads to require the most advanced skills, then saying it couldn't find qualified minorities.

This lack of cooperation led to Carver being shut out of city contracts for two years under an aggressive new affirmative action director, Miriam Cajuste. And, lo and behold, Carver agreed to start complying, and won some city contracts again this year.

On the first, a culvert project, it came very close to meeting the city's goal of having minority contractors do 12 percent of the work (as did other contractors for five other projects). But on the second, a paving project, Carver failed miserably, with just 1 percent of the work going to minority contractors.

The explanation Carver officials gave to Mayor Gary McCarthy was that they hired someone [a trucker to haul away debris] who said he was on the state's list of certified minority subcontractors, but turned out not to be. It would have been easy to verify the subcontractor's status by simply checking the state's Website, but Carver apparently did not. Nor did it contact Cajuste. That raises questions about the company's good faith.

If city officials want to keep giving jobs to Carver , as they seem to, and also keep minority participation goals for city-financed projects, as they should, better communication and monitoring will be needed.

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