It seems fitting that the Greensboro City Council will hold its final work session on Thursday, July 28 on the topic it has discussed far more than any other topic during the past four-and-a-half years – the Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) program.

Greensboro is facing some serious issues.

The number of vacancies in the Greensboro Police Department continues to grow and city councilmembers repeatedly say that violent crime is at an unacceptable level.

There is a significant housing shortage that goes far beyond a shortage of affordable housing.

Two huge economic development projects have been announced near but not in Greensboro and the City Council needs to consider how to take advantage of thousands of new jobs coming to the area, but not to Greensboro.

However, the topic that the City Council discusses at every meeting and frequently holds work sessions to discuss is the MWBE program.

The MWBE program was the topic of discussion at the work session on June 30 and is the only item on the agenda for the Thursday, July 28 work session.

The work session on June 30 was MWBE Update (Part 2).  The “M/WBE Update (Part 1)” was held April 28, but the City Council had to take a break from holding work sessions on the MWBE program to review the proposed budget, which included the largest property tax increase in the history of Greensboro.

The item on the agenda for July 28 work session could be MWBE Update (Part 3), but instead it is “M/WBE Update Follow Up.”

The discussion on June 30 might be termed a preemptive strike to keep the City Council out of legal trouble.

City Councilmember Sharon Hightower frequently states her opposition to allowing companies to make a “good faith effort” and be awarded a city contract when the M/WBE goals are not met.

The MWBE Update Part 2 went over in detail the law that establishes a “good faith effort” as a legally acceptable response.

City Councilmember Sharon Hightower has repeatedly voted against awarded contracts to companies that did not meet the MWBE goals but did meet the good faith efforts requirements.  City Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson and Goldie Wells have also joined Hightower in voting against these contracts even though the companies complied with the legal requirements of the MWBE program.

The City Council would be on shaky legal grounds if it denied a contract to a company that made a certified good faith effort.