The Greensboro City Council has a virtual work session scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.

As usual, only the most basic details about the work session have been released. It will be virtual and begin at 2 p.m. and the agenda includes two items, “Minority Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Update” and “American Rescue Plan (ARP) Update.”

Presumably, both of these updates will be in PowerPoint presentations that will be posted on the city website shortly before the meeting.  Past City Councils have had the reports available well before the meeting, which allowed councilmembers to go over the reports, get some questions answered and have an in depth discussion about the topic at the meeting, but that is not the practice of the current City Council. 

It is interesting that the City Council would feel the need to have an update on the MWBE program, which was the Minority and Women Business Enterprise program.  A Minority Women Business Enterprise program would eliminate both white women and black men from the program, so if that is the case and not a typo it could be an interesting meeting.

However, the City Council discusses the city’s MWBE program far more than any other topic.  There is not a single regular City Council meeting where the MWBE program is not discussed and usually discussed at some length.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower has repeatedly stated that she does not approve of the current program, where percentage goals are set on contracts for participation by companies owned by minorities and women.  According to the law that allows this type of racial and gender discrimination, if a contractor does not meet the participation goals for minority and women owned businesses, but documents that a “good faith effort” was made to meet those goals, the contract can be awarded to that contractor.

Hightower objects to allowing contractors who don’t meet the goals to be awarded the contracts and usually votes against awarding the contract if the goals are not met.

The City Council held work sessions on ARP on Aug. 12 and Sept. 17, but when the federal government hands out $59.4 million with few strings attached, it can take a lot of discussion to decide how to spend it.