The City Council work session on the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program on Thursday, Sept. 30 was postponed.

The Rhino Times has repeatedly noted that the public and councilmembers do not have the information about City Council work sessions until hours or sometimes minutes before the meeting, making it difficult to review the material before the meeting.

This work session turned out to be a case of the left hand at city hall not knowing what the right hand was doing.  Or more specifically the city staff not communicating with Mayor Nancy Vaughan.

Assistant City Manager Kim Sowell was interrupted before she could begin the staff presentation on the MWBE program, which for the most part went over what the MWBE program is, the legal justification for the program and details about the forms and affidavits that contractors are required to fill out.

Sowell was interrupted by Michele Clark Jenkins, senior director,  consulting group for Griffin & Strong P.C., the firm that completed the disparity study for the city and was then contracted to consult on the implementation of the city’s MWBE program.

Jenkins said, “I was asked to join the meeting for Griffin & Strong, but when I was invited on Monday, I could only stay until 3. I just wanted to say I’m going to have to jump off the call.  I have not had an opportunity, we as a firm have not had an opportunity to review the MWBE program and their processes, so we would like to do that as soon as possible.  But we have not been engaged with them on how they are doing things or what they are doing. We would like very much to be able to do that in the near future.”

Vaughan said, “I apologize.  If I had known that we would have taken this as the first item.”

Sowell explained that the contract with Griffin & Strong had expired, so the city could not engage the firm until the contract was renewed.  But she said that the staff was prepared to give its presentation particularly on how “good faith efforts” were handled.

Vaughan said that it would make more sense to have the complete discussion at one meeting rather than going over the program twice and there was no objection from city councilmembers.