January 31, 2020

Mayor Pete’s South Bend Awarded No Major Contracts to Black-Owned Firms for Three Years
DES MOINES, Iowa—Of the many pledges that Pete Buttigieg has made in his as-yet unfruitful quest to earn the support of black voters, his guarantee that a quarter out of every federal contracting dollar will be awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses is one of his most ambitious. “Look at what it would be like if we were co-investing in promising businesses led by black entrepreneurs, start-ups and other kinds of businesses that have the best track record of creating the kind of employment that can help lift people up economically,” Buttigieg told BET in September. But an analysis of such spending during Buttigieg’s tenure as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, shows that the presidential hopeful fell dramatically short of that goal. According to a 2019 study analyzing the city’s contract data conducted by Colette Holt & Associates, a national law and consulting firm specializing in disparity studies, the city of South Bend did not award a major contract to a black-owned business for three straight years.The study found that from 2015 through 2017, the city of South Bend distributed $83,675,547 in contract dollars, roughly 12 percent of the city’s contracts, to businesses owned by racial and gender minorities—and none to a black-owned business, despite the study finding that there were more than 200 qualifying minority-owned firms in the market at the time.Minority-owned and women-owned businesses make up 15 percent of the market in the city, which means that while South Bend was close to achieving proportional awards for some categories, black-owned businesses continued to lag. While the city is more than 25 percent black by population, eligible black-owned contractors make up a mere 3.25 percent. More than 88 percent of contracts between 2015 and 2017 went to businesses not owned by women or racial minorities.At the same time, Buttigieg’s administration awarded numerous lucrative contracts to past campaign donors and to corporations whose lobbyists and executives had given to Buttigieg’s mayoral election efforts.One minority business owner told the study’s authors that South Bend employees “are trained to believe that black folks, poor people, or minorities can’t deliver,” and that she keeps her status as the owner of a minority-owned business under wraps because the “stigma” has kept her from winning contracts.“I really felt like [the city of South Bend] didn’t want me to have the job. It wasn’t because I wasn’t the best at what I do, because I am—it was just because they would say, ‘Well, you don’t need that much money,’ like, ‘You just a little black girl. You won't need that much money,’” she told the study’s authors. “Our problem is that people are trained to believe that black folks, poor people, or minorities can’t deliver… There’s a whole lot of black people in here that wanna do something, and somebody needs to see that.” Another black business owner said that the difficulty in obtaining South Bend city contracts had even led to some minority-owned businesses to go under.“There are black-owned construction companies, but one reason a lot of them that I talked to went out of business [is] because they can’t get contracts with the city,” the business owner said. “So, they can’t get any big contracts, then they have to try to build their business with only small ones, and it’s hard to maintain a cash flow with the other issues that you deal with.” The analysis, titled “The South Bend Disparity Study” and produced at Buttigieg’s behest, measured contracts and subcontracts worth $50,000 and up, and found a 72.38 percent disparity ratio for contract utilization of minority-owned business enterprises in the city. That ratio measures the participation of a group in contracting opportunities by dividing that group’s utilization by the availability of that group to participate in the contracting process.A disparity ratio of less than 100 indicates that a given group is utilized less than would be expected based on availability; a ratio of less than 80 percent has been presented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as indicating a prima facie case of discrimination.Buttigieg’s poor track record on awarding city contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses has been reported before. In November 2019, shortly after his proposal mandating that the city award 15 percent of its contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses was passed through South Bend’s city council, the Intercept reported that Buttigieg had only awarded 3 percent of city contracts to black-owned businesses as mayor, citing annual audits conducted by the city.But the outside analysis by Colette Holt & Associates, revealing the eye-popping three-year stretch with zero contract awards to black-owned businesses, has not been reported, and comes at a moment when even Buttigieg’s most diehard fans are growing increasingly anxious that his statistically insignificant support among black registered voters represents an insurmountable obstacle to his electability.“It is a concern! It is a concern about the South—can he win in the South? Can he win the black vote?” June Schindler, a potential supporter, told The Daily Beast, at a Buttigieg town hall in Ottumwa on Tuesday. “It’s a concern.”Buttigieg’s campaign pointed to the small number of eligible black-owned firms in the region as a partial explanation for why South Bend lagged so far behind the former mayor’s Douglass Plan. In an interview with Charlamagne Tha God last week, Buttigieg explained that the disparity study was a painful but crucial step to understanding how the city would address the problem in the future.“We found out that we are below where we ought to be,” Buttigieg said, of the city’s contracts with black-owned firms. “That wasn’t a surprise, but now I had the legal power to do something about it.”While Buttigieg has touted the creation of a training program aimed at helping minority-owned and women-owned businesses apply for city contracts, the city was slow to improve the city’s designated official in charge of ensuring minority- and women-owned businesses were being included in the selection process. In 2014, Buttigieg’s office proposed cutting the hours for the city’s Diversity Compliance Officer position from 32 hours a week to 18 hours per week. At the time, members of the city’s Common Council expressed open concern that cutting the officer’s hours would undermine efforts to expand the number of contracts awarded to such businesses.“I don’t think 18 hours per week is going to be enough to support the goals of the ordinance,” said Valerie Schey, a Democrat on the council, in August 2014. “Even with a 32-hour workweek, the workload has been enormous.”The move would have saved the city roughly $18,000 per year.In 2016, that role was instead changed following the signing of an executive order by Buttigieg ordering the creation of South Bend’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, a position intended to boost the number of contracts and subcontracts to minority- and women-owned businesses with the job description of “[leading] efforts to make hiring and management practices more inclusive, and city purchasing more diverse.”Christina Brooks, who served as South Bend’s first Diversity & Inclusion Officer until last year and hired the firm Colette Holt and Associates to conduct a disparity study, said in a statement that the shift in resources was critical for the city to understand how poor its history of awarding contracts to minority-owned businesses had been up to that point. “It wasn’t a priority for three decades until Pete shifted resources to really focus on this by creating a department that was intentional about supporting, creating, and sustaining women- and minority-owned businesses and building up capacity,” Brooks said.During the same three-year period that black-owned businesses received zero dollars in city contracts, South Bend did award plenty of city contracts to businesses owned by white men—including several generous political donors who had supported Buttigieg’s mayoral campaigns and his ill-fated run for Indiana state treasurer in 2010.Among the beneficiaries of city contracts include lobbyist Brad Queisser, whose lobbying firm, mCapitol, and its parent company, MWH, gave $2,000 in cash and an in-kind contribution of $2,577.82 to Buttigieg’s 2011 mayoral campaign. The firm was later contracted to lobby the federal government on South Bend’s behalf, and was paid $230,000 over the next three years for its lobbying work. In 2014, MWH was awarded a contract worth as much as $2 million by South Bend’s Board of Public Works to modernize the city’s sewers—a favorite achievement of Buttigieg’s. Four months later, it won an additional $430,000 in city contracts for its work on the system.Another lobbyist later hired to work on the city’s sewer plan was Thomas New, executive director of government affairs at the Indianapolis law firm Krieg DeVault. New, who had donated $1,500 to Buttigieg’s 2010 treasurer campaign, was later retained by the city to handle federal authorities on the plan.The Buttigieg campaign has explained in the past that both Queisser and New had been involved in city contract work and municipal politics long before Buttigieg first ran for mayor.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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