Monday, June 4, 2012

Sun-Times: Beale predicts violence if Metra doesn’t hire more minorities for rail project

This Sun-Times article was sent to us via e-mail. We seem to have a tendency to post negative articles about 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale on this blog, but the reader heaps praise on him for his stance on Metra's Englewood Flyover project:
An influential alderman warned Metra’s executive director on Thursday that “people are going to get hurt” if the commuter rail agency fails to bolster minority participation on a $133 million South Side railroad bridge known as the “Englewood Flyover.”

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, did not explain who he believed would “get hurt” or who the perpetrators might be. But, he was clearly referring to civil disobedience or maybe even violence at the construction site.

“I’m trying to help you help yourself. When I say that, problems could arise. When you look at a community like Englewood [that] is challenged and you have over $1 billion of work coming through and there’s no people of color working on that project, I’m afraid people are going to get hurt,” Beale told Clifford during Thursday’s committee hearing.

“When you look at the make-up of the community — when you look at the unemployment rate … in that particular community, it’s probably 35, almost 40 percent. … To have a contract come like this in the African-American community with less than one percent minority participation is an insult.”

Clifford said he “respects and appreciates” Beale’s point. But, he also stood his ground, arguing that Metra has “not done anything wrong” and “followed federal statutes to the letter.”

As required by federal law, Metra established a 25 percent benchmark for “disadvantaged business enterprises,” a category that includes any business with an annual net worth that does not exceed $1.32 million, Clifford said. That means small businesses as well as those owned by minorities and women.

“By federal statute, we are not allowed to set a minority target. If a bidder comes in and achieves that goal — 25 percent DBE — they have met the federal mandate. The federal mandate is what I must follow and I will not violate the law,” Clifford said.
Also it was noted in this e-mail that Metra Chairman, Larry Huggins owns a contractor business in Chatham. There was a question about how Huggins could've let this project possibly not allow for set-asides for minority contractors. And also the e-mail asks why Ald. Sawyer hasn't said much about this project and the sparsity of minority contractors.


  1. I just want to point out that whoever sent you the initial email is incorrect that Alderman Sawyer has not said anything about the project. Alderman Sawyer was the only member of City Council at the original protest at Metra Headquarters with Congressmen Rush and Davis. He has spoken out on getting this contract re-bid in community meetings as well as with Metra.

  2. They need to burn that project to the gound and start over.


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