April 15, 2010
Earl ‘Skip’ Cooper, II
Black Business Association
Having more than twenty-five years of professional experience with the California Assembly Bill 3678, which addresses procurement practice of major gas, electric and telecommunication firms, serves as an important measurement that the proposed AB 2758 misses the ‘true’ vital sectors for improved outcomes. Although the Public Utilities Code mandates annual review by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has shown considerable increased capital outlay on supplier diversity initiatives, it does not adequately disclose the improvements of vital socioeconomic sectors that remain unchanged and in many cases have deteriorated since its implementation by CPUC General Order 156.
A vital sector for example can be shown where AT&T downsized regional analog switching stations so as to improve to digital technology upgrades, thereby allowing for significantly less real estate reprenting a fraction of the previously required operating space. Unfortunately, local small businesses and related jobs in those older areas have suffered from the rightsizing efforts of AT&T. Illustrating how when vital sectors are identified as the benefactor (major industry) then in the final analyses the protected ethnic classes receive little focus or needed socioecomic improvements. Annual procurement expenditures have to be drilled down to geographical sectors, just as governmental representation is identified and implemented.
From a legislative viewpoint, vital sectors should almost always lean toward communities identified as underutilized by major public and private buying organizations. AB 2758 should not exclude geographical areas in its language to open opportunity for sufficient industry growth to provide sustainable careers and that create long-term employment for the very minority group members mentioned in the bill. Major industries that benefit from government intervention for green technology, broadband expansion and the like must be held accountable to make regular investments into geographical areas that are undeserved, i.e. enterprise/empowerment zones. The complexity of socioeconomic development is therefore not with the annual spend reports, but with the essential investment into viable enterprises located in the serving areas of these regulated entities and emerging sectors.
The facts shared on this proposed legislation state that California’s largest utility and telecommunications companies have increased their diverse procurement by more than 300% for women, minority and disabled veteran-owned businesses, but yet, somehow AB 2758 as written is assumed to positively impact and improve communities like the original AB 3678 did. Sadly, AB 3678 did not address this area either, so why should protected class members believe or expect AB 2758 to produce improved outcomes for true vital markets? Vital markets do not change by producing annual spend reports, but such markets can improve by influencing and directing the geographical areas of where that annual spend ends up.
Driving annual reports is a subset of true socioeconomic improvement, which is to create economic relief for protected classes set forth in half-century old federal legislation. Such work remains undone and any bill that skirts reiterating the importance of those geographical markets that have been grossly left behind perpetuates a gateway for underserved communities to remain at the rear, in short supply of economic growth.
Accordingly, in order for me to endorse this bill it needs to have geographical impetus to make a difference. Following the guidelines of empowerment and enterprise zones as the vital sectors is a good start. As industry is constantly changing, but the areas where people reside and need help has remained poorly underserved constant for far too long.
Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.
Southland Partnership Corporation