Black Chamber Accuses Florida of Bias

TALLAHASSEE (CN) – Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida discriminate against black-owned businesses by awarding state contracts for marketing to black communities to white-owned businesses, the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce claims in Federal Court. Gov. Jeb Bush signed an allegedly race-neutral executive order called “One Florida” in 1999, and state “spending with African American vendors has seen an 88 percent decline between 2003 and 2009,” according to the complaint.




     Florida awarded the Moore/Ketchum Partnership a contract to advertise the 2010 Census in black communities, though it “lacked the plaintiffs’ vast depth and varied experiences with respect to service and outreach to the targeted communities,” according to the complaint.
     “To date there has been no articulation or explanation as to how a firm that lacks the depth and breadth of experience as the non-winning firms with respect to the target populations was deemed to be more qualified,” say the plaintiffs, which include the N-Tersections Communications Group, the Steele Communications Group, and two others, as well as the Black Chamber.
     Gov. Jeb Bush’s “One Florida” executive order in 1999 allegedly was meant to “eliminate race and other classifications as measures in the awards of state contracts,” the complaint states.
     The Black Chamber of Commerce says that “lingering aspects of discrimination remain in Florida” and the problem with One Florida is that “there are no race-neutral tests, studies or measures in place to ensure that federally funded state contract at issue was so allocated on an equal basis.”
     In fact, “over the past four fiscal years, evidence shows a decrease in spending with minority firms,” and “with respect to contractual services, spending with African American vendors has seen an 88 percent decline between 2003 and 2009.”
     The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief for racial and ethic discrimination.
     They are represented by Chuck Hobbs.

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