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NAACP Accuses St. Louis Metro of Bias

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Bi-State, St. Louis' regional metropolitan transit authority, discriminated against minorities in a $550 million construction project, the NAACP claims in City Court. Bi-State, also known as Metro, began accepting bids for the project in February 2003.

The NAACP says that Bi-State set a 20 percent goal of minority participation for the project and paid a New Jersey consulting firm $900,000 to monitor that.

Co-plaintiff in the case is MOKAN, a Missouri nonprofit that helps minority contractors.

The plaintiffs claim Bi-State routinely disregarded its minority participation goals. By March 2003, Bi-State had awarded $154 million in contracts for the project; minorities had received only 3 percent them, In June 2003, Bi-State awarded a $46 million contract to a contractor who did not meet the 20 percent goal, according to the complaint.

"The awarding of contracts by Metro on the project is part of the pattern and practice of Metro to engage in race discrimination in awarding contracts," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim Bi-State breached its agreement with them by failing to meet the 20 percent participation, failing to improve minority participation on existing projects, and failing to increase minority bidding opportunities on remaining contracts by breaking them up into smaller contracts.

They seek fines and damages and a $15 million award for withdrawing a similar federal complaint against Bi-State in July 2003.

The plaintiffs are represented by Freeman Bosley.

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