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Paterson's signs MWBE bill, establishes accountability

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 5:31 p.m.

"Today, we will sign legislation that will fundamentally change the way the state does business and with whom the state does business," continued Paterson. "Moreover, what we will do is activate New York's greatest resource: Its reservoir of intellectual capital and technological innovation that time and time again ignited the economy of this state and this country."

Paterson recalled some of the recent history of MWBEs in New York City during the days of two former mayors. It was a demonstration in who exactly cared about ensuring the success of all people.

"One of the saddest things that ever happened in this state happened in New York City," began Paterson. "In 1990, a new mayor, David Dinkins, started a MWBE program. At that time, MWBE received 7 percent of New York City procurement. He got the number up to 19 percent--over two and a half times larger than it had been before.

"In 1994, the seceding mayor, Rudolph Giuliani's first executive order No. 1 was to rid the city of MWBE compliance, and by the time he left in 2001, compliance was down to 1 percent." Paterson hopes the number changes once the law is put into practice.

While the mainstream media treats Paterson as an afterthought, State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson explained that the governor's presence pushed the bill to its conclusion.

"It's also the moment where we recognize the value of David Paterson," Hassell-Thompson said. "Now that's in writing, we gotta put it in action. This may make me unpopular with some people, but we may never have done this without this governor."

Assemblyman Darryl Towns understands that the success of New York State goes along with the ability for these bills to work. "We are coming out of the worst recession in recent history, and it's especially vital that these enterprises are able to thrive and develop. The reforms signed into law today will help to end discrimination and give business owners across New York access to state contracts.

As the crowd clapped and cheered as they witnessed Paterson sign the historic new MWBE legislation, Parker told the AmNews, "We are moving slow but took a giant step today." This is a significant time in minority communities because steps are being made to allow these business owners to finally reach the dreams they have set for themselves.

Parker says that at this time, it is okay to acknowledge label market discrimination, defined as racism within businesses. Some big business owners are prejudiced and do not hire minorities like African-Americans or Latinos. This prevents the economic growth for many of the small minority communities. MWBEs are here to eliminate that problem by allowing the minorities to start their own businesses and then give back to the community by continuing to hire other minorities, which will result in more opportunities for all.

Parker is confident that this new legislation is more than just a bill that allows the minority economic structure to grow, that it is also "sending a message that we are not going away. This is the role we are going to play and we are going a long way."

"After today, opportunity in New York will not be a buzzword--it will be a watchword," said Paterson.

Additional reporting by Simone Barnes