Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Have you heard? Did you know?

BY LOUIE OVERSTREET

LOUIE OVERSTREET

Have you heard that Morse Arberry — the former Nevada legislator who served many years as chair of the Assembly’s powerful Ways and Means Committee — is actively considering running for the congressional seat that was held by Steven Horsford? Former Congressman Horsford basically lost the seat due overconfidence, which resulted in his running a lackluster campaign that led to defeat last November.

While on the subject of politics, do you know if anyone is being groomed to run for the seats presently held by Commissioner Lawrence Weekly and Councilman Ricki Barlow — both of whom will be termed out in the next four years? Let’s hope these seats will not be lost to the community, as was the aforementioned congressional seat that was effectively surrendered by a

sitting African-American congressman.

Have you heard that the last two directors of the Nevada Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights, Norma Norman and Yvonne Schulman, were African-American women whose tenures ended within a total of three years for unreported reasons? This is both a sin and a shame, given that this department has been notorious for setting low Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation goals on both state and federally-funded highway construction projects. Did you know that this department is responsible for awarding and overseeing the construction of nearly a half-billion dollars worth of projects each year?

Adding insult to injury, have you heard it is documented that the federal agency that gives the state money, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is paying its civil rights manager a base salary of $98,000 a year? Now get this: his primary job responsibility is overseeing a supportive service outreach contract of only $90,000. In other words, it’s costing more to administer one contract than the value to the entire DBE business community statewide.

Sadly, did you know that there is not one African-American organization that has the unity of purpose and leadership necessary to pressure these two large public agencies to enforce, much less improve, their DBE participation goals?

There is no way that either our collective political or economic condition can change for the better if we don’t get off our behinds and take the time to hear, know, and do something to change things!

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