Don Hill Asks Tom Leppert: What, Exactly, Are You Spreading?

Tom Leppert, Don Hill just called you out. Doesn't really believe that whole billion-dollar minority contract thing. Neither does our sister paper in Cleveland, come to think of it.
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On Friday, in his weekly mayoral frontrunner round-up, Matt Pulle noted that at week's end, Don Hill sent Tom Leppert a missive in which Hill called Leppert to account for exactly how Leppert's Turner Construction Company spread the wealth to minority contractors. After all, that's been one of the central themes of Leppert's campaign: As it says right here on his Web site, "in 2005 he led Turner Construction to achieve over $1 billion in minority contracts -- a first for the construction industry."

Only, Hill doesn't really buy it -- to the point where, also on Friday, his campaign sent out this April 11, 2007, story from the Cleveland Scene (which is one of the Dallas Observer's sister Village Voice Media papers) about Bob Dean, who's charged with enforcing Cleveland's rules requiring that white companies subcontract portions of every construction contract to women- and minority-owned companies. The story revealed that while Turner, responsible for such projects as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was indeed giving money to minority- and female-owned subcontractors in Cleveland, the folks doing the work were, for the most part, white and male. No doubt Hill wants you to read the story, at least as far as this particular sentence: "In fact, the first time Dean presented his findings about the Rock Hall to Turner officials, he was greeted with a death threat."

After the jump, the entirety of Hill's letter to Leppert. --Robert Wilonsky

April 19, 2007

Mr. Tom Leppert Candidate, Mayor of Dallas 3232 McKinney Avenue, Suite 855 Dallas, TX 75204

Dear Tom:

It is gratifying that you share my belief that an economic development strategy including equitable opportunities businesses owned by African Americans and Hispanics to compete for business awards; and thereby create jobs, represents a solution to several “root causes” of challenges this City must address.

This belief in the importance of economic inclusion has become a primary theme of your Campaign, both in Mayoral Candidate Forums and radio advertising targeting minority voters. The statement that under your leadership in 2005 and 2006 Turner Construction Company (Turner) awarded contracts in the $1 billion range nationally to ethnic minorities, excluding women-owned businesses has not been documented.

Given the fact that Turner is headquartered in Dallas, actual dollars awarded to certified North Texas Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) is a highly relevant statistic as we discuss economic development and Turner’s track record. In an effort to gain clarity regarding Turner’s actual performance, my economic development strategist has requested Turner’s reported contract awards and/or Spend from the Black Contractors Association; Dallas Fort Worth Minority Business Council; Hispanic Contractors Association of DFW; and Women’s Business Council of the Southwest. Each responded that Turner did not report contract awards or Spend with ethnic minorities or women owned businesses to their organizations. This information is readily obtainable from Turner’s Vendor Master and Account’s Payable systems. I strongly believe that Turner’s impact with North Texas MBEs and WBEs is of greater significance to our economic development discussions than a lump sum national total. The direct feedback I receive from MBEs and WBEs across the City is that ethnic minority and women owned businesses continue to deal with challenges similar to those faced 10 years ago.

Would you please provide Turner’s contract awards (or Spend) in 2005 and 2006 with certified North Texas MBEs by ethnicity (African American; Asian American; Hispanic; and Native American)? I look forward to your response


Donald W. Hill

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