ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-A day after voters approved Proposition Y to help fund nearly $5 billion worth of sewer system improvements in St. Louis City and County, minority contractors gathered outside MSD headquarters to make sure they get a cut of work.
MoKAN’s Yaphett El-Amin told reporters, “We’re saying today, MSD has an opportunity to be a community stakeholder.”
She says the sewer district can do that by hiring local, hiring minorities and training workers.
MoKAN and Metropolitan Congregations United have been in talks with MSD over efforts to expand and monitor minority and local participation. MCU President Jim Sahaida says MSD appears to want to do the right thing, “But we’re going to hold them accountable to make sure that does happen. We’re going to stay committed to this until we know that actually what we’ve been asking for is going to happen.”
The groups say they want the district to develop a long-term minority inclusion plan, to contribute 1/2 of 1% of the overall budget (roughly $23 million) to construction training programs and to commit to outside monitoring of project procedures and funds.
MSD Executive Director Jeff Theerman says they’ve had discussions with the groups, and are doing things to improve their programs, “I wouldn’t say anything is off the table at this point. We’re certainly willing to consider how to make this program what it needs to be.”
Theerman points out that the district’s charter and state law require it to award projects to the lowest, responsible bidder.