The CTA’s controversial Ventra fare collection system has run into yet another problem, this time around whether the contractor who created the system has met the city’s requirements for hiring minority-owned businesses.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports only 7.2 percent of the money Ventra gets from the city has gone to African-American contractors, despite a law requiring 12 percent of the contract go to “disadvantaged business enterprises.”
Further, Chicago firms have received 9.6 percent of the total business, yet the largest part of that percentage has gone to a white woman. Carolyn Grisko, who once served as former mayor Richard M. Daley’s campaign manager and who worked in the Daley administration with current CTA president Forrest Claypool, received 26 percent of the amount awarded to Chicago firms.
Chicago has a long history of setting aside percentages of city contracts for companies owned by women and minorities.
Yet the city has also struggled to meet its own goals. A 2010 report by the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General, for example, found “broad and pervasive deficiencies in the administration of the City's [Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise] program,” citing “fraud, abuse and mismanagement.”
Ventra’s main contractor, Cubic, awarded 6.98 percent of the program to a Chicago firm owned by an African-American woman provide staffing, support and back-office functions, while two other black subcontractors got 0.18 and 0.05 percent, respectively.
The Sun-Times quotes Stephen Mayberry, the CTA’s Ventra project manager, as saying Cubic is meeting the 12 percent “disadvantaged business enterprise” set-aside established, and that federal and state law requires the CTA to use a DBE designation that’s far more restrictive than the city’s minority set-aside requirements.