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Published: Wednesday, 10/28/2009

Minority-status process assailed


A candidate for Toledo City Council yesterday called for less red tape when applying for grants, loans, and minority-contractor status and advocated a $1 million public-private fund to help minority contractors compete.

Adam Martinez, one of 11 people seeking six at-large seats, was joined in his news conference yesterday by Keith Wilkowski, the endorsed Democratic candidate for mayor. Mr. Martinez is one of seven Democrats endorsed for council.

Mr. Martinez called for universal, online applications that would be used by all area governments. He cited his own difficulty in getting approved for a city minority business enterprise certificate.

He said he has applied twice in the last two to three years and made "a couple of dozen" phone calls and received only one in return.

Mr. Martinez, who has a grass-cutting and snow-removal business, said he has obtained city contracts anyway, even without the certification, because of his knowledge of city government.

"What does it take to really return a phone call. I know people are busy, but there are certain things that need to be done, regardless," he said.

Calvin Brown, the city's commissioner of affirmative action, said Mr. Martinez applied for minority-contractor enterprise certification Aug. 14, 2008. The certificate was approved Oct. 21, 2009.

The application requires extensive documentation, and automatically qualifies the contractor as a minority contractor for the state, Mr. Brown noted.

Mr. Martinez called for a loan fund to be set up by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the city, the Northwest Ohio Building Trades Council, and the state. He said the city's share would come from federal block grants. The loans would help minority and female contractors with performance bonds and cash flow.

Mr. Wilkowski said Mr. Martinez's "substantive proposal" for a revolving loan is something he supports.

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